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I love it when a plan comes together! (a plan… not mine)


Altar with communionDevotional Thought of the Day:

O LORD, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever. 2 I know that your love will last for all time, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky.  Psalm 89:1-2  GNT

 

345         What a great discovery! Something you barely half-understood turned out to be very clear when you had to explain it to others. You had to speak very gently with someone, who was disheartened because he felt useless and did not want to be a burden to anyone… You understood then, better than ever, why I always talk to you about being little donkeys turning the water-wheel: carrying on faithfully, with large blinkers which prevent us personally seeing or tasting the results—the flowers, the fruit, the freshness of the garden—confident about the effectiveness of our fidelity.

The contemplation of God, of his person, creation, incarnation, and re-creation of the world, is a different kind of knowledge. It is a contemplation on the mysteries, namely, the mystery of God creating, the mystery of God incarnate, the mystery of the cross and empty tomb, the mystery of God’s presence in the church, and the mystery of Christ’s return to claim his lordship over creation. The contemplation of these mysteries moves us to live into these mysteries, participating in God’s life for the world.

This week has not gone as I planned, I had a number of things to accomplish to get ready for vacation, also plans to celebrate my 28th anniversary tomorrow.

Let’s just say those things I planned to get done were often interrupted, as hours were spent in crisis moments, and in a meeting, a very necessary meeting, that took out most of a day.  And then, of course, the implementation of a new phone system.  Yeah, my plan?  Long days and nights, and some of the things are off the checklist… but I am leaving for “home” in a little more than 48 hours…

Yet with the esteemed Colonel on the old A-team, I can look back and say, somehow, “I love it when a plan comes together!”  Even if I haven’t seen it come to its fulfillment.

More and more I realize that Escriva’s idea that those who serve as the church are like blinded donkeys, walking around, supplying the work that God uses to bless others is true.  We love it when a plan comes together, but we are equally sure that it cannot be our plan. At least if we want it to come together!  There must be a greater planner who is able to not just plan well, but execute and carry us to where the plan “comes together”

One in whom we can trust, one who we can depend on, not just for the plan, but for the result. And then we can go back to our trodding through life, content to let the Spirit lead, flexible enough to simply follow that Spirit when the need occurs, even when we think we are a round peg being placed into a square hole.

That is where Webber’s words this morning make so much sense to me.  That as we contemplate the very mysteries of God, as we try, not to understand as much as observe in awe, and accept we cannot have all the answers, but we can have Him, the need for all the answers, the need to see all of our agendas come to pass fades.  Simply put, knowing Him, living in His glorious peace is….. more than sufficient.

We learn to sing with the psalmist about God’s love, about His faithfulness.  Which feeds on itself.  For the more aware of this, the more we explore the breadth, width, depth, and height of God’s love for us, revealed in Christ, revealed at the cross, and at the table, the more we desire to simply know that….

And we are assured of the living water that our lives help distribute to fields will see them ready to harvest, as the world comes to know the love of Jesus.

AMEN!

 

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1604-1609). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.

What do we invest our money in? What about our Time?


 

The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)

 16  Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. 17  He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ 18  Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, 19  and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’ 20  “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ 21  “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”  Luke 12:16-21 (MSG)

People engaged in worldly business say that time is money. That means little to me. For us who are engaged in the business of souls, time is glory!  (1)

It seems we live in a world that concentrates on the here and now, and that now is imitated by the church.  Back in the ’80’s,w e called this the Tyranny of the Urgent.

I think it has gotten worse, and we rarely, if ever, look to the long run, whether in how we invest our money, or something even more precious, our time.   We want thee quickest turn around The quickest route to healing and recovery, and we will settle for far less than God has promised.   Heck – do we even bother to consider the long range outcomes anymore, or do we just react to everything that is happening, to focused on “this moment” and what has to be accomplished?

What would happen if we did pay attention to our future?  How would it change how we spend our time, our money, our lives?  Would we give more time spent in God’s presence?  Would we spnd time – not questioning those mysteries He hasn’t revealed to us, but simply being amazed by the truth of them? Would we consider our careers differently?  Would we see what we do with our spare time differently?

Josemaria Escriva said, “time is glory”.  The more I read that, the more I realize it is true.  Because time, our time, has been revealed to be spent in the presence of God.  God promises to never leave s, has promised to be very patient with us. Do we realize the time spent in His presence is spent in His glory – even if we cannot see it revealed clearly as it will be in heaven?

I think this is the biggest difference maker, to know God’s presence, to revel in it – to value and cherish it.  To even be a little defensive of those times – until we realize how to integrate them into our blessed lives and walk with God.

So take a afternoon – find a quiet place – and think it through – what takes your time, how is it invested..

Then figure out how to spend it, knowing that you are in the presence of God!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 904-906). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Monday Morning and Priority Setting


Devotional/Discussion Thought of the day:

It’s a day I dread, the Monday after a vacation.  I look at my desk and there are a ton of things to do. There are services to plan, sermon preparation to be done (and prepped to share with my deacons)  There is the business of being the pastor of a church.  It is almost tiring just looking at the work that needs to get done this week.

More importantly, there are people I need to go see, and visit.

When I was in management at a university, Monday morning was a critical time – if I spent the first 30 minutes actually planning the week – life was so much better!  Of course there would be interruptions, emergencies, things that would throw me for a loop – but the plan would be there to come back to, to restore sanity, to guide my week – and if I did 75% of the plan during the week – I could count it a good week and head off  on Friday content.  Attempts to do this in ministry, well, I’ve realized it is not just impossible – but completely wrong.  I know contend that it was wrong even then…..

Consider this well known Bible passage:

 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 (KJV) 

another translation put it this way…

6:33 Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NJB)

As a pastor and translator, there are a number of reasons I like the second version better- but this post isn’t about Greek – it is about priority setting and Monday mornings and setting out for a great week.  To see that happen, the only priority that must be set, is this one – to see ourselves living this day, this week, under God’s authority and care, to realize that He has called us to righteousness, He has saved us and made us His, and we live within the realm of His authority, and as important, His responsibility.  This is perhaps the first and most difficult lesson of discipleship.  I am not in charge, God is, and it is His time to use, to plan out, to show me how He will craft this week in such a way that it is a gift to me, and more importantly (here is where it gets challenging) to where my week will be a blessing to others.

This is important whether you are a pastor, or a manager, or a clerk, or a student.  To realize that we sit at our master’s feet, that He is in charge of setting a schedule and making it work within His will, that it is the Holy Spirit’s work to see this week holy and sanctified.

Luther talked about it by noting that we begin and end our day as being baptized – that’s the righteousness/saving justice of God.  It is also explained in the catechism in regards to the First Commandment.  He is your God, no other.  Knowing that helps set the priorities, and helps us stay focused when life seems less than righteous around us.  Another writer said it this way, “Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary professional work, and you will have sanctified it” (Escriva – The Way)

So i urge you – because I have to urge myself this morning, take the time, a few moments – even 5 minutes… and breathe, and seek to realize that incredible blessing that comes from living in His presence, where He is in charge, where things that matter are all tied to His making them right, and holy.  Seek first His love and authority and responsibility, seek His making your life the way it should be…. and everything else… will fall into place.

Godspeed!

 

 

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