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Why Bother Sneaking in?

Canobie CannonballDevotional Thought of the Day:

Jesus said, “I am telling you the truth: the man who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who goes in through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him; the sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out. 4When he has brought them out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. 5They will not follow someone else; instead, they will run away from such a person, because they do not know his voice.”  John 10:1-5 TEV

782    How can you dare use that spark of the divine intelligence—your mind—in any way other than in giving glory to your Lord?

The boys didn’t need to climb over the 10-foot fence or risk getting caught on the barbed wire that topped it.  The old delivery gate chain was so loose, you could just push the gate open and walk through.  The old dirt road, rumored once to have tracks on it was long abandoned, deliveries were taken a different way into the amusement park for decades.

But it was a right of passage in the neighborhood, and the guy that ran the park’s roller rink would wink at us, as he handed us skates and told us to make sure everyone had a good time.  Even he let the boys in for free, though he would ask them to sweep the rink occasionally.  He knew we snuck in, and he knew that many of us didn’t have the 2 bucks to get in, then pay for skating and skate rental.  So he turned a blind eye to our entrance, and made us “work” the rink, doing odd jobs around the place.

The first five or six times someone snuck in, you could see it in their hesitation, in their movement to the other side of the skating rink when the park’s security walked through. But eventually the excitement and fear would diminish, the guilt would fade, and the sin just became a normal part of life.

As adults, as believers in Christ, sin has a similar effect on us. It may seem exciting at even unsettling at first. But over time we realize we haven’t gotten caught, and others turn a blind eye to our actions.

Even as the friends hung out, even as they pretended they were the tough guys, we saw those who came into the park the right way, paying the price, and riding the cannonball rollercoaster, and went through the haunted house. They had a different joy, they belonged there.  Their fun was legitimate, they came with their families, or their girls, they had money and ride tickets.

We had some fun, and we had our gang.  We had the rink. But we knew we didn’t have it all.

In the gospel reading above, we were the guys who snuck in, who didn’t belong. We could have been brought in by the front, but we liked our way better. Many of us still do that, as we expect that our peace and comfort can be achieved through ways scripture calls sin. As we hide them, rather than letting the price be paid, the illusion holds up, and others might even encourage it. What is your choice to find your joy and peace?  Greed?  Desire for fame?  Lust and illicit sex?  Gossip?  All these sins do is try to create the illusion of pleasure, or peace, contentment and joy.  If we pause long enough to consider it… we know they do not.  We don’t belong and we are lieing to ourselves if we think we do.

Sin is still sin?  Of course.  And if you take a moment to think it over, you know it.

As I hear St Josemaria talk, I think about the things we could do with our time, our money, our intelligence and talents, the blessings God has given us, to bring God glory.  TO know the joy of seeing God  rejoice as we do what He had planned for us. As we hear Him saying “well done.”

Then I realize that we aren’t just robbing God of His glory.  For Jesus died to bring us into that glory, to share that love.  What we’ve done, is chosen not to live in it, and to live in the shadows, moving toward the darkness.

It’s not too late… it never is.

Cry out to Him, ask for forgiveness, ask to see His mercy, ask for Jesus to reconcile you to the Father, and find that He paid your way in, and you are counted as an honored guest.  Indeed, that has been His desire from the beginning. No more sneaking in.. not more justifying our existence, no more hiding from security.  It wasn’t necessary int he first place.

true peace, true comfort, true belonging.

with others, of every tribe and language and nation. All who belong, none who have to come over the fence…

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1807-1808). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Hang On For the Ride of Your Life! A sermon on Deut. 30:15-20

Hang On For the Ride of Your LIFE!

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

I.H.S.†

 May, in the midst of this crazy life we live, you find exploring the height, the depth, the breadth and width of God’s love for you is more exciting than anything you have ever known!

A Pastor Parker Parable

It’s been a while since I did a Pastor Parker Parable, and today’s Old Testament passage seems to cry out for one.

The Kingdom of God is like a Cannonball.

Specifically, following Jesus, trusting and depending on Him is like a cannonball found in my hometown, just a couple of minutes ride from my house.

Specifically, this cannonball (click to picture) the Yankee Cannonball at Canobie Lake Park.

When I was a kid it was the most creaky, rickety, rollercoaster that I’ve ever been on.  It was a blast and very cool…yet scary!

One that wasn’t scary because of the 120 foot first drop, or the sharp curves, or the screams.  Sometimes it looked like this, when they replaced half the sticks holding up the tracks…

Which made it interesting.

Sort of like life.

And like, you can hang on for dear life, and enjoy the ride, or you can close your eyes, and miss it.  For like the ride, life passes by much too fast – I mean where did July and August go?

So when you hear Moses or myself says, God is giving you a choice between life and death, love God, and hang on for life!

Keep Your Eyes Open!!!

There is a temptation, as you start to climb the long first hill of a rollercoaster, to close your eyes.  To ignore the height, you are climbing above the ground, and if you could, you probably close your ears to the tatatataa of the tracks passing underneath the wheels, bringing you closer and closer to the top of the hill, and the change from a gradual, gentle uphill climb to a plummeting descent that causes your cheeks to be behind your ears.

You want to blame someone, whoever caused you to be on this rollercoaster, even as you feel the entire framework sway in the gentle breeze.

And then your stomach is hovering 128 feet above the ground, while the rest of body is bottoming out at 3 feet above the ground and starting to rise up the next hill!  ( you do wonder why you didn’t crash full force into the ground, especially as you noticed a lot of wood missing…)

That is our life.  There are times where our anxiety rises and turns into a paralyzing fear. We want someone to blame for the mess we are in, and we aren’t having fun.  Where we are certain that we are plummeting to our death, or even hell, and we can’t stop and get off of life.

And so we close our eyes to the sin, to the unrighteousness. We try to dismiss it, and say it doesn’t exist, even as it tears at our face, even as we get that sick to our stomach feeling, even as we are sure we are going to crash.
Without Jesus, we would do exactly that.  We would crash into the ground at 5000 miles an hour!  The supports would give out, and quite possibly, we would take a bunch of people with us.

I am not sure we see sin that clearly.  Oh, we might know the anxiety and the guilt and the shame, but do we realize that its end is death? DO you know that sin is disaster?  Hear scripture

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed.

Do we get that sin crushes us, destroys us, that it leads us to worship other gods, to place our trust and hope in things that will let us down?

It does – and if the guilt and shame we try so hard to avoid, if the angst and anxiety sin and unrepentance causes doesn’t convince you of your need for Jesus, then take a serious look at hell. Consider life lived with eyes closed in fear, pain, separation from all of those around you.

Imagine enduring that for eternity?
Imagine the darkness closing in on you – that the choice you have, to open your eyes,

Jesus sets before you that, and real life today.  In fact, most of us live with that choice every day.

Life, death, that which is desirable and pleasant, or that which is broken, defective, abandoned.

You’re committed

You see, life is like the rollercoaster – you aren’t in line, you are on the coaster, the wheels are going, the rails are clicking, the wind is blowing past you.

You are committed, but how you react within that commitment makes the difference.

You can close yourself off, from others and from God.

Or you can open your eyes, scream every once in a while, smile and enjoy the ride, trusting in the Lord who is your support, who is your safety, who is your refuge.  Who designed the track, who knows the curves, who ensures that you will keep going!

In our reading – it says the way we “LIVE” is to love God, to treasure all that He has established, the laws, the gospel, the promises, the blessings, and where it says commit – that’s means simply to hold on.

And like the front bat on the rollercoaster, your have on for dear life – and it helps you in the curves and in the drops….

But what keeps you safe is that the coaster hangs onto you – you are belted in, you aren’t going anywhere, until it is time to unfasten this belt, because you find yourself safely back home in the station.  Until you are safely in His presence….even as you are here for a moment, but then for eternity.

He holds onto you – He is the author and finisher of your faith, and He will present you perfect to the Father.

Keep your eyes open, on Him, hold onto Him, knowing He has united you to himself in baptism, and he will not lose you, and live and enjoy the ride.

knowing the peace that comes, even on a roller coaster.  For we are cleansed, made holy, forgiven, healed and never abandoned by our Lord.

And He guards our hearts and minds as we dwell in the peace of our Father, peace that even overcomes fears on a 75-year-old wooden roller coaster!

AMEN!

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