But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:8-11 NLT
Without argument, most things are at their best when they are fulfilling their purpose and design.
For instance, a piano is made with a specific purpose: to produce music. However, I happen to know that someone once stood on a piano in order to put a fastener of some kind in the ceiling. Some artistic women have used piano tops as family picture galleries. I have seen piano tops that were cluttered filing cabinets or wide library shelves.
There is an intelligent design in the creation of a piano. The manufacturer did not announce: “This is a good piano. It has at least nineteen uses!” No, the designer had only one thought in mind: “This piano will have the purpose and potential of sounding forth beautiful music!”…
Do not miss the application of truth here. God was saying to Abraham, “You may have some other idea about the design and purpose for your life, but you are wrong! You were created in My image to worship Me and to glorify Me. If you do not honor this purpose, your life will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits
556 The Way of the Cross. Here indeed is a strong and fruitful devotion! May you make it a habit to go over those fourteen points of our Lord’s Passion and death each Friday. I assure you that you’ll gain strength for the whole week.
I love Tozer’s illustration, but struggle with the application.
Simply put, we weren’t created to worship God, or to glorify Him. I have seen too many people over the years try and fulfill that purpose, only to burn out, then drop out.
We were created for a purpose, and understanding that purpose can result in the most amazing worship, and result in God’s being glorified, a glory we are promised to share in. (see Col. 1:26-29)
Our purpose, our erason for existence is simpler, and more amazing.
As the piano was made to make music, we are made to be loved by God! We are created to be His friends!
Nothing less that being the ones whom God pours Himself to, whom God has chased throughout History, planning each step to bring us into this wonderful relationship.
We can’t mistake our response for the reason. It doesn’t work backwards. St Josemaria wants us to encounter that passionate love, that is why He wants us to contemplate the cross. Not out of duty, but because we need to know we are loved. And the Way of the Cross shows it to us, step by step, as Christ embraces torment, because it will show that love in a way that is undeniable.
It may be a blunt and graphic illustration, but saying that worship is the purpose and meaning in life is like saying going to the bathroom is the purpose of eating and drinking. Worship isn’t the purpose, it is the consequence. The purpose is being loved – a completely passive experience, and something we have no control over. This even works into my somewhat profane illustration, because a major part of worship is relieving oneself of everything impure… for God’s love will cause the eliminating of waste in our lives.
Therefore His sustains us through the most painful points of life. In the places where everyone else abandons us, He is there, comforting us, drawing us into His peace.
Finally, the glory of God has someone to love. In fact He draws us to Himself and loves us, that is truly glorious.
That is our purpose – to be loved. That is what gives meaning to our lives.
Know that you are loved beyond measure, experience that love that is unexplainable… and find out why we praise His name!
A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thoughts of my Day:
My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that is what pleased you.
22 My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who really knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too. Luke 10:21-22 CEV
With all these things against us, now—in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be—now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” “Ah, but,” you say, “see how I am arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine with apparent glory.” But read the next: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds, and divine power shall refine our bodies, then shall we see him as he is.
I used to think, (and sometimes still do) that with enough learning, with enough time spent in meditation and prayer, that I would gain in my understanding of how God works in life. Why does He allow this or that to happen, or that, how He makes everything run, heck, why he allows “those people” to have authority over a country, a city, a denomination, a church.
I thought I would understand what God’s idea of justice is, and be able to work towards it. Yet I resonate with a pastor who wrote these words over a century ago. I am not able to show grace to all people, and my ideas of righteousness/justice are not always glorious. It is broken, and because I can’t figure out what God is doing, and when that happens I get frustrated, agitated, anxious.
Eventually, using after a period of depression, in the midst of the brokenness I realize that we don’t know everything, we aren’t God, but what we have been shown is more than enough.
We’ve been shown, given, united to Jesus. And in Him, the Holy Spirit is at work, preparing us for the day when we shall meet the Father face to face.
This doesn’t mean I don’t work for justice and righteousness in this world, that I give up and leave it all to fate. In fact, it means that I take my role as an evangelist, and ambassador of reconciliation more seriously. (You should as well!) For as we walk with Christ, as we feel His comfort and peace overwhelm our anxiety and frustration, we take what we know of Jesus, and share it with others.
Especially those struggling with the concept of justice, who struggle against unrighteousness.
We need to know Jesus is there.. we need to know His work, which results in our being revealed as the children of God, and that nothing can separate us from Him. AMEN
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT2)
20 But you have learned nothing like that from Christ, if you have really heard his voice and understood the truth that he has taught you. No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust’s illusions, and, with yourselves mentally and spiritually re-made, to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God’s design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion. Ephesians 4:20 (Phillips NT)
592 Don’t forget that you are just a trash can. So if by any chance the divine gardener should lay his hands on you, and scrub and clean you, and fill you with magnificent flowers, neither the scent nor the colors that beautify your ugliness should make you proud. Humble yourself: don’t you know that you are a trash can?
It seems counter-intuitive, that God relies on us ot do the work that builds His Kingdom, but that we should not take pride in a “job well-done.” We struggle against sin, we try to serve our neighbor, we give of our time talent and treasure, shouldn’t we get a pat on the back? Can’t we take pride in an effort that took our all and more?
To that St. Josemaria’s words seem like a cold, harsh shower. A trash can? Can’t we be considered a little nicer than that? Yes, what God pours into us (and what He removes from us) makes all the difference in our lives.
We need to think this through, we need to meditate on what God is doing and has done to our life. Not only how he cleans us up (justification – Eph. 2:8-9) but how he then plants in us something beautiful, and sweet-smelling. Even the things we think we’ve buried so deep and hidden get cleaned out and replaced with things that alive, growing, beautiful.
You see, that is what is at the core of worship. The awe that comes in realizing what God has done, how He has cleansed us, how He has empowered us, how He sends us into the communities to reflect His beauty and glory into a world that has become content with brokenness.
What an amazing thing God has done, in the life of each the Holy Spirit has brought home!!! What He has done is no illusion, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our Days:
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. Romans 12:3 (MSG)
821 Work with humility. I mean, count first on God’s blessings, which will not fail you. Then, on your good desires, on your work plans—and on your difficulties! Do not forget that among those difficulties you must always include your own lack of holiness. You will be a good instrument if every day you struggle to be better.
We are no different than the children who put on superhero costumes for Halloween.
There is a part of us that wants to be the best, at something, anything.
Especially the idea that we are the best at what we do, whether it is a parent needing the hero for their kids, or being the superstar at work, the one everyone turns to, that everyone counts on, the person who is indispensable.
We want to be the heroes
We’ll even attempt to the difficult, the impossible if that will lift us up, not just for the praise, but for the acceptance. For heroes are always accepted, aren’t they? They always are welcome, aren’t they?
But this desire to be accepted, to be the hero, to be indispensable will fade, or we will fail. For we can never do enough, not for those whose favor we want, but to assure us own hearts that we will never be forgotten.
Compare this drive to the idea of humility, the idea of knowing who we are based on who God is, and what He does for us. I love that St. Josemaria says that humility is counting first on God’s blessings. Humility then is not a matter of self-abasement. It is not primarily an understanding of who we are, of recognizing our talents and limitations. That comes into play, but even then, that should drive us back to the first step.
Who God is: our Father, our Brother, our COmforter, our deliverer, our Lord, and Shepherd. WHat He does for us, creation, reconciliation, and as we are united to Jesus, the miracle of holiness happens to us. We are holy in Him, in no other way, yet so incredibly transformed by the Holy Spirit.
This happens as the Spirit enables us to trust, to depend, to have faith in God, who loves us.
You want to be the hero? Why? You have one, and that Hero has provided what you need, accepting you, making you His child, treasuring you!
Humility is found in depending on this. The Lord, your God, is with you…always!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2912-2916). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days:
7 But we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, so that the immensity of the power is God’s and not our own. 8 We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; 9 we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us; 10 always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our body. 11 Indeed, while we are still alive, we are continually being handed over to death, for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our mortal flesh. 12 In us, then, death is at work; in you, life. 13 But as we have the same spirit of faith as is described in scripture—I believed and therefore I spoke—we, too, believe and therefore we, too, speak, 14 realising that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up with Jesus in our turn, and bring us to himself—and you as well. 15 You see, everything is for your benefit, so that as grace spreads, so, to the glory of God, thanksgiving may also overflow among more and more people. 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 (NJB)
929 Don’t forget that we will be more convincing the more convinced we are.
As you look at paintings of saints, some are portrayed in very peaceful serene moments, a soft glow seems to be about them, even without the golden halos There are others that show them in the depth of darkness, fully engulfed in pain, fully engulfed in a battle against Satan and sin and despair.
I find great comfort in the latter type of paintings, for I know far more people engulfed in a similar battle, who benefit from knowing they aren’t the first to do battle with temptation, sin, doubt, resentment, guilt, and all the lies of Satan. For when we look at Francis or St John of the Cross or Luther or Walther or Mother Theresa battling that which oppressed them, we realize there must be hope, for we know how the story of these holy men and women ring true in the moment.
Paul is correct, in these lives lived in the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t just see the brokenness, we see the Holy Spirit comforting and sustaining them, as the victory of Christ’s death on the cross becomes more and more real.
For united to that death, we find life.
United to His suffering, we find peace.
Yesterday I had the responsibility of sharing God’s love with a family, a neighborhood of people who were devasted by the death of a young man. A man so devastated by the pains of life that it overwhelmed him and he thought peace could only be found in the arms of death.
The confidence to speak in that situation comes not from theology books, or the education I have received, but from the darkness, I’ve seen Christ deliver so many people through over the years, from the darkness I have needed to be rescued from as well. St Josemaria is so insightful in his words, I can convince people of God’s love, because i have been convinced as well.
One of the 80+-year-old ladies is responsible for our church mission statement. She said one morning in Sunday school that Concordia is the place where people find healing in Christ, while helping others heal.
It is an absolutely beautiful, brilliant and true statement about our church. It may not be fancy or measurable, it does not meet the standards of the guru’s who teach church leadership. It doesn’t hold out a goal for some future time where we will have a perfect, thriving, idyllic large church.
Chruch isn’t some kind of utopia on earth. It is a place for the broken, for the different, for those struggling with life, with shame and guilt, with resentment and hatred. It is where we find healing and hope amid our brokenness, amid the tears and the pain to deep for tears.
This is what the saints knew… this is why the paintings can show them in despair, and in glory, for both are true, in Christ.
And we are called saints just as those whose faith in God we admire! For we, like those who walked before us, are those called out, drawn to Jesus, those made holy the Holy Spirit, whose healing is being accomplished, for it is God the Father’s will.
He has heard our cry for mercy, and has answered it. May we always be convinced of this, even as we convince others of it.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3775-3776). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
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 10:37-39 (TEV)
5 For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. 6 And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. Romans 6:5-6 (TEV)
14 But far be it from me to have glory in anything, but only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which this world has come to an end on the cross for me, and I for it. Galatians 6:14 (BBE)
On the Cross this readiness is put to the proof, and precisely the darkness in which Mary stands engulfed reflects the fullness of the identity of her will with that of Jesus. Faith is a community formed by the Cross, and it is only on the Cross that it achieves its full perfection: the place where redemption seemed utterly beyond our reach is actually the place where it is consummated. We must, I think, relearn our devotion to the Cross. It seemed too passive to us, too pessimistic, too sentimental—but if we have not been devoted to the Cross of Jesus in our lifetime, how will we endure our own cross when the time comes for it to be laid upon us? (1)
It is the week after Holy Week, and many students are returning to school after a week of freedom. They dread it, for the switch from freedom to discipline, from play to work is never easy. I think they get this, in part, from the adults they observe who return to work every Monday weary, tired, robbed of hopelessness. It’s as if we, adults and students, expect a lifetime of suffering during the week.
In truth, most of us don’t have ti that bad. It may not be Disneyland, but then again we aren’t listening to “it’s a small world” 400 times!
To put it simply, we don’t know how to deal with discomfort; we don’t know how to embrace suffering. We don’t want to lose the things that are precious to us, from family to creature comforts, to the comfort of our sin. And so we avoid those things, find escapes from dealing with the reality of life.
Which is why we so hate Mondays, why they cause such dread.
We don’t want these crosses, because we haven’t taken the time to contemplate the glory of the cross. Even the idea of it being glorious is a thought we are troubled by. We might write it off as a necessary evil, or the price Christ had to pay to redeem us. Glory in it? That sounds absurd!
Yet the man who would become Pope Benedict has it right, he understood Paul the Apostle so well! We need to contemplate the cross, to meditate on it, and understand what it means that no only was Jesus crucified there, we were crucified with Him. Our real life begins there, with Him, in a place where redemption and healing seem absurd, but both begin.
The Test of Discipleship, so fearfully laid out in Matthew’s gospel no longer seems as daunting. For when we realize the glory of His cross, when we realize it’s impact on us, then we can trust God to get us through the little cross we struggle with, especially on Mondays.
Our cross? In light of His cross, in light of the glory revealed there, may we run to it, bearing it, trusting God to use these crosses to bring blessings, to create something good, evil when “they” meant evil, or when the cost of suffering seems too high.
Even on Monday.
Cry out on Monday that cry that speaks of both despair and faith, “LORD HAVE MERCY!!”
And rejoice as that mercy is made sure.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 110). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
37 Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: 38 Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places!39 Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” 40 But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.” Luke 19:37-40 (MSG)
For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught[what they need to know of Christ. (1)
With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God; and in this matter they must lead their flock not only in word but also by example. (2)
Yesterday I was sent links to a number of articles about worship. They were from every aspect of Christian faith, and from different views, even within my own small corner of Christianity, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
It was funny because each article had a “to do” list, that if you followed these things, your church’s service would be right, and people would benefit, and be blessed. It was funny because the advice in the articles were often in complete disagreement!!
Dust off that organ! Ditch that old organ!
Get people to used to the patterns and use of hymnals! Get them out of rote use of hymnals!
Of course, they both stipulated the need for trained excellent musicians, that would leave the people in awe – whether organists or praise bands, even as they lamented the fact that people would listen to the musicians of the other style, and not sing!
I am not a expert in worship, I don’t have a PhD, or pastor some church of 2000. I do teach lay ministers, guys and ladies who help their pastors by serving, and I am about to teach a class on worship. It is the 7th or 9th time I’ve taught it. In it I do rely on experts, like Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop William Willimon of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Robert Webber, and of course the Lutheran Confession – especially the article quoted above from the Augsburg Confession. I also learn a lot from my minister of worship arts, Dr. Chris….. and this is what I have learned… and taught, based on experience.
If I boil it down, there are only two things that are needed to revitalize worship services,
Give them something to sing about.
Our job is to preach Christ, their hope of glory, to give a reason for why in the midst of this broken world, e have hope. To reveal to them the height and depth, the breadth and width of God’s love for them – which is so clearly revealed in Christ’s incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and in their being untied to all of that, and given the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The presence of God’s Spirit which brings comfort, peace, mercy, assures us of God’s love and promises…
Give them that to sing about…..as they said at Vatican II – dispense the mysteries of God! (and teach them what you are giving them! Vatican II and the Augsburg Confession both agree on that)
Let them sing
I have heard a million reasons why people don’t sing in church, why men won’t, why young people won’t, that older people won’t sing new songs. When I came to my present church, it was clearly stated to me, this church has never sung, does not sing, will never sing! The music choices pretty much guaranteed this, and propagated it. Songs that required extensive vocal talent, sung in keys that even a first tenor and first soprano found challenging. Words that couldn’t be savored, sometimes because you need a dictionary to define them.
We sing now, because we can. We don’t always do it well, but it is from the heart, it is a reaction to God’s love, poured out on them. From hearing it through every aspect of the service, from tasting it, touching it. The songs are simple enough, the instrumentalists facilitate it. The people pour out the emotion need to pour out, the praise, the glory, the trust, the thanks, the despair, the lament… it becomes their music the lyrics that resound from their heart, and we let them sing it. (yeah – even those who voices are challenged)
They sing the praises of the God they know is present, they put into prayer the trut they have, to put it all into His care.
it is at the point that we are no longer afraid to let them sing acapella for a verse, for even a song….or a chant.
And it is wonderful….. whether the powerful anthem, or the simple cry of this version Lord’s prayer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4lcfXcZ68I (this is how we do it – as our time of family prayer ends)
give them a reason to sing…..
let them sing…
give it a try… and see what happens….. as God is lifted up… and praised.
(1) The Augsberg Confession,
(2) Catholic Church. (2011). Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the day:
23 “At that time I earnestly prayed, 24 ‘Sovereign LORD, I know that you have shown me only the beginning of the great and wonderful things you are going to do. There is no god in heaven or on earth who can do the mighty things that you have done! 25 Let me cross the Jordan River, LORD, and see the fertile land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon Mountains.’ Deuteronomy 3:23-25 (TEV)
783 It is good that your soul should be eaten up by that impatience. But don’t be in a hurry. God wants you to prepare yourself seriously, taking all the months or years necessary, and is counting on your decision to do so. With good reason did that king say: “Time and I against any two.” (1)
I tend to think of the future a lot, In my management courses, I was identified as a catalyst, the idea man, to some extent a visionary. (btw Never confuse such people with great managers/administrators! ) I love to consider the potential in people and try to help that come to fruition. This is especially true when it comes to deacons, vicars and young pastors, anyone involved in ministry.
This doesn’t always work out the way it should, sometimes because of a failure to buy into a vision they’ve developed, sometimes simply because it takes time, sometimes because the vision has to be defined more closely, or the original vision was only the first step.
As I read Moses words to God, I felt the desire in them, God can we see your glory now? Can we see Your people realize the fullness of Your plan for their lives? Can we see them mature? Can we just skip through the times in the wilderness, the times where we rebel, the times where we can’t see you, where we doubt? I want to see your glory revealed in their lives, and I want to see it soon! After all – this is what you called them for, isn’t it? When will we see the wonderful things we know You are capable of, as you do them through Your people?
As St. Josemaria talks – the impatience can be good, but not if it forces us to hurry. Preparation is necessary, sometimes it takes years for God to form them, (sometimes that is because He is using us to do it!) Sometimes it is because the relationship and the trust they need in God needs to develop to the point they can do what God has called and prepared them to do – the amazing works talked of in Ephesians 2:10 and 4;12-14. They’ll get there, maybe we will see them there, or maybe like Moses, or Paul, we can only guide them most of the way, then others ( Joshua, Timothy, Titus) will take them the rest of the way.
We don’t know, but God is their shepherd, we just help for a time, a time He has determined.
And we have to realize, the ultimate glory, the perfect promise land is not just them mature in their trust, in their love, in their devotion to God. The ultimate glory is when they are, with us revealed in Christ’s 2nd coming.
1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory! Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)
May we long to see them there, complete, whole, healed, and may our desire to see them in God’s glory spur on our ministry to them, in the time we have! For this is what we work for, according to Paul,
28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:28-29 (TEV)
Lord Have Mercy!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3251-3254). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
devotional thought of the day:
1 Then Job answered the LORD. 2 Job I know, LORD, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want. 3 You ask how I dare question your wisdom when I am so very ignorant. I talked about things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know. 4 You told me to listen while you spoke and to try to answer your questions. 5 In the past I knew only what others had told me, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6 So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6 (TEV)
272 If you are sensible and humble, you will have realised that one never stops learning… This happens in every field; even the wisest will always have something to learn, until the end of their lives; if they don’t, they cease to be wise. (1)
I am a pastor, that means to a certain point, I have been trained as a theologian. If you look at my libraries, you will see a few thousand volumes of books. The hardbacks I have read through, the digital ones, well – there are too many, but I source many of them each week in sermon preparation. Usually I skim maybe 20% of the 100-1500 hits I research, looking for various things to help prepare a message. I probably choose 10-20 to copy and paste and dwell through each week.
Been doing this for a while now, actually changed denominations once, have my favorite authors ( Luther, Escriva, Oden, Ratzinger, Willimon, Melancthon, Walther, Pieper, Augustine, Fracnis De Sales, Robert Webber ) It is somewhat an eclectic list, with guys from different times, different backgrounds. Which leads me to my point. I
We can’t put God in our Box.
We have to take Him as He reveals Himself, even if we don’t necessarily like His methods, His rules, His ways. We can’t say they are wrong simply because we don’t like them. Nor can we say with integrity that He didn’t really mean “that”. Yet to often we do, unaware that pride is causing us to shatter the first commandment.
Over the years, others have done fine jobs summarizing the faith. The three creeds that are held by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches ( The Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian) are good. I am particularly fond of others, the Augsburg Confession and Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and Luther’s Catechisms for example. Pieper has done a masterpiece of theology, so has Thomas Oden never mind Luther and Augustine. But I can’t remember ever page, every question and answer of these theological giants. My expectation is neither can they! They couldn’t in a couple thousand pages describe everything about God, they couldn’t out-Bible the Bible. They wrote great things… yet, it is still the observation of men, not equal to scripture.
That is what Job realized at the end of the book that bears his name. (as did his friends…) It is what Josemaria Escriva talks about, in a section on humility (not, incidentally, on wisdom!)
A wise man once said that, “A man’s got to know his limitations…” Another, Socrates was considered to be the wisest man of his time. His response to being told this was something like this, “it is only because I realize how much I don’t know.” A good theologian talks where there is definite scriptural support – and struggles with that which contradicts his logix, because It is God’s word, God’s reasoning that trumps ours. Even when it doesn’t seem logical, or fair.
Yesterday’s blog was about walking humbly with God, about keeping our eyes on Him, about sometimes that humility is only found in the midst of great sorrow. Today’s is similar, our wisdom comes, not from what we know about God, but that we realize we are not omniscient, that His word trumps our logic. That there is a reason why He is God, that He is our Lord, our Savior, our Benefactor, and we are simply…. His kids.
So give up, for a day or two, putting God in your box…. let Him instead bring you into His glory….
Lord Have Mercy!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1337-1340). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.