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Are You Talkin t’ me? Are YOU Talkin t’ME?

clydes-cross-2Devotional Thought for our days…

“I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates m his life n in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant o also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.  John 12:24-26

When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross, when we profess Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly; we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

We, who are so often unable to put up with one another; we, who are not fit to appear before God, are received by Jesus. He wears, so to speak, the garment of our wretchedness and, by taking us with him, makes us fit to stand in the presence of God; we have gained access to God. We are washed by letting ourselves be drawn into his love. This love means that God receives us unconditionally even when we are not capable and are not worthy of it, because he, Jesus Christ, transforms us and becomes our Brother.

In the middle of Jesus prophecy about His imminent crucifixion and resurrection, there is something we have to see, something we have to hear again.

6 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me.

We have to bear the cross, we have to go with Him there, or more precisely we need to allow Him to draw us into Himself, to give up our lives so that we can live in Him, with Him, through Him. (yes the Eucharistic reference is intended)

For without the cross, His cross, we cannot truly be His disciples, we can’t be united to Him, for that is where our unity with God begins, it is where life is restored in the midst of death. 

And so Jesus calls us to die, even as He was sent to die.  We are drawn to the cross, not because of the pain, not because of the sacrifices required (those idols aren’t worth anything anyway) but because of the love we know there,  this incredible, unbelievable love that is poured out on us, the broken and sin-crushed.  Yet that love heals us, transforms us, judges us as those who are brothers and sisters of  Jesus, the Son of God.  

Without that death and resurrection, we are nothing.  And having died to sin, and been raised in Christ, we begin to realize life differently.

The crosses we have to bear, the sacrifices we make to serve others, the forgiveness that pours out from our hearts is not something that is more painful than the joy we find in the presence of Jesus Christ.  

In fact, as we get used to living in Christ, we may not even realize we are making sacrifices, bearing crosses, being patient with those who require the greatest patience. We just know what we do is what we are supposed to do…

It is just what we do, 

What He’s called us to do, for He has revealed His love, He has revealed His promise 

The cross..and the resurrection, He and us, united there, and forever.  AMEN! 

 

 

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. Print.

Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.

That Ass May Be More of a Blessing Than You Ever Dreamed!

Devotional Thought of the Day:Featured image

38  Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39  Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. Matthew 10:38-39 (TEV)

21  So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. 22  But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the LORD to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, 23  Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. 24  Then the angel of the LORD stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. 25  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. 26  Then the angel of the LORD moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. 27  This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. 28  Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. 29  “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” 30  “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. 31  Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. 32  “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33  Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” 34  Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” Numbers 22:21-34 (NLT)

521      I wrote to you: Though I can understand that it’s not an uncommon way of talking, I’m not happy when I hear people describe the difficulties born of pride as “crosses”. These burdens are not the Cross, the true Cross, because they are not Christ’s Cross. So struggle against those invented obstacles, which have nothing to do with the seal Christ has set on you. Get rid of all the disguises of self! 

As I read the words in blue from above at the end of my devotions this morning, I thought of the story of Balaam.

Partly it is because I have been trying to help a lot of people reconcile the relationships that they have shattered. They often consider dealing with each other the cross they have to bear, and they count it a noble thing to do so.  They might not call them n ass directly, or publicly, but there is that kind of thought that is given.  They will bear up with the frustration, the pain, and will humble themselves to the point where they cannot any longer, and the need for reconciliation becomes ….more visible.

I will confess that I am writing this as much to me, as I am to anyone else.  We struggle against them, we proclaim that we will gladly becomes martyrs, we convince ourselves that we will tolerate them, and that is our martyrdom, that is the persecution we will endure, and offer it up to the Lord, as we bury the anger and resentment, and find ways to increase the distance between us.

And we are full of it!

Not that!  We are full of pride.  (well and the pride fills us with that as well)

They aren’t the cross we have to bear. TO say that is to bear a different kind of cross that the cross of Jesus Christ.

His Cross is one where reconciliation happens, the Cross where mercy and grace is found and celebrated, the Cross where sin is put to death, and we are raised, freed from it and all unrighteousness.  That’s the cross we have to bear – to do things to bring about healing, forgiveness, to see God’s grace and mercy and love accomplish this between the asses in our life, and us.

it is then, with eyes wide open, that we see as Balaam did.  That perhaps God has used them to protect us from harm, to protect us from sin and disobedience ruining our lives. That their work, whether deliberate or not, has been n incredible blessing.

We need to learn not to think of those people as the cross we have to bear, but instead yearn to take up the cross and follow Christ, for them.  Even as He did for us.

It’s a hard lesson, but there is the biggest grace point…. we can’t do it unless we see the cross of Christ, unless we know His love and mercy as we interact with them.  Knowing He is there, to heal, to pour out mercy, to pour out grace on us all, turns this from a cross of horrible suffering, into one we can embrace for the joy set before us.

Which is the biggest blessing of all, this need to walk with Christ, to follow Him to the cross, To remember that our life centers in Him – for that is where we meet Him, where we are united to Him, all of us who are called by His name.  Remember you baptism, run to receive absolution, find joy in our communion together at His table. together.  Amen

So don’t think of them as your crosses, for now you know that is a lie.  Bear the cross that brings reconciliation, and learn from our Lord to bear it for the hope sent before us.

Dwell in His Peace!

As you

They aren’t our crosses to bear, to claim so is not a mark of humility, but that of condescension and pride, much as Balaam found out, and confessed.  Much as St Josemaria pointed out, .

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1976-1980). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Conflict: Fight or Flee, is there a third choice?

Is the glass half empty or half full? The pess...

Is the glass half empty or half full? The pessimist would pick half empty, while the optimist would choose half full. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the day:
 
14  Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. 15  Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. 16  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. 17  Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. 18  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. 19  Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” 20  Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. 21  Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.  Romans 12:14-21 (MSG)

 

An optimist looks at a 20 oz beverage container holding 10 oz of fluid and calls it half full. A pessimist looks at the same container and calls it half empty. I walk over drain the mug of beer, ticking off the optimist and the pessimist simultaneously. It was a good beer, the container served its purpose, and I caused opposing sides of an argument to be united. (against me – but that is cool) That’s a very good day! – Rev. Dt Parker

 

I have been thinking about conflict for a few days, as its come up in ministry to others quite frequently recently. Some are dealing with it at work, others in their homes or extended families, and yeah, some are dealing with it at church.

Normally, people deal with it (and indeed in any stress) in one of two ways – they fight or they flea. Some situations may seem to call for us to flee – to wait unti we are stronger, or we have all our resources marshalled.  Others may call for us to fight.  There are all sorts of works that teach us wisdom of each – I tend to lean to the classics – Musashi’s Book of Five Rings and Sun Tzu’s Art of War were books given to me read in a leadership program I was once in.

But I have to wonder, is there another way.  Are we stuck in a binary choice, with no other option?

Can instead of engaging in war…can we try to engage to live in peace? Can we work with those we would rather fight or flee from – even if it means our being crucified?  Perhaps the answer is in remember we have been nailed to the cross already with Christ?  Therefore it is our old adam – our self before salvation – it c–n die and we can live humbly, serving those the world would tell us to knock out.  And if their antagonism does cause us harm, we can cope, because Christ coped and even chose to die, that those who crucified him would live.

This is a hard road – no matter if we stick with the normal binary choice – fight or flee, or if we realize the conflict isn’t about the ratio of liquid to container, but there is something deeper at stake… eternity.

What do you think?  Really want to know!

Imitating Christ… in dying to self.

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion thought of the Day:

 23  Jesus answered them, “The hour has now come for the Son of Man to receive great glory. 24  I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. 25  Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal. 26  Whoever wants to serve me must follow me, so that my servant will be with me where I am. And my Father will honor anyone who serves me. John 12:23-26 (TEV)

 17  In the Lord’s name, then, I warn you: do not continue to live like the heathen, whose thoughts are worthless 18  and whose minds are in the dark. They have no part in the life that God gives, for they are completely ignorant and stubborn. 19  They have lost all feeling of shame; they give themselves over to vice and do all sorts of indecent things without restraint. 20  That was not what you learned about Christ! 21  You certainly heard about him, and as his followers you were taught the truth that is in Jesus. 22  So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. 23  Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, 24  and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.   Ephesians 4:17-24 (TEV)

If the grain of wheat does not die, it remains unfruitful. Don’t you want to be a grain of wheat, to die through mortification, and to yield stalks rich in grain? May Jesus bless your wheat field! (1)

Yesterday I asked on Facebook a question about whether we would follow Jesus if he showed up today and asked us too.  Actually, more specifically, I asked what our excuses would be when we told him we wouldn’t follow Him.

Most people said they would, and I believe in their hearts they sincerely believe it.

Even as I know most of us do not, even now, as Christ is present in our lives,  as He is calling us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and walk with Him, through that dying to self, into the presence of the Father.

Will we walk with Christ in loving those who would kill us, that we could win their souls to God?

Will we forgive others who have sinned against us?

Will we depend on God when life is rough, the answers unknown, when we need to forsake joy and embrace suffering – that a person would come to know God’s love?

Will we give up taking care of what we are responsible for – to care for others.  (think of John, James, Peter and Andrew leaving their fathers and boats behind, or Matthew leaving the tax table and the taxes he collected behind.._

Reading Les Miserable in my spare time is really causing me to ask these questions, not of you, but of myself.   Wondering how I serve as an example, as Paul did, as Peter did, for those whom I have been entrusted with shepherding.  It’s a hard question… and it seems like the law is condemning me…even brutally.

Until I realize that such things I cling to, are actually snares… snares that would stop me from following Christ, or at least blind me to His Spirit’s presence.  I have to come to my senses and realize in whose presence I dwell.  The Lord and Master who shatters those holds, who brings me healing, who brings me life.

This dying to self thing – its not so I can just die.  It is so I can live.

We too need to experience what that seed did… actually we just need to realize we have… He has done this to us, even as He subjected Himself to it.

This imitating Christ – is the living that we were created for…

It is what began at our baptism, it is what is strengthened as we are absolved and commune…

It is the abundant life.

Lord have mercy on us, by crucifying our sin and sinful desires… leaving us nothing else, but You, and the glory in which you share with us. AMEN

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 574-575). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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