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My Love-Hate Relationship With “the” Church

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:
1  Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. Isaiah 62:1 (NLT) 

489    A keen and living faith. A faith like Peter’s. When you have it—our Lord has said so—you will move mountains, humanly insuperable obstacles that rise up against your apostolic undertakings.  (1)

(Disclaimer:  This is not about my present congregation/parish, or any individual congregation or parish.  It is about the church at large)

There are times it is tempting to walk away, citing the quaint but blasphemous statement, “I love your Christ, but I hate your religion”.  There are times where the politics, the focus and dependence on theology and/or pragmatic theory, rather than on the Holy Spirit’s guidance drives me crazy.  There are days where people’s desire to divide the church rather than work for the unity Jesus prayed for leaves me feeling empty and depressed. There are times where leaders fight to gain control and power or to make the church in their image rather than Christ’s could give me just cause me to leave.

I hate “the” Church.

But I also love her. This Church. She is the bride of Christ; she is the body of Christ.  She is the joy in the dad’s face as he helps baptize his newborn baby.  Jesus’s love is reflected in the tear-filled eyes of the lady as she receives His body broken for her… His blood shed to cover all her sins.  I love the church s I see people, once adversaries, laughing together and sharing life because the Holy Spirit has become their Lord and Giver of life and reconciled the relationships that were thought to be shattered.  That when we strive to not only live according to God’s revealed plan, but quickly run to confess our trespasses, that He heals us, He heals His church.

It is because of all of this, the good, the bad and the ugly, that the words in red mean so much to me above.   I do yearn to see the church realize the presence of God that God’s kingdom is here, and now.  That He is heard to bring peace, that the means of grace, the sacraments and word of God (which we even argue about) are used by the Holy Spirit to transform us all into the image of Christ, to remind us of the promise we shall share in His glory.  It is that hope, that Jesus won’t abandon His church, that sustains us, even when things seem broken.

It takes the keen and living faith, quickened and sustained by Holy Spirit, to not only see what the church should be, what religion is, but to see that in the people of God. Our relationship with God, the leading of the Holy Spirit, not only empowers our mission, our apostolate, but gives us the desire to see it happen, to see the church grow in its faith, in its awareness of God’s presence, to depend on His love and mercy.

That same desire…can be momentarily frustrated when we look at our beloved Church.  Because we forgot what makes the church the Body of Christ, He does.

Let us look to Him! Let us watch the Holy Spirit transform us into His image, into people who naturally obey His law. the law He put into our hearts, and He drew us into His on the cross.

Lord Have Mercy!  Help us love the Church you love, and see her as you do!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1196-1197). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

When Will Hand Over the Reins of our Lives?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. 2  Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3  O Israel, put your hope in the LORD— now and always. Psalm 131:1-3 (NLT)

323      Jesus knows very well what is best… and I love his Will and will do so always. He it is who controls “the puppets” and so, provided it is a means to achieving our end, even if there are godless men who are determined to put obstacles in the way, he will grant what I am asking.  (1)

every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.
“Then how does one speak of God?”

“Through silence”
“Why then, do you speak in words?”
“At that, the Abba laughed uproariously.  He said, “when I speak, you must not listen to the words my dear.  Listen to the Silence.” (2)

It is the unspoken idol in all of our lives, it is idea that we must be working, we must be cleaning, we must be the sole defenders of the faith.  We want to be the heroes, we want our way to be the right way, and then be put in charge of correcting all who are wrong. ( and make them agree with our wisdom)  We een justify our Machiavellianism as being faithful to our call, being faithful to doctrine.    I am as guilty of it as any other, this idea that it is our responsibility to make life work, to make our denominations work.

As a result, we’ve forgotten God’s desire, we’ve forgotten the work we’ve been given, to proclaim the Kingdom of God is here, that God is in charge, and desires to reconcile all to Himself, to bring all to repentance, to bring all home.

The challenge is one of faith, one of trust.  Do I trust God enough to let HIm handle the big stuff, to move the church, and The Church, in the direction it needs to go.  Will I allow myself to be quiet, listening to Him speak.  Will I put my hope in Him, and not in the princes and leaders of the world. Will I allow Him to deal with those who put obstacles to grace in the way?

Will I encourage others to as well, to seek His face, to find rest in Jesus?

Will I find it myself?

Psalm 103 is a great prayer, may it be our desire to make it ours….

Lord Have Mercy…. 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1287-1290). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  FInian Reading for 11/15 from The Celtic Daily Prayer

The Only Work The Church is Entrusted With

Devotional Thoughts of the Day:God, who am I?

For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation. God was in Christ personally reconciling the world to himself – not counting their sins against them – and has commissioned us with the message of reconciliation. We are now Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were appealing direct to you through us. As his personal representatives we say, “Make your peace with God.” For God caused Christ, who himself knew nothing of sin, actually to be sin for our sakes, so that in Christ we might be made good with the goodness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16 (Phillips NT)

103      Your life, your work, should never be negative, nor anti anything. It is—it must be!—positive, optimistic, youthful, cheerful and peaceful.

As I write this blog, a movie I’e longed to see id playing on my television.  It is called Monuments Men, A bunch 0f artists and aficionados who have a mission.  Some give all they have, their very lives to accomplish the mission.   Some find a sense of redemption, a sense of meaning in the life that is given in pursuit of  mission.

How much more should we be driven to focus on our mission?  How much more should our love for God drive our mission, we should be willing to sacrifice for our mission, the way soldiers did, for the stakes are the same.

The mission, the raison d’etre, of the church.

In truth, there is only one ministry.  There is one mission God has given His people.  One work He has commissioned for us, the work He hs planned for us to be part of since before the foundation of the world.

The mission, the ministry of reconciling the world to Himself.

We are to be the agents of such reconciliation.


That is our only ministry, it is our mission, it is the work He has given to us, that He has gifted us.

It is our hope, it is our life, walking with the Lord, fulfilling His will.

And there are times where it gets to pessimistic, to depressing, to negative.

Yet it is too easy.  We are effected by what goes on around us.  The seemingly impossible task of reconciling people together.  The seemingly impossible task of seeing what God so desires to come to fruition.  We here of church politics, or we see brothers fighting each other without mercy, without recognizing the unity we have, because we are reconciled together in Christ.   We see brothers dismiss each other, questioning each other, avoiding actual discussion, hiding behind defenses created to avoid any real conversation.

It is too easy to get caught up in the negativity, in the political machiavellianism.  In the lack of reconciliation.

But what were we expecting?  That this ministry, which required Jesus to die on the cross would be easy?  THat we would snap our fingers and relationships would be reconciled and healed?

Even knowing the cost, we have a God who asks us in fulfilling His dream, of seeing Him call people to be His people, to see them healed, counted righteous.

it’s what we are called to do.

Nothing else. though we will do this in all we do……every vocation, in every place, in every moment we have.  Especially in the midst of our sin…our sin, the sins of the people God calls, so that He can cleanse the of that sin.

So let’s get back to our service, let us work hard to diligently do what God has called us to do…..

and realize this…

13  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

Rejoice… He will complete this work in you! in us!

He has promised this. so trust Him!

.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 575-576). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Church, Stop Shooting your Wounded- Bring them healing instead!

Devotional Thought of the day: 

Now if your experience of Christ’s encouragement and love means anything to you, if you have known something of the fellowship of his Spirit, and all that it means in kindness and deep sympathy, do make my best hope for you come true! Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.Philippians 2:1 (Phillips NT) 

Don’t shoot the wounded, they need us more than ever!  Sometimes we just condemn them, and don’t take time to heart their story.  Don’t shoot the wounded, some you might be one.  (Chuck Girard)

Four conversations I have been in recently were about the chruch mistreating people, or in one case, I watched it occur.  End result, people lost the chance to minister to people who are wounded, and needing comfort.  In at least two of the encounters, i am not sure the people are aware of their action, in one, the oppressor knew, but didn’t care?  In one case, a necessary action was taken, but the way it was taken, left the person feeling unloved, unwanted betrayed.   Even writing this is challenging, for those who shoot “the wounded” are often “wounded” themselves.  That means this has to be a call to healing, to reconciliation, not just to stop them from injuring others.

But how do we care, and make it known that they are cared for, when the situation is complicated, when action must be taken that will cause change?

How do we love the wounded, without shooting them. How do we minister to them, when the pain they are in makes it difficult?  When we too hurt, to notice their agony?  When we are too self-consumed, to realize their need for our peace?

How do we stop driving people away from the love of Christ?

St. Paul is clear in the passage above, we find this ability as we realize we are of one mind,,, soemthing that happens when we have fellowship, communion with the Holy Spirit. When we are focused on the love of God, and His presence, when we know His will>  When move past ourselves to embrace the God who has embraced us, and see the world as He does.. people needing life, reconciliation, healing, care, love.  That is part of the change that occurs, as we realize the change going on in us, because of that grace.   When we see each other, rather than competitors, but as one.

It isn’t easy, so cry our “Lord have mercy!” knowing that God will answer, for He never shoots His own… save the One wounded that we could be made whole.

 

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