Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
883 You were consoled by the idea that life is to be spent, burned in the service of God. And spending ourselves entirely for him is how we shall be freed from death, which brings us the possession of Life. (1)
I am sitting in my office – contemplating the 6 sermons I will preach in the next 7 days.
I got nothing… the words on the paper, the studies I have done in preparation, all seem limited in view of the world that seems so…broken, so darkened. So broken that even we who have been entrusted with the one thing that will bring change and hope, are too distracted, to eager to go on the offensive, whether it be about saying Merry Christmas and decorating our yards, or claiming our “rights”, or taking our stand against those who favor things we find abhorent, from child euthenasia being allowed now, to abortion, to bigamy to… name the sin, there are people defending their right to it, and those who trust in God saying tolerating that sin is the end of the world. That’s not mentioning real traumas, like bringing comfort and God’s peace to those who are missing loved ones, or seeing their relationships crumble, or dealing with financial crises.
6 sermons in 7 days? Maybe 80-100 differemt people hearing them? How will that stem the tide?
As I look at the blank word document, I got nothing… I don’t have the words…I don’t even have the idea of where to begin.
O Come, O Come Immanuel… the words echo in my mind.
Yesterday I wrote that I want to get past wanting Him to come and save us, I want to want Him to come, so that we can rejoice in His presence, that we will finally be “united” with Him, face to face, in all of His glory. I don’t just want Him to come to deliver us from the challenges of this world, of this time.
Yet maybe that is what Lent is about – looking both to what He delivers us from and what He delivers us to, from darkness to light, from sin to justice, from brokenness to glory. From loneliness to community. Maybe we have to know the evil, to recognize the incredible nature of what God is giving us, as He claims us as His children. Maybe we need to know the barrenness of a Bethlehem Stable, to know the glory of the love revealed there, and on a rugged cross, to face our need for it, so that we realize the glorious, merciful, life changing love of God who dwells with us.
In the midst of the struggles of this life…in the midst of visions of how it is supposed to be, there is a need to trust the One who is with us, sterngthening us in our weakness, as we realize His love for us… These days help that we have nuthin.. are great for strengthening that trust, that faith….
May we take the time to realize our brokenness.. so that we can recognize our healing. It is as the Psalmist wrote:
10 “Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme over the world.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.Psalm 46:10-11 (TEV)
You see, somethings when we realize we got nuthin, we realize we have His presence, His love, His mercy… we have HIm!
And nothing can change that…
Lord Have Mercy on us! I pray we grow in the trust that He has…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3611-3612). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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Devotional and Discussion thought of the Day:
14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:14-21 (NLT)
You’re afraid of becoming distant and cold with everyone—you want so much to be detached! Get rid of that fear. If you belong to Christ—completely to Christ—he will give you fire, light and warmth for all men. (1)
Maybe it’s because yesterday was such and emotional roller coaster…incredible highs, and some devastating lows…. but I am starting today very… drained.
There is a part of me that wishes for detachment, that I could simply find a monk’s cave and withdraw from the world. Just study God’s word, write, play guitar and occasionally Candy Crush Saga (yeah sure… occasionally… uhm…yup_
A mundane life apart from the trauma, apart from the despair, apart from the days when you don’t have the answers… but can “only” point to God’s compassionate nature…
It sounds nice…
but naively empty.
This ministry we share, as pastors/priests and people, doesn’t avoid suffering ( maybe that why we like Candy Crush Saga?) but embraces it, because we do have hope. Because we have that which sustains us, even on the darkest Mondays… during our times of weakness and exhaustion. When we remember that we are involved in ministry because of God’s call, when we look to Him for sustenance than our own personal strength. We need to rely on His compassion, His love, His presence.
That is the key – and one I need to remember today…
He is our strength, He is our peace…
And when we cry out Kyrie Eleison! Lord Have Mercy! …. we begin to realize this!
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 492-493). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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Discussion thought of the Day:
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Matthew 6:12 (MSG)
38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 39 40 Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:38-40 (MSG)
In this life of ours we must expect the Cross. Those who do not expect the Cross are not Christians, and they will be unable to avoid their own “cross”, which will drive them to despair. (1)
If the atrocities that happened in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic sickened you, this blog may be difficult to read. Please know that even a I type these words, I am praying specifically for those who will struggle with this.
I think we, as the church, must pray for this man, we must cry out to God that God would bring Dr. Gosnell to repentance, to the very transformation that leads to life. I say this neither lightly, nor ignoring the horrors that occurred at his direction, at his hands. I as much as any, struggle with the abortion issue, because of the circumstances of my birth. If I was born 8-10 years later, society would have approved – heck – would have recommended that I be aborted. Having now met my birth mother, I am pretty sure she still would not have…yet….
Obviously we need to pray for Dr. Gosnell’s sake that he finds the mercy that can only come through the Holy Spirit circumcising his heart, through the hardness being excised. It would be a miracle as mind-blowing as any I’ve seen or heard of in my life, a conversion far more incredible than that of Chuck Colson, and perhaps even Dahmer. We cannot let this man go forgotten, we have to realize that sharing the gospel with him, and praying that God would raise up the chaplain who will minister to him in prison, is essential.
But, as we are taught to pray, we need to do it for our sake as well. We can allow ourselves to be hardened and callous to this man, we cannot just demand justice, ignoring that he too, is a life. If we do, if we are merciless – then we have turned into the same kind of monster we perceive him to be.
As St. Josemaria tells us – we have to expect this cross, we have to expect to bear the cross of ministering to the greatest of sinners. We cannot avoid it.
For if we do we fail and despair. If we do, we will convince ourselves that there is a limit to God’s grace, a limit to His reach, a limit to His ability to grant someone repentance.
And eventually, that limit will find itself growing – leaving more and more in the position of being beyond grace. Until we find ourselves outside the limit of His grace.
If we determine Gosnell can’t be reached – if we decide his reconciliation is not something we will pray for, bearing that cross, we will start down a dangerous path.
Dahmer was saved, as were Paul, as was King David, as are we…
Let’s pray for Dr. Gosnell, and for those involved in the abortion industry, for the victims, for those convinced that it is “okay”, for those who work and advocate for it.
That they would come to know the grace found in the only begotten son of God.
May we find God’s mercy to pray for them, to pray for Him.
Let us pray….
LORD HAVE MERCY!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2748-2750). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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Devotional Thought of the Day:
Spiritual life is—and I repeat this again and again, on purpose—a constant beginning and beginning again. Beginning again? Yes! Every time you make an act of contrition—and we should make many every day—you begin again, because you offer a new love to God. (1)
What? You thought a blog with this title was going to be about politics? Nope – something far more important.
I thought about “translating” St Josemarie’s statement into “lutheran”, but the basic concept is solid, and I will mention the change in a moment.
It is to easy to look at life as if one action, one slip up, one sin can break us. It doesn’t matter if that sin is ours, or if that sin is one committed against us. If we trust’s Christ’s promise, it is not even the 1001 first sin that becomes the “straw that breaks the camels back. For there is no such thing. In 1 John 1, God promises, “ On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. “1 John 1:9 (MSG) That promise is good, and true.
And here is where I differ slightly with St. Josemarie. Here is the one I remember from growing up:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
The change in the modern Act of Contrition, with the insertion of “do penance” is the only real issue I have. For absolution is promised with confession, and is already promised and delivered in baptism. So I’ll stick with the old AoC. Or more simply – and perhaps with a sense of great need… cry Lord Have Mercy! ANd know with absolute assurance… He has!
We are free – we have a new beginning.
Let us celebrate the mercy of the Lord!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1503-1506). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.