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The Greatest Leadership Challenge: Waiting

ST MARY OF PEACEDevotional Thought for our seemingly broken days

When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god z who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!”
21 Then Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you have led them into such a grave sin?” 22 “Don’t be enraged, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know that the people are intent on evil.  Exodus 32:1, 21-22 HCSB

What is truly great grows outside the limelight; and stillness at the right time is more fruitful than constant busyness, which degenerates all too easily into mindless busywork. All of us, in this era when public life is being more and more Americanized, are in the grip of a peculiar restlessness, which suspects any quietness of being a waste of time, any stillness of being a sign of missing out on something. Every ounce of time is being measured and weighed, and thus we become oblivious to the true mystery of time, the true mystery of growing and becoming: stillness. It is the same in the area of religion, where all our hopes and expectations rest on what we do; where we, through all kinds of exercises and activities, painstakingly avoid facing the true mystery of inner growth toward God. And yet, in the area of religion, what we receive is at least as important as what we do.  (1)

Every leader, whether secular or religious has felt the pressure that Aaron felt in the passage above in red.  Taken from the Old Testament, this is one of the first times that he has had to act on his own as high priest.  Prior to this, he served as Moses spokesman, he said and did what he was told to say and do in the Old Testament Liturgy.

But now, in the absence of Moses, the people urged him to act, they urged him to make a decision, for that is what they thought a leader should do.  They couldn’t wait!  It is restlessness that Benedict XVI calls “Americanized”, the idea of resting and being still cannot be profitable, it cannot provide what we need.  In our mixed up world, waiting and resting has no benefit, no importance, no sense of progress.

Instead of helping his people wait on God, Aaron submitted to their desires (and then lied about it!)  As do too many of us.  We run around, keeping busy, unable to find those moments where we simply wait on God, where we breathe deeply and find in that stillness that He is here!

I find this is even true among myself and my peers in the Lutheran Church, who replace doing with learning or at least acquiring knowledge and passing it on, whether we are able to wisely apply it or not. We move from one guru of the past to another, from one theologian to another, constantly seeking and yet, I wonder if we can ever be satisfied with what we know.

We see this even in a church service, where a long silent pause is even painful.  When we struggle to take a moment to give to God the sins He longs to remove from our hearts and souls, when we struggle to be silent as we commune, unable to wait the time it takes to let our mind run out of the things it would use to distract us, unable to wait for the moment where peace and serenity and the rest that comes from being in His presence happens.

We need to learn to face the true mystery of our inner growth toward God, a growth that isn’t measured in pages read or written, a growth that isn’t measured with watches and calendars, a growth that is simply found, like Martha’s sister, sitting with Jesus, and being in awe of Him and His love for us.  Or like Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, who sat and pondered in her heart the message of God.

Aaron would not be removed from the priesthood, for God was patient with him.  The people would sin more often, and they would wander the wilderness for a generation.  God would forgive them, as He promised, as He will forgive us of our sins, including our lack of patience, our lack of trust, or lack of conversion.  Then again, that conversion is His work, for as Benedict reminds us, what we receive is at least ( I would say significantly more) than what we do.

Rest in God’s presence, dwell in His love and peace… for this is God’s will for you – and for everyone you know.  May God help to desire this and to see it happen.  Amen!

 

 

 

(1)  Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.

Patience isn’t my strength… yet

20170124_103703Devotional Thought for our days:

25 The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26 So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us-
27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.  Lamentations 3:25-27 GNT

942         Pray that your holy ingenuity may achieve what your intelligence cannot attain, so that you may give more service of a better kind to everyone.

Surrender don’t come natural to me, I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need. And I’ve beat my head against so many walls Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn and Your grace rings out so deep it makes my resistance seem so thin!

So hold me Jesus, Cause I’m shaking like a leaf 
You have been King of my glory won’t you be my Prince of Peace!

I hate waiting for an answer, for the solution to develop to the problems that exist, for the resolution that will end the conflict with the peace of God, that surpasses all human understanding.

I want to solve the problems, fix the brokenness, see the relationships healed, and everyone gathering together at the altar to praise God, and I want such solutions now.  Why can’t I use my intelligence, which is supposed ot be a gift from God to solve these situations?  Why must they require patience?

These situations don’t require patience, at least that is not the real issue.

Faith is.  Trusting God is

Patience is just a part of what faith, what depending on God is all about.  If I trust in Him, I must trust in His timing, I must trust in His plan, including the timing of it.

Satan would love to get us, saying we aren’t patient enough, and God wouldn’t really be patient with our impatience.  He distracts us from God’s goodness, with a calendar or the second hand of a watch.

But again, patience isn’t the answer – it is simply a by-product of knowing and trusting in God.  Of knowing His goodness, of knowing His intent to care for us, to even hold us when we are broken. That is faith, trusting in Him to do as He promised, even when we can’t see it yet.  To let faith overwhelm doubt and impatience.

To realize the presence of God.  To relax and know He is God, to be sure He is here… your Prince of Peace who holds you!  AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3828-3829). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

from Hold Me Jesus – by Rich Mullins

Delayed Gratification and the Missio Dei.

dscf1215-copy-copyDevotional Thought of the day:

9  The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. 10  The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and melt away, the earth and all that it contains will be burned up. 11  Since everything is coming to an end like this, what holy and saintly lives you should be living! 2 Peter 3:9-11 (NJB)

48      It would be good if it could be said of you that the distinguishing feature of your life was “loving God’s Will”.

Most of us go through life, living day to day.  Because of that we give little thought to tomorrow, or next week, or eternity.

We want everything now, and the struggle ( noted 30 years ago by M Scott Peck ) with delayed gratification has only become worse.  We can’t wait months anymore, sometimes we can’t wait hours.

SO how can we understand a God who will be patient for decades with us, who will be patient for millennia with humanity?  How can we understand the patience that is born of a desire to have us realize we are His people?

For that is His desire, that we realize the Jesus died, not just to separate us from our guilt and shame, but so free of it that we spend time with our God who is holy and righteous, who wants to care for our children. God is patient, hoping we understand His desire to call us His friends.

If this realization was the distinguishing feature of our life, and of our lives together, how incredible our lives would be!  How we would consecrate ourselves to His mission, to the vocation of the apostolate – realizing we are sent, whether we work in a church, or at Best Buy or running a country, to see this desire of God fulfilled.   Whether it is a friend we are sent to , or a homeless person, or a corporate CEO/COO.  It doesn’t matter. God desires to see all His friends at His table.  All of them.

Eternity is the goal, an eternity spent in the most loving relationship there is, eternity spent free of pain, of guilt, of shame, and eternal life.

So think about tomorrow…. and God’s desire for it… and watch your life change!

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 402-403). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

A Second Look at How the Church Should Deal With Sinners and Even Evil.

Featured imageDevotional/Discussion thought of the day

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?
28 “ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“ ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn. ”(Mt 13:24–30) NLT

792    Duc in altum.—“Put out into the deep.” Cast aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. Et laxate retia vestra in capturam—“And lower your nets for a catch.” Don’t you see that, as Peter said, In nomine tuo, laxabo rete—“At your word I will lower the net,” you can say, “Jesus, in your name I will seek souls!”  (1)

I’ve often read the parable above as being about the end of times.  It is an eschatological treasure after all, and challenges those with complicated end times theories.

But this parable has a heavy focus on ministry as well, about how we are to deal with evil and that which doesn’t seem to be correct or dare I say kosher.  To hear this lesson is challenging, because it goes against conventional wisdom, It goes against leadership rules and all those ideas about dealing with alligators in the church.  These people may be your enemies, your adversaries, even your pains in the neck.  But they have been given to you.

To hear Jesus’ words here takes a level of courage, even a level of courage that could be taken for complacency. It actually takes more work, more pastoral concern, more leadership, more devotion and obedience.

Leave them in the field you care for, letting God determine whether they are weeds or wheat at the end of time..

Continue to share with them both their absolute need for Christ, and His mercy that overwhelms that need.

If they walk away, so be it, but don’t push them out of vineyard.  That isn’t your call.  It isn’t within your pay grade to uproot them and burn them in the furnace, or at the stake. Even in times of church discipline, keep them in sight!  Minister to them, plead with them to be reconciled to God. (1 Cor 5 – note it doesn’t say reconcile themselves to God  – He still does the work)

This is going to take courage, and obedience.  it is going to require hearing the Master’s voice, and trusting that He knows what He is doing, what He has commissioned.  It may take sacrifice, and yes, more than a little pain  It will take creativity and ingenuity as you minister to them,  But since when is ministry about the ease of our jobs?

Even as you call them to repentance, even as you shepherd them in view of the others growing in the fields that will be harvested, you need to love them. This is exactly what Peter is talking about, as he mentions the Lord’s long-suffering nature, not willing that any should perish….

So hear His voice… listen to His words… care for those that you think may be weeds..Seek the salvation of the souls He brings into your sight… and love them. ..

God might surprise you both!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1828-1831). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Hillary Duff’s View on Marriage, and Church Shopping

Devotional Thought of the Day:

25  Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. 26  Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, 27  dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. Ephesians 5:25-27 (MSG)

22  So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. 23  Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. 24  Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, 25  not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:22-25 (MSG)

In the interview she also admits that, when it comes to a relationship, happiness might be more important than the commitment, which is why her perspective on love isn’t all that straightforward.I don’t want to sound bitter because I’m definitely not, but I don’t know if people are meant to be together forever,” she tells the magazine. “Things happen over a long relationship that you can’t always fight. A marriage of 20 years, the accomplishment of that must feel really great, but there are also huge sacrifices. I just always want to fight for happiness.”  (1)

As I read the article with Hillary Duff, and the quotes above, I was grieved.  She notes how great it must feel for a relationship to last 20 years, the comments that the sacrifices are huge, too much for her, for her marriage has now failed.

I don’t know what they did to see it through, if there were counselors that were at their side, or if there were people there to encourage, to coach them through.   Not only did they fail, their family, their community, and The Church failed them as well.

Yes, I said The Church failed this young couple.

For in the church, there should be the example of endurance, the example of depending on Christ.  We are to depend on Him, the Spirit’s comfort and strength and ability to bring us through life.  We do this, understanding and looking to Christ, who Hebrews 12 tells us endured, for the joy set before Him.

As I thought about this, I also thought about the church, and the commitment we have to each other.  While some will look and pray for Hillary Duff, others will be scandalized by these words,  The lack of faithfulness to vows made will challenge us, (hopefully?) and the attitude that marriage may not be meant to last a lifetime will see inconceivable.

Yet do we not do that with our churches?  We change things, or even change churches, or forgo church for the same reason that causes Hillary to see marriage as temporary.  We put our enjoyment (whether we prefer traditional, liturgical, contemporary etc.) over what will cause us to draw closer to Christ.  Those of us who lead and plan our services far too often try to make the service something our people will like,

If we don’t like it?  Well, there is the church down the street, or across town.  If we are a pastor or priest, instead we place a call to our district president’s office, (or bishop or whoever works with churches looking for new pastors.  (please note, I am not talking about leaving a church because of continued teaching that is contrary to scripture)

End result, the death of a relationship, and a further division in the family of God,  A division that will be healed in heaven, but nevertheless, the pains of severing that which we pledged to be part of, in times of happiness and time of sorrow.

With each separation, the next separation gets easier, the time between finding a home church becomes less a priority, we find our happiness in other things, in other places.

Until we can’t remember the last time that we were at church.

Hillary Duff is right, there is an incredible reward that is found in a relationship that last 20, 30, 50 years.  There is the knowledge that the one who makes our marriages and our churches possible will sustain them both, through the times of richness and poverty, through times where we, and the relationship are healthy or sick, the times of grief and the times of joy.

Such is our God, the Lord of Life.  Such is what happens when we hear the Holy Spirit, the gift of our baptism. Such is the promise of life, walking with God, both now and for eternity, in the presence of God.

So let us work, to sustain all of our relationships!  To do that, may we look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  Let us find His healing, His patience, His sacrifice and find in those things, the strength to desire to endure.  May we find as well the strength to help others, to encourage them, whether they are struggling in marriages or in being part of their church.

Lord Have Mercy on us!


(1)  http://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/news/a27092/hilary-duff-marriage-divorce/?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1448_153325098&linkId=12668200

The Restoration of Christmas… and the People of God

Devotional Thought of the Day:

17  The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you Featured imagein his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, 18  as one sings at festivals. I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace. 19  Yes, at that time I will deal with all who oppress you; I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts; I will give them praise and renown in all the earth, when I bring about their restoration. 20  At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; For I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, When I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the LORD. Zephaniah 3:17-20 (NAB)

Would it be a bad thing for the church to move the celebration of Christ’s birth to the spring. The tradition of Christmas and Christ’s birth could be seperate. Just a thought.” ( my friend Mark B. )

“When I hear the phrase Merry Christmas I think of decorated trees, presents and good food. Christ’s birth is the last thing that comes to mind.” ( also from Mark B )

A few days ago, one of my friends responded to one of my wild ideas about a sermon concept, as you see above. My basic idea, well – you can read the sermon, I posted it a little while ago.  ( Or listen to it on Itunes at Concordia Radio)

Mark has a very valid point. We’ve allowed Christmas and its traditions to be redefined.  To the point where celebrating Christmas is a completely separate idea from celebrating God’s invasion into our lives, as the baby laid in a manger, who would die on the cross.

I’ve seen this in the lament of some, as churches cancel midnight services/masses, once “the” service that all went to on Christmas Eve.  You see it in the multitude of Meme’s talking about keeping Christ in Christmas, and how to do so.  You see it in the willingness of people to beleive “modern” scholarship which will claim Jesus’ birth happened at some other point in the year, but the one day it couldn’t have happened was 12/25.

I think many would go along with Mark’s thought, out of frustration, out of a sense of hopelessness.  Let’s just start all over again!  Let’s just celebrate Christ-birth at some other point that on Christ-mas Day.

I asked Mark if I could share this, and what his vocation is.  He saw the connection, and agreed.

So here it goes.

Mark is in the furniture restoration business, so I am going to suggest we use some of his techniques in restoring Christmas, and then re-use the same concepts in restoring our congregations, our parishes, His Church.

1.  Vision
The first thing to know is that you don’t restore something based on your vision.  You didn’t create it, and as you begin to carefully work at it, the vision that has been muddled, covered over, damaged will be restored!

2.  Value
In restoring something, you have to be aware that it survived because it had value.  Maybe it is pragmatic, maybe it is artistic, maybe it is both.  If it was simply sentimental, it wouldn’t have survived and taken all the abuse, neglect and paint that it has.  (Example – having everyone over to feast…. there is something about gathering together to celebrate Christ’s birth hidden under all of it!)  Sure, it’s often about gluttony and to see which part of the family has bragging rights now… but once… it was to celebrate God’s faithfulness!

3.  Flexibility
Because the value and vision are often so muddled, so hidden, so broken, we may not perceive it accurately.  That’s okay, be willing to adapt to what is revealed.  After all, no Christian at baptism knows everything… we grow and mature.  So will the revelations as you see more and more what you do points to Jesus.
You also have to realize that what you thought was the valuable part, may be that which obscurs the most, and the part you originally were doing to toss aside.. is a critical component.

4.  Love

in order to have the patience, the ability to make this happen, you have to learn to love what you are restoring.  It’s the only way you will take the years and maybe a decade it take to see the job towards completion.  There will be interruptions, distractions, days of frustration, that’s okay.There might even be people who question, you wisdom, your integrity, your sanity – they do this to me all the time!

The goal is worth it – a beautiful restoration that is a double piece of work of art…..that of the Creator, and that where the Creator’s vision was once again visible to mankind… and the hopelessness became hope.

I said in the beginning that this works with churches and parishes as well with the simple idea of making Christmas about Christ’s coming to us.  The Mission and concepts are the same, and the goal is the same.  To preach Christ crucified, whom is our hope of Glory. It’s what we do here at my church, when Christmas Day was first 10-12 people, now is 50, (Our Christmas Eve services have also grown)  where once it was a bother, now people are excited to come.  It can happen

It is what God promised, look above at the scripture, dive deeply into those promises… and rejoice… for God is restoring you… that started that very first Christmas morning.

He is with us.  Immanuel.

Focus on that…. and all comes into place.

For no one does restoration work like God our Father!

(and if you need restoration work done on furniture – go talk to Mark at http://www.bausmanandfather.com/ or

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bausman-and-Father-Furniture-Refinishing-of-Huntington-Beach-Ca/321617409278?pnref=lhc

Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven; V. Where Are We Going?

Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven:Concordia Lutheran Church

Where are We Going?
Matthew 22:1-14

 IHS

 

As we journey through this life, may we keep in sight the destination, the place where we realize completely the love and mercy of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Other Destination Options:

Have you ever been tempted to play hookey from a family gathering?  You’re on your way to your grandparent’s house, and you see how beautiful a day it is, and you think, we could just spend a little while at the park, or maybe the beach?

Or maybe you are working on a project, sewing that new whatever it is people sew and just another twenty minutes and you will finish it!  Or the ball game is on, and you will leave a little later…and make up for it by driving a little faster?

Back when we were kids, and we were about to be stuffed in the back seat together, I bet many of us had a way to stall.  Maybe we didn’t want to get dressed up, Or we blamed our sister for taking too much time in the bathroom.  For me, it usually was – just let me finish the book I am reading!

It’s not that we didn’t know about the feast that awaited us, Grampy’s sausage, or Uncle Wally’s fireworks, or the French Onion Dip and carved turkey?   There were just other things….that seemed important for that moment.

If you did this, and arrived two hours late, were you upset when they didn’t keep everyone waiting for dinner?

Do we play the same game with God?

Do we miss His invitations to spend time with Him, to share the feasts He has prepared, because we have other things to do before we continue on our journey to heaven?

Why Didn’t God wait for Us?

Patient, we hear God is patient.

Abraham and Moses count on it for their people.  Joseph comforts his brothers with the thought of God’s patience.  David praises God for God’s patience with him.  Job depends on it, even when he doesn’t have the answers.  Peter tells us why God is so patient, because God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but all to be transformed and made holy.  Set apart to a relationship with God.

An interesting thought, this patience of God.

Curious, has anyone here ever had someone take advantage of their patience?

How did it feel?

Ever plan and cook a dinner, like the king in the parable, only to have the people choose to do something else?

What if their excuse, like the excuses in the parable, is somewhat weak?  I heard one yesterday, for example, that was that we miss church sometimes because we know church and Bible studies will be here next week, but that other thing, that game, is today.  I need to make this abundantly clear: this parable isn’t just about our church life.

How often do we fail to talk to God, to put our trust in Him for the things we are struggling with? How often do we think we have to find another solution for our problems, a different road to take?  How often will we pass by the opportunity to think and meditate on His love.   Do we find something else, rather than being still, and knowing He is God?

Does being patient cost you something?  Does it ever tear at you, frustrate you, even sadden you?

Have we ever wondered what God’s patience costs Him?

We know being patient costs us, we know the levels of frustration, even pain, as we see people we love do the wrong things.

Things that would so concern God, that He sent Jesus, to live life, to suffer and die on the cross, to make it right…

To bring all who would come, to His feast, to be His family.

The good and bad alike…..all are welcome, all are offered the opportunity to be made ready. Matter of fact, we are sent out to bring them here; to celebrate, to enjoy, to know His peace.

But what are we missing?

If I can go back to the original illustration, we know that there are some things that we miss, when we divert from the original journey, we realize we are going to miss some things.
if we were diverted on our way to Grampy DeLuca’s house, it would mean we would miss Grampy’s incredible Italian sausages.  Even some 34 years later, I can remember walking down the stairs into his basement, where they would be in the oven.  We’d miss Grampy and Uncle Bill, Uncle Butchie and my dad singing. (I’ll actually get to play the piano that I played for them this week. )  we’d miss everyone at peace, the one day when all family fights were given a reprieve, a truce.

I would have us ask what we miss, when we forgo our times with God, whether here at church, or whether it is the time we could set aside for prayer, for spending time meditating on His word, and on the gifts He gives us?  What do we give up?

You see my friends, this is about doing things because we have to do them or we won’t be good.  It’s about doing them for the same reason we go to our family gatherings, a friend’s birthday party, or make time to go to a wedding.  No, Don, it’s not because of the food, its’ because of the love of family, and there is no family closer to us than God.

What we are missing is our time with Him, our time realizing the depth of His love.  Our time where He assures us that it will all be okay, that He has forgiven us and made everything right.  We’d miss the people He surrounds us with to bless us, to help us grow, to give us a hug because they are glad to see us, or to bring us comfort.

When we forgo our time with Him, we miss Him, and all He brings to our life.

These things Paul called the fruit of the Spirit,

22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

These things aren’t the reason to feast with God, but they are what happens when we do.  The reason is simple… to be in the presence of the One who loves us, who gives us life, who gives us Himself, who makes our lives right…..who feeds and nourishes our Spirit, who lifts us up like no other.

Enough so our souls shout His praises, our hearts trust and depend on His healing and restoration, our minds are transformed, and we begin to see reality differently, His way.  And we hear his voice calling to us, encouraging more people to come to the feast, for it is ready!

Amen!

Waiting to See God’s Glory in Them… Can’t it Come Sooner?

Devotional and Discussion Thought of the day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Is God Listening? Is God here?

Devotional thought of the day:

  “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8  Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!Matthew 6:7-8 (NLT) 7

463         Your prayer will sometimes be discursive; maybe less often, full of fervour; and, perhaps often, dry, dry, dry. But what matters is that you, with God’s help, are not disheartened. Consider the sentry on duty. He does not know if the King or the Head of State is in the palace: he is not told what he might be doing, and generally the public figure does not know who is on guard. It is not at all like that with our God. He lives where you live, He cares for you and knows your inmost thoughts. Do not abandon the guard-duty of your prayer!  (1)
One of the more interesting challenges I have, is teaching my son how to pray.  Not the words to say, he has that down, but how to realize that prayer is a conversation with God.  That God is there, that God is listening, that God is present.

For a very intelligent 6 year old, who can read like a teenager can eat, what isn’t in front of him, visible, is hard to see.  It is hard not to see prayer and simply something we do together, a time we spend together.  Body language and voice intonation lets me know he is involved, yet not quite discerning the presence of God.  At least that seems to me to be what I’ve seen over the last year or so develop.

I look at people, and are we any different?  As we gather, two or three, together.  As we pray together in Church, never mind if I dare ask people about their prayer habits.  I’ve thought about the pastors gathering that is hosted at my church, and wondering what would happen, if we talked about out prayer habits, and how many would show up if I pre-announced that topic!  (Even writing this makes me a bit nervous, because if I ask them, they will surely ask me!)

So how to encourage this regular conversation with God?  How do we dare open our lives to Him?  How do we pour out on Him our anxieties, our concerns and how do we know He is listening?  How do we know the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all creation is waiting to talk to me?  

The problem is, like a 6 year old, we struggle to believe in that we cannot touch, We want documentation, a proven methodical concept that works the same way each time.  In a way, we want to reduce prayer from the dynamic communication it is, to a formulary set of practices that will work the same way, each time.  And when it doesn’t, we can analyze what we did wrong, or dismiss the entire thing as a intellectual fraud.

Relationships are a matter of the heart though, not of our mind.  They are surprising and fluid, they are intense, and yet if abandoned dry out.  They are life, which is why its called a life of prayer. It is experiental – beyond our ability to logically or within our scope of reason.  So why would a relationship with God be any more rational, definable, subject to our control?  Knowing His presence is observable, but not with our eyes. It’s know through a trust in Him that is alien to our minds, but with which the heart overrides that analysis, and does so in great joy… for it is there we find peace.

All I can say is faith relies on Him.  It trusts Him.  He promised to be here,

Jesus in Pray

Jesus in Pray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and He promised to listen and to craft our lives and all that happens to work out for our best.  He invited us to pray, taught us how to lay it all out before Him, to let Him care for our burdens and bring life to our weary and broken lives.

I pray that we can be aware of the promises and the reality of them.

AMEN

Impatience, Broken hearts and Christian Ministry.

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Devotional thought of the day:

3  There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4  and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6  Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.  Romans 5:3-6 (MSG)

The world is cold and seems to be asleep. You often look on it, from your vantage point, with a glance that would set it on fire. Lord, may it awaken! Channel your bursts of impatience and be sure that if we manage to keep our whole life alight, we shall set every corner of the world alight, and the way it all looks will change.  (1)

By no means am I naturally patient.  It is not the gift I’ve been given, and  this is seen quite easily.  This morning, getting some lab work done, I was frustrated that there were 4 others before me.  I know ther has been as many as 20 before, but this morning, with places to go, people to minister to – waiting 10 minutes seemed like a month.

I am especially impatient when it comes to dealing with pain.  You know – the physical pain of them drawing blood ( 4  quart vials it seemed like! ) Or the spiritual pain of grieving, or the pastoral heart pain of watching people choose to do that which will hurt them.

“Why won’t they listen?” we ask.
“Why won’t they at least try it God’s way?”
“when will they ‘get it’?

Every minister I know has suffered from such impatience, such heart break as people continue to choose their own way.

Most of us have been tempted to hammer them, to “use the law” to crush them until they repent, until they conform to God’s plan. (or at least ours)   We want to find something to do to turn them into “supersaints”, to help them overcome all their sin,, to get their acts right and for them to become the next Billy Grahams.   We want that prodigal to turn for home as soon as he gets to the end of the driveway.  It doesn’t always work that way though.

But can we have God’s patience, the father’s patience with them, and still pray and encourage and take the moments we have to call them back to Christ?

It’s hard… its really hard…dang it, it’s hard.

The apostle Paul notes it as well,

18  I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, 19  keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith. 20  Hymenaeus and Alexander are two of them. I let them wander off to Satan to be taught a lesson or two about not blaspheming.  1 Timothy 1:18-20 (MSG) 

What a challenge this is!  How our soul, itself broken and impatent, struggles with such days of ministry!  Yet, learning to discern when to speak – and how to speak, and when to let the prodigal go is a skill that comes with maturity.

I find it interesting that Romans finds the solution in trusting Christ, in looking to His promises, the work we expect that He will do, in any time of trial, and that includes this one.

Escriva’s comment is similar – that we funnel our impatience into our own life, opening it up to see God work in us.   TO see God eradicate our own sin, and the things that would quench our spirit. Paul mentions this proactively to TImothy as well, telling Timothy not to walk down the road where these brothers walked….

As I thought through this… I think it is an essential part of our ministry, to be ready, in season and out, whether the time is right or not in our mind.  For prodigals do return home, and we need to be aware of how we’ve been welcomed back home ourselves.

For it is in realizing the grace we’ve been given, that we find the love and mercy to welcome them home.

So pray, intercede, contemplate God’s love for them and for us and be ready…  

to rejoice in their home coming.

Lord have mercy!

 

 

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1424-1428). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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