We Didn’t See It… but God did…

God, who am I?

Thoughts to draw us to Jesus… and His love.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
43 Then an angel from heavenu appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish,v he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. Luke 22:42-45 CSB

That faith which passively accepts all the pleasant texts of the Scriptures while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke.

Usually, as we read the story about the garden of Gethsemane, we focus in on the incredible suffering Jesus sufffers, and the prayers that He prays.

Which is good and right….

And usually, we look at the disciples as a bunch of weak lazy failures, who couldn’t keep their eyes open…. We usually use their failure to stay awake as a sign of their weakness, of their sin. I mean, why couldn’t they down a red bull or a mountain dew or something?

As I was reading the Bible passage show above, I saw something I ahve seen in 50 years of readings and hearing this.

This translation says they were “exhausted from their grief”.

Since I didn’t remember it, I checked a few others …

“worn out by grief” TEV
“exhausted from grief” NLT
“Sleeping from sorrw” ESV, NKJV, NASB, KJV

Emotionally, the week had been draining. There were emotional highs and lows, Lots of people in need, and many of things Jesus taught, well, they were simmering in the souls of these men. Jesus talking about His blessed death didn’t help, nor did that scene with Judas…

And so late in the night, wearing, drained, crushed…. and while we are focused in on Jesus… the Holy Spirit and the scriptures recognize the burden the dsiciples carry… and even then, Jesus is there for them.

Just as God realizes the burdens we carry. And the spiritual exhaustion that is leaving us weak , and needing rest and sleep. Evening to the point of dreading life.

In the morning, Jesus would endure even more… the beatings, the trials, more betrayals, and eventually, the cross.

But even seeing all of that coming, He cared for those who the Father gave Him….He wanted them to know the presence of the Spirit, just as God wants us to know that today in the midst of our grieving, in the midst of the burdens we carry.

He is here… He will provide you the rest for your soul that you need. Just as He was there in the Garden for them, He is there for you in the midst of your pain… and He is here with me…in the midst of my grief.

Rest in His love… even as you take up your cross.. He is there with you…



A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Why My Opinion Doesn’t Really Matter….(does yours?)

Devotional Thought of the Day

2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT2)

Whoever, therefore, gives himself up to obedience, must needs detach himself totally from his own opinion. “What though each one,” says St. Francis de Sales, “has his own opinions, virtue is not thereby violated; but virtue is violated by the attachment which we have to our own opinions.”1 But alas! this attachment is the hardest thing to part with; and hence there are so few persons wholly given to God, because few render a thorough submission to obedience.

True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us. Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do.

It is one of our modern idols.

It’s not made of gold or wood, or bronze, but it is as surely an idol for modern times.

We believe we have the right to our opinions, we believe we have the right to think and say whatever comes to mind.

Not only do we believe we are entitled to our opinions, but the world is entitled to them as well. And we will freely tell in them on our Instagram page, our Twitter, our Facebook page, and our blogs.. (err…hmmmm)

De Ligouri had it write when talking about the need to slay these idols, and this attachment is the hardest thing to part with in our lives. It cannot save us, it cannot bring healing to our lives, it cannot be trusted, swayed by our emotion, and our fallen logic.

Our opinion can create a false sense of pride, or it can abuse us. THat is why Tozer reminds us to believe what God has said about us, both that we are bad, and that He can take care of that…. and has. Only dwelling in Christ, believing in God’s opinion do owe find what we truly need, and then with that, we find His comfort and His peace. When we lay aside our opinion, and seek Christ, we see things far differently, for His opinion matters, and ours is revealed for what it is… and falls aside.

Lord, this day, take into captivity any thoughts, any opinions which are not from You. Renew our hearts, souls and minds by the power of Your Spirit, and help us to enjoy the peace and comfort there is, as our minds reflect the mind of Jesus. Amen!

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gcill & Son, 1887), 410.

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

New Beginnings!

Devotional thoughts for this day…

31 “ ‘Son,’he said to him, ‘you are always with me,l and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32 CSB

26 Those who heard this asked, “Then who can be saved?”
27 He replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27 CSB

Gracious Lord, I wish to impose on Your Grace once more. A son was just born to me, and I am a father again. Please help the poor fellow get where he belongs

Today, for so many starts a new year of school, whether it is preschool or a new semester chasing a Ph.D. These are the children of our community, and our prayers need to rise on their behalf. And at the end of the day they need to know they are welcome home, here in our churches, and yes, in our homes.

We need to rejoice when any enters the church, no matter where they come from or what they’ve done, they are our brothers, or our beloeved children. It is possible and even should be expected that some will come from very unpleasant places where sin has broken them. No one is impossible, no one is beyond salvation.

God is bringing them here….

And we need to go let them know they are welcome.

We need to treat those in our community witht he same love a father would show to his son…. we need to be patient, loving, truly merciful – not hiding sin, but acknowledging ti to be what it is…but still calling them to the mercy of Christ.

Haven’t been doing that? Well – it is a new time of learning… let’s get to it!




Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 184.

A Call for More Meditation…

Thoughts to encourage our love for Jesus

10  All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, 11  in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. 12  I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. 13  Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. 14  So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above. Philippians 3:10-14 (TEV)

Clearly we must begin to produce better Christians. We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values.

Many books, even good ones, have the same effect on the student. So he is like the man who dwells everywhere and therefore dwells nowhere. Just as in human society we don’t enjoy the fellowship of every friend every day, but only of a few chosen ones, so we ought to do in our studies.”

There are a lot of books out there, very good books. There are some bad ones as well.

But as one who has more than my fair share of them, if I read through them quickly, I often don’t get to use the information processed in my life. I just gain the knowledge, store it somewhere in the catacombs of my mind, and move on to the next text.

It takes time, and effort to use what we read, to let it sink deeply into our hearts and souls.

Looking at Luther’s words and Tozer’s, I wonder if there is a connection between the man who reads too many books and not growing any deeper in our faith. That we move from this book to that, like a bee collecting and disbursing
pollen from one flower to the next. We look for this answer, then that, and then the next. And beyond our libraries, we now have podcasts, and blogs, and tweets, and we take in so much, we take in nothing.

As I looked at my new textbooks, as I consider what I am reading for devotional time (including Luther and Tozer), as I look at a small stack of books I have been given to read, I am changing my mind about how to approach them.
Usually, I try to consider priorities, which things do I have to read, which will give me options, and then try to speed read through the highest priorities. What if instead going for quantity of quality, I chose one or two
books to savor, to truly get into and digest. Then helping my people do the same…. With the scriptures and with whatever else we are reading. To really think through and meditate on the scripture passage… to ask the hard questions about what it presents to us, and to take the time to rejoice…

Perhaps it is time to savor what we take in more… to press on to reach what God is telling us…that we may answer God’s call through Jesus. 

 

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 179.

I know You are here… but what are You doing Lord?

Some thoughts to encourage your love of God

As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy,ak and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all astonished at the greatness of God. Luke 9:42-43 CSB

Glorious Lord, Thyself impart!
Light of Light from God proceeding;
Open THou our ears and heart
Help us by Thy Spirit’s pleading
Hear the cry Thy people raises
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.

It is in the wounds of Jesus where we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of His heart.

O fire of God, begin in me;
Burn out the dross of self and sin,
Burn off my fetters, set me free,
And make my heart a heaven within.
Baptize with fire this soul of mine;
Endue me with Thy Spirit’s might
And make me by Thy power divine
A burning and a shining light

We will not want to admit it, but many of us need to have Jesus heal us the way he did the young boy in the gospel reading in red above. Some of those demons are of our own making, some are real – those who oppress us, trying to distract us from God. Some unbelievers we know are enslaved by demons, possessed by demons beyond our perception, beyond our comprehension as well.

The old hymnal I was given starts out the answer, the way we find freedom from every kind of evil. It is God’s answer to the prayer of hymn #3. We need the Lord to enter our lives, His light surgically removed the scars from battles that were lost against sin. This is done as the spirit intercedes for us in prayer, translating what we ask and praise God for, making it what we really need.

That thought is reiterated in Tozer’s poem, as he realizes the need for God to burn out that which is not of God. That is a ministry we can’t do for ourselves, and to be honest, a pastor only does as he teaches God’s love and mercy. (He has to establish the need for it as well) The result of this – we reflect God’s glory (see 1 Cor. 3:18) into the darkness of the world, bringing hope were there is despair.

We cannot do any of this on our own. We need the Holy Spirit continuing to minister to us, comforting and healing us, drawing us out of the darkness in which we sometimes hide. We need that stuff burnt out of our lives, and that is something only God can do, as we hear His word, and receive the blessings found in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and when we are told, “rejoice – your sins are forgiven, in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN!”


Evangelical Lutheran Hymnbook 1927 Hymn #3

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 266.

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

The Sixth Sola – Serve God Alone! (a sermon based Joshua 24)

The SIxth Sola –Serve God Alone!”

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

† I.H.S. †

May the grace and love of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ amaze you to the point where you only serve and worship God.

Three Solas, Five Solas, or is there a 6th?

If you look on the church’s back wall, you will see the early rallying cry of the church.  A simple cry, expressed by the word “Solas” or in English, Alone. 

We are saved by Grace ALONE, through Faith ALONE, in Jesus Christ ALONE!

Later they would add –  as revealed in Scripture alone, to the praise of God ALONE!

That’s a pretty good rallying cry! It is a simple phrase, and people have remembered it and preached on it for 5 centuries.

But I think in today’s Old Testament reading, Tom stumbled across a sixth sola. Or maybe it is a part of the fifth, the one that all the others and everything is to the glory of God ALONE…

What is said over and over in this passage Joshua is to serve or worship God alone.

So the question today… will you take on Joshua’s challenge… and serve and worship God ALONE?

Serve, or WORSHIP?

Just for clarification, the words in English for serve and worship are the same in Hebrew. It has even more profound meaning  – to acknowledge that the Lord is God. Therefore our actions are in response and obedience to Him.

What that makes clear is that there is no difference between serving God and worshipping Him. The word is really about that we are His, and we do what He gives us to do.

And we do that because we trust Him.

Luther explained it this way,

The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone.

The point is simple – serving God and worshipping Him is when we are doing what He’s asked us to do, and we do it because we trust and love Him, and for no other reason…

So if we clean our house to honor our parents, or because we love our wife, that is worship. If we lead worship or preach or teach because we want people to be able to praise God for what He has done and is actually doing, that’s worship. If we, knowing God has called us all to make disciples, ask friends or relatives or even a person we just met to church, praise God.

God calls us to do all those things, and to do them in love is worshipping and serving Him. He is our Lord, and because He loves us, we want to make Him happy.

But will we follow through and do so?

Struggling with worship and serving God.

In the time of Abraham’s father, Terah, people didn’t know about God, so they found other gods to serve and worship. They did not know Him; therefore, they did not know any better.

But the people that walked with Moses and Joshua from Egypt did, and they struggled with false gods – from the golden calf to so many other things they wanted to care for them…, and they serve, and they enslave themselves to other things… false Gods, idols

We do the same thing today, though maybe more or less sophisticated. Who or what do you do when facing stress? What do you do when life just is upside down? When you don’t understand what’s going on…

There is your god, and if it isn’t the Trinity, that god is an idol, and it will become your master. It will enslave you, as it has so many others.

And Joshua is saying, no longer.

Choose today – that idol, whether it be another religion or a version of God that you know contradicts scripture, whether it be a sin-filled coping mechanism, whether it even is another person.

Choose believer; will you trust in God? Will you depend on Him.  Will you worship and serve Him alone?

Now is the challenge – its time to put away the idols

The people’s answer was simple – they took stock of what they had seen God do in their midst.  Hear their words,We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. 17 For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. 18 It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”

Notice that people based their faith on what they knew God had done even before the cross and the resurrection!

He rescued them! He provided for them! He cared for them! And amid pressures, He preserved them.

Even as He did for us at the cross! Now, the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us because of Jesus.

This is what keeps us focused on worshipping and serving God ALONE. The answer is considering what he’s done for us.

Look at the cross… receive His body and blood at the altar. Consider how God is providing for you…

And allow Him to teach you how to live, how to worship, how to minister to those caught in this broken world, and know you dwell in His presence.

AMEN!

When it seems like all is crumbling down

Thoughts encourageing our love of Jesus

47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them:b 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.” Luke 6:47-49 CSB

In fact, we know by experience that we are not meeker and gentler towards others, except when we feel an increased tenderness towards Jesus Christ.
But since we cannot constantly experience this tenderness, we must prepare ourselves, in our mental prayer, to bear the crosses that may befall us. This was the practice of the saints; and so they were ever ready to receive with patience and meekness injuries, blows, and chastisements. When we meet with an insult from our neighbor, unless we have frequently trained ourselves beforehand, we shall find it extremely difficult to know what course to take, in order not to yield to the force of anger;

There are storms and troubles that affect us, that are from our own making. THere are others that come because we believe something that is hard for others to understand. Either way, the storms will shake and rattle us to the point where we think we are going to collapse.

It is not a matter of if the storms come, it is a matter of when they will come.

ANd I don’t care how strong your personality is, your pateince, and your endurance, if you aren’t planted in something, if you are not surrounded by something, then you will fall, and fail.

Building a house on roeck means that the supports go down into the rock, and therefore the supports are firmly in place. THe building may shake and grown, but what holds it together is stronger than than the buildings materials itself – the strength is in the rock it is built on and surrounded by.

DeLigouri saw this as well. When we are surrounded by conflict, but those who lack tenderness, our natural strength would rail against it. But strengthed by the tenderness of Jesus, we can work from that strength, we can love those who opress us, we can bear our crosses, we can even deal with our chastisements, whether they are valid or not.

This is what it means to be in Christ… and it is our precious hope.

Let us encourage each other to hold to this – knowing He will hold to us. Amen

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 396–397.

Take My Life! What Does that Mean? A sermon on 1 Kings 19:1-8

Take My Life! What Does that Mean?
1 Kings 19:1-8

I.H.S.


May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ enable you to joyously invite God to take your life and let it be dedicated to Him!

100 years…. A lesson

Church experts, both in Lutheran circles and in other denominations, talk about church life cycles. There is a bit of evidence for this, at least statistically.

Simple theory, the first ten years, the church grows and explodes. The second ten years, it keeps on the trajectory, growing developing programs. In the third ten years, it slows down and loses momentum, and in the last ten, it plummets towards death and closing.

One of the guys who came up with this theory noted that exceptional churches didn’t splash down….they didn’t die.

They simply see God at work still, the God who takes their life. They see God consecrating them as the Holy Spirit making them holy, setting them apart as they dwell with Christ.

That’s how the churches that last 100 years last! They are re-focused on the work of Christ in their midst! They rejoice in the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them, the  Spirit whose indwelling is the promise of their baptism. The promise that is celebrated as they break the Bread and drink what Christ has provided!

And they live in that joy, loving God who loves them, and with Him, loving their communities, as they teach them all about Jesus.

In the words of the hymn, Jesus takes their life and consecrates it.

When do we pray for God to take our life?

In the reading this morning from 1 Kings, Elijah tries to give God his life.

Hear his words again,

4  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 1 Kings 19:4 (ESV)

There are two problems with this, and it is not that he journeyed to Palmdale. 😊

We face both problems, temptations that, if acted upon, result in sin.

The first is asking God to take his life, not from trusting God to do something with it, but from despair.

Basically, he thought it was time to end it all, and we get there at times. As individuals and as churches, we can get to the point where it seems the work is more than we can deal with, that the investment of our time, our hearts, and energy is not there.

And I bet over the last 100 years, there have been times when people in this church felt that way!

“Lord, we’ve been faithful, we’ve supported our school, we’ve bought the new hymnals, we’ve volunteered for the choir, or we’ve held board positions. The church isn’t what it was 30 years ago, or even before COVID struck.”

And so we doubt what God has in mind for this church – that He’s not revealed yet! Elijah was so focused on his energy into the ministry that he failed to see what God was doing through him.

He was relying all on his own power and reason….

And we’ve done the same thing on occasion.

The second error he made is found in these words,

“for I am no better than my fathers.”

While Elijah’s life led him to think he was done because he didn’t have anything left in the tank, the second, deeper sin crept in. He forgot the call on his life and the work that God made. By saying he was not better, he forgot what God was not doing through him but in him.

He was different from his father’s, at least the ones who died in rebellion and sin.

He walked with God, and God guided his way and empowered the victories he had experienced and would experience. His life had been taken and consecrated to God.

Just as God will do so here, in this place…

But we have to see how God ministered to Elijah.

We have to see how God would take his life and consecrate it to him.

How did God consecrate Elijah’s life

We need to see this work of God in Elijah’s life, and then we can see it in ours. For it is the sweet message of the gospel that helps us heal from our sins, the sins of not depending on God for strength, and that of doubting God’s work within us as if God could not consecrate and make us holy.

It happens as a messenger from God came to Elijah, hear again of the words of scripture,

And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 1 Kings 19:5 (ESV)

He looked – and there was the provision of God for him – enough to get him through the day…

Something to eat, something to drink – provided for him by God, and the messenger simply drew his attention to it. This is what scripture says happened next….

And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7  And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8  And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. 1 Kings 19:6-8 (ESV)

The journey was too incredible, the messenger said so – so he would eat and drink again. He would then travel to Horeb – to find God and speak with Him, before taking on more tasks.

But there is our lesson – to realize that there are times when we forget what God does through us because we forgot what God does in us.

He takes our lives and melds them to Jesus’s death and resurrection in baptism, recreating us and making us new by the power of His word, for He promised this.

And then He brings us back to remember that, every time we look and rise, take the Bread, and the wine, the Body and Blood of Jesus, given and broken for us.

This is where you will find God taking your lives, the lives of the school children here, and the lives of this community and consecrating them for another 100 years.

This is where you will see that consecration’s impact in this life, as God drives us to others who are broken, to invite them to share in this mystery God blesses us within Christ.

The Apostle Paul explained it this way,

27  To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Colossians 1:27-28 (ESV)

This is why the Grace Lutheran Church of Lancaster has endured 100 years of heat, good times, and trying times… and what it will do if it endures another 200…

To declare to the people who are in this sanctuary, to the children who sit in those classrooms, to work with the other churches to make it known in this valley, the glory of this mystery;

Christ, who was born of Mary, suffered under Pontus Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried and rose again, and did so to bring you to God the father.

The Spirit united you to Him in Baptism. We celebrate this together, as we arise and eat and drink.. looking forward to the day we will eat at the Wedding feast of the lamb.

This is most certainly true.

So my new friends, in a moment, we will share and celebrate this mystery, as the Lord takes your life and again consecrates it, for we know the Lord is with you! And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! 

When it is TIME to pray…

THe ulitmate scene in Les Mis… A sinner helps another sinner know their are God’s

Thoughts to help us realize God’s love….

71 Then he started to curse and swear,be “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”
72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time,a and Peter remembered when Jesus had spoken the word to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:71-72 CSB

When Jesus encourages us to pray with insistence he sends us to the very heart of the Trinity where, through his holy humanity, he leads us to the Father and promises the Holy Spirit.

We’ve been there…

We have fallen deeply into whatever temptation Satan has thrown at us.

You and I deny Jesus far more often than we want to admit.

Sometimes that denial is in order to secure some momentary pleasure. Sometimes the sin is to avoid discomfort, the unknown or known consequences that happen because people don’t understand what it means to be baptized into Jesus.

And in that moment, when we are in tears, the Spirit comes and brings us to repentance once again.

As the Spirit calls us to pray, as Jesus encourages us to pray, it is not a prayer of an someone cast away, drowning. Satan would love for us to think of it that way. And our own hearts and minds might agree with that demonic assessment.

But God is drawing us in, cleansing us, brinnging us into the very heart of the Trinity, into the place of healing, into the sanctuary, into the place of rest, until we find hope….

When we realize that, when we take a deep breath and remember that we dwell in Chirst – and therefore are in the presence on a holy, triune God, everything slowly takes shape.

And that is the only answer when we find ourselves betraying God, or anything that is less painful.

Here is our hope, that He is our fortress, our sanctuary, our place of hope and healing. Ours, not yours or mine, but everyones. If, as we are realizing God’s work in our lives, can help someone else come along, that is wonderful, and the way it should be…

But you and I, we need to pray… and talk with God.. even when we just sinned.

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 255.

What Are You Used to Seeing (Maybe it is time to stalk God?)

Thoughts to encourage you to love and adore Jesus…

12  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT2)

It is related that a pious hermit, one day while the king was hunting through the wood, began to run to and fro as if in search of something; the king, observing him thus occupied, inquired of him who he was and what he was doing; the hermit replied: “And may I ask your majesty what you are engaged about in this desert?” The king made answer: “I am going in pursuit of game.” And the hermit replied: “I, too, am going in pursuit of God.” With these words he continued his road and went away. During the present life this must likewise be our only thought, our only purpose, to go in search of God in order to love him, and in search of his will in order to fulfil it, ridding our heart of all love of creatures.

We get used to getting up every day as if it could not be otherwise; we become accustomed to see violence in the news as something inevitable; we get used to the usual landscape of poverty and misery while walking the streets
of our city.

We get up, we check out email, our twitter/facebook/newest social media feed and go on. We listen to the news, we fet in our cars and go about our day. It doesn’t matter what form of music we listen to, rock, emo, country, edm – the lyrics are anything but positive. And even if they are encouraing our overcoming, whose cost is it at?

Is it any wonder we become pessimistic? Is it any wonder we become anxious?

Pope Francis notes how accustomed we are to conflict and violence. It becomes what we expect. The stories talk of bigotry and racism, greed and hatred, sexual and sensual perversion, so we don’t think anything else exists in the heart of man.

We become acclimatized to these things – they become our norm, and we don’t expect anything else.

For an option to getting beat down by what we see, what if we were DeLigouri’s hermit – looking here, there and everywhere, but expecting to find God? What if we were, with St. Paul, willing to press on, to focus on, to even stalk God, for He has called us, and Jesus pressed on with everything we are…

How different would our outlook be in life?

How different would it be, if our focus was on the God who we depend on for life, and we knew all His promises that fill our lives? If we looked for His touch in every part of each day?

There is part of my daily prayers that helps…. especially if I slow down and hear the words, rather than just saying them. It is a modificaiton of a old Celtic prayer, that helps me realize I will see God at work today.

Here it is, ( the link is at the boottom)

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.

Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;

Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right
.

This day, realize the Lord is all around you – and stalk Him. Look for His work in others, and in your actions. See even the hard times as a blessing – as you reach out to Him, even in desperation.

God is with you…

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 376–377.

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 246.

https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/

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