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God asks, “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Devotional Thought of the Day:Featured image

9  And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing. 10  Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing. Isaiah 6:9-10 (NLT)

540  In the interior life, as in human love, we have to persevere. Yes, you have to meditate often on the same themes, keeping on until you rediscover an old discovery. “And how could I not have seen this so clearly before?” you’ll ask in surprise. Simply because sometimes we’re like stones, that let the water flow over them, without absorbing a drop. That’s why we have to go over the same things again and again—because they aren’t the same things—if we want to soak up God’s blessings.

I probably have written this blog,before, or something like it.

I probably need to hear the lesson again, to make sure it sticks, just as St Josemaria mentions, I need to hear it over and over again, and to be honest, I get frustrated by my inability to hear God…Like yesterday’s blog, about loving people, not just tolerating jackasses.

I know it, I preach it, I teach it, yet I need to hear it again, to realize how in that very thing, it is all about God, about His being my benevolent Master, who wants the best for me. it isn’t just to behave right, or a matter of perfect obedience.

It’s about growing in my trust of God.  It’s about hearing Him, really hearing Him.  Hearing of His love, His mercy, His desire to create a relationship with us. A relationship with us that is so precious that He will go the ends of creation to make it happen.

He will heal our broken hearts, forgive our sin, comfort us, correct us, call us back to Him, reassure us that we don’t walk alone.  He will be patient with us, for He desires our trust, that level of relationship where we count on Him.

In the Romans reading above, the lesson I need to grasp again, is what it means.

Hyper-akuo in Greek.  To Hyper-hear God, to be so attuned to His voice, to so hear it, that it forms and shapes us, that we trust Him to the extent that we simply move, guided by His words, the words that reveal His love. That is what obedience/ hyper-hearing Him is all about.

Today He is asking – can you hear Me?

May we respond like children, and run into His arms….

God Bless!

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2034-2039). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Church, Discipleship, and “No pain, no gain”

Devotional Thought of the Day:The Pantheon, a place once dedicated to worship of idols but reborn to host the worship of God.  May our lives tell a similar story as we realize what God does to us in baptism!

10  For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:10-11 (NLT)

65         Once again you had gone back to your old follies!… And afterwards, when you returned, you didn’t feel very cheerful, because you lacked humility. It seems as if you obstinately refuse to learn from the second part of the parable of the prodigal son, and you still feel attached to the wretched happiness of the pig-swill. With your pride wounded by your weakness, you have not made up your mind to ask for pardon, and you have not realised that, if you humble yourself, the joyful welcome of your Father God awaits you, with a feast to mark your return and your new beginning.  (1)

This morning I went to work out.  I still am sore from my last work out, still moving slowly.

Instinctively, I wanted to skip this workout, to wait until I feel better, till the pain subsides, til I am no longer stiff, and can move freely.  Which is, of course, exactly the wrong thing to do.

The pain is a sign of progress, the soreness is not a bad thing.  That’s why coaches talk about “no pain, no gain.”

So why do we think our walk with God is any different?

A few days ago – a friend put a post up on FB talking about how one should never, ever use the Bible to cause pain. The picture was of three men bashing a fourth man nearly to death, with Bibles in their hands. What is interesting is that the meme and the words that accompanied it were as confrontational and divisive as what was being done.  It sought to use the bible to bash those who would confront sin.  Similarly, there has been of posts and emails about the recent World Vision decision, and counter decision.  One of my favorite writers wrote saying it is not right to condemn the sins that we hyper-focus on, then he goes and condemns those who…. yeah…. are guilty (in his opinion) of the very sin he has spent most of his ministry confronting.

Which brings me to the question of this blog.

Does the church, and those who are its shepherds, have a duty to disciple people?  What if that discipline will hurt?  Do we have the responsibility to still bring the issues to the surface, to confront the sin, so that healing can take place?  That the people can be free of its oppression?  What if the sin is simply not forgiving the sins committed against them?

There is a need to do all things in love, but that love can require us to do things that can be painful, that can cause heartache, for such is often required,  Even so, causing that pain is a daunting and scary proposition. No matter what the sin is, no matter who the person is,  For it is not loving, to refuse to disciple someone, because it might hurt.

It is just like working out, where parts of our body need to be broken down, in order to create healthy muscle. That which separates us from God, has to have grace applied to it.  The behaviors and thoughts that are not of Christ, have to be nailed to the cross with Christ.  And those who love us, our family of God, have to know that we are willing to willing to be challenged, willing to hurt, to be sore.  Willing to let God bring healing into our lives, and confront the darkness that clings to us, which we sometimes want to cling to as well.

Are you willing to suffer, that you may know God’s grace all the more clearly?  Are you willing to suffer, that someone else will?

That’s not the question to ask..really, for it puts the emphasis on us, when the work of cleansing us from sin is already accomplished, in Christ.

The question is, do we desire the peace God has prepared for us to dwell in, as we dwell in Christ?

Lord – have mercy on us sinners…….

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 490-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Love Them, Love Them, Love Them: Discipleship lessons from the gym…and Coach C

The 100-Meter Run

The 100-Meter Run (Photo credit: Government Press Office (GPO))

Devotional THought of the Day:

13  We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. 14  And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15  If we declare that Jesus is the Son of God, we live in union with God and God lives in union with us. 16  And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. 17  Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgment Day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ’s. 18  There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. 19  We love because God first loved us. 20  If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. 21  The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.  1 John 4:13-21 (TEV) 

7  It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. 8  But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! 9  By his blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God’s anger! 10  We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life! 11  But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends.  Romans 5:7-11 (TEV) 

194         You have to be a live ember that sets fire to whatever it touches. And, when your surroundings are incapable of catching fire, you have to raise their spiritual temperature. If not, you are wasting time miserably, and wasting the time of those around you. (1)

I was at the gym this morning, working out when I thought of one of my PE coaches from high school.  As we used to work out, he would “encourage” us with a constant mantra…. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!.

It pumped us up – enabled us to run a bit farther, lift a little more, grind it out.  But I don’t think many of us loved it.  Matter of fact, a few of us didn’t like it or Coach Carter (during class) all that much. But the results across a semester in the weight room and on the track showed us the benefit of being trained and “encouraged.”  And because Coach Carter had been there before himself – he knew how to discipline those willing.   I am leaning on those lessons a lot as I return to working out.  With a genetic disorder that affects my heart and spine.  For my heart it has resulted in two heart valves being replaced and internal defibrillators, and a limited lifestyle – so starting to work out again is a challenge.

Yesterday, there was a discussion online about our enemies, about those who verbally attacked a Roman Catholic Cardinal who seems to be a pretty good guy.  My response was, knowing of him, he was probably praying for those attacking him.  One lady didn’t quite get that – and over a number of posts told me to mind my own business, and not talk to her about the concepts of self-defense and faith.  I didn’t, but I’ve thought and prayed for a bit since then.  Wondering what issues prompted a response that wasn’t where I was going at all.  I thought as well about our attitude towards those people who are the thorns in our life, those who are incredibly difficult to love and forgive. Those who test our ability to live life trusting in God, like that extra 20 pounds tested my endurance on the calf press this morning – and that .2 of mph faster made the difference on the treadmill.

These people, hopefully, are a burden we will embrace – or as Coach C would say – LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM!

For in doing so, we have to that which is extremely difficult, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and walk with Jesus.  We have to have no fear (for love casts out such fear – see above) and even if our lives are sacrificed as martyrs… (which few of us will face) we must love them anyway.   (Many, many saints serve as great examples of this.)

Whether we realize it or not, these people can be those in our life that help our dependence on God, our faith and trust in Him grow the most. And in loving them, wholeheartedly, even as they are our enemies, we begin to see how great God’s love is for us.   We find the strength in Him, in HIs cross, which we are united to, to love them, to be patient with them because we want them to be transformed by God and not perish, to be our brothers and sisters in Christ, feasting together at God’s table.  As St. Josemaria noted – sometimes we have to turn up the heat — sometimes we need the heat turned up on us…

It’s not easy.  It is significantly harder than getting up an hour earlier to get to the gym, or being embarrassed by realizing how weak we’ve become over the years.

Even so, as John said, we are loved…so Lord in your mercy, help us to

LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM!!!!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1022-1025). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

What’s in you?

 14  Then Jesus called the crowd to him once more and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15  There is nothing that goes into you from the outside which can make you ritually unclean. Rather, it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean.”  Mark 7:14-15 (TEV)

It is necessary that you be a “man of God,” a man of interior life, a man of prayer and of sacrifice. Your apostolate must be the overflow of your life “within.”  (1)

In the last couple of days, I have heard a lot of people talking about the threats to Christianity, and indeed to Christians.  I’ve heard talk of teaching pastors to defend the faith ( using a very misguided translation of St Peter’s words about being ready to give the reason for the hope we have).  It’s as if these challenges to a Christian could possibly remove their faith, or break them.

That attitude is not unlike the attitude of the Pharisees in Mark 7.  They spent all the time working on the outside appearance of their faith. They want it to appear perfect, with no cracks, no gaps, not even with the slightest hint of guilt.  Except of course, we are all dirty, and whether we want to admit it or not – we are all weak and broken and needing to be cleansed – from the inside out, not the outside in.

The outside isn’t our threat – the inside is.

But just like that – it is not the inside that is the source of our holiness, even though we are called to a pure interior life.  It’s not something we can do on our own, but it is something that is done to us.   Hear the prophetic words of Ezekiel,

 25  I will sprinkle clean water on you and make you clean from all your idols and everything else that has defiled you. 26  I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. 27  I will put my spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. 28  Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 29  I will save you from everything that defiles you! Ezekiel 36:25-29a (TEV)

This is what it is all about – this interior life that St. Josemaria speaks of so clearly.  It is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  It is the promise of His incarnation in us – as we are united to His death and resurrection.  It is the gift of the Holy Spirit – dwelling in us, and the communion that occurs.  That is the spring of a life from which no longer comes that which perverts us, but proof of God’s work in us – the fount of holiness.

So look within – not to see your own internal clock – not to see your own desires – but to see the love of the One who desires that you are transformed, repentant, made alive… and works in you……

and find that His mission, HIs apostolate – that even as the Father sent Jesus – so we are sent – to bring life and a walk with God to those he died to save.!

Lord Have mercy on us!

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter ...

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (1481-82) Fresco, 335 x 550 cm Cappella Sistina, Vatican. Ελληνικά: Λεπτομέρεια από την νωπογραφία του Πιέτρο Περουτζίνο, Ο Χριστός Παραδίδει τα Κλειδιά στον Πέτρο, 335 x 600 cm, Καπέλα Σιξτίνα, Πόλη του Βατικανού. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 2226-2228). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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