Monthly Archives: March 2018
The Confusion about “Faith Alone”
Devotional Thought for our day:
20 And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. 21 It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. 2 Peter 2:20-21 (NLT)
2 For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3 So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? Hebrews 2:2-3 (NLT)
325 Fight against the softness that makes you lazy and careless in your spiritual life. Remember that it might well be the beginning of tepidity … and, in the words of the Scripture, God will vomit out the lukewarm.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the phrase “faith alone” (sola fide in Latin.) In those conversations, I have read what Reformed think I believe, that Romans Catholics think we mean by it, and even what Orthodox think we believe by the term.
Unfortunately, none of them told me what I actually believe, even though they said they were accurately representing what Lutheran and Calvin mean by the term. (there is the first clue when they claim Luther and Calvin mean the same thing when they use “faith alone”)
As I read St. Josemaria’s words this morning, it got me thinking about the difference between faith being passive (which it is) and faith being lazy or lukewarm.
Lukewarm or lazy faith is the result of cheap grace, (to use another theologian’s term) We have the right knowledge, we even pursue that knowledge, but it doesn’t make a difference in the way of life the person lives. It instead goes for either intellectual or emotional stimuli to determine what is good. It would rather see that than action, because we know that action doesn’t save, only faith does. (it, therefore, denies the role of the sacraments in regard to faith!) And because it lacks roots, it dries up and fades away. This is not “faith alone” because there is no God that is transcendent, that is here, that is involved.
Passive faith means that we depend on God, for our salvation, for our life, and our dependence is only on Him. He saves us, He brings us to life, He causes us to walk with Him, and the Holy Spirit’s presence transforms us, making us holy, taking on the image of Christ. It is passive in that only finds hope, it only finds an answer in our relationship with God, a relationship He determines, that He defines, that He constantly nourishes.
That is what those who confuse Calvin and Luther don’t quite understand, or those who were trying to represent what I believe (as a Lutheran pastor) over the last couple of weeks. They put forth that “faith alone” didn’t leave room for baptism, or the Lord’s Supper. Yet in Lutheran theology, these things are part of what is “faith alone”, because God ordained them because He promised to work through them, to pour His promises, including forgiveness through them. “Faith alone” doesn’t deny God’s means of grace, it actually requires us to depend on God working in the way He promised, through those things and times we call sacramental.
And it is because we walk with God that we find our lives being transformed, that we respond to His love almost instinctively, but yet visibly. It means we learn to love and love others, responding to their needs, to their search for life and for meaning. This is a life of faith, a life trusting in God, walking with Him whereever we go..
God is with us, and knowing that, we can depend on Him. That is what “Faith alone” really means, to those it originated with …
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 838-840). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Do we understand, “for Christ’s sake!”
Devotional Thought for our days:
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)
304 Each day try to find a few minutes of that blessed solitude you need so much to keep your interior life going.
48 By the blessing of God, the priests in our churches pay attention to the ministry of the Word, they teach the Gospel of the blessing of Christ, and they show that the forgiveness of sins comes freely for Christ’s sake. This teaching really consoles consciences.
.When I come across the phrase, for Christ’s sake, it makes me wonder how we hear it
The phrase is heard in our liturgies, and is used in so many theology texts. “we are forgiven for Christ’s sake,”.
Certainly, without Jesus’ intervention, we wouldn’t be able to be forgiven. And I can’t see the Father wasting the Son’s life, He honors the sacrifice, and Christ’s merit is applied to our lives, as sin is separated from the sinner, and we are found to be righteous without it.
Yet, when I hear we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, there is a part of me that hears it negatively, as if there is no worth God finds in us. As if the cross and all the suffering was simply God resigning Himself to save us, to deal with His frustration. As if His attitude was, “you screwed up again, I suppose I have to save you, okay. I’ll do it, but only because of Jesus.”
That interpretation doesn’t coincide with how God is revealed in the Old Testament or the New. Saving us is not something He reluctantly does, even as He is frustrated beyond frustration.
This is why we need to spend some time in solitude each day, why we need to be concerned about what St. Josemaria calls our interior life. The place where we know God is with us, where we can hear HIs voice and know we are safe. We need to know He’s found us, and we can relax, and listen
We need to hear God’s voice, we need to grow to where we can join the place the psalmist is at when he speaks of God’s thoughts about him. ,
To understand that God thinks about us leads us to realize how much He does care about us and sent Jesus to save us. To think that is not just a passing thought, but that God has thought about us since He created us. His thoughts are beyond our ability to count, yeah that makes sense. Clarifying that you were on God’s mind more times that you can count is, well I just have words for that concept.
He loves us that much…
Yes, it is because of Christ’s coming that we can know this, that we can be counted holy, yet that just isn’t our goal, it is the Father’s desire.
What an amazing thought.
What an amazing God!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 789-791). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print
You need to be a saint…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. 15 Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy. 16 The scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (TEV)
250 I listened in silence as you said to me, “Yes, I want to be a saint”—although generally I have little respect for such a broad and vague assertion.
In Juan Carlos Ortiz’s classic book “Disciple”, he tells a story of a man who wanted to be God’s, who was in shock as God revealed to him what that meant, as God stripped him of everything, step by step.
His car, his home, his belonging, even his clothes, and well himself.
If he was to be God’s, fully sold out to him, then that is what is what God would give him. Eventually, the man’s vision had God entrust all back to him, to help him realize that all the man had been blessed with, he was accountable to God to use for the ministry God has entrusted to us.
Just as Jesus used all He was, to care for us.
I think that is what St. Josemaria is getting at, in the quote in blue above.
Being a saint, being holy isn’t a vague description, It can’t be determined by a broad overview of our life. Taking our 50 or 70 or 90 years as a quick glimpse, and recalling just the good things we have did.
Being a saint is seen in the small things, in the thoughts and words that betray what we do. In the moments when no one is watching, and in the moments when our hearts and souls are stretched tightly, ready to snap.
It is at that moment that sainthood is revealed, as we turn to God and cry out for mercy, as we cry out for help. It is then when we realize that faith isn’t just about the doctrines we believe, but the trust and dependence that God will see us through the time of trial. A cry that happens without thought, an automatic response to the oppression. A response of trusting God, no matter what happens.
But that doesn’t happen if we talk about being holy, about becoming a saint without seeing God touching every part of life, without knowing His love, and realizing it is beyond all that we could ever expect. It comes from realizing that love, about receiving in regularly in word and sacrament, in letting the Holy Spirit transform us, as we see Jesus, as we explore the dimension of His love.
We become holy, even as we confess our sins ( yeah – even that one!) and believe they are forgiven because Jesus for joy bore the cross for us. For confession happens when we trust God to love us, to be merciful and faithful to us.
Be holy my friends, cry out to the Lord for mercy… and as you receive it, as you relish and rejoice in being made clean, as you rejoice in being His, you will find, He has declared you to be, and made you into a saint.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 668-670). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Why Mondays Feel So….Empty….
Devotional Thought of the Day:
68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!” John 6:68-69 HCSB
4 I have asked the LORD for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the LORD’S house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance. 5 In times of trouble he will shelter me; he will keep me safe in his Temple and make me secure on a high rock. 6 So I will triumph over my enemies around me. With shouts of joy I will offer sacrifices in his Temple; I will sing, I will praise the LORD. 7 Hear me, LORD, when I call to you! Be merciful and answer me! 8 When you said, “Come worship me,” I answered, “I will come, LORD.” Psalm 27:4-8 (TEV)
The pure in heart shall see God. The seeing of Him will be the sign that we are like Him, for only by being like Him can we see Him as He is. But when shall we be fit to look at Him in the face, God only knows. That is the heart of my hopes by day and by night. To behold the face of Jesus seems to me to be the one this to be desired.
Whenever we speak to God, whenever we open ourselves to God, we ourselves are renewed. Conversely, whenever the world closes itself to God, whenever it turns away from him, it is like a planet broken loose from its field of gravity and forever wandering aimlessly through nothingness. When a person loses God, he can no longer be genuinely himself because he has lost the fundamental norm of his existence. When we cut ourselves loose from our proper norm, there remains only excess or reversion. Some theologians suggest, as a precaution, that theology be so worded that it will still be functional “etsi deus non daretur”: even if there really is no God. But if God does not exist, we will have lost more than just an ornamental bauble on the periphery of our existence. If God does not exist, nothing will be as it is now; everything will proceed from emptiness and will revert to emptiness.
Part of my daily time I spend in prayer, talking to God, trying to listen, meditating on his word includes the two Bible readings above. There is a pattern, an order for morning prayer I use that includes them both.
And every Monday these words hit me in the face, and I feel like a hypocrite. I know God’s words are the words of life, I know how wonderful it is to be in His presence, I know how special it is to be in God’s presence.
Yet Mondays seem so empty of all of that, so distant. Even in this holy week, it’s MONDAY!
So there is a part of me that feels convicted, even judged and condemned as a hypocrite when I say these words. It’s not that I don’t want to feel this way, I want to, but it seems like I can’t. I feel like the theologians who imagine theology to be able to functionally exist if God doesn’t exist.
Monday’s seem empty, which is ironic because the day before was so full of His presence I would think my joy would never fade or fail.
So as I start my time dedicated to being in His presence, it starts out as a struggle, (it doesn’t help that the first reading was also in my readings today,) Or the McDonald reading, or that from Pope Benedict. Each reminded me that this is how I should be. Each reminds me that my reality is not what I want it to be.
Each reminds me of how hungry I am for life to change.
I guess over the years, I’ve realized that these feelings could so easily betray me, these feelings that I am the worst hypocrite, these feelings that I am just going through the motions. The dissatisfaction with my own faith and practice could cause even more of a spiral into guilt-ridden apathy until my cold heart no longer cares. It’s easy enough to stagger down that road. Will I ever be fit to see Him face to face? That is my question on Mondays, when my heart lies, and tells me, no.
I need to read these words of scripture and ask God for help to make them mine. I need to find that desire, and the only way to do it is to depend on Him to renew me, something that happens when I enter His presence as I am broken, tired, empty. For then I do see God as McDonald desires. I do become who I am, as Pope Benedict points out. Because God is the one who renews, who revives. It is His love that draws me into His presence, that makes me aware of it
It seems counter-intuitive to need God to provide the desire, the strength to desire to be in His presence. But it is the reality I’ve come to learn to live with. I have to dive into my pattern, for there, Mondays lose their emptiness, the meaningless.. or perhaps, they have no meaning, because meaning is all wrapped up in being in God’s presence, and the day doesn’t matter.
He is the Lord of Life. I need to know that on Mondays… and He makes sure I do…
So let’s pray together, that on Monday’s we would encounter our Lord, and know we can confidently cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!’
He will, that is what He does.
Daily office Meditation for 3/26 (quoted from George McDonald) Celtic Daily Prayer: Book 2
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.
Walking With Jesus from Trials to the Triump: Part VI Finding Hope on the Walk
Our Lenten Journey:
Walking with Jesus through trials to the triumph
Finding Hope on the Walk
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you the hope you need, as we endure this journey, depending on His faithfulness!
The Steps of the journey
Imagine being on the side of the road, leading up to Jerusalem. Jesus, the one some are claiming to be the Messiah starts the long climb up to Jerusalem on a small donkey. As it meanders up the pathway, the crowd is growing in size and in energy,
Expectations are building, even though the man is a mystery,
He does miracles, incredible miracles. He teaches like no one else, and those who’ve met him, are more aware of God’s love, of God’s presence in His life.
He’s coming! Everything is going to change!
It is no different today, as we journey through life, as we walk, guided by the Holy Spirit, and await Jesus coming into our lives.
The Prophet Zechariah told them what to be looking for when Jesus came, He told them what to expect, from how Jesus would arrive, to what He would do.
Understanding this prophecy, this promise gives us real hope,
First – He is coming
As we hear the words rejoice, as we hear that Jesus, our Lord is coming to us, he comes to us in a way that is a paradox.
He’s righteous and victorious, even before the cross there is no demon, no power that can withstand Him. Think about that for a moment, the prophet is using words that are present tense, righteous, victorious, and this is known before he goes into Jerusalem.
Before He goes to the cross, he is already described as victorious.
But then he doesn’t enter as the conquering hero, and that is where we see the paradox.
Maybe that is why he goes to the Jerusalem without the armies, without the majestic horse and the flashing sword. He comes not to conquer, but to provide for His people.
And so he comes, riding on a small donkey, simple and humbly, to be with His people. Just as He promised to back again, and we await Him….
Second – He’s here… working
The second thing we see God doing in this passage is very interesting. Hear it again
I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations.
I want you to notice something very important, He’s not removing the ability of our enemies to do battle, but rather, he is removing our ability to do battle.
The coming of the Messiah doesn’t equip us to do warfare, it enables us to live knowing that our God is victorious. He is bringing peace into our lives, even as He prepared to the cross, so much more now should we be living in peace?
Yet you and struggle and fight, sometimes we try and fight the evil in the world, sometimes we fight the evil in each other, and sometimes, we fight the evil within ourselves. We know we should not sin, that we shouldn’t be so easy to give into temptation, and yet we do. Yet we don’t always turn this over to God, we might even swear we will do everything in our power to be good, rather than depend on Him, and on the work on the cross.
God has to remove our ability to fight, for as long as we do, we will not know His peace. For as long as we fight, we won’t depend on Jesus, we won’t depend on His work at the cross.
We have to let Jesus take over, it isn’t easy at times. Who am I kidding, it isn’t easy at all.
Yet Jesus took care of our need to prove ourselves right. Because of the cross, because of Jesus death paying for our sin, for our unrighteousness, we are now counted righteous. He strips from us not only the way to do battle but the desire to, for we begin to realize that God is taking care of us, that Jesus has made things right. That is His role, as He is our king,
Third Step, He frees us.
He describes that here, in verse 11:
11 Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. 12 Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope!
Even as the prophet is speaking and writing for God, the plan is set, it is by the blood of Christ that all who were imprisoned by sin are freed from it. Even as Christ rides up the mountain to Jerusalem, the plan which was set in place from before the creation of the world is as good as done.
This was the promise to Abraham, this is the promise made to Moses,
He frees us from all that imprisons us, all that causes us to fight, to struggle. Our anxieties, our fears, our sin, our brokenness. He brings us to a place of safety, a place of security, a sanctuary where we dwell with Him. A place where we learn to trust Him more and more, as we begin to experience and see His love for us.
For we are safe with our King leading us, with our King, Jesus, providing for us.
This is what we hope for, understanding it better than the people in the prophets day, or even the disciples in Jesus day. But we still need to understand it better, this love of God, revealed to us in the cross of Christ. This is the hope we have, given to us as Christ died on the cross, yet sometimes hard to see,,,
That is why as I close, I pray for you as Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus,
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)
Has the Church forgotten this critial direction?
Devotional Thought for the day:
28 So then, you should each examine yourself first, and then eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For if you do not recognize the meaning of the Lord’s body when you eat the bread and drink from the cup, you bring judgment on yourself as you eat and drink. 30 That is why many of you are sick and weak, and several have died. 31 If we would examine ourselves first, we would not come under God’s judgment. 32 But we are judged and punished by the Lord, so that we shall not be condemned together with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:28-32 (TEV)
235 Examination of conscience. A daily task. Bookkeeping—never neglected by anyone in business. And is there any business worth more than that of eternal life?
We don’t allow enough time for it in our church services.
Perhaps because the silent time of reflection is awkward.
Perhaps it is because of the shuffling of papers that occurs, or the sound of people shifting (squirming) in their seats, fifteen or so seconds into the silence.
Perhaps it is because we mistakenly think the things we have to say or sing are more important,
The time of reflection, when we consider that we’ve sinned against God, and against others. When we think back and take inventory of the time since we last confessed our sin since we are brought face to face with those moments where we failed to love, where we failed to care, where we made ourselves and our desires the most important thing in life.
It shouldn’t be just on Sunday morning that we do an examination our of lives or our consciences. But we need to do it before we commune, not out of a sense of duty, but because we need to realize why we commune, why we need Jesus to come to us, why we need to know He loves us.
Because we realize we are broken because we need to realize that it was our sin that Jesus responded to, laying down His life to erase it from our books with the grace found in the body broken and sacrificed, and love found as He offered His blood to cleanse us.
We need to do this, not to dwell in the guilt and shame, not to recount how horrible we are, but to realize how precious God’s forgiveness is, and how much He truly loves us, and how much we need to know He does love us.
That is why Paul warns us to examine ourselves. because as we do, we understand the blessing of God’s forgiveness. If we don’t if we neglect this, look at the warning, God will, and rather than pour out His grace, it will result in HIs judgment, and His punishment or worse, His wrath.
Not because we didn’t cover every sin (who has that big of a memory) but because we didn’t trust Him enough to deal with our failures, and we continued in life not dealing with our sin. Because we neglected the freedom God offered to us, and chose to stay in the dark.
So take your time, let God bring to your heart and mind the sins you need to know are forgiven. Ask Him to help you, so that you are convinced of this, you are clean, hole, healed,
Because He was broken, and His blood was shed, for you….
And knowing that, it is a time for a feast!…
How much time do you need, would you like, to examine your conscience in regards to the last week…?
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 640-642). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
Called to Be Like Jesus? Joyously…except..
Devotional Thought of the Day:
33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. 1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1 (NLT)
213 Jesus suffers to carry out the will of the Father. And you, who also want to carry out the most holy will of God, following the steps of the Master, can you complain if you meet suffering on your way?
Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God.
As I approach Holy Week and Easter Sunday, I begin to think about the cross, and I think about Christ dying for us. It is a sobering thought, but it something of us as well.
Paul describes it as “imitating Jesus”, Jesus invites us to follow accompany him.
And we are all for it, we will gladly follow Jesus to heaven, we will gladly let Him show us the way to the Father. We will gladly take on the hordes of hell, the armies of atheism, the alliance of agnostics. and all the religions of the world. We will pound them into the ground, assured of our victory and the demise of those who would denigrate us.
Wait a minute.
You need to be careful here… before you go out to war before you take on the world in spiritual warfare…
How did Jesus defeat evil both the demonic and the evil within us?
Yeah, he took up his cross… and died.
Paul describes it as doing what is best for them – so that they may be saved. The Augsburg Confession talks of this as the good fruit that comes from obeying Christ, and St Josemaria notes the illogic of saying you want to carry out the will of God, and then complain when you find it too taxing, too hard.
This life we’ve been chosen and empowered to live, walking in the steps of Jesus, isn’t supposed to be easy. It isn’t supposed to one continuous moment that is fun and frivolous.
It is a life with Jesus… it is a life spent in the presence of God, therefore it is a life where love requires us to be patient, to sacrifice for others best, to love, and to desire the other person to be freed by forgiveness. That we desire their peace more than the trauma it requires to free them from guilt and shame and our wrath.
This isn’t easy, and more than it was easy to hear that we are sinners in need of Christ’s grace.
But it is what happens to us when Jesus changes our hearts and minds… and the Holy Spirit begins to transform us into Jesus image.
So take up your cross, and walk with Him…. the joy is worth it… take His word for it!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 607-609). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
— Augsberg Confession, The
The Man Who Won’t Search for God. Is There Hope for Him? (I’m asking for a friend)
Devotional Thought of the Day:
50 “Go,” Jesus told him, “your son will live.” The man believed what i Jesus said to him and departed.
51 While he was still going down, his •slaves met him saying that his boy was alive. 52 He asked them at what time he got better. “Yesterday at seven in the morning j the fever left him,” they answered. 53 The father k realized this was the very hour at which Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” Then he himself believed, along with his whole household. John 4:50-53 HCSB
5 One man was there who had been sick for 38 years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”
8 “Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk!” 9 Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk.
Now that day was the Sabbath, 10 so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick up your mat.”
11 He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 “Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” they asked. 13 But the man who was cured did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. ” John 5:5-6 HCSB
For when a person no longer rises above himself in his search for God, he becomes changed—narrower, smaller. Essential organs become atrophied in him. His soul becomes coarser and less discriminating. Eventually he can no longer love the other or even himself.
My devotional blog usually comes from trying to see the place where my readings converge, To take three or four of them and see what one thought will impact my day, and sometimes my week.
As I look at the two stories from the gospel, something struck me as odd.
In verse 12 of the second story, we see that the lame man didn’t know who it was that healed him. In the last verse of the first story, we see the statement, “Then he himself believed” Which means he believed in the man believed in what Jesus said, but he didn’t believe in Jesus.
Wait, these two guys had miracles done for them, and they weren’t followers of Jesus? They didn’t believe in Him as Messiah, as their Savior?
This observation may amaze you, but it is just as likely that it will tick you off. Come on, be honest, why is it fair that this rich leader gets this son healed? ANd why does the wretch who didn’t stay around to find out who healed him get the healing?
There are so many good believers, both then and now, who, dare I say it, deserve to be healed? Okay, they are sinners too, but they need to be healed. This doesn’t seem all that fair to me. If God’s going to bless folk, shouldn’t there be a logic, a sense of justice about the healings?
Now let’s move onto the Pope’s description of a man who no longer searches for God. Who has become smaller, narrower, more self-centered? ( GK Chesterton has a lot to say about this kind of man) Here is a man who soul becomes coarse and dark, brittle and stiff. The man whose life is so irritable and fractured. WHo is consumed by anxiety and stress?
Is there hope for such a man?
I’m asking for a friend.
No, I am not. To be honest, I am asking for myself.
For life has become so overwhelming for those around me, I am so looking for the answers for their problems, that like the man looking for his son to be healed, I forget to believe in the Lord whose words I believed about healing someone I loved. And often I am like the lame guy lying by the pool, hoping for a miracle, but unable to help myself. Unable to think outside my box. (heck I didn’t even know I had one!)
The situation Pope Benedict describes I know all too well, and when I am there, when I forget or resist being drawn into God’s presence, time sucks, Life is stressful and anxiety.
Yes, even pastors go through this and go through it far too often.
Which is why I find such an amazing God who is revealed this morning, providing healing that is needed, that is prayed for, even when we don’t recognize Him at first. He provides what is needed, even when we aren’t sure. He is patient enough that we have the time to process it, to have the “aha” moment of realizing we were (and still are) in the presence of a loving caring God, who is at work in our lives.
Knowing this is the God who loves us, knowing this is the God who watches out for us, who cares about us, not just from duty. but because He loves us, is amazing. It is wonderful, it helps me know during those days when I struggle to rise above myself, when I know I am changing, God will come, and have mercy, and reveal Himself to me.
And to you.
God is with us! And He is patent, reminding us of His love… AMEN!
Do you always recognize God’s presence in your life? If you don’t, how do you feel? What do you do? DO you ever want to just give up?
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.
Thoughts for our Dark Days
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. Psalm 139:11-12 (NLT)
101 Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem sterile. Prayer is always fruitful.
102 Your mind is sluggish and won’t work. You struggle to coordinate your ideas in the presence of our Lord, but it’s useless: a complete fog! Don’t force yourself, and don’t worry either. Listen closely: it is the hour for your heart.
Recently, the skies in Southern California were filled with clouds. Not the light fluffy kind that seems so high, but the dark, ugly, black storm clouds. The kind of clouds that are once fascinating, but also frightening.
Some of us are enduring those clouds spiritually. Whether the storms are coming or not, we feel almost paralyzed as the clouds gather around us, coming at us from every direction.
it is at those times when my prayers seem hollow, my devotions, just going through the motions. I want to move on past them, but the fog which St. Josemaria describes is enveloping us, just as the darkness seems to cover us.
St Josemaria advises us to persevere in prayer, not in pushing our prayer, but listening more carefully, becoming aware of the Lord’s presence, until it shatters the darkness, until the Holy Spirit breathes into us, clearing away the fog. comforting us, loving us.
SO what do we do? Do we fight the burden? Do we just abandon our prayer time, discounting it as too draining, to ineffective, and not worth it? Do we let guilt swallow us because we wonder if our faith is lacking and that is why our prayers are so dry?
I’ve been there, done that, given up, said I will come back in tomorrow, or next week, and once, it was a year…
What I didn’t realize was that these “down times” are essential for my spiritual health. They teach me like they did Ezekiel, who hid in a cave, waiting to find God in the storm and in the fire, then recognizing God’s still small voice after hiding. Why else would Jesus Himself head into the mountains to pray, or go to the garden, begging his friends to watch and pray with Him?
We need to be ministered to by God. We need to let Him love us, care for us, comfort us, and kindle the spark of love that exists in us.
As I come out of these times or at least see the light of the tunnel, I can begin to realize the power of God that raised Christ from the dead is at work in our lives.
And I need that… so need that.
So I’ve learned to try and persist in prayer, waiting to hear He will have mercy, to know His presence and love. ANd some days, I can even rejoice in the dry times, knowing that God is going to take care of it.
As he does for all He loves… and you are one of those He does!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 389-392). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.