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Politics, Hard Decisions, and our Faith

Devotional Thought fo the day:

 But these men pressed the king. “Keep in mind, O king,” they said, “that under the law of the Medes and Persians every royal prohibition or decree is irrevocable.” 17 So the king ordered Daniel to be brought and cast into the lions’ den.* To Daniel he said, “Your God, whom you serve so constantly, must save you.” 18 To forestall any tampering, the king sealed with his own ring and the rings of the lords the stone that had been brought to block the opening of the den.
19 Then the king returned to his palace for the night; he refused to eat and he dismissed the entertainers. Since sleep was impossible for him, 20 the king rose very early the next morning and hastened to the lions’ den. 21 As he drew near, he cried out to Daniel sorrowfully, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you serve so constantly been able to save you from the lions?” 22 Daniel answered the king: “O king, live forever! 23 My God sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me.b For I have been found innocent before him; neither have I done you any harm, O king!” 24 This gave the king great joy. At his order Daniel was brought up from the den; he was found to be unharmed because he trusted in his God.  NABRE, Dan 6:16–24

509      To be able to judge with rectitude of intention what is needed is a pure heart, zeal for the things of God and love of souls, free from prejudices. Think about it!  (1)

I will admit – I don’t have the purity of heart, and not enough zeal for the things of God, and while I try to love souls, there are days this isn’t an option.

If we were back in the days of Darius and Daniel, I can hear the FB and Twitter comments blasting this King, trying to force him to release Daniel, calling him names, and crucifying him in the media for doing what he did. Or the opposite – for not dealing with Daniel severely enough.

They didn’t see his sleepless night, his mourning, His brokenness.

If we were there, we would see someone in power doing that which we know he should not have done.

His heart wouldn’t have mattered, only his actions. His only hope was in the God Daniel trusted, only then could the king know peace.  He wasn’t Darius’s God, yet.  Darius would praise him, indeed, order his entire country to praise the God of Daniel 

26 Then King Darius wrote to the nations and peoples of every language, wherever they dwell on the earth: “May your peace abound! 27 I decree that throughout my royal domain the God of Daniel is to be reverenced and feared:

“For he is the living God, enduring forever, whose kingdom shall not be destroyed, whose dominion shall be without end, 8 A savior and deliverer, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who saved Daniel from the lions’ power.” NABRE Dan 6:26-28

This is a lesson for us, for our tendency to judge before we know; before we see the big picture, and the heart of the man in authority  Before we realize that God is at work, as promised>  We need to pray for our leaders, for the decisions they have to make, that they may not want to make.  Even the decisions we disagree with, and find evil in our view.

We can only do this if our faith is in God, even as Daniel’s trust was.  Only if we are convinced of His promises can we endure, or watch others endure their own lion’s den.  Its not our faith in the Darius, or even in the Daniel, it is God’s reliability we are talking about here…

The God who restores things that are broken, from governments ot leaders, to our own souls.

Trust Him, know He will deliver us… and be confident in His work in you.   DOing such will leave in you peace… free to love, to serve the Lord.  AMEN!

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1938-1940). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Faith can’t fit in a meme box or 140 character tweet…

Devotional Thought of the Day:God, who am I?

24  The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”    Mark 9:24 (TEV)

8  No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. Micah 6:8 (TEV)

FAITH IS SOMETHING we need to ask for. God forbid that we should fail to be importunate with God and with his saints. One of the most refined forms of arrogance consists in claiming that prayer of petition is inferior to other forms of prayer . Only when we become beggars do we realize that we are creatures. When we don’t honor the faith of humble folk, who can teach us how to ask for what we need, then we think that what saves us is pure faith; but that is empty faith, a faith devoid of all religion and all piety. In such a state, we are unable to interpret religious experience. Our intellects go astray with their feeble lights, and we resort to explaining the truth of faith with slogans borrowed from cultural ideologies .  (1)

This quote from a pope is one we desperately need to hear, especially those of us who spend any amount of time on Facebook or any other social media.

For far too often we reduce our faith on social media to a snappy quote, a “gotcha” meme, or even try to debate theology or the existence of God in 140 character bursts. What this does is what Pope Francis talks about above – a faith without experiencing God.  A Creed, a statement of “faith” that is not communicated, but forced in a way that eliminates conversation, that eliminates discussion.  Such burst messages don’t give the full picture, they miss the context, and therein is the problem.

One of my professors once said that good preaching and good theology contains not only the “what”, but the “so what”.  How the message impacts the hearer, or in the case of tweets, the reader. How do those words, seen digitally on the screen communicate the need we have to relate to God, to live in fellowship with Him?  How can we help people realize that God is dependable, and that they can depend on Him?  Even that sentence doesn’t include the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ.  It doesn’t shake us from our idol of self-sufficiency, our illusion that we can control our world, our environment.  For that is where humility begins, knowing that we can’t possibly be God, and in humility finding out that is okay.

Because God,, loves us enough to give up everything for us.

Neither the Pope or I am claiming you need more words to be holier, or more intellectual, but that deep faith is born in deep need.  Holiness originating in us, in our brokenness, healing of our lives comes as we realize how shattered they are.  It is at those points, when we cry out to God, that we can hear His voice.

And that is what faith, what the “Christian religion” is about – walking humbly with God, in a conversation, assured that He will guide us, comfort us, heal us.  Because He has proven, in Christ, the extent to which He will go, and has gone, to do this very thing.

May we today walk humbly, knowing we are His children, and He is our Heavenly father. …

 

Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (p. 28). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Facebook, Memes and Christlikeness

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

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.

Why are we so eager to “share” gossip and “memes” that make others look bad?

1 “Don’t pass on malicious gossip. “Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. 2 Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd”.  Exodus 23:1-2 (MSG)

 8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”  Philippians 4:8 (TEV)

It is the most trying thing about FB and Google+ and other social media.  It is a sin that needs to be checked, and it is more rampant and as devastating as any thing the church normally publicly protests.

It is not just violating the 8th commandment, but is a complete disregard of it, and the two passages above.  The incessant number of rumors, most of them lies, that we are so willing to pass on, without checking the facts behind the story, something that can be done with a highlight and a click or two.  Of course, we also takes these “gems” of wisdom with us, and they end up in conversations over lunch, or preceding Bible Studies and Worship services, giving more fuel to the falsehood, because people we know and care about shared them with us.

These days, many of them are still about the President of the United States.  Even more about the Pope who is about to retire, or about the church he oversees.  But there are many targets out there, and the gossip and slander is…sickening.  

I will be the first one to admit that I have done this in the past. 

I will also admit that with both men, and their predecessors and positions I have some issues.  (Less with this particular pope, more with the theology he inherits from the Council of Trent) If we have issues – deal with the real issues.  Do not degrade someone, do not dismiss someone based on heresay and gossip that has nothing to do with the issues. engage in discourse with those who can affect them. They are not the enemy…nor is any target of gossip and slander.  (see Eph 6)

There are a number of logical positions that can be made about this topic – how such spreading such gossip affects your own credibility, how it is simply sin, how it hardens you, and affects your prayer life, and your relationship as you dismiss other sins just as easily.

But simply put – it is sin, and we are called to abstain from it, be reconciled to those damaged by it, and to confess it.  Grace will not abound because you share that picture, or that article, or that quip or slam… it just won’t.  

But when we sin, confess it, and know we are forgiven…and cleansed… and then go and sin no more..

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