Author Archives: justifiedandsinner

9/11, Peace, Nirvana and Heaven

Devotional Thoughts for 9/11:

14 We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. 15 But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying. Heb 2:14-15 CEV

We doubt God’s love when we see and feel all the sufferings that our freedom to sin has brought upon us. Like Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, we prefer happiness to freedom. We wish God had given us less freedom and had guaranteed that we would stay in Eden forever. We wish that He had put up a sign saying “No snakes in the grass”, that He had given no law that we could ever have chosen to disobey.

I was in Del Taco, the one on 29 Palms Highway, the one from which you can see Yucca Valley High School. I had just placed my order, and heard people gasp. I rounded the corner. and froze.

And we, along with millions of others, watched as thousands died.

I don’t remember what I ordered, or if I ate it. I was supposed to go play golf on the base golf course, that would be cancelled. I drove to my church, threw open the doors, let 107.7 know people could come and pray…. and they did.

19 years later, the memories, along with many of the people I’ve stood by the bedside of, as they died. Many of those times are passing before me this morning. Some people were at peace, others not so much. All, along the journey, questioned God about the suffering that they, or the loved ones they cared for endured.

Why does it have to exist? Why couldn’t god just leave us in paradise, and make it impossible for us to sin? Impossible for us to suffer, impossible to…die. Why do we fall for temptation, again and again? Why do we have to suffer the consequences of the freedom God has given us all? Why did Adam and Eve fall for the lie that all freedom is good? Oh the power of that lie! Oh the damage that freedom can wreak… for freedom means that we often choose that which leads to death. Our death, or others.

Wouldn’t we be happier if God just programmed us perfect, and we knew no freedom, but only happiness? If we knew naive bliss, but not how love is still love in the midst of our brokenness? Would it not be nirvana if there was no war, no discrimination, no terrorism, no death?

Perhaps it would, but nirvana is but emptiness, it is the emptiness, the lack of self, and while this may seem peaceful, it misses out on what truly creates and sustains peace. It lacks the thing we need to know the most

Love.

The kind of love that brings peace in the midst of suffering and death. The kind of peace that has us give up control, but in order that God’s love may be revealed to be in control. The kind of love that rescues us from the fear of dying, by reminding us for the promise of heaven.

Kreeft finishes the paragraph above with this,

Mere kindness or compassion would keep us protected against suffering by denying us real freedom. That is the love we have for pets but not for persons, at least not persons we really respect. We are not meant to be God’s pets. He did not create us for that. We are to be God’s lovers.

We aren’t not God’s pets, His naive, companions. Who wants a scratch behind the years, or a treat when we behave right, and ask to go out rather than leaving a puddle on the kitchen floor. We are the bride who will cry on His shoulders, who will depend on His strength to get us through life,e who will sing His praises, for eternity is more than death… and even in the times of death, those who know Him, can know His peace. We need the Holy Spirit to come, and to comfort us, in the midst of terrorism, amid the brokenness of a country torn apart by disease, or sin, or natural disaster. We need to find something so amazing that we can leave the painful emptiness behind, in view of the amazing love.

That is why people ran into First Christian Church on 9/11. That is why they cried at the altar, and why they could leave… still distraught, still not believing, but knowing that God was with them, and therefore knowing peace on a horrendous day.



Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 116–117.

An Intense Faith

Devotional Thought for this Day

7  Our LORD, punish the Edomites! Because the day Jerusalem fell, they shouted, “Completely destroy the city! Tear down every building!” 8  Babylon, you are doomed! I pray the Lord’s blessings on anyone who punishes you for what you did to us. 9  May the Lord bless everyone who beats your children against the rocks! Psalm 137:7-9 (CEV)

896      At this time—and always!—when the Lord wants his seed to spread in a divine diffusion among the different surroundings, he also wants the extension not to lessen in intensity. And you have the clear and supernatural mission of helping to ensure that this intensity is not lost.

The passage in Psalm 139 bothered me for decades. To an extent, it still does. The retribution, the revenge the psalmist proposes seems over the top, it seems beyond belief. How could a follower of God write such a horrid peace, how could they wish that kind of pain on someone else.?

How is this loving their enemies and praying for someone who persecutes them?

The intensity of the faith is some good, the way it ovices itself, perhaps not so much?

Then I see the power of addiction, the brokenness of those who have been abused, the heartache of those betrayed by a close friend, and I want to use that passage to justify praying for revenge, asking God to crush those who cause such damage.

And am I wrong?

Yes, if the enemy is another human.

No, if the enemies are the demonic forces that tempt, that kill, that try to blot out the image of God created in mankind.

I need to be praying for those who seem to be the cause of such, praying for God to reach their heart, to circumcise their hearts, even as I need mine to be. To free them from the enslavement to sin that creates the havoc in their lives, which spreads like a virus, affecting all around them.

This is the intensity we need in our faith, that dear Josemaria speaks of, that focuses our battle where it should be, crushing the gates of hell which tries to stop the power of the gospel.

This is the seed which must be sowed, in more and more places, but not with any less intensity.

May we increase in our intensity, may we realize the damage the powers of hell try to create in life, and may our hearts be set on seeing God’s love free and heal those who have been so damaged.

Lord, Lead us into this battle, and protect us, we pray. AMEN!

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

Revival Realized: What are We Watching For? Ezekiel 33

Revival Realized:What Are We Watching For?
Ezekiel 33:7-9

In Jesus Name

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ help you to be a watchman for those around you!

What are we watching for?

As I looked at the Old Testament passage, I realized it was a call for revival. In some ways, a desperate one, for lives depend on it.  Not just physical lives now, but lives for eternity.

The people that God calls his watchmen to warn are in deep trouble, for an enemy is coming, and it is that very enemy of their whom we need to watch for, and to warn them about.

For if we don’t, God will hold us responsible for their deaths.

So this idea of revival, is not about getting the church to grow larger, though it should. It is about the difference between death and life, the difference between condemnation and mercy, the difference of dwelling in sin, or dwelling with Jesus.

So the question is, as watchmen, what are we watching for?

The answer is simple, an enemy.

The enemy of those whom we are to warn, less they perish.

Who would be their enemy?

Who is this enemy?

A few verses before this reading, the enemy is identified,

2  “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. 3  When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people.  Ezekiel 33:2-3 (NLT2)

In this case, the army is one God sends, and in the end, it can be only one army, led by one King, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And Revelation 19 talks in depth of what happens, when that vast army, arrayed in white, shows up…

The enemy is the enemy, because of who is being warned.  Hear verse 8 again.

If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths.”   Ezekiel 33:8 (NLT2)

The enemy is the enemy because the people that we are to warn, including ourselves, are caught up in wickedness.

The concept of wickedness in the Old Testament, is simpler than we might think. One of my Greek lexicons talks about the wicked being those found guilty of rupturing relationships. It clarifies it later, stating “The verb can describe a general breakdown of social relationships (Ps 94:21) in which bad people mistreat good people”[1]

A wicked person is just the monsters in history that killed or ordered the killing of people. A wicked person is anyone who causes damage to a relationship. If you want some ideas of this, look at the 10 commandments, each of them is about how you tear holes in a relationship. Whether is not using God’s name the way He asks us to, or honoring our parents, or murdering, theft, gossip, or being so jealous of someone else, we want to get what they have. These are things that rupture relationships,

That is what makes God consider these people wicked, anyone who does these things.

Responsible for their death?

If we are to love our neighbors, and we are, as those tasked with watching out for them, we are responsible if they aren’t informed that their enemy is coming, that judgment and condemnation are not far in the future.

This is why God would hold us responsible. He loves these people enough to make sure they are warned, and He has put the church here to do just that, to draw them back to His mercy, to tell them of Jesus, to explain what mercy is, and how God can heal the tears in any relationship.

SO what do we do?

That is what revival is about, God reviving those who are guilty of fracturing relationships with Him, healing the relationships that were ruptured by sin. It is where broken marriages find restoration, prodigals are welcomed home, communities find healing for sins that have torn them apart.

If you look at the Welsh Revival, or the Azusa Street revival, at Spiritual Awakenings in the early and mid-1800’s, or even the period of the Luther’s reformation and the counter reformation, there were things that happened in each of them.

One was a call to repentance, people praying that others would be saved, and warning them that God would come back, and that if they were still His enemy, if they still were still guilty of rupturing relationships, that it would be too late.

Revival always includes confession and absolution, because that is what causes us to need revival. It is what kills us spiritually.
And the way we prepare for God’s return is simple, we trust Him at His word.

10  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Romans 5:10-11 (NLT2)

The very one coming, gives us the ability to repent, it is His gift. It is how He saves us, and all those we serve as watchmen for, all those we warn about God’s coming…

We have to let them know God will restore us to being His friends, to being His people. He will bring us into this relationship by rupturing our relationship with sin.

In fact, He already has, for us, that too is promised and guaranteed.

4  But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7  Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”  Titus 3:4-7 (NLT2)

This is revival, this is here, it is what God  has done for you…. And it is our job as watchmen to ensure others will know He will do it for them… and to urge they take Him up on it.  AMEN!



[1] G. Herbert Livingston, “2222 רָשַׁע,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 863.

Dare I? Dare I go there? I must

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

18  Zion, deep in your heart you cried out to the Lord. Now let your tears overflow your walls day and night. Don’t ever lose hope or let your tears stop. 19  Get up and pray for help all through the night. Pour out your feelings to the Lord, as you would pour water out of a jug. Beg him to save your people, who are starving to death at every street crossing. Lamentations 2:18-19 (CEV)

14  When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit’s inner re-inforcement – that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled though all your being with God himself! Ephesians 3:14 (Phillips NT)

Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which You planted in me at my making. Out of the depths I cry to You… 

That is why the Song of Songs has been the favorite book of the Bible for so many saints: it lifts the curtain a little and lets us in on the divine secret behind the scenes, the point of the play we are in. All the other stuff in the play—all the war and suffering and death and law and punishment and spy stuff, all the stuff that seems so different from a love story—is part of the love story. It is in the love story as darkness is in a picture or a novel or a musical composition. The contrasting strokes set off the main theme, the villain sets off the hero, the dissonant chords set off the higher harmony of the whole.

20 Likewise the term “vivification,” that is, being made alive, has sometimes been used in the same sense.3 For when the Holy Spirit has brought a person to faith and has justified him, a regeneration has indeed taken place because he has transformed a child of wrath into a child of God and thus has translated him from death into life, as it is written, “When we were dead through our trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5). “He who through faith is righteous shall live (Rom. 1:17).

As I look at the above quotes, and the prayer which shall end this, all quotes from my devotional reading this morning, I almost feel like God is double-daring me to trust in Him, to depend on Him and take a deep plunge into the darkness of life. Maybe He is even, to quote a former pastor of mine, double-dog daring me to do so.

Appleton (in purple) would say it is only there that I can truly cry out for mercy. Kreeft would indicate that I need to read that part of the story, as if there in our depths, we find that dimension of God’s love, a love deeper than our deepest darkness. And there, in the place of spiritual and emotional death, we find that God breathes life into us, that Revival has to happen at THAT point.

This is the place of Jeremiah’s cry as well, the place of tears overflowing, the place where we aren’t to lose hope, but we aren’t to let our tears stop either. It is the place where we are to pour out in our prayers, all though the night, our emotions.

Of course, we children of the Enlightenment, we descendants of rationalism back away from such a challenge. Tears change little we’ve learned, in fact they only reveal our brokenness, our weakness, our need.

Which is exactly what we need, it is part of how God revives us, it is how He renews His church. For these scars, revealed in the darkness by His glorious light, transform those scars, much as the wounds in the ankles and wrists, upon the back and in the scalp of Christ reveal His glory to us.

Perhaps that is what will come out of this time of COVID, and therefore we should be thankful. For they show a unique way to the Christ, and as His blood heals us, to the Father. Which brings up just about the only thing from my devotions, that I haven’t quoted, from Spurgeon, “If we cannot get sinners where Jesus is by ordinary methods we must use extraordinary ones. It seems, according to Luke 5:19, that a tiling had to be removed, which would make dust and cause a measure of danger to those below, but where the case is very urgent we must not mind running some risks and shocking some proprieties. Jesus was there to heal, and therefore fall what might, faith ventured all so that her poor paralysed charge might have his sins forgiven. O that we had more daring faith among us!

This is the lesson for this day, the thoughts that God in His mercy, is merciful here, in the midst of pain, in the midst of the depth of darkness, in the place where if we can pray, it is only because we find someone else’s words, such as the Lord’s Prayer or those from the wounded healer below.

He is here, the tears that pour out, let them. Realize the darkness is but to show us the love of God in a way that doesn’t make sense, for nothing in the darkness truly does. But there, God will breathe life into you and I, and the sufferings are a small part of the glory we will know, as He comes to us.

So if you are in the place, pray with me these words composed by someone else who has been there.

Lord Jesus, my Saviour, Your hands and feet are marked with the wounds of Your crucifixion. In Your risen body, Your wounds have not been taken away, but are part of Your glory. May they remind me that my own wounds are not roadblocks on the way to the Father, but are there to show me my own unique way to follow You, the suffering Christ. Assure me that my wounds, too, will be glorified in my own resurrected life. Amen.

And know, the Lord is with you!


George Appleton ( Celtic Daily Prayer – Daily devotion for 9/7 – https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/ )

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 112.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 542.

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

Henri Nouwen, https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/saints/september-21st-henri-nouwen-1932-1996/)

Learn to Know God…. intimately

Devotional Thought of the Day:

8  “So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the LORD’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance. 9  “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10  So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:8-10 (NLT2)

865      He came on earth because omnes homines vult salvos fieri, he wants to redeem the whole world. While you are at your work, shoulder to shoulder with so many others, never forget that there is no soul that does not matter to Christ!

David’s words to Solomon are worth looking deeply into, they are the words he gives, as he hands over the Kingdom. Of great importance to David is the building of the Temple, the building of the place were God would put His name, that people may know they are forgiven, where they may find they are still His people. Not just the people of Israel, but people who are foreigners, who are strangers, who are…different.

When David talks of God’s commands, he is not talking merely about the “do” and “do nots” found in Scripture. He is talking about all that God established, all the God called into existence. He is not just talking about the covenant terms, but the promises. He’s not just talking about the curses, but about the blessings, especially the blessing of God making us His people.

That is why David talks about us knowing God intimately, for only in that relationship can we understand that God is about far more than obedience to the laws, that He is about knowing us, and us knowing Him. It is then that the laws slide away, that our brokenness is laid into His hands. THat every soul matters to Jesus, that He would, through His church, draw all people to the Father.

Walk with Him, let Him draw out of you everything that has poisoned your life, that has turned you away from Him. As He draws you to Him, seek Him, knowing His love will see you through, even as it cleans and heals you.

This is why David so badly wanted to build the temple, why it was his son’s greatest duty and work. Not for the edifice, but that people could know God the Father, drawn to Him by Jesus. May we see the same done today!
Amen!



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

Why I want to Quit Social Media, and Cannot.

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought for the Day:

1 Timothy, my child, Christ Jesus is kind, and you must let him make you strong. 2 You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others.
As a good soldier of Christ Jesus you must endure your share of suffering. 4 Soldiers on duty don’t work at outside jobs. They try only to please their commanding officer
. 2 Tim 2:3-4 CEV

Keep your mind on Jesus Christ! He was from the family of David and was raised from death, just as my good news says. 9 And because of this message, I am locked up in jail and treated like a criminal. But God’s good news isn’t locked in jail, 10 and so I am willing to put up with anything. Then God’s special people will be saved. They will be given eternal glory because they belong to Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:8-10 CEV

That hand which multiplied the loaves, which saved sinking Peter, which upholds afflicted saints, which crowns believers, that same hand will touch every seeking sinner, and in a moment make him clean. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, he looks, he touches us, WE LIVE.

As I look on Facebook and Twitter this morning, I see nothing but wars. People bad mouthing each other and the candidates they support. People cashing people because of their stand on masks and viruses. People talking about how children should be educated, or that it is just a short time, their lives will adjust. People talking about conspiracies, on the right and on the left, demanding that others recognize who they believe the anti-christ is, actually is. People who claim their beliefs are being violated, that their rights are being taken away.

There are times I want to speak up… and there are times I do.

But what I want most to do, is to quit social media, to give up, to stop feeling like both sides doesn’t care about my views, they just want me to bow to theirs.

(By the way, the same thing happens within church politics as happens secular life)

When I am at that point, I need to look back at Paul’s words to Timothy. That there is going to be suffering in this life, and the church will endure a lot of it. (We actually do not, here in America compared to other places, btw!) But notice in each paragraph the same answer is given. Let Christ make you strong, let your mind stay focused on Him and His work, redeeming the world. Keep looking to to the one who created you, drew you into this new life, who is redeeming you and everything you’ve done.

It is then that we can go out into the broken world, filled, protected and guided by the Holy Spirit and tell people about the Love of God, a love so strong, so powerful that it can save me… and you. A love so strong that it can not just stand the sight and stench of us when we are broken, but also painstakingly cleanse us, heals us, and makes us His people.

Looking to Jesus we can engage social media, and deal with its brutality, with the hope that some might be saved, because we were here. And we are, the Lord is with us.

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

The Hidden Love for God…

10  For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. Job 12:10 (NLT2)

First, God loves everything. Second, everything loves God. The second is as true as the first. Acorns grow into oak trees because they are in love with God. That is, they seek (unconsciously) their own perfection, which is a participation in some of God’s perfection. An oak tree is more perfect, more Godlike, than an acorn. An acorn is not satisfied to be an acorn, because it wants (unconsciously, of course) to be more like God. God is the magnet that draws all the iron filings that are creatures closer to Himself. That is why everything moves. It is seeking its own perfection, which is a reflection of God’s perfection. Everything moves out of love of God.

There are people who will not acknowledge God, yet they are drawn to Him. The aspire to be like Him, much as young children might want to be like their parents. There is a part of us that longs to excel, to be good at something, anything. To be the best, to be the expert, to know more, do more, be responsible for more.

It is actually a drive to be like God. To be perfect. Using the old Army slogan, to “be all that you can be.”

Kreeft indicates that this is actually a love of God. It may be a little warped, it may lead us into sin as it did Adam and Eve. It may surface as false pride and even self-idolatry. Often it reveals itself as a desire to supplant God, even as a young man may try to be the alpha dog in his family.

Sin often masquerades as light, which means it must have a kernel of truth in it. We want to be like God, whether we acknowledge His existence or not, because we are made in His image. And that drive, corrupted by sin, leads us to rebel against what He has planned for us.

The drive is not sinful, the pursuit of perfection is not wrong. It just needs calibration, and focus as we imitate Christ, even as Paul and the apostles were transformed into doing.

Redeemed, reconciled, adopted, revived and renewed, that drive is to see God at work within us, leaving Him in control, leaving His wisdom as our guide, and our norm. This is how we are to live , in Him, perfected.

In communion with Him, this hunt for perfection leads us to fall to our knees, to allow Him to remove our imperfections, to cover our failures, to even erase our sins.

This is revival, when our desire for perfection finds its fulfillment in a relationship with the Lord who created us, and in the death and resurrection of Jesus, recreates and perfects us.

Come Holy Spirit, make Your presence known as You fill our hearts, renewing our lives. AMEN!

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 102–103.

The King, the Missionary and the Priest walk into…

Devotional Thought for Today:
1  First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2  Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. 3  This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. 4  God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5  There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6  God showed us this at the right time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (CEV)

“I think more of the place where I was baptized than of Rheims Cathedral where I was crowned.  It is a greater thing to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a Kingdom.  This last I shall lose at death but the other will be my passport to an everlasting glory.” (St. Louis IX, King of France)

746      From there, where you are working, let your heart escape to the Lord, right close to the Tabernacle, to tell him, without doing anything odd, “My Jesus, I love You”. Don’t be afraid to call him so—my Jesus—and to say it to him often.

In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and noting more should be vut on his gravestone:-
WILLIAM CAREY, BOTRN AUGUST 17th, 1761.: DIED-
A wretched, poor, and helpless worm…on Thy kind arms I fall.”

The king and the missionary knew the same thing.

They understood what truly mattered in life. Both had amazing successes, and failures beyond imagination. They were known and loved by some of those they served, and hated by others. Neither was perfect, yet both knew what mattered in their life, to the extent that I would hold their words up to you, and ask you to come to similar conclusions.

The same conclusion that St. Josemaria urges us, even as we work diligently, to let our hearts escape into God’s presence, and declare boldly, “my Jesus…”

You see that is what the great missionary to India meant, as he fell into the arms of Christ. Nothing else in his life was worth recognizing, save that. The King, choosing more important the moment where the Father unites him to Jesus, in the death and resurrection of Christ, (see Romans 6, Colossians 2) says the same thing.

Everything that is critical in life boils down to to that point, where Jesus makes us His people.

This is what we need to pray, that as God is revealed to people, that they know His love, and His mercy, so shown to us at the cross.

It is the presence of God that we need in our lives. That is where everything changes. To realize that is what Jesus gave up to gain for us, to be welcome there in the presence of the Father, to be drawn into the glorious love in which the Trinity dances, this is everything.

That is the point of the religion we call Christianity. Not to just explore where we have come from as humanity. Not just to reign in behavior, teaching people how to be good to each other.

Our purpose is that everyone, from people in France and India, clergy and politicians and those they lead, know the miracle of being welcome into the presence of God!

This is why we pray for people, surely asking for God to help them in their times of being challenged, but that they might now Him as well.

So my friends pray for all… and pray they come to know the living Lord Jesus, and then together with Louis, and Josemaria, and William, find the peace that passes all understanding, as we experience the Love that goes beyond explanation.. and know I pray you know this too!.

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

Spurgeon, Charles. Morning and Evening – Morning, August 29, Logos Edition

Hope For Those Who Weep for the Lost…

Devotional Thought for This Day:

15  In Ramah a voice is heard, crying and weeping loudly. Rachel mourns for her children and refuses to be comforted, because they are dead. 16   But I, the LORD, say to dry your tears. Someday your children will come home from the enemy’s land. Then all you have done for them will be greatly rewarded. 17  So don’t lose hope. I, the LORD, have spoken.
37  Can you measure the heavens? Can you explore the depths of the earth? That’s how hard it would be for me to reject Israel forever, even though they have sinned. I, the LORD, have spoken.
Jeremiah 31:15-17, 37 (CEV)

743      If you put your mind to it, everything in your life can be offered to the Lord, can provide an opportunity to talk with your Father in Heaven, who is always keeping new illumination for you, and granting it to you.

Maybe it is a once dear friend who loved the Lord in a way that inspired others. Maybe it was a cherished mentor in the faith, a professor who taught you more than you ever realized. Maybe it is a parent, a child, a cousin, even a spouse.

Most of us have someone who has rejected God, or is struggling with His way, and so rejects the gifts of forgiveness and mercy, who rebel against God. Perhaps there is a reason, a church, a pastor or priest who has caused them pain.

WE all have a person who has wandered, even as many of us have. Our reaction is usually the same as grieving the loss of physical life, for we realize that eternity is at stake… We may not want to say it is the difference between heaven and hell, yet our heart fears that consequence.

The words of the prophet Jeremiah are so appropriate for those who watch with tears, those who attempt to wander away. The need to hear God say “dry your tears, they will come back” is real, to allow God to comfort those who worry, who deal with anxiety over those they care about.

The second part of the selection, where God reminds us of His power, and the inability of man to completely reject them is even more comforting. It tells us how much God is willing to pour into calling the people back. Despite their sin, God will continue to work in their hearts.

So then, how do we deal with the trauma we see in their lives? Josemaria’s words comforted me this morning. We talk to God about it, we spend time offering the person, and the situation, and our hearts, batter and torn, to Him. It seems counter-intuitive to offer such to God as a sacrifice, but it is the best we can do. We are His children, and our Father wants to fix what is broken in our lives. He wants to recreate, to show the craftsmanship He finds joy in…and as we give into His care those we love, whom we worry about, we can realize peace. He died for them, that they may live.

Lord, help us give you our brokenness, help us place in your care those we would see return to the joy of your salvation. For Your love for them is even deeper than ours, and You can reach them. Help us to trust You, and in Your love and work in all our lives! Amen!

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

Thoughts after Twelve Years in One Place

Devotional Thoughts for this Day

My friends, even though we have a lot of trouble and suffering, your faith makes us feel better about you. 8 Your strong faith in the Lord is like a breath of new life. 9 How can we possibly thank God enough for all the happiness you have brought us? 1 Thes. 3:7-9 CEV

Like homing pigeons flying home, like iron filings drawn irresistably to a magnet, like solar flares falling back to their parent sun from which they had sprung, lovers of God become one with the fire of their Beloved. The twentieth-century British poet Stephen Spender wrote their epitaph: “Born of the sun, they travelled a brief while toward the sun and left the vivid air singed with their honor.”
That is what a Christian is. Not to be one is life’s only real tragedy.


Twelve years ago today, two friends, I knelt down and my District President installed me as the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos. A few weeks before that, the church had laid to rest a beloved retired pastor and his wife. Within three months, I would bless the graves of another couple. And over the years, there have been a lot of deaths, people that had become not only parishioners, but good friends. There has also been trauma that scars one deep, and ministering to those broken by such, has been commonplace. Enough so that prayers start ascending every time the phone rings, or a text message beeps.

It would be lying to saying this has been an easy time. It would also be lying to say this time has not been a huge blessing. My devotional reading this morning explains why:

It is all about the faith of the people I see, a faith that is lived out in the midst of trauma, in the midst of sacrifice. A faith that keeps coming back to God, must as Kreeft’s pigeons and iron filings being attracted to their “home.” There is a joy in this, even amidst the shared tears. There is a confidence, born out of the Body and Blood of Jesus in which we share, that even the tears are somehow beneficial.

The ability of people to depend on God in this time is what lifts me up. Just as it did Paul, to see people being sustained by God, to the point where they are ministering to others during their own trauma, is the best feeling a pastor can observe. It is what sustains us, as we see the effect of them being drawn back to God.
This is how, after 12 years, I can look to the future.
Knowing the response of those to whom I remind, “the Lord is with you!”
And knowing they are right when they answer back, trusting in God, “and also with you!”

Lord, as we go through these days, help us to continue to help each other, trusting You to show us their needs, and empowering us to meet them. Help us set our own brokenness aside, help us to leace it there… knowing You are healing us in this time. We pray this, in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit! Amen!

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 93.

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