Monthly Archives: October 2013

How Do “We” (the church) Treat “Them”

Christ church

Christ church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day

 40  Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40 (MSG)

Yesterday I referred to an article that talked about how we can mistreat those who gather with us in church, simply because we want our service done well, reverent, uplifting.  And we forget that the service is not about us pleasing God with our perfection, but His ministering to us in our brokenness…

In a way, today’s article is similar – not about in the church, but about a group of people that are often overlooked, or even deliberately ignored by the church.  At least that’s how they might perceive it.

Here’s the article:

Now you might think – the intellectuals?  They are the “least of my brothers?” Seriously?

The answer of course, is yes. If they are the ones who because of their lot in life we choose to ingore.  If they are the ones we think are beyond our call, who don’t deserve to be brought to Christ.

We might assume they won’t respond, we might justify our inaction saying they won’t listen, they’ve got their mind made up.  We might read the article and get defensive, saying we can’t capitulate (using one of “their words) or compromise on Christian values.  (for example – I’ll work with them on Global warming – but never never abortion)  even thoguh the article doesn’t say compromise.  We can talk with them, discuss with them, treat them as people who are like us, sinners in need of God. We can treat them like people, befriend them, learn from them, love them. We can struggle alongside them, for they are really no different than us.

Maybe your issue isn’t with the intellectuals, but we all have ot be aware of the walls we build, of the divisions, cultural,, age, education, wealth, ethnic origin, even those of different religions.  Our job isn’t to triumph over them, its to minister to them – to all the world.

No more division in Christ, no more de-valuing this group or that group or..

Our goal is everyone in Christ… and if that takes our dealing with some discomfort in oroder to do that… let us embrace the discomfort in the way Christ endured the cross…for us.

Lord have mercy on us all.. and reveal it to us, and through us to all who are broken and without.


Church Services. To serve God, or to serve people?

Devotional Thought of the day:

23  Jesus was walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath. As his disciples walked along with him, they began to pick the heads of wheat. 24  So the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do that on the Sabbath!” 25  Jesus answered, “Have you never read what David did that time when he needed something to eat? He and his men were hungry, 26  so he went into the house of God and ate the bread offered to God. This happened when Abiathar was the High Priest. According to our Law only the priests may eat this bread—but David ate it and even gave it to his men.” 27  And Jesus concluded, “The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath. 28  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:23-28 (TEV) 

Sunday, a friend of mine shared a article he read on FB.  It was on a topic near and dea to my heart – the topic of worship.  More specifically, the type of worship that happens when God gathers His people together and there is something called a mass, or a worship service, or church service.

Here is the article:

The thoughts in the article, though not my own, are so akin to it, that it might as well be.

You see, a mass, or church service isn’t about our impressing God.  It’s not something we do to gain points with God, and if we gain enough, then we get into heaven, or a better viewof God in heaven, or a nicer mansion.   It’s not about who sings the best, or how hip or how smooth the pastor or priest is, or how dynamic the “show” is.  I am not saying that any pastor, or any musicians shouldn’t do their best, we should, because it is often through us that people receive what God meant them to receive – the reveleation of His love and His mercy and His invitation to share in His glory.   Here is a passage that demonstrates that:

27  God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28  So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29  To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV)

The point is this – that church is not about how well we do it.  It’s about our realizing the depth of God’s love, the lengths He will go to bring healing to our souls, to bring peace to our hearts. That can’t happen if we treat church, whether very anicent liturgy or very contempory service, (both can be high choreographed and rehearsed)  as if anything that distracts from what happens up fron is more important than any person there.

God wants to gather all people to Himself, to bring them inot our family, to make them a part of us.  All people. And so each one has a role in church, and in every event the church has, from Bible Studies to Potlucks.

The first and primary role, whether pastor or infant, the couple celebrating their 70th anniversary or the single mom, the people whose parents or grandparents were there when the church was built, and the family hasn’t missed a sunday since, or the person who immigrated to the US yesterday.. and wandered in accidently.  Every one of them belongs in God’s house.  Every one of them God wants to reveal His love to, whether for the first time, or the 10,000th. These times are about God taking care of His people, all of them, all He created.

That means it will be messy, because people are messy.  Sometimes visibly so, more often emotionally and spiritually so.  And all need the healing of their hearts and souls….which are butalized by sin and the world’s pressures.

That’s why He gathers us… and that’s why we praise Him.

Because of His great love for us.

May we remember that as we worship together, as we study together, and as we find those around us that need His love, and share it with them in their homes, or bring them home to church!


Hello, my name is Dt and I am a narcissist..

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care2  then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. 3  Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. 4  Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:1-4 (MSG) 

 Some pressing difficulties can be remedied immediately. Others, not so quickly. But they all are solved if we are faithful: if we obey, if we observe what has been laid down.  (1)

It may seem to some that my post title is said in jest, using the formula of the various x-anonymous groups.  

I would have you know, it is not said in jest, I can be, and often am, as narcisstic as any person on the face of the planet, and while I am not proud of it, I must recognize it.  I must confront it, cofness it, and pray to God that he would help me lay down the idol of “self”.   And as with recovery programs, it is this very thing, admitting our need of God, that is our beginning step to healing.

You see narcicism is a pretty lonely life, at best, even if it is “safer” than investing ourselves in others.  Fulfillment doesn’t come at the being the best we can be, if we are alone when we achienve it.

We weren’t made ot be alone, or to be he center of our own universes.  We weren’t made to live on the defensive, paranoid and hardened against hurt.

We were made in the image of Christ.  And we were re-created in that very image as well, created (Eph. 2:10) to be His masterpice, specifically set aside for living life as He did… sacrficially, doing good things He has planned.

It’s not easy, leaving behind our narcissism, confessing our sin, asking God to use as He designs…. It requires we see ourselves nailed to the cross, united with Christ’s death and resurrection.  It requires that we live in Christ and die to self, to become living sacrifices.  Yet this is what Romans is all about, and this great passage from Philippians, and Eph.5:21 and following as it deals with the relationships of husband and wife, parents and children, bosses and employees.  It is what 1 JOhn is about, when it talks of us loving our neighbor, and James when it talks about faith and works.   It is Christ’s life, and this life we who trust in Him are called and made right and holy to live.   This is what, as St Josemaria says, is laid down.

There is a sense of irony here, for if the goal of the narcissist is self-fulfillment, self protection, to succeed at it, the narcissist has to set himself aside… drop the defenses, and invest themselves totally in others.

That is what our faith, our trust, our confidence in God enables us to do, for we find our life, alive in Christ.

Lord have mercy on us…. and help us realize that you separated us in baptism, from our narcissism.




(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1718-1719). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Reformation Day, A Day I Pray Would Become… Obsolete.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

22  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24  Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!   John 17:22-24 (NLT) 

Most Lutheran churches celebrated a church “holy day” yesterday.  The 496th anniversary of Martin Luther inviting theologians and pastors and people to a dialogue on issues that gravely concerened him. The issue was a very serious one – which affects how we see Christ’ work and the cross.  As you read this, please understand me, this is still the serious issue for me.  It is why I am Lutheran and not Roman Catholic Christian.

But the unintended side affects of that action has resulted in a splintering of the church, as we have taken serious issues, and far less issues and made them “the” points of division.  40,000 divisions, and whether they are over issues like Christ’s work on the cross, or whether we baptize with a little water or much, or what instruments we use, or what we call the guy who preaches and teaches the congregation about Jesus, or about whether something is sin. Those divisions are to be grieved, not celebrated..  Seriously grieved over.

Simply because the division breeds contempt, and often attempts at reconciliaiton – true reconciliation are avoided, ignored, and even mocked. We celebrate these days, and rejoice that God “purified” His gospel, without considering that millions won’t hear it, For if we believe the difference is that important, why don’t we engage is discussion, that the position may be evaluated, tested against scripture, that it might be heard? 

There are times where it would seem like reconciliation is impossible, like when Luther had a death warrant on him.  But that doesn’t mean we stop praying for the church to find that reconciliation, even praying those from whom we are divided. It doesn’t mean we stop engaging in discussion when we can.  It means we trust in God, even risking all, to depend on His working these things out, in His performing miracles.

You see, any sense of unity that would happen, would happen not in board rooms, but at the foot of the cross.  It won’t happen through negotiation, but through absolution.  It happens as we are broken together before God, and we praise Him together for saving us, redeeming us, reconciling us to Him.   Where we celebrate Christ uniting us to Himself in Baptism, and we find we are together there.   That is when I believe that we will begin to find unity that demonstrates the love of the Father for the Son, for the Trinity for us.  That unity is found in no other name, no other label, in unity or disunity with no one else.  For only Jesus can deal with our sins, those very things that divide us from God, those things that divide us from each other.  We can’t deal with sin, any sin, especially the sin of division, unless it is there, in Christ.

Wittenberg All Saints' Church. The "These...

Wittenberg All Saints’ Church. The “Theses Doors”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I doubt I would ever sit down with my own Synodical President, never mind Pope Francis  (who I greatly admire, perhaps more than any church leader in my life so far) That doesn’t stop me from praying for them, praying to see what the theologians call the “invisible Church” be more clearly manifested in the “visible Church”.  That Christ would be known by the world.

Yeah- I Pray that Reformation Day would become obsolete, preferably by its 500th anniversay…..and I struggle to celebrate it.  Because the next day… matters even more.  The Day we celebrate All Saints, as we have testified along with countless others, that God has one, holy, universal (i.e. small c catholic) and apostolic church.  A church that rejoices together in God making us His people, and it being revealed to us He is our God.

We Need A Mighty Fotress!

An early printing of Luther's hymn A Mighty Fo...

An early printing of Luther’s hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We Need a Mighty Fortress!

Romans 3:19-28


† In Jesus Name †

 May we find ourselves secure and safe in the Fortress of Christ, and as we find ourselves there may our worship takes on a new dimension as we rejoice in His presence and provision!

How powerful is this passage?

In order that we don’t take this day, and this incredible passage from the Book of Romans for granted, I would share with you a story.

There was once a pastor, raised in a great Christian home, sent to one of the finest universities, in the world. Thirty-five years old, quickly becoming a leader in the church.  Yet, one night, everything would change.  Change so much, that he would talk about it using the word, “conversion”.  Here are his words…

“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation: and an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

The passage that was being read from Luther’s commentary was about this passage – especially verse 28, the very verses that so changed Luther, who was also a minister of the gospel when he heard them, that Luther was willing to die rather than forget them.  SO what is so powerful, that men like Martin Luther and John Wesley would use terms like “conversion” and “salvation” when they finally realized what they meant?

Why are these words,  So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.,” so powerful, so life changing?

I pray, oh I pray, that as we look at these verses, our lives would change as much as Luther’s, as Wesley’s, as King David’s, who wrote the following words when he got this truth,

 I love you, LORD; you are my strength. 2  The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT) 

Why do we need a fortress?

When we sing “A Mighty Fortress”, do you ever think about what you are singing?  It is what can be called a Creedal Hymn – a hymn testifying, confessing the very core of our belief, our creed.

Reducing all the verses down, it is a simple statement.  We believe we need God, that we desperately need His interaction in our lives.  That we need Him to deliver us, and to be our sanctuary, our fortress, that we need Him to be rock solid for us…

It is as much a confession of our need for Jesus’s work as when we confess our sins at the beginning of our service.

We need Him.

We need a fortress. A rock, a place where we can catch our breath, where we can find comfort, where we can know peace.

Not just because of our sin, but because of the unrighteousness we have to deal with each and every day.  Because of the stress the injustice, the unrighteousness of the world deals us daily.  We have to have that place where we can pour out all our anxiety, all our pain, all the crap that affects our lives.

Not just because of our sin, and the unrighteousness and injustice of life, but because of the threat and reality of death.  For that is where the Law seems to get its strength, for death would make the law a victor.  For in death there is no excuses, and based on the law alone, there is no way we can be right with God.  We can’t, we don’t make the standard.  Our thoughts, words, and deeds, well if we look at them honestly, would we want everyone to know them?  Could we stand a record of all that we’ve thought and said (including under our breath) and done be given out this morning?

Yet God knows them all,

And He volunteered to be our fortress, our place of rest.

How do we gain entrance?

As it seems all of our enemies, sin, anxiety, injustice, and the threat of death’s closing the book on us surround us, we have to find a safe place, a secure place, a place where we can recover and heal from our own brokenness. Where we can experience the revelation of what Wesley and Luther and King David and so many have known.  But how do we get to that place?

We don’t.

We find ourselves there.  The lights come on, and we are in God’s presence.  Verse 21,

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.

That phase, “shown us a way” is literally translated, “He enlightened us”.  This is what Luther wrote in the explanation of the creed, where it says, “But the Holy Spirit called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as He calls, gathers together, enlightens and makes holy the whole Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus in the one, true faith.” Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.

God shines the light on what Jesus has done, with kindness we do not deserve, as He died on the cross.  Hear these words again,

“24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.”

And now hear them, as Luther and Wesley did….

24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that I am righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed me from the penalty for my sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for my sin. I am made right with God when I trust that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood for me.

This is what it is all about. This is what caused such a dramatic change in Wesley, and in Luther.  It’s why we find ourselves, as if we’ve awakened, in the presence of God Almighty and we realize it will be all right. For we have been made right with God, He has declared us right! He has said to each on of us, that we are His child, and that nothing can separate us from Him.

When we needed a place that was safe; He brought us in, cleansed us, healed us, provided for us and does so each moment of our lives!

That is what this day is about – each one of us realizing that we have unlimited access to God – not just when we are at full strength spiritually, but when we are at the breaking point, when we are broken, when our spirits are crushed my sin and unrighteousness and anxiety and even death….

He is here…for you…

As He has been for so many, including John Wesley, and Martin Luther, and Augustine, and the whole company of heaven… and so you can cry with me the words of the psalm,

I love you, LORD; you are my strength. 2  The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT)

Our place of peace…


Lessons about God re-learned from Candy Crush Saga

Devotional thought of the day….

14  So, when gentiles, not having the Law, still through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, then, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves. 15  They can demonstrate the effect of the Law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defence . . . on the day when, 16  according to the gospel that I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges all human secrets. Romans 2:14-16 (NJB) 

35  Bless the Lord, all the Lord’s creation: praise and glorify him for ever!   Prayer of Azariah 1:35 (NJB)  *

 7  O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Jeremiah 20:7 (NIV)

Sitting in the airport the other day, getting frustrated by playing a silly game on my phone, I recognized the same kinds of frustrations that I’ve been dealing with for a while in life.  As I got on the plane, I was reading a new book, recommended to me by a friend.  Written by a Catholic priest, it talked about the lessons of faith learned through watching Star Wars, and how to apply those to ministry.   Very well writtent this book, and so while taking it in, I thought of my frustrations and decided to write this blog.

So here are the things I’ve learned about God from playing this frustrating, addictive game.

1.  Achieving your goal may take some time!
Nothing in Candy Crust saga is impossible.  It just seems like it!  Eventually the little things will line up, you’ll get rid of the bombs and you will finish that level.  It may take you a week, or 30-40 trips to the bathroom (come on – be honest – you play Candy Crush there!).  You might put it down for a couple of days, you might even delete it off you tablet.  But the levels aren’t impossible.  Likewise, we will endure through the struggles in our lives.  Some may take longer to play out, some may be very very frustrating, some may cause us to want to drop out. The funny thing is, we get all excited to finish a level… only to take on… another level!
But we will endure them, and in fact, sometimes we will learn a lot more about life (or the game) because it takes so long!

2.  You aren’t God
How many times have you wanted to choose what colors fall next?  How many times have you gotten wanted to bargain with the processor, just drop me a blue candy there, and I will get you a new SD card, or a pretty new case!  Or gotten angry as that last bomb ticked off, and you had to start again?  There are times I wonder if my failues are deliberately caused by the computer – that they want me to fail.  Most of that anger is silly, but it shows me how much I want to be in control of the game… and of my life.
Sometimes, I’ll be honest – like in the game I want to play God.  Sometimes I am actually foolish enough to think I can do better, or that God is playing with me, like He did with Jeremiah, at least in Jeremiah’s mind (see Jeremiah 20 quote above…) But God isn’t the programmers of CCR.  He’s promised that He’s in charge, that He is our Master, that He has obligated Himself to do exactly that which is good for us.

3.  Mistakes are in the past!
So you failed 40 times at a level. Guess what!  When you hit play, all those failures are history, and they have no impact on the new game, or the new attempt to solve the problem.
Likewise in faith, when we hear 1 John 1:8- when we confess our sins, and trust God to forgive them and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, we start as new as the day we were born, and the day we were born again.  The sins we’ve committed are in the past, the failures are gone, and while they lurk in the shadows, they really can’t affect how we live today,   We might listen to them, we might learn from them, but the glory of the Ministry of Reconciliation that we’ve been given (see 2 Cor. 3-5) is that God’s work is complete.  He has forgiven us, He has cleansed us, and hit the play button again.

I could go on and on about this one… there are things about this game that so mirror the frustrations of life.  There are amazing things, when you think all is lost and a striped candy and a mirror ball show up next to each other with one move to go, and the day is miraculously saved.  But there is one thing for sure, and that will be my last point..

4.  The makers want your time.
I bet that the designers of CCS have an innate or learned knowledge.  They have a goal, expressed in how many minutes we maddle move little things around, trying to achieve our goal.  They want our time, because for them, it means $$$$.  God is neither so manipulative or so greedy for stuff that doesn’t matter.  But He wants our time as well. He wants to spend it with us, showing us His love, showing us His mercy, sharing with us He re-creation of the world, because the blood of Christ was spilled on the cross.  He wants your time, because He loves you, because that’s what this life is all about.  The people of God, and those who have yet to realize that He loves them but will.  Gathered together in His arms, cared for and loved.

As incomplete this silly little game is, that last point, in their brokenness and ours, says it all.  For they realize how precious our time is….and want it.  Not as much as He does, and not for the same reason.

Maybe.. we can spend some more of it with the Lord who loves us, and takes care of our failures, and walks with us through the levels of life.

The Love That Never Came—A Post For Empty Hearts

The Love That Never Came—A Post For Empty Hearts.

Who is more faithful to the faith? Wrong question!

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day

8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9  Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way. It is good to receive inner strength from God’s grace, and not by obeying rules about foods; those who obey these rules have not been helped by themHebrews 13:8-9 (TEV) 

Although it seems a paradox, those who call themselves sons of the Church may often be precisely those who sow greater confusion.  (1)

I see a lot of confusion among the people of the church caused by those in the church today.  Matter of fact, the old cliche, “we’ve met the enemy and we are it!” may be at a epic high.  It doesn’t matter what denomination, what movement, what area, there is a battle who is more faithful.  In my denomination, the battle as to who is most faithful often is waged between those who want to abide by the old rules, the old ways and customs and methods of the church in its 1940’s-1950’s heyday, and those who define faithfulness as being tied to ourreach and mission.  We get convinced that only if we can find the right box, with the right walls, then God will bless us – because we are faithful. That God will cause the church to thrive because of our perfect liturgy, our our desire to see people know Christ.

And we lovk ourslves in a box…. Sometimes in fear, sometimes in frustration, sometimes just because we want and need a way to now we are okay with God.

It is ironic.  But then, as sinners, we are good about making it all about ourselves.

In other times, it was waged over music, or church governance or finances or any of a number of good and practical things.  We focus on concepts, on the theology, on the practice… and we forget about the content, the relationship.. to put it bluntly, what I see lacking the most in these battles, is our desire to know and make known the Lord who loves us.

It’s time to cut through the confusion, its time to strip away both new ideas and old man-made requitements and just draw our strength from where it comes.  Hebrews says it is a gift of God, it is grace, it is walking each day in His presence, reveling in His mercy, depending on His faithfulness, trusting ourselves into His loving hands…confident of His faithfulness.

Seeing whatever happens as something He is working through, whether it is joyous or a cross, whether it is in abundancae …well… let me quote Paul

8  We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; 9  there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. 10  At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life also may be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (TEV)

Here is the key that stops us from looking for affirmation of our faithfulness- because we don’t need it.  We have Christ.   We have a God who says, “you are my child, I have begotten you… dwell in my love.”

And when we do.. all sorts of interesting things happen…not that we’d notice… for our lives would be constantly praising Him… for His faithfulness.

So stop trying to prove your faithful, that your faithfulness is superior or more holy.. and just dwell in His presence, evjoy His love.. and adore Him..for He is our God, and we are His kids.


Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1664-1665). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

To prepare servant leaders…

Devotional Thought of the Day…

12  After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13  You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14  And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16  I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17  Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.   John 13:12-17 (NLT) 

352         It hurts you to see that some use the technique of speaking about the Cross of Christ, only so as to climb and obtain positions. They are the same people who consider nothing they see as clean if it does not coincide with their own particular standards. All the more reason, then, for you to persevere in the rectitude of your intentions, and to ask the Master to grant you the strength to repeat: Non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat!—Lord, may I fulfil your Holy Will with love!  (1)

I’ve had to deal with a lot of memories this in the last month, and in the last few days.  And it has been intensely… thought and emotion provoking.

From seeing my extended family – most for the first time in 6 years, some for the first time in 30.  To seeing my old schools, and haunts, to remembering times with my dad, and mourning and being grateful for our lives together.

This morning – as the sun comes up on the pond, as the mist arises, I have to face that its time to go home.  Back to work, but its not really work. Its more than that.

Probably the most dominant memory this morning is from California – perhaps the biggest lesson I learned… which I remembered going back on campus of my alma mater about a month ago.

PCC’s motto started out, “to prepare servant leaders…

And besides going back to my wife and son (Which I can’t wait for the hugs from) that’s what I’m going back to do.  To prepare people to serve…as Christ did.  To serve each other without thought of what they will get in return.  To serve each other as Christ would.   To even as they are finding healing in Christ, reaching out out help others.  You see, I think we rip something away from it, when we translate the greek as “ministry”.  It is simply the verb, “serve”.  And every minister, whether priest or pastor or deacon or bishop or Sunday School teacher, or wortship leader… that’s our calling.  N

To train them to serve others, and lead them into the presence of Jesus, to reveal God’s love for them – a love that cannot be measured.

It’s time to go back to california – to get back to my mission field… to serve.. for that is the only way to teach others to serve…

No matter what else anyonr else does – that’s where my ministry lies…..that’s where I’ve been called and trained to be… to serve and thereby teach others to….

Time to get back to it.

Will you come along?

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1631-1636). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Needing a Sanctuary… because we know He is there…

This was the church of my parochial school... a beautiful sanctuary in Lawrence, Massachusetts..

This was the church of my parochial school… a beautiful sanctuary in Lawrence, Massachusetts..

 Devotional thought of the day….
In God is my safety and my glory, the rock of my strength. In God is my sanctuary! 8  trust in him, you people, at all times. Pour out your hearts to him, God is our sanctuary,. Psalm 62:7-8 

 18  “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! 19  Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you. 20  May you watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. 2 Chronicles 6:18-20 (NLT)

Think about this carefully: being transparent lies more in not hiding things rather than in wanting things to be seen. It is a matter of allowing the objects lying at the bottom of a glass to be perceived, and not trying to make the air visible.” (1)

I have never so wanted to go into to a church building as I did last Sunday, to just go in an pray, to feel at home, to find myself calmed as I sat in the back and took the time to have God revealed to me.   Until perhaps today…as I received a text from a very close friend, whose dad past away today, 34 days after mine.  

I want to run back to the church where I grew up serving, where I grew up finding a peace and comfort not known in any other place.  Too many people affected by death recently, even as I have come here to relive memories, and the past.  

I feel a but disjointed, for the place I would run to here….. the place is not here anymore… and I need that sanctuary to be able to weep, to be able to pour my heart out – just like I can back in Concordia’s sanctuary, or Shepherd of the Valley’s… or St Francis here in Lawrence – just a few miles from where I sit at the lake.  It’s not that other churches wouldn’t work, or that I can’t do it here, sitting at the lake, looking out at something more beautiful than anything a artist’s brust or a camera can capture..  But… there is something special about the places we call our home parish, our home church.  I hear it in the voices of the people who cry when a church closes, or consolidates, or for whatever reason.  It is probably why I’ve spent most of my ministry working in smaller churches – churches that might close if they aren’t given hope.

There is something about the sanctuaries that we call home. The place we know God’s put His name – because we’ve experieced it over and over.

I’ve heard from other ministers that writing such stuff isn’t “manly” – that it will turn guys off, that it will drive them away.  Don’t admit your weakness – and really don’t expect us too either!  Not that I want to do so in front of you, or in front of them, heck in front of anyone.  Guys don’t like that stuff. it’s not manly enough, it’s not for those who admire strength.  I think it is just the opposite – for it takes some strength to trust God enough to pour out your heart… if takes strength to risk that transparency, to be His Kid.  I think that is what St Josemaria’s talking about – about letting our pains and our sins be seen to God – not trying to hide them anymore. To say,  yeah, it’s time to pour out my heart – to let my God be my God, to let Him be my Comforter,  to know He is here…lakeside…for He dwells with us.  

The Lord is with us.. the Lord is with my three friends, who are dealing with the death of loved ones this week…

With me… as I place them in His hands… for mine are not up to the task today ( even if I was back in Cali – which tomorrow I will be.)  …catching my own tears…as I mourn my own Dad’s death, as I mourn the loss of places I knew in my youth… as I see my old church, my old sanctuary, where i served as an altar boy and played organ and pulled pranks…where I found God’s peace so many times… (tomorrow I will be back in Cali – and back to my norm – I know this as well – for I know God’s strength)

With you…. for He is your sanctuary…. so trust in Him… pour out your heart to Him….so give Him all your burdens..let Him be your God, let Him be your sanctuary!

And then you will find revealed again, His wondrous peace that passes all understanding, the peace in which we dwell, the peace in which Christ keeps us!

Please keep my three friends in your prayers tonight – an their families… thanks!
(and if you have a spare moment… pray that God would find away to reopen the church of my youth!)

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1555-1557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.