Monthly Archives: February 2018
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:14-16 (NLT)
959 We cannot give way in matters of faith. But don’t forget that in order to speak the truth there is no need to ill-treat anyone.
One thing that history has shown us is the need to be theologically astute, as well as to know the history of theology. There are no new heresies under the sun, and they come back with greater frequency than the seasons. As St Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, the role of ministry is to stop us from being tricked, by people who sound like they have the truth.
But it is not enough to simply be orthodox, to have the right explanation theologically, or apologetically.
There are a lot of theologians out there, brilliant men and women who can correctly and clearly explain why they know about God, and even why a contrary view is not dangerous. And there is a myriad who are quite vocal and prolific in their writing, yet still have gaps in their knowledge.
But even for those who have a mastery over theology, it is not enough, and those learning need to learn this as well, less their zeal for orthodoxy become a barrier to the ministry they desire.
Theological orthodoxy is not enough. It never has been.
We have to speak the truth, but it is not enough just to speak it. We have to speak it, loving the person to who we are engaged in conversation. Desiring not to win the argument, or that we were able to zing them. Rather we need to desire that they can glorify God more because they have gained a greater insight into the dimensions of His love for them, that they have experienced His love and mercy.
Too often I have seen the damage the theologian ( or a theologian-in-training like myself) has done because their words were not delivered in love. Words which had unintended consequences, and to use a military phrase, severe collateral damage. The damage that leaves people thinking the church, and therefore God, is heartless and doesn’t care about them, just creating clones, or getting people inside without caring enough to confront their brokenness.
And for us who claim to have some level of wisdom, how heartbreaking it is to realize that we have driven someone away from the love of God.
We can change this tendency we have, we must change it! But it is not simply through our will and determination. FOr we will find ourselves doing the same thing, to different people. Or we will find ourselves responding defensively to others.
It is through learning to adore Christ, as we ourselves are changed by His love, that this change occurs. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, revealing to us and helping us explore the depths of God’s love. That love changes us, enables us to love, and therefore to speak the truth in love. A maturity that is nourished in sacramental times, and in times of prayer and meditation.
So let us encourage each other to know the love of God, which is the reason we have hope and peace in this midst of this broken world, fr we know He will answer when we
Lord, Have Mercy!!!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3383-3385). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 20 You know the commandments:
Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness;
honor your father and mother.”
21 “I have kept all these from my youth,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, n and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” Luke 18:18-22
Creation exists for the sake of worship: Operi Dei nihil praeponatur, Saint Benedict says in his Rule: “Nothing is to take precedence over the service of God.” This is not an expression of exalted piety, but a pure and practical application to our own lives of the story of creation and its message. The genuine center, the force that moves and orders from within the rhythm of the stars and of our lives, is worship
888 You tell me that you want to practise holy poverty, you want to be detached from the things you use. Ask yourself this question: do I have the same affections and the same feelings as Jesus Christ has, with regard to riches and poverty? I told you: as well as resting in the arms of your Father God, with all the confident abandonment of one who is his child, you should fix your eyes particularly on this virtue to love it as Jesus does. Then, instead of seeing it as a cross to bear, you will see it as a sign of God’s special love for you.
The devotional part of my blog originated as a journal, the writings that summarized my devotional readings for the day, that helped me process what I encountered in the Bible readings and other readings I do.
Originally those readings started out as a discipline, and the writing was something I did because I realized that otherwise, I would go through the motions, Reading, and maybe even slowly changing, but not with any real desire. I read because that is what a “good” Christian should do, what a pastor “should” do because then I am an example for my people.
It has become more than that, partially because of Lutheran theology, partially because of St Josemaria Escriva, but mostly because of needing to cope with my own brokenness, and the darkness that would overwhelm me otherwise. I don’t like talking about it, I don’t like even dwelling on it, but it is there… lurking with every click of my heart.
In my devotional reading, in the writing I do that comes from that, there springs hope, I find not only the light at the end of the tunnel but the light, the glory of God, the love of Christ is not at the end of the tunnel, it is there, with me, guiding me, comforting me, protecting me.
The rich young man, (some say it was Saul, years before Damascus Road) couldn’t see his own brokenness. He couldn’t see the need to be with Jesus, and more importantly, to know Jesus was there, with him. The man had the same invitation the apostles did, “come, be with me,” and he turned it down.
Likewise, the poverty, the detachment that St, Josemaria describes is a form of the brokenness I have encountered, as things I loved dearly ( sports, martial arts) were stripped away from me, as who I was drastically and painfully redefined. So painfully, that I can easily acknowledge the only comfort that helps is finding rest in Christ, especially in His word, and in the peace, I find in the sacraments, especially Confession and Absolution, and of course the Eucharist, the Holy Supper where Christ gives us Himself. ANd in the midst of the brokenness, the pain of body heart and soul, I find something more precious, the love of God. That doesn’t mean I like the pain, but it doesn’t mean I can be thankful for it, and even praise God for it. For in the pain, I find His comfort.
Which leads me to a third reading, the one from Benedict XVI, where he talks about Creation is worship. So it is, I find. Not because I am a particularly pious person, or because I want to be considered holy. Take my word for it, I am not, not even close! Worship isn’t just about upbeat praise or ceremonial splendor, it is about finding yourself in God’s arms, held, comforted, healed. It is about being able and free to weep until there are no more tears. It is there that we find the reason we worship God.
He loves us.
And as we realize this, as it is revealed, nothing else seems to matter, all the brokenness falls away… and worship and adoration is what we do, in response to that love.
Why do I spend the time I do, reading scripture and works of others God has ministered to?
I have to… it is the only way I can survive. And yet, the beauty revealed, as I see how much God loves us, reveals that such reading and prayer and meditation is not sacrificial, but something that is life. with Him. It is exploring the length and width, the height and depth of the love of God, the love I cannot understand, but I can experience. I pray you can as well.
Know this, He loves you…
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3131-3137). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Walking with Jesus through Trials to The Triumph
EnJOYing the Walk!
† In Jesus Name †
As you walk with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may the gift of their love and mercy sustain us, and bring us great joy!
Where is the joy?
Verse 11 in our epistle reading often leaves me wondering. Specifically, the part that says, “so NOW we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God.”
Did you guys get this memo? That because of your wonderful new relationship with God we should be rejoicing, that we should be overwhelmed with joy? I think somedays I need to be strongly reminded of that, and somehow, I don’t think I am the only one.
As we walk through this season of Lent, as we walk through these trials to The Triumph, we need to experience this joy, not just because it will prevent us from burning out, but rather because the joy is the basis for where we live..
We, who dwell in the presence and glory of God, are to live joy-filled lives. It is the fruit of the Spirit Paull will tell the church in Galatia, and the Thessalonian church will hear “rejoice always!’
What an odd paradox for Lent, to preach on the fact that we should rejoice, that we should live our lives full of joy, even as we grieve over our sin. To talk about the joy we should be experiencing is far greater than the joy experienced by winning a gold medal in the Olympics, yet which at times seems as unlikely as me winning said gold medal.
Then again, if we were all full of joy, why would I need to preach about it, or why would St. Paul need to write about it?
A Paradox indeed, this idea of joy!
Endurance leads to confident hope…. For we know
Then again, this passage is full of challenging things to understand, like the fact that when we encounter problems and trials, we can rejoice as well!
As if the problems and trials are the sources of that joy.
They aren’t, and it doesn’t say they are the source of the joy. They just say joy should be expected, that the result of problems and trials results eventually in our confident hope of salvation being strengthened, being made sure, as we realize the breadth and width, their height and depth of God’s love.
We need to get that, for I think most of us look at these problems trials and at points wonder where God is, or why He would allow such a thing to exist? We stagger in the doubt and anxiety that such problems and trials, these oppressive times, and at times fall into sin, looking for relief from how they dominate the landscape.
Luther noted this challenge in dealing with problems and trials when he discussed the first commandment and what a God was,
What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
It is all too easy to take refuge in something, especially in those things that are powerfully addictive, from drugs and alcohol to work, sex, politics, technology, social media and even security. It moves from temptation to sin when those things become our primary refuge, the place we go to first always. Where do we run when life is challenged, when life is difficult? That is our god, and far too often, that is not Jesus. These refuges will draw us in, more and more until we realize them for the trap they are. By that time, we are helpless.
Then we need to be saved more from our refuge far more than we need to be saved from the problems and trials that assault us.
But when we were helpless!
We aren’t without hope though, and that is part of the process. For enduring these challenges can only be accomplished as we are drawn to Christ. When we realize that when we didn’t deserve the privilege of having peace with God, when we realize that when we were utterly helpless Christ came and died for us.
That is where the spiraling into the refuges of idolatry ends, when Jesus comes and rescues us, an unbelievable action, considering he is rescuing us from betraying him!
This is where the joy is found, in that while we were still in rebellion, while we didn’t give a rip about God, and sought out sin rather than depending and listening to Him, He still loved us, He still died for us. He still cleaned up the mess we’ve out of our lives.
That is amazing! That is something to be astounded by! That is something to be thankful for!
He loves us. God really loves us!
And even more, because Christ’s blood cleanses and paid for all our sins, we have the promise of sharing in the glory of God!
That is what we rejoice in, this incredible, mind-blowing idea that because of Jesus, because of His love, we have this relationship with God, where He calls us His friends.
A relationship that is revealed when we can’t make it through these problems and trials when we realize that relationship is called a friendship. A relationship that is full of peace, and in that peace, we can rejoice in what Jesus has done, and what God has prepared for us, a place for eternity, dwelling and sharing in His glory.
This is worth rejoicing in, even in Lent, Yes? AMEN
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself. Colossians 3:10 (TEV)
871 Tell him slowly: Good Jesus, if I am to be an apostle, and an apostle of apostles, you have to make me very humble. May I know myself. May I know myself and know you. Then I will never lose sight of my nothingness.
875 Lord, help me to be faithful and docile towards you, sicut lutum in manu figuli, like clay in the potter’s hands. In this way it will not be I that live, but you, my Love, who will live and work in me.
Each of us suffers from a delusion about who we are.
Some of them are simply naive, the young kid who thinks they will be the next Tom Brady ( or in my day Roger Staubach), the beautiful lady who thinks she is too fat, the average guy, who believes he is God’s gift to women, or the person that believes they are worthless, and beyond hope.
We each live, caught in the maze of self-delusion. We don’t really know who we are, or what we are worth, or why we are worth anything.
This is one of the benefits of having a relationship with God; for as we are drawn closer to him, as He transforms us, our identity becomes clearer and clearer. An identity that finds contentment and serenity in knowing we are God’s creation, His masterpiece, the children He loves.
There is a paradox in this quest for self-awareness, in our search for the answer to “Who am I?” It requires an incredible amount of humility to realize the masterpiece (Eph 2:10) that we are. It requires that we intimately know and are aware of God here, in our lives. Not just the doctrine of His omnipresence, but the presence of God, the real, active, intimate presence of God in our lives.
That is what it means to have a full knowledge of God. We aren’t talking about theological knowledge, but moving with God, dancing with Him, confident of His presence and guidance. It is then, as He reveals Himself to us, that we realize what our transformation is going to result in when it is complete. Being in the image of God, not that we will be gods in our own right, but that we will have the qualities He has, especially the quality of being able to love purely. The transformation happens as God strips away those delusions, as He draws our eyes to Him, This is what Jesus meant when He taught, “25 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (TEV)
Is this easy? Nah. We are still going to pick up our self-delusion, dust them off and try them on again. We will try to convince people are far better than we are. We are still going to battle what we’ve convinced ourselves of, that we have no worth. Which is why we don’t do this journey alone, it is why we have each other, pointing each other to Christ, reminding each other that God is at work and that He promised all things work for good for those who love God.
He is with you, and the more you know that the more you can cry out to Him, and have the confidence that He listens, answers, does and transforms you!
So relax, stop trying so hard to find yourself, relax and realize He is your God. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3091-3094). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Prayers Answered in the Wounds of Christ
Part II: Cleanse me!
Ezekiel 36:23-27, 37:23, Titus 2:11-14
† I.H.S. †
May your awareness of the grace and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you that your prayers are answered, that you have been made Clean!
Shamed among the Nations
In our reading tonight, there is a phrase that really makes me want to hide.
There, in verse 23, God tells Israel that they brought great shame on His name, that they ruined His reputation across the entire world. That is how bad their sin was, that all the world through bad about God because of how evil they acted.
Some might wonder what they did, I think the Apostle Paul described it well,
29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. Romans 1:29-32 (NLT)
Sounds like a pretty bad crowd, doesn’t it?
Maybe, the words you said a few minutes ago described them accurately, as well,
Father in heaven, I have lived as You did not matter, and as if I mattered most, I have not honored your name by using it to praise and pray, I have not let your love rule my life, and so I have failed to love others. There are people I have hurt and failed to help. My thoughts, my words, and actions have been soiled with sin….
That puts a different perspective on it, doesn’t it?
Is God talking about our sin as well as Israel’s?
As we take time during Lent to slow down, part of that journey is to realize how sin breaks us down, how it damages us. But part of the damage it does is to how other people see our God. To think about that helps, us realize how serious sin is, that even the smallest sin reflects on the God we claim to love, the God we claim to believe in, the God we trust, the God we adore.
Our brokenness reflects on our God, much the way that our behavior once reflected on our parents and the way they raised us, or the way people would think we raise our children when they misbehave when they were younger.
Our sin reflects on the God who created us, who died on a cross to save us.
That is pretty serious, a hard thing to digest, and it should trash our hearts when considering the words of the hymn,
“For it was my transgression, which brought this woe on me…”
Though we know that isn’t the end of the story, it takes a moment to understand that our sin impacts God, and His work to redeem mankind. SO take a moment, and think about that…
Your sin, my sin brings disgrace upon God.
Our cry for cleansing…
This is why the hymn talks about casting our lives down before Jesus, about the fact that we deserve His wrath, but knowing that we dare to cry, have mercy! Don’t send us away.
Cleanse me. Strip me of my sin.
And faith is simply trusting Him to do so, that He would be faithful to the promise of bearing our sins, of cleansing us from them. Of loving us enough to hear our cry, and clean us with His blood.
Something he promised all along,
Think about those readings we heard earlier,
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away!”
“I will save them from their backsliding I will cleanse them, then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.”
“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, to make us His very own people.”
The same promise, over and over… the answer to our cry, to cleanse us,
He cleansed us…
As He always intended, as He promised, He made us His own, and welcomed us into His presence, into His kingdom.
What a comforting thought, when all we can dwell on is the realization that we brought Him shame, and He loved us enough to clean us up. That sacred head, so wounded, weighed down by grief and shame. Shows us the depth of His love for us!
Which is wonderful, glorious, incredible, unbelievable.
And as we look upon Him, as we consider His wounds, we find our prayers answered, we find that He has made us His own, by cleansing us, and calling us to dwell in peace!
Devotional Thought for our Day:
“No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the LORD. 16 Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”
17 Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him.” 1 Samuel 1:15-18
Does our daily anxiety about life seem so important to us that we can find no time to look above it? There is the daily anxiety about food and lodging for ourselves and for those who are dear to us; our profession, our work; there is our responsibility for society in general, for its improvement, and that injustice may cease to exist in it so that all of us can eat our bread in peace and freedom. Does not all that seem so urgent that everything else seems of no consequence? And is that the whole problem? Today more and more individuals are of the opinion that religion is a waste of time, that only social action can make a significant contribution to man’s well-being. As a result, it will require a kind of miracle to make us let ourselves be lifted up to what is higher. But God be praised, such miracles do occur even today.
Christ as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me, on my left and on my right.
This day Lord, be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak, in the mouth of each that speaks to me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, and yet all-powerful. Christ as a light, Christ as a shield, Christ beside me, on my left and my right.
Joseph Ratzinger’s words this morning, written perhaps 20 years ago or more, ring so true today. We see so many things that need to be done, so many things that need to be corrected, so many things that cause anxiety, so many things that have to be addressed, otherwise, we cannot find the time to eat our bread in peace, truly free.
These things are so urgent that everything else seems. not to matter, not to be of importance. Including our religion, our walking with God, our taking the time in prayer, to pour out our hearts like Hannah did.
Last night in our church service, I saw something I have long dreamed of and encouraged. People staying at the communion rail, emptying themselves, even through the tears, finding the freedom that comes as we, having received the Body and Blood of Christ, find that we cannot leave until we have emptied ourselves until we are confident that God has heard us.
Do I like the fact that these people’s lives are so challenged, so anxious that they must look for comfort, for peace there at the rail? No, but I do love that they have come to recognize that it is the place where miracles begin. Where they can unburden, where they can drop the stuff that oppresses them and find hope, where they can find the peace they need.
We need to pray, we need to know what the ancient Celtic Christians reveled in, the presence of God in every moment of our lives. God so intimately involved, so compassionate that He will bear our burdens, that He will help us cope with anxieties, (whether we know what we are anxious about or not)
Prayer isn’t about duty, it isn’t just another task in our calendar, it is where we find the miracle of peace, where we are reminded He is there, where we can pour out our heart, and ask for the faith to leave the burdens behind.
God is with you… prayer makes that truth come alive!!!!
So take the time, see the miracle begin and lead in freedom and peace! AMEN!
(and anytime you want to come and prayer… you are welcome too!)
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
from the daily office: morning prayer of Celtic Daily Prayer: Book 2
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
So He told them this parable: 4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field o and go after the lost one until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, 6 and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance. Luke 15:3-7
But there is already the threat of invasion by the virtuoso mentality, the vanity of technique, which is no longer the servant of the whole but wants to push itself to the fore. During the nineteenth century, the century of self-emancipating subjectivity, this led in many places to the obscuring of the sacred by the operatic.
Among all those who passed away, there were two men. The first was the most famous preacher of the time, and the other, a man who spent most of his life in prison, and only as he approached death, did he stop fighting, and God drew him close. There would be a worldwide celebration of the former man at his memorial service. The latter man would have 2 or 3 at his graveside, with a chaplain in tears.
They get to heaven, who do you think gets the better reception? Which person gets the warmer welcome? Whose arrival makes the biggest splash?
We might think it was the man who spent his life dedicated to serving God, whose life and messages affect more people than anyone can count, more than anyone knows.
Yet, time after time Jesus tells us that it is not a contest, that the joy over the one lost is greater than the 99. That the person hired at the last moment gets the same wage//reward as the one who worked from dawn. That John the Baptist, who was used by God to call many to repentance, is the least in the kingdom of God.
And yet, even in the church, we applaud the famous, those whose charisma leads them to become popular, the opera soloist with the voice no-one can match, but who causes us to be reduced to listeners, to observers.
God isn’t a respecter of persons, St Paul tells us. Yet we are, I am not sure why, but even in the church, we are. We need to remember that they are sinners, saved by grace, that is why they are saints, even as we are.
All because of Jesus.
It’s all because of Him.
Going after you and me when there were 99 back at the ranch, rescuing us, carrying us, working to heal us. Just as the Spirit is still drawing people to Him, through us.
WHo gets the best reception in Heaven?
Jesus… who made it all possible, and has invited us all to that feast, as the guests He so dearly loves!
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.
Devotional Thought of the day:
16 Then He told him: “A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. 17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his •slave to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’
18 “But without exception v they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out. I ask you to excuse me.’
20 “And another said, ‘I just got married, w x and therefore I’m unable to come.’
21 “So the slave came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his slave, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame!’
22 “ ‘Master,’ the slave said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’
23 “Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and lanes and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will enjoy my banquet!’ ” Luke 14:16-24 HCSB
The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work.
For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them.
Vivification. That incredible blessing as the Holy Spirit pierces our heart with the law, and then creates life in a person, creating in them the ability to believe in God, and the ability to depend upon Him. We talked about Justification a lot, and Sanctification some, but Vivification? Not so much!
To put it in less technical language, Jesus brings us to life, all of us, through the work of the Holy Spirit. The older versions of the creeds talk of being quickened, and that is what we are talking about. We were dead in sin, and in baptism intimately linked with Jesus death, and then so united, we rise to new life again. This is how the Holy Spirit makes us born again!
Too often though, we don’t encourage each other to live this new life. We talk about being united with Jesus in life, but we too often forget we are united in His mission as well. To use the parable from Luke, we forget the importance of the party and choose instead to waste this new life away.
We come up with so many good excuses though! I can worship God on my own, I don’t have time for long prayers, or studying His word. We don’t have to do these things -because we don’t earn our salvation! We keep making the excuses, we keep telling ourselves we will get back to church later, that we will open that dust-covered Bible, that we will spend more time in prayer, and we will try to love our neighbor, and our enemy.
And with each excuse, we choose to not walk with Jesus, we choose to ignore His wonderful invitation, and we fail to see the Spirit work through us.
This isn’t “do this or you won’t be saved”, it is “this is what salvation is”, walking with God, knowing His love, ministering to others, empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is having a life worth meaning, a life we can look back on and truly say, God was with us!”
Lord, have mercy on us, forgive us of making excuses, and help us live in everlasting life, with you! AMEN!
Catholic Church. “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Devotional Thought for our Days:
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. Romans 12:3 (MSG)
821 Work with humility. I mean, count first on God’s blessings, which will not fail you. Then, on your good desires, on your work plans—and on your difficulties! Do not forget that among those difficulties you must always include your own lack of holiness. You will be a good instrument if every day you struggle to be better.
We are no different than the children who put on superhero costumes for Halloween.
There is a part of us that wants to be the best, at something, anything.
Especially the idea that we are the best at what we do, whether it is a parent needing the hero for their kids, or being the superstar at work, the one everyone turns to, that everyone counts on, the person who is indispensable.
We want to be the heroes
We’ll even attempt to the difficult, the impossible if that will lift us up, not just for the praise, but for the acceptance. For heroes are always accepted, aren’t they? They always are welcome, aren’t they?
But this desire to be accepted, to be the hero, to be indispensable will fade, or we will fail. For we can never do enough, not for those whose favor we want, but to assure us own hearts that we will never be forgotten.
Compare this drive to the idea of humility, the idea of knowing who we are based on who God is, and what He does for us. I love that St. Josemaria says that humility is counting first on God’s blessings. Humility then is not a matter of self-abasement. It is not primarily an understanding of who we are, of recognizing our talents and limitations. That comes into play, but even then, that should drive us back to the first step.
Who God is: our Father, our Brother, our COmforter, our deliverer, our Lord, and Shepherd. WHat He does for us, creation, reconciliation, and as we are united to Jesus, the miracle of holiness happens to us. We are holy in Him, in no other way, yet so incredibly transformed by the Holy Spirit.
This happens as the Spirit enables us to trust, to depend, to have faith in God, who loves us.
You want to be the hero? Why? You have one, and that Hero has provided what you need, accepting you, making you His child, treasuring you!
Humility is found in depending on this. The Lord, your God, is with you…always!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2912-2916). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And to some, his ‘gift’ was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; 12 to knit God’s holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NJB)
Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12:8) or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office. (Italics mine)
Everything that has been said above concerning the People of God is intended for the laity, religious and clergy alike. But there are certain things which pertain in a special way to the laity, both men and women, by reason of their condition and mission. Due to the special circumstances of our time the foundations of this doctrine must be more thoroughly examined. For their pastors know how much the laity contribute to the welfare of the entire Church. They also know that they were not ordained by Christ to take upon themselves alone the entire salvific mission of the Church toward the world. On the contrary they understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and to recognize their ministries and charisms, so that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one mind. (Italics mine)
Thirteen years ago, I was installed as the pastor of a Lutheran Church for the first time. I had served those people for well over a year as a vicar, (basically a student pastor) while going through a time of transition. I was glad for the 30 months or so of transition, it gave me a chance to work through the differences in theology and the difference in practical ministry.
There were two sermons were given that day, one directed toward me, another directed to me and the people of Shepherd of the Valley. The latter, given by Greg Seltz was basically about the unity of pastor in people. A unity that is found in our baptism, a unity that is seen in our mission, our apostolate. It is not pastor over people or people over the pastor, but pastor and people. It was a great sermon, and something we need to understand in every congregation, in every parish!
We don’t always get this correct. Many people think the pastor is the evangelist, the only one that works in what the quote from Vatican II calls the salvific mission of the Church. Pastors don’t save anyone, neither does the average person, but they are saved by Christ, through the work of the Church.
We both have roles, even as Walther writes in Church and Ministry ( an incredible nook from the early days of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod). He says they are to be recognized as ecclesiastical and sacred, as part of the ministry of the Word, supporting the pastoral office.
Yet there are clergy and laity in both the Roman Catholic Church and in Lutheran churches that don’t understand this. They don’t get that the ministry is God’s, entrusted to the entire church together. It is our mutual responsibility, to reveal to the world the Love of God, and God’s desire to reconcile all to Him. Each has their own role, each has their own God-given place in this ministry.
Such a responsibility isn’t to be hoarded like Gollum’s precious ring or relegated to the pastor/priest alone, to provide a convenient scapegoat when the church shrinks. Nor is this responsibility a duty, with checklists and deadlines. It is best done, when all, so in awe of God’s love, work naturally, sharing it with those around them, and then bring them into the family of God. Serving together, ministering together, we see the world turned upside down, amazed not just at our love for each other, but the love of God that pours through us, to them.
We, the church, pastor, and people, are here for the world. To reveal to them the greatest treasure, the greatest of blessings, which brings the news of the greatest love, and the greatest of peace.
It is time again, to work as the church, the people of God.
Lord, have mercy on us and help us be your body, reaching out to the world. AMEN!
Walther, C. Church and Ministry : Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Church and the Ministry. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1987.
Catholic Church. “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print. Italics mine