Author Archives: justifiedandsinner

Pastors and Priests are not Holy Pez Dispensers!

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Devotional Thought of the Day:

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 1:28-29 (TEV)

In the sacrament Christ is received. However, this would not happen if Christ were not, at the same time, prepared and distributed through the Word. For the Word brings Christ to the people and acquaints their hearts with him. The sacrament in itself does not transmit this knowledge.

And even if there is some preaching, the mass may be of Christ but the sermon on Theodoric of Bern or some other story. God punishes us in this way because we do not pray for our daily bread. The venerable sacrament finally becomes not only a vain and empty custom but also an object of contempt. After all, what does it profit us if Christ is present and has prepared bread for us, if this bread is not given to us and we do not delight in it? That is just as if a delicious meal were prepared and no one was there to pass the bread, bring the food, or pour the drink, and all were expected to have their hunger appeased by the odor or the sight of the meal.

You might think that this post is going to laud the preaching of the word over the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  I mean, after all, Luther’s words could be interpreted that way.  Luther makes it sound like the sacrament is completely dependent on the word, that without it, it, it is vain and worthless.  It would be of no profit to our bodies and even less to our souls.

Theologically, that may sound right, but I do not agree with that interpretation.

I think it is that we can’t separate what God put together, the gift of hearing the word and receiving the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood.  We need both, and we need them together.  They need to understand the experience they have, as they take and eat, and take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

As I said in the title, pastors and priests (Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and other sacramental groups) are more than spiritual Pez dispensers.  Our role is to reveal to you Christ, to ensure you understand the grace that you are being given in the sacraments, to make sure you understand that grace is Christ’s presence in your life, and how that transforms who you are, it results in a change to your very identity.

That is why we see this Communion Feast so important, and the words that prepare us for it critical.  This time, not just about our sins being forgiven, but the time we know we dwell in Christ, and He dwells in us.

We need this, and we need to remember, to understand, to savor this moment.  So to preach on something else, to not focus on Christ crucified for us, to make sure you understand this and treasure it, and to give you the time to think and work through it, this is our calling.

For your benefit.

So let both people and their clergy, work together, and rejoice together, as God provides for us.  Amen!
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 57–58.

Stop Defending Yourself!!!

man holding snowball

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.  1 John 1:9 CEV

We need not worry about success because our love is guaranteed success, even if it does not move our neighbor to respond. For if we are one with Christ as members of His body, then our love is part of Christ’s love. It is not just an imitation from afar but a participation from within. And Christ’s love is guaranteed success, even though it was crucified in us and often continues to be crucified by the world. It is guaranteed success not because of its intentions or goals, but because of where it comes from: the Son’s perfect obedience to the Father.

671    “Jesus remains silent.”—Iesus autem tacebat. Why do you speak, to console yourself or to explain yourself? Say nothing. Seek joy in contempt: you’ll always receive less than you deserve. Can you, by any chance, ask: Quid enim mali feci?—“What evil have I done?”

Defending ourselves has become a national past-time it seems.

Some of us do so by going on the offensive and pointing out the flaws in others. Unless we are brave, we do this by social media. That way we add another layer of defensive offense to our armored position.

Others of us just back to the old ways, and attempt to rationalize and justify whatever it is we have done wrong. To explain why it was better to do it “our” way.  We might even blame it on God, projecting some command, twisting it, to make us look better.  After all, we were just obeying orders!

Maybe we fear that taking the silent approach simply confirms our guilt and the shame that goes along with it.  But surely, we aren’t that concerned with what “they” think?

Escriva notes that we will earn less contempt than we deserve, and I believe that is true. Kreeft points us to the fact that if we are crucified for being wrong, let it be crucified for loving others. Hard concepts to act upon, and yet, that is what we do.

This is completely logical!  If we are accused of anything else but loving God and those around us, we deserve the scorn.  If we are accused of doing that which is truly loving, then we are in the same situation as Jesus, and are assured that HIs sacrifice was used by the Father, so would ours be. He wins when that happens, and because we dwell in Him, so we win as well!

Either way, defending ourselves is worth so little…

So what if we are guilty, what if they are right? What if we are the ones who have done wrong?

1 John says it is simple to take care of that…

Let God absolve you, go to your pastor or priest, and let them tell you what you need to hear, what devours the guilt and shame, leaving behind joy and freedom.  And the ability to know the same love that nourishes our very soul, which enables us to love sacrificially.  Even if the sacrifice is our very lives.

So either we are loving as we should, proving God is with us, or we are corrected by our error and absolved to love as we should.

Either way, defending ourselves would simply get in the way…

Rejoce, the Lord is with you, and He will take care of the situation!

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 26.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Why I Don’t Care How Fast Your Church is Growing (or Shrinking)

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The church, is always in the midst of a storm… but safe in Him

Devotional Thought of the Day:

27  I will live there with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28  When I place my Temple there to be among them forever, then the nations will know that I, the LORD, have chosen Israel to be my own people.” Ezekiel 37:27-28 (TEV)

I want you to know that God has never yet punished the world more harshly than by allowing blind and ignorant leaders to exist, who destroy us by withholding the Word of God and our bread. Let the Turks be Turks. This plague surpasses them. Woe unto us for not realizing this and praying for it to cease!
On the other hand, God has never been more gracious to the world than when he granted it well-informed and devoted spiritual leaders, who supplied this Word daily and abundantly. Christendom, and every Christian soul, is born in and through the Word of God.

The whole point of justification by faith is God’s scandalous, crazy, and wonderful gift of love.

Luther’s words are scathing, brutal, and today are as true as they ever have been.

O sure, we have more pastors with higher education perhaps, more and more of my friends are getting Doctor of Ministry and Ph.D./Th.D  degrees. I am going for one myself.

So why am I saying that we are in a period where church leaders are blind and ignorant?

I think it is because we are spending most of our time on things besides the gospel. We are trying to find the answers to the declining church attendance, the aging church, how to fight the decline in morality, the sociological and political jungles out there.  We hear the latest Barna report,, the latest Pew Research Study, the latest from our favorite religious blogger/vlogger/podcast and we treat our parishioners to our newfound wisdom, our conservative theological acumen, or our theory on how to get our churches to grow and be relevant while staying confessionally centered.

We might even wax eloquently on the core doctrine of Justification by Faith!

Yet we forget the point of justification is to return us to God, to cause us to walk in the presence of God. To realize, using Dr. Kreeft’s words, that God is scandalous, and crazy, as He loves us!

I don’t care if your church is growing 40 percent a year, or declining as you weed out the refuse. If pastors and church leaders aren’t revealing to people the wonderful, crazy, scandalous love of God for them, their work is a curse!  Whether the church is 2000 people on Sunday morning, or 24 faithful, confessional, traditional people.

We have to get back to preaching about God’s love for us broken people. It has to be our message.  We have to reveal to them that love as we preach and teach, as we give voice to God’s forgiving them (a wonderful, crazy, scandalous thing on its own,) as we give them the Body and Blood to eat and drink.

Pastors, do these things – we know they bring life to our people.  People, pray for your pastors, ask them to focus on revealing God’s love for you, constantly.  You are in this all together, and you are not alone.  For the scandalous, crazy, wonderful God who loves you, is with you!  AMEN!

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 55–56.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 25.

A New Year… a Time to Heal Brokenness

Jesus foot washing

Devotional Thought of the Day:

†14 I am the LORD your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble.  Leviticus 19:14 CEV

17 Don’t hold grudges. On the other hand, it’s wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18 Stop being angry and don’t try to take revenge. I am the LORD, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself. Leviticus 19:17-18 CEV

So they ran all over that part of the country to bring their sick people to him on mats. They brought them each time they heard where he was. 56 In every village or farm or marketplace where Jesus went, the people brought their sick to him. They begged him to let them just touch his clothes, and everyone who did was healed.  Mark 6:55-56 CEV

I wondered this morning as I read the first passage whether the deaf and blind were only physically blind, or if it included those we consider spiritually blind as well.

It doesn’t matter if we a progressive or conservative, contemporary or traditional, right or left, or somewhere on a different spectrum.  We all believe there are people that are so out of touch with reality. that they can’t see or hear, because otherwise, how could they be that stupid?

Or perhaps they are the people we resent, with cause perhaps.  People we are angry with, people we want ot hurt just as much (if not more) than they hurt us. We will take ourselves out of their lives, stating they are the toxic ones, they are the ones that shattered the relationship that was once valued, even treasured.

What would life be like if we, like those who dragged their ailing friends, neighbors, brought these people, the spiritually deaf and blind or those who have hurt us and those we love, before the throne of God?

What would happen if we prayed for them, even wept over the brokenness we think we perceive?

Would God be any less willing to listen, to interact, to bring sight to their eyes (or ours) and enable their ears to hear?  Would He bring them to repentance, and forgive their sins?

Or maybe, answering our prayers, would He change us…

Something to think through and pray about this new year, as we look forward to seeing how God is God, our Almighty God, our Wonderful Counselor, our Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace.

Godspeed to you and yours… and this time next year, may you see the healing God has long desired in your life!  AMEN!

Last Blog of the Year: Is it time to finally grow up?

 

District photoDevotional Thought of the decade

11  When I was a little child I talked and felt and thought like a little child. Now that I am a man my childish speech and feeling and thought have no further significance for me. 12  At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me! 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (Phillips NT)4

1  You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2  Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory! Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)

All my life I search for this unique, individual self—my true self—and yet I never fully find it. Only God knows it fully, for He designed it. And only God can give it to me because He created it and is creating it right now, sculpting it with all the tools of heredity and environment that make up my life. None of us knows who we really are once we stop fooling ourselves. That knowledge and that destiny await us in our home. Our home is in Heaven because our true identity as individuals is waiting for us there. The character’s identity is found in the author’s mind and nowhere else.

While I have no need for my childish speech, feelings, and thoughts, this passage from 1 Corinthians 13 also makes it clear that I am not capable of the kind of understanding I would expect of someone who is more.. mature.  My ability to know reality and what is true is limited, and it will be until Jesus comes for us.

I struggle with that limitation, as much as I did as a 12-16-year-old when I thought I knew everything, or at least was making progress towards that audacious goal!  Like Peter Kreeft, I wanted to know who I was, and there were a lot of struggles on the way.

To be honest, I am not sure who I am… I could define myself as a musician, a pastor, a husband, a father, a son, and someone who suffers with Marfan’s Syndrome and probably am on the Asperger’s Spectrum as well.

None of those things really define me, and I can’t yet know who I am, only God knows. He is, as Kreeft acknowledges, still working on me, crafter me as a master craftsman only can.  (He is doing the same for YOU, by the way!)

Before I became a precocious teenager, I was far more content with not knowing everything, I was content with just learning, just experiencing, and I need to do that more in the next year. I need to be satisfied with less control, with having less wisdom than I think I need, to simply walking and living with God.  That is where I am truly content anyway.

Content playing the keyboard, content with my head in a book, learning what I can.  Content teaching people what I really know well, that “the Lord is with YOU!” Really content as I put in people’s hands the Body of Christ. Content as I see these things have an impact that only God can be responsible for, as He brings them to maturity, as they learn to depend on Him.

That’s is something I can’t control, I can’t plan for it to happen.  I can work on the opportunities, but it is something that I have to trust in God to make happen.  To trust Him as a child does, and perhaps like a much older person, who has wisdom.

God is with you…

and in 2020, come share in His feast!

and let us sing His praises together…

the rest will work itself out.

God’s peace from 2019…

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 22–23.

How Do You See God Working in “Them?” How does that affect your own faith?

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The Good Shepherd, carrying His own.

Devotional Thought of the Day:
10  Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. 11  The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12  I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” 13  “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14  And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” 15  But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16  And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” 17  So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18  Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19  Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days.
Acts 9:10-19 (NLT2)

675  It’s true that he was a sinner. But don’t pass so final a judgment. Have pity in your heart and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity.

How can we hate people as much as we do?  Just a glimpse on social media this morning, I see people attacking homeless, immigrants, the President, the House of Representatives (both sides), athletes, Muslims, conservative Christians, those who have had abortions, those who are pro-life, Hollywood and Netflix, people who liked the new Star wars, and those that found major issues with it.

It is spiritually exhausting, all this hatred.

We not only judge their actions, but we also condemn them and assume they are and will always be demonic.

It is as if we don’t believe God is capable of turning them as if God has never had to deal with sinners before, and is incapable of transforming them into saints.

Ananias needed to be converted as much as Saul did. His reluctance shows it, as his faith wasn’t in the God who was transforming him.  Did he think God didn’t know who He was sending him to baptize?

Do we believe God does not desire these people we hate to come to faith, to repent, to be transformed?

If we did believe their salvation was possible, would we spew our hatred out on Facebook and Twitter the way we do? Would we try to justify it when we are challenged on our words and actions?

I would imagine this affects us more than we know, go if we realized God could save them, then perhaps we wouldn’t hesitate to go to God, confessing our own sins, our own darkness, our own doubts.

We need to be cleansed of all sin, and all unrighteousness, including our doubt that God can save all people, that the cross paid for all sin. That in Christ, all can be considered holy.   The more we trust in HIm to save and transform others, the more we will see what He is doing in us.

Trust Him, He is at work, seeking to save the lost, all of us.

Amen!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Let’s Go See Jesus – A Christmas Day Sermon

Altar with communion

Let’s Go See Jesus
A Christmas Day Sermon

In Jesus Name

May the Grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ help you to desire to dwell in the presence of Jesus more and more!

How dare they?

How would you feel if you went to the supermarket tomorrow morning, and the doors were locked shut… and not a staff member was to be seen?

And then you headed over to your favorite restaurant, to use the gift card someone gave you, and it was closed.

Frustrated, you start to head home and realized you needed gas, and the gas station was closed, and the pumps turned off.

I imagine that would be the same response as the owners of all the sheep around Bethlehem if they had gone out to check on their shepherds on the first Christmas Day…

Think of it, all these employees just left their jobs, and took off to go see a little baby, lying in a manger?  It wasn’t even their own child or grandchild.

But they took off, and they enter the village and go to the stable, and as they stare at this little baby, mumbling about angels, and being woken up from a sound night sleep and praising God for finally sending the Chosen One, the Messiah.

So who was back with the sheep?

Would we dare to leave it all behind?

So here’s my question, knowing what they did, and why, would you leave your work if an angel showed up and told you Jesus was here?

Not some ceramic doll, but if Jesus was truly here, would you leave your Christmas gifts behind, you plan for lunch or dinner?  Would you drop all the other “stuff” in your life, would you forget your plans, would you be that irresponsible?

We need to be

If you wouldn’t, or If you say you would do it later, in a day or two, then I have failed our calling.  I need to make sure you understand what it means for Jesus to be in your life, for Him to dwell with you!

Enough that everything and everyone else in your life takes second place.

Not just because He forgives your sins, but the real reason, our fellowship with the God who loves us, the God who came to dwell among us, and whom we will dwell with for all of eternity.

That is why He came, and laid there, for shepherds to see, and praise God to all who would listen. That’s what Mary pondered, that this little one she carried would save, not just all of Israel, but people that will be gathered from every language and tribe and tongue.

The one named Yahweh Save, and who is Called God with Us!

This Baby Jesus, who you came to celebrate today, and receive in the sacrament. He is not just the reason for the season, but the reason for your life. A life He longs to share with you, the good, the bad, the sinful, the holy, all of it. He longs to be yours, and you to be His.

So as the shepherds left everything to find that which mattered most, I pray you see Him revealed to you in this message, and in the sacrament, and because of that, in every moment of this day and week.

Knowing you are His, may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.. AMEN!

 

Passionately Committed: A Christmas Eve Sermon on Isaiah 9:2-7

 

Altar with communionPassionately Committed
Isaiah 9:2-7

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace, mercy and peace of God so flood your life that you realize how passionate God is committed to you!

The overlooked words

Have you ever had a conversation, where the main point that you were trying to make was overlooked?  In fact, the little stuff, that was dependent on the main point, became the focus of the conversation?

That happens continually when pastors prepare sermons.  In fact, I have questions I ask myself every week, that I put in place to try and protect you from me doing this with scripture.

The first question is, “where is the law in the passage, where do we find ourselves disobeying God and doing what we want”  If is followed by “Where is the gospel, where does God heal our brokenness”

But there is a final question, “how is the intimate relationship between God and His people revealed?”

Those questions, especially the third one, keep the main idea, the main idea. For all that we do here, from the candles to the tree, to the manger which will have the baby in it soon, it is all to reveal that concept, that God is passionately committed to you.

That other stuff – just describes the real truth

You see some of the words of the prophecy of Isaiah on Christmas cards, on banners, quoted every year, Let me reread them, from the King James,

6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Those words are an incredible promise of Jesus’ birth, and His life, death and resurrection. To call one born on a women Mighty God and Everlasting Father is incredible.

While I have preached 20-30 sermons on all of that verse, and sung those words in the Messiah, that isn’t the main point of those seven verses.
The key point – the passionate commitment/zeal

They, like the idea that the darkness we all walk in will be shattered by God’s glory, and the joy we will have when God breaks sin’s hold on us, all point  to one simple point, explained in the last verse:

The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

The Lord, God almighty is passionately committed to making all this happen.

Why?  What is He after?  Why would he zealously and passionately committed to sending Jesus to make all this happen?

Because He is passionately committed to you, that’s what this is all about.
God loves you with every part of His being!  He is committed to making you His own, to help you through life, to help you deal with sin, to help you live life, with the confidence of the joy set before you – that you will spend Christmas in His presence.
This is why we are here; this is why we sing Hallelujah, and Joy to the World, the Lord has come.  He has come to be with you, to love you, to help you depend on Him.  AMEN!

What’s in a Name? A Christmas Eve Sermon from Concordia (Matt 11:18-25)

Altar with communion

What is in a Name?
Matthew 11:18-25

In Jesus Name

May the Grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, prove to us He is Immanuel, God WITH Us!  AMEN!


I’m confused – Do I call him Jesus or Immanuel

Once upon a time, I managed a fast-food restaurant.  It was the rule back in those days to call the managers by Mr., or Mrs., or Ms. and their last name, and cooks and cashiers by their first name.

That was always a challenge for me because, at 22, I had a closing crew that was all older than I was at the time.  And having my elderly 40-year-old cashier Su-lin from Thailand, or Maximino and Guillermo, two brothers in their 30’s from Oaxaca call me Mr. Parker just didn’t seem right.

Su-lin had a problem with pronouncing Dustin, so as we were talking one night, she asked me what the name Dustin meant.  I told her and Max piped up – so we can just call you Pedro.  Fine with me, don’t like Dustin that much.

But it made it confusing for the rest of the staff, looking around when one of the three of them called out – Pedro – help!

As I read the story about Joseph from Matthew’s gospel, I thought of the confusion!

Matthew tells us the angels told Joseph to name his foster Son, Jesus.  But then says that this was to fulfill the prophecy that he would be called Immanuel.

So which is it, Jesus or Immanuel?  Which do we call him?  Which is the proper way to address the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Maybe looking at what why would call Jesus will help us figure it out.  Or maybe there is more to a name than how we yell at them from across the room!

Yah-Sozo

The angels say, “you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Pretty simple, and that is what His name means.

Yah – short for Yahweh – God’s name in Hebrew, and Yasha – to make free, to preserve.

In that name, we hear an incredible message, that Jesus came to save us. As the angel says from our sins, from our brokenness.

That is part of the gospel message – that because of Jesus, we won’t face the wrath our sins deserve.

But as the television ads say, there is more, something greater than this life, which is found in what the Old Testament revealed that people will call Him.

Immanu-El

The other name Matthew tells us the Messiah will be called is Immanuel!  A word that reminds us that God is immanent, that God is immediate, that God is here, with us.

This is the purpose of Jesus saving us, to spend time with us, not just on Christmas and Easter, but every moment of our lives. This is His goal in saving us, His goal in the incarnation and birth, the life and death on the cross, it all ends up with this simple concept,

Immanuel.

God with us.

His dream, His desire, repeated over and over in scriptures, “for I will be your God and you will be my people.

AMEN!

A Brutal but Blessed Truth…

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Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  Descendants of Jacob, I, the LORD, created you and formed your nation. Israel, don’t be afraid. I have rescued you. I have called you by name; now you belong to me. 2  When you cross deep rivers, I will be with you, and you won’t drown. When you walk through fire, you won’t be burned or scorched by the flames. 3  I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, the God who saves you. . Isaiah 43:1-3a (CEV)

A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay

I had always believed in God’s love and God’s omnipotence. But once I put the two ideas together, saw the unavoidable logical conclusion (Rom 8:28), and applied this truth to my life, I could never again see the world the same way. If God is great (omnipotent) and God is good (loving), then everything that happens is our spiritual food; and we should thank Him for it.

I am not sure I would use the phrase “godly man” to describe myself. Others might, assuming since I am a pastor, I must be.  But I know the difference, and so does God.

But I can say, I desire to be a Godly man, and that expresses my broken and sinful heart.  I desire it and know how deeply I fall short of it.  That God guarantees that I will be, that I am in His eyes because of Jesus is a great theological and often academic exercise, but there are days where theology doesn’t serve, and where my academic strengths fail.

It is then that I realize that even for who would desire godliness, the times of failure can be blessings.  Spurgeon is right, even for those like me. Kreeft says it even better – everything that happens to me, whether I am in control of it, or am not, is a result of God’s omnipotence, and more importantly, His love.

That’s hard to say when faced with disease and genetic disorders.  It is hard to face for those who suffer from mental illness, and for those who have been affected by the evil of others, or by their own, this is a brutal truth, and one that it is hard to comprehend, and harder to accept.

Even so, as I desire godliness, I must grow to trust, even when I struggle ot accept, that this is true. Even more so, I need to grow in trusting and sensing His presence when the deep waters come, and I feel like I am drowning.  Even more so when life feels like Dante is right about the inferno. When the pain and anguish seem to overwhelm, I need ot remember the promise of my baptism, and the discovery that I have made at the altar, that God is with us is not just words, it is a truth that is the purest of blessings, even when faced with the brutality of this world. Even when I am too tired to see it.

He is with us, He calls us by name, for we are His.

Even in the midst of “it”

Lord, help us to know Your presence in our lives, to experience the love that is beyond explanation, the peace which is beyond understanding.  Help us not to praise You because You rescued us, but because you made us Yours.  Lord, until you let the waters recede, and the fire be quenched, sustain us, and help us to be thankful for Your presence.. AMEN!

 

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 19.

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