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Grieving our Condemnation of a Photo being taken

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand 2  No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. 3  It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. 4  But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, 5  he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. 6  Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. 7  God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! 8  You can count on this. I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone.   Titus 3:1-8 (MSG) 

16  If a hostile witness stands to accuse someone of a wrong, 17  then both parties involved in the quarrel must stand in the Presence of GOD before the priests and judges who are in office at that timeDeuteronomy 19:16-17 (MSG) 

758  You say that he is full of defects! Very well… but, apart from the fact that people who are perfect are found only in Heaven, you too have defects, yet others put up with you and, what is more, appreciate you. That is because they love you with the love Jesus Christ had for his own, and they had a fair number of shortcomings. Learn from this!

Yesterday my twitter and facebook accounts were flowing with criticism of three world leaders for taking a picture of themselves ( a “selfie”) at the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life. They were smiling, but the atmosphere of the celebration was a joyous one. How “shameful!”, how “horrible”, “How disrespectful”. were the cries.   To be honest, the two prime ministers, both of very reserved countries, were not criticised as much as President Obama was.  I wonder, if he had said no, and insulted the Danish lady who asked, how the press and the cybersphere would have handled it?

I challenged a few of the more virulent attacks, wondering where their compassion and understanding went, when the rush to judgment occured.  I asked a few questions,

1.  When exactly in the celebration was the picture taken?

2.  Who asked for the picture?

3.  Did you know this wasn’t the funeral, but a public celebration and testimony of this remarkable man’s work?

I’ve learned to ask these questions, because of my own experience rushing to judgment, and falling on my face as I realized I didn’t know the entire story.  I am not immune to such rushes to judgment, yet I can stop myself a little more often.  Those I asked – came back defensively, as if there was no valid reason to question their public questioning and condemnation of this action.  The irony is slightly amusing, but far more, it grieves me. Especially among those who know God, who understand His mercy, who know His commandments to love, to build up each other,these comments were made, and so I grieve.

I am afraid we’ve lost our way, that we’ve become so polarized in our comfort, that we don’t lift up leaders, that we don’t remember that they, like us, are human.  We don’t take on the big issues, but we look for what we perceive to be charachter flaws, signs of betrayal, and we latch onto those things. What kind of example are we setting, what kind of love are we showing people that God has for them?  If theyknow the scriptures, how could they see us as obedient to God, as treasuring the kind of life that He commissioned us to live?

If we claim to live in GOd’s presence, if we claim to know the Holy Spirit dwells in us, how can we continue to be so ready to believe and pass on every criticism about someone, whether we know the details or not.  How will this behavior reflect on the God who appointed us as His ambassadors?   Will this pattern of behavior, far more self centered than “selfies”, become part of our church relationships?  Our family life?

At what point will we lay down our idolatry, our  self appointed judgeships, and will we pray for our leaders?  When will we look to encourage them and respect them rather than tear them down?

Will will confess these sins, and hear those incredible words  – your sins are forgiven you – go and sin no more!

For God is faithful – and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3150-3154). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Election That Truely Matters!

Devotional/Discussion thought of the Day….

If God’s Love has chosen you out and called you to follow him, you have a duty to respond to him… and it is also your duty, an equally serious duty, to lead and to contribute to the holiness and good progress of other men, your brothers.  (1)

As I am a bit late writing my devotional blog today, I have to think of all the political hype that is dominating everywhere I look.  Driving down the streets, the television, the radio, Facebook and Twitter.  It is as if many believe our very fate as a nation, or as a state, depends on this election.  Not just the presidency, but even ballot measures at state and local level.  In one ballot initiative here in California – the amount of money being spent could underwrite 6 private/parochial schools for 50 years! (Nearly 120 million!)

The word for church is from the root word for being called out, being selected or chosen or elected to fulfill a role – that role of being the family of God.  It is our primary vocation in life, this relationship we have with God, this relationship He has, not just with an individual, but with His family – what we call the church.

I would say, knowing that many would disagree. that it is the “election” that truely matters, and I would go so far as to say, it is the ONLY election that matters.  For you can win or lose another election, and it will not have the impact of responding to this election, or denying it.

St. Josemarie Escriva points out something obvious here, that being elected changes things.  He uses the word “duty”, some may refer to it as an Obligation.  I tend to think it is simpler than that.  If you are elected to office, your role, your responsibility changes in life.  You are not as free to do certain things, you may have to even have limits on your personal freedom.  The same is true in our lives.  As we have become children of God, our life dramatically transforms, we change priorities, and yes, in a way, we lose some of our personal freedom.  We have a new relationship, a new role in life, we are the children of God.  As such, in that transformation, we realize the heart of our Father, we realize His love and mercy, we realize His peace.  And we realize that we respond to that love, and being to see the need to respond to it by bringing those God also calls to be part of His family.

There is such a difference, that we become driven to see people come to know our Father, our Lord, the One who called, chose, selected, elected us to be His.  And so we begin our work to see others begin to comprehend that they two have been elected to be transformed into being a son or daughter of the Father.

And they will, eventually, even as we do,  realize this is the only election that matters…

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1422-1424). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.(10

Government and Faith….

Discussion/devotion of the day….

It is amazing to me, how much we get caught up in the intrigues and plots and plans of government.  How much anxiety, how much sin, how much pain is created when we look to our governments, when we look to our candidates to provide that which can only come from God.  (somehow we also do this with athletes, which is even more perverse…)

Do we really think that the problems caused by sin will be overcome if our guy wins?  Is there any proof that if our opponent wins, that somehow he can override the will and work of God?  How much of God’s peace can be stolen from us by politicians?  How much of what really matters can be overcome?

A survivor of the Spanish Civil War, which was brutal on both sides, which had believers on both sides, which had pastors and priests killed by both sides, wrote this,

“The measures taken by some governments to ensure that the faith in their countries dies out reminds me of the seals set upon the tomb of Jesus by the Sanhedrin. He was not subject to anybody or anything, and despite those seals, he rose again!” (1)

It isn’t rocket science to realize that in this day, people have turned politics, like so many things, into a form a idolatry.  Can we, for a moment, for a day, trust in God more than we trust in the war for “right” or “wrong” in the elections?  Can we find our unity in the one who didn’t run for office, but ran to the cross for the joy set before Him?  Or will we be like the Israelites, who forsook God’s reign, to have a king…

Lord Have Mercy on us!   Help us to look to you for the peace that the world and its governors and kings and presidential candidates cannot deliver…

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1084-1087). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Respect the Office and the Person

This will be a controversial topic.  Oh well, it needs to be said.  I ask you to read this, pray about it, pray some more and think it through.  Do not just react – that is part of our problem these days…  Be still, know God is God… then look to His wisdom.

As the elections come closer, I have been noticing a lot of hatred spewing forth, the kind of stuff that will cause our nation to rot unless eradicated.

We aren’t the first nation to have leaders whose actions and policies are questionable.  Nor is it the first time the church has felt herself attacked by those leaders.  (that is a different subject, but I believe those who have reduced the pro-life debate to who pays for it through their insurance to have given up too much ground in the discussion.)  Compared to the much of the world today, the US government is still comparatively friendly to the church.  We haven’t had government sanctioned burning of our churches, pastors and evangelists are not tossed in jail, no beheadings etc.

And please understand – I am all for a straight out discussion on the issues, that people can make up their mind, not based in fear, but based in true positions.  I think we need to appeal to more than just fear, to more than just emotion.

Even more, I think those of us who claim we trust in Christ need to demonstrate that trust – by acknowledging and heeding the teachings of the commandments, and specifically the fourth commandment.  When Luther explains the “honor your father and mother”, he expands the group to whom we owe respect, by noting that they are simply extensions of paternal authority.   Simple terms – they assist the parents in keeping their children safe, healthy and in a relationship with God.

Interestingly – Luther – whose government wasn’t the best either- extends that authority to civil government.  Even if we don’t agree with them, we owe them the same honor we owe our parents.  Don’t really see that much of respect these days.   That doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their error – we need to work with them on it.  But we still need to show them honor, respect, and yes, even love.

Not this “respect the office, not the person” excuse I’ve heard a lot recently.  That simply gives license to our sinful nature to attack, to react in fear, to allow sin to reign.  It allows us to excuse sinful behavior, and strike out in fear.  And it goes against the words of scripture, that see something more at stake.  This is what Peter wrote:

2:13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
1 Peter 2:13-17 (NLT) 

Peter wrote that – when he was facing death for his witness…

Maybe we should open our eyes, and hear with our ears, and keep the way of life God has commissioned… then perhaps… we will realize the healing He is doing in this land.  For it is not a candidate that has the strength to do so, it is only God.

So work hard – make you voice heard, but do it in accord with God’s word, and pray and honor those in authority…

And look and see what God is doing!  He is having mercy on us!

Live Graciously, even in an Election Year!

Consider these passages – as you engage others, and post your positions on facebook…

5:43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
Matthew 5:43-48 (MSG) 

4:19 Let us love, then, because he first loved us. 20 Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.
1 John 4:19-21 (NJB) 

May that which we say, and post, reflect God’s glory to a world that more than enough evil and darkness.

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