Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Day to Pray for the Church


Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are   .John 17:10-11 (NLT)

It’s been an interesting day, that as a “work day” is nearly over.

It started this morning, as I watched Pope Benedict leave behind the papacy, as he was escorted everywhere.  It was then I noted that it was a day to especially pray for the church, as I noted many people who seemed to either loose hope, or who attacked a man, who finally could find some rest.  I hurriedly posted to FB that this was a good time to pray, and then headed out to teach a Bible Study.

In the Bible Study, we talked about Hebrews 9, and how the tabernacle pictured the ministry of Christ.  What a great discussion it was!  One of my dear ladies declared that this was the kind of things that kids need to hear today – about how long God has planned and worked the clues to the cross – and to the depth of His love and how He would make us His people, His children.  She is right…. that’s what we are to be about!

Lunch with a friend then followed – as we talked about the churches we go to, those we’ve worked with…. and how we need to find our lives, first in Christ…and then with each other in Christ.  For that makes the difference.

It also brings me back to my comment… this is a day to pray for the church.  For all its leaders, for all its divisions, for all of its people.

That we would find ourselves in the presence of God, and healing of all the damage of sin.  For there is much to be healed of… and that healing… and the fellowship that we are made for…happens as we are the church.

Pray as well, especially for the future leaders, including the new pope – that they would be able to bear the burden of their ministry, and that they would see their work focus on revealing the love of God.

The Lord is With Us…removing our idols!


Realizing and Revealing…
The Lord is With Us

Removing our Idols

† IHS †

As you experience and know the grace, mercy and peace of living in God’s presence, may the idols you cling to, that weigh you down, simply fall aside..

 

Can you imagine the Sanctus, sang by people of every tribe, every language, every ethnicity, as they pour into the space around the throne of God?  As we seem Him in all of His glory?

As we hear the people of God, all in awe of our Father’s appearance and of His glory. Can we our voices added to theirs as we all sing Holy! Holy! Holy! with such awe that almost sucks the breath out of us, combined with a joy that goes beyond anything that we could ever imagine?

Our attention will be so focused on the Lord God Almighty, that I doubt we will notice the other parts of the scene, the 4 seraphim, the 24 elders, and though we will move and sing as one being – I think all of our attention will focus on the love of our lives, our Father…. The Son, the Holy Spirit….

Everything else, all the things of the world… will have ceased to exist, they won’t matter.

Including our idols,

including our idolatry.

The Idols fall away…

That is the lesson tonight! As we look at Gideon’s walk with God, we consider this Lenten journey – what it means. We realize how it changes our lives to accompany Christ on His walk to His cross.  As He bears the punishment we deserve, if only because of the number of times we have shattered the 1st “commandment”,

Because I am the Lord your God, who rescued you, you shall have no other gods… you will not make or worship idols.

Far too often, our lives resemble that of Israel.  Imagine – as people walk up to the front door of your house, there is a monument to your favorite idol, to the thing that you most often put in God’s place, the things or people or achievements that we spend most of our time either working for, or enjoying, or chasing after.

Rarely are we as simplistic as Gideon’s dad was, just placing our idol, or an altar to that idol in our front yard.  We may be more sophisticated in how we chase them, of how we pursue them, but they are idols none the less.  We may even be as blunt and transparent in how we chase after these things – at least in the view of others, or if we look at how we spend our money, our time, our thoughts, and who or what we turn to, as we deal with a crisis.
What is it that binds us, that ties us up, that stops us from being with God?

The thing about idols that I don’t think we understand – is that if you have an idol, you don’t own it – it owns you.  That’s the thing about gods, if they are a god, not only do we depend on them, we are entrusted to them – we become their property.  We find ourselves to connected to them to break the connection, to dependent on them for our success, our ability to deal with, usually by ignoring it, the aspects of life that cause us anxiety.  We become addicted to them, and knowing its wrong struggle to find a way to break free.

That is why we are like Gideon’s father, who finds himself, a child of God, one who could well remember God’s reign over Israel; the proud owner of a home with the community altar to Ba’al.   An altar to worship the god of fertility.  Are we, like Gideon’s father, willing to make a stand, only after they are removed?

How can we overcome our attraction – even our addiction to those idols we have?  That is the part of our quest for lent, to rid ourselves of the things which stop us from realizing and revealing that the Lord is with us!

The Secret to Ridding ourselves of Idols.

I began this devotional message talking about our being in the presence of God, as we dwell in His presence before His throne, for a reason.

The only way to break the power of something over us, is to have something more powerful grab ahold of our attention, of our focus, of our very lives.

Remember – those idols wouldn’t stand a chance of attracting your attention, when you dwell in the presence of Almighty God, as are gathered in His presence around the throne of God.  We joke about you can’t take it all with you, but the real truth is that you wouldn’t want to!

You would look pretty silly, in the presence of God, illuminated by and dwelling in his glory, to be lugging a bag full of false gods, or to be bowing before things you have made yourself, or that others made. It wouldn’t be just silly, it could be even considered pathetic, sad, something that would bring us to tears.  Even as we talked about on Sunday, as Paul would cry and wail as he had to share that some people chose to be enemies of Christ, and the cross where our lives were linked with His.

 

The cure for idolatry is simple – it’s to realize we live, we dwell in the presence of God.  TO remember that doesn’t just happen when we go home to be in the Father’s presence, but we now dwell, fully, in the presence of God – the Holy Spirit.

It is found as we gather together, in Christ’s presence, as we worship Him, as we hear that we are freed from our sins, and from all of the world’s unrighteousness and injustice.  As we pray, as we spend time in scripture – both devotional reading and studying it together, as we come to the altar, and celebrate the foretaste of our homecoming feast – the feast of the lamb. It is found, as we realize and reveal to others, the Lord is With Us!

There is no idol that stands in the presence of God!
Gideon, dwelling in the presence of God, hearing God’s desire, did what we are called to do, and did away the idols that bound the people of Israel.….

Free not just of idolatry, but of every sin… for we dwell in the presence of God…

For we dwell in His peace. AMEN?

 

Why are we so eager to “share” gossip and “memes” that make others look bad?


1 “Don’t pass on malicious gossip. “Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. 2 Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd”.  Exodus 23:1-2 (MSG)

 8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”  Philippians 4:8 (TEV)

It is the most trying thing about FB and Google+ and other social media.  It is a sin that needs to be checked, and it is more rampant and as devastating as any thing the church normally publicly protests.

It is not just violating the 8th commandment, but is a complete disregard of it, and the two passages above.  The incessant number of rumors, most of them lies, that we are so willing to pass on, without checking the facts behind the story, something that can be done with a highlight and a click or two.  Of course, we also takes these “gems” of wisdom with us, and they end up in conversations over lunch, or preceding Bible Studies and Worship services, giving more fuel to the falsehood, because people we know and care about shared them with us.

These days, many of them are still about the President of the United States.  Even more about the Pope who is about to retire, or about the church he oversees.  But there are many targets out there, and the gossip and slander is…sickening.  

I will be the first one to admit that I have done this in the past. 

I will also admit that with both men, and their predecessors and positions I have some issues.  (Less with this particular pope, more with the theology he inherits from the Council of Trent) If we have issues – deal with the real issues.  Do not degrade someone, do not dismiss someone based on heresay and gossip that has nothing to do with the issues. engage in discourse with those who can affect them. They are not the enemy…nor is any target of gossip and slander.  (see Eph 6)

There are a number of logical positions that can be made about this topic – how such spreading such gossip affects your own credibility, how it is simply sin, how it hardens you, and affects your prayer life, and your relationship as you dismiss other sins just as easily.

But simply put – it is sin, and we are called to abstain from it, be reconciled to those damaged by it, and to confess it.  Grace will not abound because you share that picture, or that article, or that quip or slam… it just won’t.  

But when we sin, confess it, and know we are forgiven…and cleansed… and then go and sin no more..

The Heart of God…


Devotional THought of the Day:
“The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;”4 adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity.5 Say to the children of My people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, and though they be redder6 than scarlet, and blacker than sackcloth, yet if ye turn to Me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy7 people.” And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.”8 Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations][i]

As I was doing research for my sermon for this week, I came across the above quote from Clement of Rome – who provides us with some of the first writings of the church, after the apostles passed on.  He’s an interesting guy to me, as are many of the early leaders of the church.  
Here he talks of repentance, but like many of us, he misses the heart of the matter, literally the heard of God.  
In these precious passages, yet there is a call, even a cry for repentance, but a cry that isn’t just a prophetic warning to avoid wrath.  Look at each in their context, look at the words that God uses, this is a passionate Father’s cry to come home, to return to the family, to receive the love that was meant to be yours! 
If you are a believer, if you hope, your confidence is in God, then it is a cry that you have heard, that cry needs to be heard around you, you need to repeat it to them – not just a warning that people are headed to hell (which should cause our stomachs to be wrenched and our eyes to tear)  but that God so desires them NOT to go..

Instead – to know  the love of God, the fellowship of the Spirit, and the peace that comes to us who have been united to and in, Jesus Christ.

Lord have mercy!

 
 
 
 


4 Ezek. 33:11.

5 Ezek. 18:30.

6 Comp. Isa. 1:18.

7 These words are not found in Scripture, though they are quoted again by Clem. Alex. (Pædag., i. 10) as from Ezekiel.

8 Isa. 1:16–20.

[i] Clement of Rome. (1885). The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (7). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

A Sacrifice greater than Chocolate, or Caffeine, or Alcohol or even Bacon


Lenten Devotional, Discussion thought:

Love for God invites us to shoulder the Cross squarely: to feel on our back the weight of the whole human race, and to fulfil, in the circumstances of our own situation in life and the job we have, the clear and at the same time loving designs of the Will of the Father.(1)

We are in Lent, a time where many people sacrifice something for a season, in order that they can focus more clearly on God.  Sometimes these things are things we are mildly addicted to – (see the list above ) or aren’t the greatest things for us.

As I look at the quote of St Josemaria above, I find a sacrifice that is harder than the minor addictions.  Like yesterday’s sermon, I wonder if we do see the weight of the world that Christ bore, that as we are in Him, as His will becomes our will?  Do we weep, as Paul did, over the enemies of the cross of Christ, as we realize what they are missing?  Or as Jesus did, as He expresses the desire that the people of God (i.e. Jerusalem) would respond to His offers of compassion and mercy?

Hear clearly, bearing the weight of Christ’s cross doesn’t mean we have to be crucified, but we are untied, we become one with His as He is.  We understand why – the great love which would result in joy as people are freed from bondage to sin.  We begin to see that our enemy isn’t the flesh and blood that irritate and antagonizes and pushes the buttons that set off our anger, our desire for vengeance, but Satan.

We realize that God’s desire, His will, is that those people come to know Him, that they hear His word, often because we are the ones who are sent, and make sacrifices, that they can.

There is a Lenten sacrifice that will bear much fruit…or…bacon.

Lord have mercy on us, that we might show Your mercy to this world!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2925-2927). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

Where do we Abide?


Where do we Abide?

Philippians 3:17–4:1

 

Jesus, Son and Savior

May your life find its focus in the gifts of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, His mercy, His peace. His love, but mostly, in His presence!

 

The Tears of Paul, the Cry of Jesus 

Knowing His past, the way in which he dealt with the enemies of what he perceived his faith to be, these words of Paul testify to His coversion, the transformation that had occurred in his life, as he came to know the love of God.

Hear them again,


18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.

Hear His reaction – it is not one of anger, of lust for revenge, but one of great sorrow, of great sadness.

I say it again with tears in my eyes,

It is the reaction, not of a crusader, but of one who has been rescued from brokenness, whose heart has known the healing of being raised from worthlessness and given life and meaning, who has been called to be loved….

And grieves when he sees others who refuse such a call….to live in Christ
It is the attitude that Paul would encourage us all to imitate – the example he tried to set, even as Paul would imitate the Lord who came to him, and called him.  We hear the same attitude in Jesus’ cry to the people of God in today’s gospel,

34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.

 

Indeed, Paul had become much like his Lord Jesus… and now he calls to us, to become like him, to follow the path of Christ trod, finding our strength in the God’s presence, and looking forward with Joy, even as we dwell now as citizens of heaven, as the people of God, whom He protects and loves and heals…
Do We Know the Price of Condemnation?

Most of us would hesitate before condemning someone to hell, most of us wouldn’t say “Go to Hell” in anger, or “I hope they burn in Hell” even about the people whom we can only see as “evil”, as they practice which is evil.  I have seen similar reactions recently, heard them or read them on internet, against the likes of Jerry Sandusky, or Chris Dorner.

Even while we may not actively hope that others would go to hell, do we passively let others continue on their merry way towards Hell?  Does it bother us, as it did the apostle Paul to the point that we cry over such people?  Even our enemies? Or maybe we don’t want them to suffer eternally, just a period of time we would consider fair and equitable. 

Do we realize that those who oppose Christ, who disdain or passively dismiss the cross are headed for destruction?  Or do we just go about our own lives, going by the old saying, “live and let live?” Do we realize that such a attitude is against what scripture teaches about loving your neighbor?  Is it loving to allow anyone to head towards experiencing the wrath of God?

Paul says these people are heading to destruction.  The word there isn’t destruction as they might lose their house or their job, or that their families and lives will fall apart in this life. It is talking about destruction as in eternal – as in their complete separation from love, and life, and goodness.  Total and complete.  Do we weep for them?

Do we weep for those who oppose the cross of Christ, who deny mercy, who contend with the gospel, who put stumbling blocks in the ways of those who God would have them call out to?  (It is funny that in the context of this passage – Paul is talking about people in the church!)

How many people do we know who are described as Paul describes those he is dealing with?

Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.

What a sad way to be described – to realize that our emotions, our “appetites” could have so much control over us. To realize that people can be co confused that they would choose that which is disgraceful over what is good and right and a benefit to themselves and to others, whose choices are selfish and narcissistic and hurt others..

Do we respond to such people in anger?  Or is sorrow and tears, grieving how they have chosen to separate themselves from God’s love and mercy?

Do we fall into a reaction that nurtures our appetites, that speaks the truth without love, which becomes condescending and shameful, and is only about that which occurs here on earth?

How do we learn to react as Paul began to react?  How do we follow his steps, even as Paul learned to walk as Christ had?

Knowing our End, our Destination,

Paul gives us what he found to be his answer, there in verse 20.

20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.

While the focus of those we are to weep for, pray for is on what makes their life here better or easier, our focus is based on whose we are, whose kingdom we are citizens of, to whom we owe our loyalty.

I think we misunderstand this – when we talk of being in the Kingdom of heaven, and for that reason, we’ll talk about it more in Bible Study.  But for now, our answer to not being like those whose lives cause us anger – if we respond inappropriately, or sorrow, if we respond like Christ, is to remember where we live, to remember whose kingdom we belong to, to dwell in Christ, and under His rule.

It is here, in our experience at the altar, that we begin to see this.  If we see this time and this place, not so much as a routine, or a duty, but a meal with our Father, a time where we remember where our homeland is, a time to look forward to our going home.

A number of people have asked me how I liked the food in China.  It’s kind of funny, because the Cajun food was good, the American restaurants were fine, the Italian was as good as in Italy – maybe better!  Even though I worked a with some Chinese nationals, a lot of time was spent ministering to our missionaries, folks who were there with a purpose, but who hearts and lives were lived in view of “home”.  They needed a reminder of where they were from – even more spiritually than physically.

Likewise it is for us, we are here in Cerritos, as God’s ambassadors, as missionaries ourselves.  A lot of our lives is lived in being “homesick” for heaven.  That is why communion becomes so central, so necessary in our lives.  Our communion feast is the “missionary team dinner” at Red Garlic, or up on the Peak at Bubba Gump – a time to look forward to our going home to be with our family, the angels and archangels and whole company of heaven.

Please understand, I am not saying Christ isn’t with us 24/7/365, but that this time is a special one, where we encourage each other, and are encouraged to dwell in God’s presence, where our hearts and minds are re-focused on God’s love, and the extent that His love is there for us, healing us, providing for us.

It is a moment in our week of being home…

Until the time our weak mortal humble bodies are found transformed into glorious bodies… for the same power that is at work then, has been at work, as all things have come into His kingdom, as He reigns and guides and protects, His people…

As we dwell in peace, and yes, weep over those who have yet to know that peace, or who confuse and bind others and prove themselves lacking in it..

This peace is yours, people of God, this peace of our Father, which passes all understanding and guards our hearts and minds as we dwell, citizens of where our Lord reigns… and cares for His people.

AMEN?

Enemies, Adversaries, Irritating Idiots? A Blessing? Are you sure?


 

Matthew 5:43-47 (MSG) 43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 

“Think of the good that has been done you throughout your lifetime by those who have injured or attempted to injure you. Others call such people their enemies. You should imitate the saints, at least in this. You are nothing so special that you should have enemies; so call them “benefactors”. Pray to God for them: as a result, you will come to like them”  (1)

As I feel a need to write this blog, I am also a bit wary of it.  Simply put, many of my blogs – almost all of them, are written based in personal reflection and need.

As I sit in my office this morning, haven’t had to deal with any of those people mentioned in the title.  So maybe this blog is for you, and not me?

Even so, if James is right about trials and trauma being beneficial to us, then it logically can be stated that those who are the cause of some of those trials and traumas are likewise blessings and not curses.  That we can view the lesson they teach us, as a gift from God, and rather than get more and more frustrated, we can give thanks and praise for their being in our lives.

What lesson? 

Well – were are you going to find the strength to rise above your own sinful nature and love them – as Jesus asks you to?  How are you going to find the focus to pray for them, not that God would change their habits, or their ability to just tick you off, but instead that God would richly bless them, and reveal His love to them?

There is the lesson…

They aren’t your cross, they simply drive you to it. They are a reminder that you aren’t God, that you can’t walk alone in this world, that you cannot conjure up this transformation in your own soul, in your own heart – on you own.

You need Jesus love, you need the power of the Holy Spirit, you have to know that you dwell in the presence of God – and assured of His presence, His mercy shown to you – then you can love them, then you can pray for their best, then you will realize the blessing that they are…. and give thanks for them.

Pray for me, even as I know within the next month, I will need to come back and remember these words..

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2859-2863). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

The Burden, which isn’t a burden


 28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28 (Phillips NT)

764      Now, when the Cross has become a serious and weighty matter, Jesus will see to it that we are filled with peace. He will become our Simon of Cyrene, to lighten the load for us. Then say to him, trustingly: “Lord, what kind of a Cross is this? A Cross which is no cross. Now I know the trick. It is to abandon myself in you; and from now on, with your help, all my crosses will always be like this.” (1)

Think about this for a moment.  Meditate on it and see what you come up with.

Why do we so easily claim that Jesus is God, that He is our Savior, delivering us from the bondage we are in to sin, and bringing us to the throne of God, while at the same time we struggle so much to let Him be the Master of our life, and letting Him turn our sorrows into joys, and the heavy burdens we carry in this life into something light?

Think about it.. 

No, I meant that.. think – take 180 seconds and just think through what I read above.

We all have to deal with burdens, they are there.  The aches and pains of getting older, the worry and anxiety about our children and grandchildren.  Financial struggles, Resentment and hurts, and though we know our sin is forgiven, guilt and shame from our past… or our present.

Do we realize that when we call Jesus, Lord, or Master, when we talk about living in the Kingdom of God, we are talking about His responsibility more than His authority?  That the Old and New Covenant – binds Him, by His choice, to cause us to dwell in peace, to live in His presence, to know the power of His love?  That if we are bound by the same covenant, our responsibility as loving subjects is to let Him be God, and let Him care for us?

Our actions, guided by Him, are but part of realizing that He is our Lord, our Savior, the Prince where peace reigns… in our lives?

That is why the greatest burdens don’t always seem like it.  That is why those who struggle under those burdens of life, become our burdens – for we see their toil and vanity, and know how they can find relief, and rest.

I love how Fr.Josemaria phrases it – the secret is that the burden, this cross of ours, is not ours, for we have long since abandoned ourselves in Christ – ever since we were marked in His name, as the waters of baptism poured over us.

So go on, let Christ take on your day… as you walk with Him.

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2751-2754). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Crucified Life… not just to live during Lent


Devotional Thoughts of the Day – please discuss!

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 meGalatians 2:20 (NLT) 

 The Cross symbolizes the life of an apostle of Christ, with a strength and a truth that delight both soul and body, though sometimes it is hard, and we can feel its weight. (1)

Often among those I study with,  we talk about the baptized life, about living our lives in view of the fact that we have been united to Him in our baptism.  That because of that action,sin has been separated from our lives, that we live in the presence of God.  It is a pretty powerful thought.

I was thinking today as well though – when we are baptized into Chirst, we are baptized into His death – we are spiritually there on the cross, with our sins.  We have, Romans 6 and Colossians 2 tell us, died with Jesus, there on the cross.   That we may live – that we are living, with Him – the crucified one.  We live a baptized life, yes – but we are baptized into a crucified life.  We bear His cross, and in doing so take on something wonderful, something both practical and yet, in a way quite mystical and taxes our soul and our intellect.

It is not easy to live a crucified life – to live in view of the incredible love and mercy of God, to be reminded that we need, we should reflect that love. And we need to realize that the forgiveness we receive, is available to all.  Especially to those who are our enemies and adversaries.   To realize, with the love of Christ, that they need this love, this mercy, that they need the reconciliation that is available at the cross.

It is an incredible delight – and a weight at the same time, because even as we know the lifting of our own burdens – we take on a burden to see others freed from the snare of sin and satan and the fear of death… and the bondage that guilt or shame brings.  Indeed, Paul found himself weeping and deeply grieving for those who would reject such.

So my friends, live as one who has been crucified.. for you have…with Christ.  May your life reflect and reveal the very life you have in Christ now.. and may that reflection draw others to Him!

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2734-2736). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Evangelical Catholicism – an interesting read..


Devotional/Discussion point of the Day:

A friend on Facebook recently put a couple of quotes from a book he was reading on his feed, noting the title. Looking at the reviews, the book intrigued me, and I started reading it yesterday at lunch.  Technically, it seeks to document how the Roman Catholic Church is negotiating between the rock and hard places in the last century.  The Rock being the counter-reformation and its simplistic catachesis and demand of obedience, and the modern progressive views which would demean and dismiss scripture in view of modern philosophy and practice.

It is a similar path to that which some of us navigate in my own denominaiton – as on one side legalism, and the other the extremes of Church Growth theorists.  In my opinion, which isn’t much, I see the same issue on both sides – they would reduce the walk of faith with Christ to a simple programmatic practice. I’ve been on both sides.

I am probably going to go through this book slowly – much slower than others, trying to see how much is applicable.  After all, Lutheran theologians and the Lutheran Church was originally known, as “evangelical catholics..”  I will probably have to sift a bit of this book – as I do with those from evangelical proteestants, but I have a feeling it will be..beneficial

At any rate – here is the first quote that really stood out:

“The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies, inspires, and fuses men and women together into a new human community, the Church. Through each of its members, and in them as a whole, the Church is the Body of Christ on earth. Paul, Barnabas, and all who have been truly converted to Christ— such that friendship with Christ and extension of the possibility of friendship with Christ to others has become the basic dynamic of their lives— have become something different. Radically converted Christians have become men and women marked by tongues of fire, animated by the Spirit, whose abiding presence they recognize in the liturgy by their common prayer, their exchange of the peace of Christ, and their common reception of the Lord’s body and blood.” (1)

I like this statement, especially the italicized portion.  It seeks neither to dismiss our liturgy and those communal, sacramental, incarnational practice, nor does it diminish our intimate dance with the Holy Spirit in them.  (I use dance purposefully, for dancing uses our hearts and minds and bodies – all at once – which the Holy Spirit does engage.)

I also resonate with the three specifics mentioned

– a life of prayer – together – as the early church did. (see Acts 2)  From the cry for forgiveness, to the Kyrie, to the prayers of the church and the prayer Christ taught, the church comes alive when in conversation with God.

– the exchange of the peace of Christ – what a way to describe this!  (much stronger than the passing of the peace!)  This has become a hallmark of my present congregation – the point in the service, where assured that the peace of Christ is with us, we confirm that it is also among us, that God’s peace is… uniting us, breaking down the walls – infusing mercy, and the desire and act of reconciling us to each other.  This is not just a time for a casual greeting.. but a time where tears of joy, and sorrow are shed, where peace is created by God among us in a powerful, transforming way.

and lastly….

their common reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood!  Do I have to explain how the Spirit revives and renews us, in this simple act of incredible…significance?  To know we are welcome to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice – realizing we are welcomed at this table, that together we are having a feast that is the most significant meal of our lives?  The words can’t express what it means to partake of the Lamb of God, to see and taste salvation…

Occaisonally, I will add a post to my blog about the book – not replacing the devotions, but perhaps helping navigate these waters, as we try to be neither legalists, nor faithless moralists.

Hopefu

(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (Kindle Locations 489-494). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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