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New Year’s resolutions, Mondays, and our Spiritual Struggle

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Devotional Thought for our Monday!
22  So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. 23  Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, 24  and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. Ephesians 4:22-24 (TEV)

163      You shouldn’t be so easy on yourself! Don’t wait until the New Year to make your resolutions. Every day is a good day to make good decisions. Hodie, nunc!—Today, now! It tends to be the poor defeatist types who leave it until the New Year before beginning afresh… And even then, they never really begin.

Yesterday, some 60 friends and I knelt at the altar at Concordia, and celebrated the mercy of God.  We celebrated by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, broken and spilled for us, to cover our sin, to remind us of the glorious life God gives us, where we walk with Jesus.

It was glorious, it was incredible, this sharing of God’s love, of realizing God’s desire to make us His has been fulfilled at the cross, and we celebrated it, together! What an incredible, overwhelming experience, as we were there, together, and realized the love of God!

Yet today is Monday, and what we used to call the “tyranny of the urgent” has found its way to dominate my life.  Too many critical things to do, competing with daily tasks, deadlines, and meetings to finish planning.  While balancing out the people who need help. 

It is as if yesterday’s moment of bliss happened a long time ago, not just yesterday.

It feels so distant, so much not part of who I am, today.  

And if I have trouble remembering – reliving those moments – how can I easily connect to my baptism?  And if I struggle to connect to either, my connection to Christ and to the cross where I was united to Him fades into the distant past as well. 

It would seem like those moments fade like our New Years’ resolutions, with a lot of great intent, and little impact and little change if anything.  To use Paul’s thought, we struggle to get rid of the old desires, the old self.

And what difference would it make; make these resolutions real as Paul advises?  How would it change the tyranny of the urgent, how would it change my Monday? 

The Psalmist tells us how to make this new beginning happen.  With words, words we know so, so well.

Be still, and know I am God…. God Almighty is with you, the God of Jacob is your refuge.

As He was when we knelt at the altar, He hasn’t left, He hasn’t stopped loving us, He hasn’t stopped being our God….. rely on that, for He promised.  He is with you, right now at your desk, or while you sip your coffee and wonder how to escape. He is there in the midst of this broken world. He is there with you.

Knowing that, makes every moment new, it makes every moment a communion, a fellowship with God who loves us. 

Amen!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 768-772). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Key to Making Mondays Enjoyable!

Sunrise at Concordia

Devotional Thought of the Day:
3  He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness. It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature. 5  For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side, and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life. Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge, your knowledge by self-control, your self-control by the ability to endure. Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion to God; that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness, and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.
2 Peter 1:3-5 (Phillips NT)

Since then, O my soul! thou art capable of knowing and loving God, why wilt thou amuse thyself with anything less than God? Since thou mayest put in thy claim to eternity, why shouldst thou amuse thyself with transitory moments? It was one of the most grievous reflections of the prodigal son, that he might have fared deliciously at his father’s table, whilst he was feeding amongst filthy swine. Since thou art, O my soul, capable of possessing God, woe be to thee if thou contentest thyself with anything less than God.

This morning, as I arrived at church, two little girls who go to our preschool were greeting each other with great joy.  Laughter and giggles were loud, as they danced around their moms who were obviously more aware that it was Monday, and that we shouldn’t be excited or enthusiastic about a new day.

My ten year old observed that it was because they were anxious to see each other, to share the week together, that explained the joy we observed. As I read St Francis de Sales words (in blue above) I thought it echoed my son’s words of wisdom.  Why should we have the Monday drama?

Isn’t there something good about this day?  Isn’t it one of the days the Lord has made?

de Sales talks about the woes that accompany those who are capable of possessing God (realizing they are in His presence, that they have His attention and His heart)  and find contentment ( or at least settle for) something less than God.   That we accept the doldrums, the burdens of our lives as being the reality.

We are capable of knowing and loving God!  This is what the cross means, this incredible encounter with God who lives and reigns.  We are invited to walk with Him through life, to behold the masterpiece He would make of it!

That’s why Peter talks so…. so gloriously about a life with Christ.  A life where we know the Father, where we endure and find the ability to endure because of our devotion to Him, a devotion that is a response to His giving us everything that is needed to live what Peter calls ( in the midst of a dungeon that could make the worst Monday appealing)) the “good life.”

It’s not what we endure that makes it good, but that we live in the presence of God while experiencing it that makes the difference.   Like the two little girls, greeting each other with great joy, we can greet our Lord, and see His smile, and rejoice in His presence!

So stop amusing yourself with anything but God… and find in Him the joy that overwhelms even a Monday you return from vacation!

Alleluia!  He is Risen!  He is risen indeed! And therefore – We are Risen indeed!

Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.

As Unavoidable as Mondays…

Discussion Thought of the Day:
12  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13  bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. 14  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 15  And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 (NAB)

The genuine sacraments, therefore, are Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and absolution (which is the sacrament of penitence), for these rites have the commandment of God and the promise of grace, which is the heart of the New Testament. When we are baptized, when we eat the Lord’s body, when we are absolved, our hearts should firmly believe that God really forgives us for Christ’s sake

292    Your interior life has to be just that: to begin …and to begin again.

Mondays are unavoidable.  The next begins in less that 160 hours.

Two other things are as unavoidable.

The first is sin.  Or at least it seems to be. In thought word and deed, we fail.  We fail to love our brothers and our sisters.  We fail to love God, and we often live life without Him, going without His assistance, without calling on His name.

Sin is like Monday, it will happen, even if we don’t want it to happen!  (not that we should use this as an excuse!)

It is depressing, as Paul admits in the 7th chapter of Romans. What a wretch I am!

Given similar despair, the words of Saint Josemaria give us hope. It is time to begin again!  To approach God’s throne of mercy and ask for what seems impossible, to ask for forgiveness again!

But forgiveness is as ubiquitous, as omnipresent as Mondays!  ( Ubiquitous and omnipresent simply mean “always there” )

The Lutheran Confessions note this when they talk of the sacraments and urge us to firmly believe that God forgives us!  Because of Christ!  He does!  The one who told Peter to forgive Andrew 7 times 70 demonstrates it 1000 times over with you and me.  

He forgives us!

The cross was for you and me!  He did it for the joy He would know, as we are called

That is what St. Paul means when he says we are called into the Body of Christ.

Bring confident of this mercy of God, knowing He will forgive us is the evidence of Christ’s peace controlling our hearts, assured that guilt and shame do not have a place in our life   That we don’t have to keep a record of sins against us and let resentment eat away our soul.

It’s Monday.  You will probably sin, but you can begin again,

9  If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.   1 John 1:9 (NAB)

So let us confess, and depending on the promise of God, begin again, dwelling in His peace!  AMEN!

 

 

 

Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Location 765). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Madness of God….proven on Mondays

Devotional Thought of the Day….
19  Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 (MSG)

24  ” ‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. 25  I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. 26  I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. 27  I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. 28  You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!     Ezekiel 36:24-28 (MSG)

2      God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling consideration. Jesus is my intimate Friend (another rediscovery) who loves me with all the divine madness of his Heart. The Holy Spirit is my Consoler, who guides my every step along the road. Consider this often: you are God’s… and God is yours.  (1)

This morning one of the first things I read was this…

We wait for years for an extra day, and it is a Monday. A Monday?  Really?  I mean why couldn’t we have the extra day be a Sunday?  Or at least a Friday?

Why did it have to be a Monday?  What kind of Madness is this?

I could make the point it is a divine sort of madness.  A reminder that God doesn’t want us just on Sundays.

God, our Father, doesn’t want “visitation” rights.  he doesn’t want to be our God on a part-time or occasional basis  He doesn’t just want to see us when we are on our best behavior, expecting times of great joy.  He wants to be in our lives on Monday mornings, before we shower, or have that first 32 oz coffee (or in my case, diet Coke with line) He wants to be beside us at 10 am – when we realized we had a deadline at nine a.m.

What madness! How insane!  He wants to be there, to show us His love, even when we admit we aren’t all that lovable, or all that ready to be loved.  He not only loves us on Mondays when we are unbearable, but He also loves us as our sin crucified Jesus, His only begotten Son, our Savior and Friend.

What comfort that gives, what peace it brings, when we take a moment and catch ou breath, and realize He is still God, our God.  And we are still His children, His beloved children. He has marked us as His, and not just for the good times, for the challenged times, for the times where we throw a tantrum and whine, because it is Monday…..

So know His peace…for God is mad enough to love us even now….

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 237-242). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Michal had a case of the Mondays… don’t be like Michal.

Devotional Thought of the Day:20 *W

20 *When David went home to bless his own house, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him and said, “How well the king of Israel has honored himself today, exposing himself to the view of the slave girls of his followers, as a commoner might expose himself!” 21 But David replied to Michal: “I was dancing before the LORD. As the LORD lives, who chose me over your father and all his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people, Israel, not only will I make merry before the LORD, 22 but I will demean myself even more. I will be lowly in your eyes, but in the eyes of the slave girls you spoke of I will be somebody.” 23 Saul’s daughter Michal was childless to the day she died.    2 Sam 6:20–23 NABRE

426         Once you were pessimistic, hesitant and apathetic. Now you are completely transformed: you feel courageous, optimistic and self-confident, because you have made up your mind, at last, to rely on God alone.  (1)

There is an inner war within me, one which swings between wanting a time of quiet reverence, and times where like David, we are just so in awe of God’s presence that we forget ourselves, and just enjoy the moment.

There is a part of me that understand’s Michal’s view, a call for some reference, a call for propriety, a call for being sedate and controlled in the presence of God.  That we should be like Isaiah, so afraid of being a sinner in the presence of God, that I freeze.  As if all the world should be like the calm reflections of Lent.

There is a time and placed for that kind of lowliness, that form of meekness.  But it can’t be forced or manipulated any more than the kind of joy that David exhibited.   That is part of my thoughts this morning, which we can’t manipulate the quiet, reverent spirit anymore than we can manipulate a spirit that is celebratory.  And while those who try to help lift the spirits of those who are depressed are accused of manipulation, we don’t accuse those like Michal, David’s wife, of the same thing.

There is an inherent danger to the Michal’s of the world.  For to manipulate people into that mood does breed the kind of spirit that Josemaria speaks of; a spirit that is pessimistic, hesitant and apathetic.  A Spirit that doubts God, and searches for reasons to dismiss His presence, to be freed from His love.  The reaction from the Michal’s, those who rejoice in the bitterness of a Monday, is very dangerous.

For it divorces the person from the strength that comes from being in the presence of the Lord. It gives a permanent case of the Mondays, a spiritual barrenness that can lead to a life of complete barrenness.

The Michal attitude even steals the peace that it seems to protect so diligently.  For peace is so refreshing, so wonderful, that you enjoy it.   You throw a parade, or a party, you dance and sing.  You act like the prodigal’s dad, so overjoyed that his boy is home, that nothing could stop the celebration.

Are there times of sorrow?  Of course! Are there times of great pain, or great loss?  Yes, though it is limited. Are there times where we should approach God in so much awe we can’t speak.  Yes, there are times for that as well.  Even then, there is a joy that breaks the silence, a confidence that speaks of a life lived in Jesus.  Not the bitterness and resentment that refuses to tolerate other people’s joy.

What makes the difference, is to depend on God for that which He promised.  We depend on Him to make all things work out for good, all things to be a blessing. To know that even when life doesn’t seem fair, God is still faithful, and He will bless you.  When we know this life is God’s work, the joy breaks out.

Relax, know that you are safe, that you have found a refuge in the hands of God.

And remember the joy of knowing God’s invited you to be a part of His feast!

AMEN!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1905-1907). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

A Prayer for the Right Attitude on a Monday!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

11 iI will set my tabernacle in your midst, and will not loathe you. 12 Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people.   Lev 26:10–12 NABRE

40 *They will confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors in their treachery against me and in their continued hostility toward me, 41 so that I, too, had to be hostile to them and bring them into their enemies’ land. Then, when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac; and also my covenant with Abraham I will remember. Lev 26:40–42

 

273         Dear Jesus: if I have to be an apostle, you will need to make me very humble. Everything the sun touches is bathed in light. Lord, fill me with your clarity, make me share in your divinity so that I may identify my will with your adorable Will and become the instrument you wish me to be. Give me the madness of the humiliation you underwent, which led you to be born poor, to work in obscurity, to the shame of dying sewn with nails to a piece of wood, to your self-effacement in the Blessed Sacrament. May I know myself: may I know myself and know you. I will then never lose sight of my nothingness.  (1)

It’s Monday, and that means lots of posts and tweets about how Monday is a pain in the buttocks.  We grieve over Mondays, we hate them, we struggle with them.

Part of the struggle is that we think we have to deal with Monday’s alone, we somehow decide to be hostile to God.   You may say, I am a believer, I went to church for 90 minutes yesterday and didn’t even complain when the pastor kept boring me to death!

But being hostile to God isn’t just about going to church, or saying you are a believer.  Being hostile to God includes going off on a Monday without Him.  Trying to struggle through the return to work, without considering He is as with you today, as He was when you were receiving His body and His Blood at the altar.  We are hostile to God when we deny Him the opportunity to comfort us, the opportunity to walk with us,  the opportunity to be in a relationship with us that is more than 90 minutes of visitation a week.

What if your Monday stress is simply a call to humility?  To remember that you are His children, that He is your God?  To remember His role in your life, and welcome it with you?

That is what St. Josemaria’s prayer is all about; as we find the humility to share in His divinity, in His glory.  In setting aside our will, our pleasure, instead revelling in His presence, content in His peace.

That is the key to dealing with the frustration of a Monday.  That is how dealing with the stress, or the weight of the workload, or the bad attitudes of those around us.  To realize we are nothing, like Christ, who emptied Himself.  Because from that place, nothing is impossible, and in every situation we can find joy.

For we are with Him, and He reveals to us His love.

AMEN.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1341-1347). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

What we need to know… to survive the Monday’s of life….

Devotional Thought of the Day:A  Picture of our Journey... with Christ

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)

12  My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13  The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14  And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15  I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16  You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17  This, then, is what I command you: love one another. John 15:12-17 (TEV)

2      God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling consideration. Jesus is my intimate Friend (another rediscovery) who loves me with all the divine madness of his Heart. The Holy Spirit is my Consoler, who guides my every step along the road. Consider this often: you are God’s… and God is yours.

This morning as I was working out, I hit a wall.  I thought I was done, at 12 minutes into my final treadmill session i knew I couldn’t go on any longer. I looked for an excuse to quit. I looked for a reason to end my suffering.  I didn’t want to endure.   A little more than 20 seconds later, the wall was there imposing, I needed to quit.

I heard in the back of my head my high school P.E. teacher’s rasping voice crying out LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT.   Like back then, it made me want to quit even more.

Just like Mondays, and all the other days in life that seem like Mondays.

You know the feeling, like when you are in a meeting that is going on forever, as all the same issues keep frustrating things keep being rehashed.  as you do your bills, and wonder about the day when there will be money left over.  It’s when the long awaited rain shuts down roads you need to use to get to work.  It’s when all that was good and precious that you experienced in worship yesterday become a faded memory, choked out by the world….

It’s monday.

Or it might as well be.

There is only one hope on Monday, there is only one thing that will kill off the drama, the anxiety, the lows that we face.

It’s to realize that we, you and I, are the people God loves.  the people that He claimed.  That the Trinity in all of Their glory has called you to live life in their glory.  They didn’t insist that you come to Them, they’ve come to us!

Look at the promise in the reading from Ezekiel – the promise of Baptism!  Look at how God takes care of us, from eliminating the sin in our lives, to setting up shop in our lives, creating something quite incredible!

Look at the words of Jesus.  I know there is much criticism of those that treat Jesus as their brother, as if that meant all we did was “play” with Him.  But there is something far different in knowing Christ is our brother than that (check out yesterday’s sermon for one)

Look at the words of Josemaria, these blessed words which encourage us to really think through what it means for God to be our Father, Jesus our brother/friend, and the Holy Spirit to be our very needed comforter!

This is what the Christian religion is about.  It is how we get through life, even as we despise its shame, we look for the joy of walking with God, and one day, seeing Him face to face.  it’s how we get passed minute 12 in our journey, how the wall that we hit, exhausted and weary, is destroyed.  we find His strength, and He comes to us and helps us get to realize that though there are “Mondays” that even those Monday’s become our Sabbath, our day of rest.

For we are God’s people…..

and that trumps any Monday.

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 237-242). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It’s Monday, Have You Prayed Yet???

Devotional Thought of the day:photo(35)

17  Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

16 Ultimately, if we should list as sacraments all the things that have God’s command and a promise added to them, then why not prayer, which can most truly be called a sacrament? It has both the command of God and many promises. If it were placed among the sacraments and thus given, so to speak, a more exalted position, this would move men to pray.  (1)

448  You haven’t been praying? Why, because you haven’t had time? But you do have time. Furthermore, what sort of works will you be able to do if you have not meditated on them in the presence of the Lord, so as to put them in order? Without that conversation with God, how can you finish your daily work with perfection? Look, it is as if you claimed you had no time to study because you were too busy giving lessons… Without study you cannot teach well. Prayer has to come before everything. If you do not understand this and put it into practice, don’t tell me that you have no time: it’s simply that you do not want to pray!  (2)

Let’s be honest, most of us hate Mondays with a passion!

The trying to adjust to “reality”, the drudgery of work, the lack of “freedom”, the stress, and the fact that Mondays somehow seem cursed to have everything going wrong.  The only thing that is worse, a Monday after a vacation.

If only there were a way to change the anture of Monday, to flip it on its side, to turn it from curse to blessing! We need to see it as a new opportunity rather than a drag.  We need to somehow realize that Mondays, like Sundays and the rest of our weeks, is a day the Lord has made!

But it is Monday…. did I mention I hate them?   Not because of their effect on me, rather, the effect they have on those I pastor. ( I simply lock myself in my office and study for next week’s sermon.)  I see the frustration, the quickness to respond to defend, or attack, the cynical matures that peak, the sarcasm and struggles that turn into great burdens.

Even when what was heard yesterday was. “come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest...”  It is as if we expect Jesus to say – well except on Monday – I take Monday’s off!

Here is the secret to Mondays.  Sanctify them!  Make them Holy!  Set them apart as a special day for you to watch God at work in your homes, in your workplaces, in your appointments throughout the day.  Spend the day in prayer, talking to God throughout it. Spend time praising His name, giving thanks, asking for His blessings and advice on each part of the day, and listening to that advice.  ( I would suggest that you make sure it is consistent with scripture – that’s how you can confirm it is His voice you are hearing. )

That brings up a point – praying – using God’s name as He meant for us to use it, in our relationship with Him is not just a commandment, it is not law, it is the purest of gospel messages.  It is a blessing beyond belief to realize we can spend our day walking with a God who comes to us, who will cleanse and restore and heal that which is broken, and that which we break.  It is the blessing that transcends all others, this conversation that we have with God, this relationship where He is God and we are His children.

That is why Melancthon and the reformers considered Prayer a sacrament in the Apology… for then it might help men pray more often. .  That is why St Josemaria, also noted the need for it to be the basic action of our life.   This conversation, this relationship, it is who we are, what we are made for… praying will change us, change our lives, not because it is a forced, but because it reveals the presence of God… here for us.

It will even blow apart a Monday… even if you haven’t started it the right way… take a break… and start talking to Him.

Your Monday will change into a Sunday…

Start with this – Lord, Have mercy!

(1)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 213). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

(2)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1986-1991). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Seriously, Does God Take Mondays Off?

Devotional Thought of the Day:Sunrise on the day of our combinsed service at Concordia Lutheran Church - Cerritos Ca (also home to Passion International Christian Church!)

“I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age”  Mt 28:20, MSG

341         You told me that God sometimes fills you with light for a while and sometimes does not. I reminded you, firmly, that the Lord is always infinitely good. That is why those bright days are enough to help you carry on; but the times when you see no light are good for you too, and make you more faithful.

Deep faith is seen is us, when we can’t hear or see God, yet still we instinctively recognize His presence and trust him  ( I don’t remember who he was quoting  CS Lewis maybe, but I remember the Bible Study where Doug Dickey taught me this )

My son yesterday bought a computer game called Minecraft, which is a bit much for a 7 year old, even one as precocious as my son.  He waited for it to download (he gave me the money to buy it with my credit card, ) and took the computer over.  Even as I knew he would, he immediate found himself in a situation he didn’t know how to get out of easily.  After a wile helped him with it, and then, when he got in a similar one, I had to let him struggle and insisted he did, rather than just start it over.

This morning the lesson was repeated, this time with a yo-yo, which he said didn’t work.  (He got it as a prize at school, and despite flashing lights, was somewhat cheap)  Again, showed him it could work, gave a little advice, and then let him struggle with it.  He understood this lesson this morning, and achieved his goal of bouncing the you-yo ten times.  He made the connection to last night – and said – this is why you didn’t let me restart?  Why I had to keep going and work it out?  Yes, son, and what would happen if I fixed everything the first time you got stuck?  With a smile he replied, “I wouldn’t learn to do things myself”

Smart kid!   (takes after his mom)

So now I am at work, and got 6 million things to do, all the while trying to recover from 2 days of grief, grief that I couldn’t get past, as this was the first Father’s Day without my dad.  I know enough to know that grief can’t just be shaken off, or ignored, Scars open, scabs rip off – and sometimes the healing in complete, and sometimes we find it hasn’t really begun.  We have to trust God through it all, and let the time pass…..

The lesson to my son now comes and slams home on me.  The quote in blue above slammed it home to, as I am not as quick to pick up on things as my son is.  There are days everything seems to click, where God’s presence is so clear, that I feel like I could figuratively reach out and hug him.  There are other days, where from my perspective, I can’t see His light as clearly, where life obscures the glory He has invited us to share in forever.   Where life seems to be a “Spiritual Monday”, and while we go through Monday, maybe God took it off like some pastors do?

I mean it – where is God on Monday?  And why can we have a spiritual version of Monday on a Thursday, or a Saturday, or even a Sunday?

St. Josemaria and Dr. Doug were right though, that faith is seen and grows, when we learn to recognize God’s presence, even when we think it isn’t there.  When we rely on His promises rather than our perception,  When we reach out in faith, and receive the blessings of mercy and peace, and love.  When we call out “Lord have mercy on Us” and we find our eyes opened, or maybe just our hearts, assured and calmed by His presence.

You see, what I know is this, as my son struggled with a computer game, as he got frustrated by “spaghetti string” on his yo-yo, his dad was there, watching, knowing there was a way to fix what was going on in both situations.  Yet if he had really gotten stuck beyond his ability, I would be there, rescuing him, fixing things, restoring things.  Even more so has God promised to do that, even more does He perceive where we are at, and care for us.

He is there, even when we can’t see Him.  His presence, His protection, His comfort, His peace, His glory……

So rest, cling to the One who promised to be our God, who promised that we would be His people… and your heart will know what your mind can’t always process.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1584-1587). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Can I Really Be Holy on the “PERFECT” Monday?

Devotional Thought On ANOTHER MONDAY……photo(35)
22  They strengthened the believers and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. “We must pass through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God,” they taught. Acts 14:22 (TEV)

“May Your will be accomplished, as it is Heaven, so may it be on Earth.
What does this mean?
Truly, God’s good and gracious will is accomplished without our prayer. But we pray in this request that is be accomplished among us as well.
How does this happen?
When God destroys and interferes with every evil will and all evil advice, which will not allow God’s Kingdom to come, such as the Devil’s will, the world’s will and will of our bodily desires. It also happens when God strengthens us by faith and by His Word and keeps living by them faithfully until the end of our lives. This is His will, good and full of grace.”

77 Sometimes you feel that you are beginning to lose heart and that everything is getting on top of you. This kills your good desires, and you can hardly manage to overcome this feeling even by making acts of hope…Never mind: this is a good time to ask God for more grace. Then, go on! Renew your joy for the struggle, even though you might lose the odd skirmish.  (2)

Have I mentioned before that I hate Mondays?

Probably, once or twice.

I get to my office, knowing that my office manager is out sick,  A little frustration there, anxiety more ( I pray no little preschoolers get sick…) and I get to answer phones.  Sigh

Go to turn on my computer – blue screens of death – call to help desk – their jammed – seems the new windows 8.1 update has some bugs?  Sigh…

Finally get to my devotions… a time of peace, of calm.. (interruptions begin)

How the heck on a day like this, am I supposed to be holy, set apart to God, and example for those whom I pastor and shepherd towards His grace?

How can I trust that God’s will, will be accomplished, that He will be in charge, (that He will reign in MY life)  Or will I be tempted to cuss and rant and basically act like I don’t believe He is here?

Grace – we have to keep remember the gifts, the promised and fulfilled gifts of God. We have to know He is here. That beyond our ability, beyond even our ability to conceptualize, He is working within us, through us.  We don’t set ourselves apart to Him!  He has already done this – in the very cross of Christ (read Rom 6:1-8) In His death, which is why we proclaim it as we commune with God.

That is how the Apostles strengthened the church, appointing pastors to care for them, encouraging them by pointing them to Jesus, helping them realize what happens in baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, What happens when we are assured that nothing separates us from God.  For they taught we are His children, adopted, cleansed from the filth of the world, forgiven, loved.

We don’t have to do anything to earn this, but oh, how easily this knowledge can fade from our minds, can escape our lips, can be hidden in the depths our our heart… forgotten for the moment. We too easily let the comfort of knowing His presence fade as the challenges of the day overwhelm us…..seemingly crush us, distract and disillusion us.

Perhaps it would help if once an hour – I prayer the Lord’s prayer?  Not that it is a holy act, but that I would remember that His kingdom has come, He is in charge here, that His will is being done here, among us, as Luther taught – among us.  We need that.  That God will provide, that He will show mercy and strengthen us against temptation and save us from evil.  Again – this isn’t my act of piety, but my need to be reminded of the work God is doing here….the work we rejoiced in yesterday, as God makes a masterpiece, and reveals to us that we walk in Christ.

Prayer, especially this wonderful prayer that Christ taught us… the anti-dote for Mondays….

Lord, help us to realize you mercy… even…no, especially on Mondays!

(1)  Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.

(2)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 543-546). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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