Devotional thoughts for the day:
Matthew 5:43-45 (MSG) 43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
Mercedes Morado and Begoña Alvarez, who were among those who worked with Monsignor Escrivá for years, wrote that his spirit of forgiving and understanding toward those who slandered him grew progressively, to the point where he could say in all simplicity, “I don’t feel any resentment toward them. I pray for them every day, just as hard as I pray for my children. And by praying for them so much, I’ve come to love them with the same heart and the same intensity as I love my children.”30 He was putting onto paper something of his own personal experience when he wrote, “Think about the good that has been done to you throughout your lifetime by those who have injured or attempted to injure you. Others call such people their enemies…. You are nothing so special that you should have enemies; so call them ‘benefactors.’ Pray to God for them: as a result, you will come to like them.”31 On another occasion, Encarnita Ortega witnessed how he reacted when told that Father Carrillo de Albornoz had left the Society of Jesus, later apostatizing from the Catholic faith. Monsignor Escrivá was visibly moved and deeply sorry. He buried his head in his hands and fell silent, withdrawing into himself, praying. Salvador Canals reminded him that this same man had once organized a very serious campaign of slander against the Work. Monsignor Escrivá interrupted him bluntly, “But he is a soul, my son, a soul!” (1)
Facebook is becoming more and more for me a place of sorrow, a place I dread to go.
The reason is, in part, the present governmental crisis, the shutdown of the government.
But my sorrow isn’t caused by that, but by the reactions of many friends, most of whom are followers of Christ. Yet, even as they fall on both sides of the issue, they do so with anger and wrath to an extreme I haven’t seen yet in my life. They act like they are the survivors of church bombings in Pakistan, or the other persecutions that is literally costing lives – not just money, in this world. Again – I long for real discussion on these issues – but not this series of diatribes against President Obama or against the Republican leaders. Will the people of God grow up? Will we return our focus to things that truly matter, like the salvation of souls? The healing of wounds caused by sin?
Or will we major in the minors? Will we continue to neglect a need for God, because our focus is on governments, or economics or protecting ourselves? Will we mourn over sin, over those who choose separation from God, and will we rejoice when prodigals come home? Heck, will we seek them out, even as Christ sought the treasures in the fields
Will we become like Christ – who embraced suffering, so others could be healed, so others would know life as the children of God?
In order to do that, we’ll need to develop that same kind of spirit that was observed in Escriva. And I would be keen to note that it grew in him – it obviously needed to.
Is our reputation, our feelings, even our own personal well-being worth more than a soul that is broken, that is so easily healed by God’s mercy and grace? Can we put the best construction on our enemies and adversaries work? On those who battle in Washington D.C. or in St Louis, or here in our backyards?
Or are their souls worth trying to bring God’s light to? Are they worth mourning? Are they worth sacrifiing time to pray for them, and the effort to love them?
Lord have mercy on us – and help us minister to those who oppose us,, or whom we think oppose us. Develop in us the heart of Stephen the deacon/martyr, and may our spirit grow, and may that growth itself encourage others to depend on you.
(1) Urbano, Pilar (2011-05-10). The Man of Villa Tevere (Kindle Locations 1819-1832). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Forgiveness – A Stumbling Block Or An Anchor? (pearlsofwisdomconsultingservices.com)
- Encountering others on Holy Ground. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Persecution, Martyrdom, the Love of Christ…. and a hard lesson in prayer (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Love Them, Love Them, Love Them: Discipleship lessons from the gym…and Coach C (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Have We Shut Down…the church (justifiedandsinner.com)
28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
“I was once asked by a young man with a myriad of tattoos if he could watch a pre-school graduation service (in our sanctuary) from the front doors of my church. SHocked I asked him why he wouldn’t just come in and grab a seat up front. (he was early) I was shocked to hear him say he didn’t think he would be allowed in with all the tattoos and his past.
So let me be clear – if you have a past – you are more than welcome here.
If you have a present… you are welcome here…
If you don’t know about your future… you are welcome here.
This congregation has seen God at work in all types of people, through all types of trauma, as we are gathered together by God.
So come on this morning to Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, come in, grab a seat… and know that God is with you….” (facebook post 9/1/2013)
43 likes to the above simple invitation to church that I posted on FB ….I am a feeling little overwhelmed.
I know quite a few pastors, priests and ministers here in socal, and around the US and the world. There are more like me in this than not…one of the challenges for pastors and priests is waiting to see Christ’s heart develop in our people. We want our people to see every other human being as those who Christ. We want to see the prostitute, the tax collector, the politician, the gossip, the music star who acts like a harlot, and yeah… the worse sinners of all.. us,… all gathered around the altar, all rejoicing in what Christ has done in our lives, and in bringing us together…
The challenge is to see all people in need of Christ’s grace, in need of His love, in need of healing of that which is broken inside us. That is as true for the first time visitor with a dark past, as it is for the elder whose been in leadership for longer than we can remember. I think, sometimes it takes longer for people to change who have been around a while… or perhaps the change isn’t as noticeable. Or perhaps because we expect others to be more mature in Christ…we are less tolerant? Not sure…. just sure all need Jesus, just sure we all need to know how patient Jesus is with each of us. And if we are ministering on His behalf… how patient we need to be with each other.
The thing is, it is not what a pastor/priests/deacon/minister says that causes the transformation in any of us. It’s not something we can plan or put on a schedule. It is the Holy Spirit, working through word and sacrament. It is the grace that is poured out, the faith and trust we are given that grows as we learn of His promises, the love that has to be empowered within us… and can only be empowered, when at our weakest, we find Him, loving us, feeding us, repairing what we have managed to break within us, or what the world has crushed…. and again, we all need that.
If you breath*, you are welcome at the church I pastor. We welcome everyone here… including pastors…
Like I said – it doesn’t matter where you have been, or where you are, even now. Simply put… all of us are damaged by life, by our decisions, by the crap we have to deal with…. and here is a place where we see God dealing with it, lifting our burdens and placing them on Christ…. that we can live… that we can “learned the unforced rhythms of grace”…that we can walk with God… not just here..but throughout our lives.
* Note: If you recently stopped breathing – your still welcome here one more time. We’ll tell people about God’s love and faithfulness to you, feed them, comfort them, help them know God’s peace…….let them know Jesus is there for them as well.
- The Perfect Church? (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional thought of the day:
5 Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near. 6 Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, 7 and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire—with whatever is good and praiseworthy. Philippians 4:5-8 (NJB)
Quite a considerable proportion of the people who go to Church read bad publications… Calmly and with love of God we need to pray and teach them sound doctrine so that they don’t go on reading those diabolical worthless papers, which they claim their families buy—for they are ashamed of it—though perhaps it is they themselves who do so. (1)
It was once said that the one who controls music controls the world. I think we can udate that a little – whoever publishes the “meme’s” controls the world. ( A meme is a picture – usually put on DB or Google+ that has words written over it)
The problem is that most of the “memes” are of the sort that St Josemaria talks about – the “bad publications”. Bad because they lead to us rejoicing in sin, rejoicing in mocking, in backstabbing, in gossip. They divide us, they wreck relationships – they encourage us to disengage from relationships and instead engage in distant criticism. When challenged on them, we try and justify the caustic ways in which we express our opinions. It’s as if we’ve been given permission to ignore the wise words of Philippians 4 – which talk about what we should feed our minds with, that which is true, honorable, upright and pure.
Instead we rejoice in this that tear down, and get offended when the target is us.
During this Lent, may we carefully guard our words, and our “share buttons”, and as we do – may we instead find things that praise the Lord who died to forgive us of these sins… and many many others.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3445-344. Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Bored or Tired at Work? The Answer is not finding something new, but… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Tiger Stripes and Christlikeness (anemergingorthodoxy.wordpress.com)
- They failed us, they sinned….now what? (justifiedandsinner.com)
“12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 (NLT)
This morning, I see a large number of people who are taking a pledge to give up Facebook and/or Twitter for Lent.
Some claim it is a vice, something that is addictive, something that is beyond our ability to have self control over our use of this social media. Similar to how we have little self control over other addicting things, like gossip, or caffeine, or our right to be “righteously indignant”.
Okay, so I am probably addicted to FB, but that is not something a forty day abstinence is going to fix. (I wonder if all those taking such a pledge know that Sundays are not part of lent.)
I have a possible second challenge/discipline for you, one based off of the above passage from St. Matthew’s gospel.
Each day of Lent, seek out someone who is spiritually ill or challenged. Someone who needs to know Jesus is present, that “the Lord is with you”. Each day try to minister to one person – even if it is just to invite them to a Lenten service and dinner. Sacrifice your time, your pride, your comfort levels, and minister to those who know they are sinners. First, this would totally be in line in with the above scripture. Second, it would make a change in people’s lives that doesn’t just revert to normal on Easter Monday.
40 days – 40 people….
and remember, the Lord who will be with those you minister too, that Lord is with you as well!
Thought of the day:
He has become so small—you see: an infant!—so that you can come close to him with confidence. Escriva, Josemaria
In these days of social media – it seems that we communicate more. I am not so sure of that – we may type more words, we may text and twit, we may read the updates of our friends on facebook, ut do we really communicate? There is far more to communication than words – there is body language, intonation, personality, culture, and… intimacy.
Example – if a person from group A says something to someone in group A, even if it is a very negative term for the group they are a part of, there is no issue. Yet the same exact phrase from someone outside of the group – say from group C – oh my gosh, the world is about to end, for world war three has started.
Social Media gives us the illusion of communication – but without all the things that make it comprise it, the “communication” is far more shallow, far less a dialogue, and far easier to misunderstand. I bring this up. I bring this up because I think we treat prayer like a facebook update at times. We tell God what we need Him to know – here it is – and we bulk send a ton of posts. We treat God as if He is as far as the person we are messaging (well except for those times when you message your spouse sitting 26 inches from you!) and we expect that some time later we will get a “y” or NO or a ROFL from God in return.
Prayer is intimate conversation – the most intimate. We see God’s desire for that in that He didn’t come as a great king – with thousands of guards that prevents us from coming close. He has come close, come near – come as a baby – grew up as we did, lived life with all its heart breaks, joys, sorrows, sacrifices, laughter…….He has come near… that we could be near Him, talk to Him, cry on His shoulder, be caught up in His joy as another child of the Father is revealed. He has sent the Spirit, the Comforter to abide with us, to indwell in us, a promise of our baptism, the guarantee of our inheritance, the guide and power of our lives.
Don’t mistake the tiny infant in the cradle for someone weak, someone fragile.. He was there..for you. To know how close you can come to Him……..to know how intimate our relationship is with Him
To know His mercy, to share in His peace..
So talk to Him.. know Him..adore Him, and fall in love with the God who has come near..