Blog Archives

Are We Too Solemn, too Reverent in our Worship?


IMAG0406

The church, is always in the midst of a storm… but safe in Him

Devotional Thought of the Day

15All the people of Judah were happy because they had made this covenant with all their heart. They took delight in worshipping the LORD, and he accepted them and gave them peace on every side.  2 Chronicles 15:15

In the beginning of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, we detect the enthusiasm of the new converts, for whom being Christians was an unexpected gift, a blessing, great riches bestowed on them by God. It is good for us to realize this—for us who, as Christians, live for the most part with wrinkled brows and such an anxious awareness of the problems it entails that we feel almost guilty when we are happy about being Christians—that might be a form of triumphalism! Fundamentally, the joy of this epistle derives from the fact that the Apostle has dared to look directly at the heart of Christianity, at the triune God and his eternal love.…  (1)

There is a part of me that misses the old days when I would enter church and its silence would lend itself to the awe I felt being in the presence of God.  Reverence wasn’t just an attitude one took on to appear pious, it was something you were assimilated into, it consumed you. It was a very solemn reverence, one that facilitated dropping all your defenses, dropping you guard, and collapsing in the arms of God, in His sanctuary.

Those were precious times, and I still need them on occasion.

But then I need days like yesterday when as our mass ( our worship service ended) some people spontaneously began to clap.  Not sure who, not sure why, but it was appropriate to applaud God at that moment.  TO thank Him fo the work He does in us, work wrought with the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  For in His resurrection, in that moment of glory, we find ourselves taken up into Him.

His death we share in, even as He takes from us our sin, our shame, and our pain.

When I was younger, my dear devoted teachers would be angry? hurt? shocked? by the idea of people applauding and rejoicing in the presence of God.  But what else can you do, when you, as Pope benedict XVI describes, “dare to look directly into the heart of Christianity, at the triune God and His eternal love”

That love is so overwhelming, so precious, so deep, we must respond, we have no option.  Even when overwhelmed (see Jeremiah 20 – he tried to keep silent! )  This is what Christianity is about – to know we are loved beyond measure, to know we are loved by God, Father, Son, and Spirit.  He has accepted us as His own, given us peace beyond explanation, and therefore we delight in worshipping Him.

We are His… and even on Monday, that is incredible news.

(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.

Our Suffering, our Doubts, and Jesus’s Struggle at the Cross. A Good friday Devotion


clydes-cross-2Devotional Thought for Good Friday:
1  My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? 2  Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.    Psalm 22:1-2 (NLT)

22  Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23  Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24  He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25  Here in this great gathering for worship, I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers.   Psalm 22:22-25 (MSG)

He is pleased to withhold from us the milk and honey of his consolation, that, by weaning us in this manner, we may learn to feed on the more dry and solid bread of vigorous devotion, exercised under the trial of distaste and spiritual dryness. 3. That as violent temptations frequently arise amidst these desolating drynesses, we must resolutely fight against them, since they do not proceed from God; but nevertheless, we must patiently suffer them, since God has ordained them for our exercise.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tested in every way we are, that he faced the same issues, the same temptations, the same situations which can cause us to doubt, or to want to run.

We see that today, in the passage that Jesus quotes from the cross.

He too had moments where the Father seemed to far away, where the illusion of being abandoned was strong.  Where the feeling that God has left us on our own to struggle dominated every other feeling we have.

I’ve often wondered why God allows us to go through these times.  Surely they don’t come from God, yet St Francis de Sales indicates they are ordained by God for our exercise.  God allows them to come upon us, as He did Job and Jesus, for a purpose.

IN Jesus case, the abandonment was seen for what it was, a pouring out of wrath that far exceeded the wrath of the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and the Roman guards.  A wrath that one taken upon Jesus would kill him, yet like the grain in the sand, it would give life to us, and to all those who believe and are baptized.

In our case, the suffering intended to defeat us, intended to drive us away from God can and does (eventually) ordain for us to be drawn toward Him.   De Sales calls this being drawn a vigorous devotion, I beg to differ a little.  Like the psalmist I look at my own pain, my own suffering to early, to often, being drawn down into the darkness, being overwhelmed by the pain.  But there He rescues me, He reminds me of HIs love, He shows me that He was always with me.

This is the point David is making in the Psalm, which starts out so dark, which so describes the pain of being crucified or struggling today.  The point where we can see as the light shatters the darkness, as our faith, no even more sure of God’s presences testifies to naturally, without even thinking.  read it again,

22  Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23  Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24  He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25  Here in this great gathering for worship, I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers.   Psalm 22:22-25 (MSG)

When we are struggling, when Satan and his minions are oppressing us, when all seems dark, this is what is true.  He is with you, He loves you, and you will soon be praising Him as the Holy Spirit convinces you of this reality.   Like the cross, the victory, the depth of God’s love is revealed in these trying moments, in the midst of the pain, and the darkness.  We then see the truth;

You weren’t abandoned, He was there… and you will tell others about this!

AMEN!

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

We pray and plead with you…”Do You Job!”


Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day
3  For we remember before our God and Father how you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (TEV)

9  The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? 10  It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.’Luke 17:9-10 (TEV)

12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.(1 Th 2:12 NLT)

92         Every Christian has the duty to bring peace and joy to his own surroundings on earth. This cheerful crusade of manliness will move even shrivelled or rotten hearts, and raise them to God.  (1)

“Do your job”  – Bill Belichick

This week a couple of Patriots players commented that their coach rarely compliments people, and that when he does, it really really means something to them.  It’s not just someone trying to be nice, or trying to motivate them, the praise is sincere and they are worthy of it.  They might not even think what they did was that noteworthy, but Coach noticed it.  Often it is just that they obeyed his instructions to “Do your job.”

Some people make a big deal of living a life in tune with Jesus, reflecting his love  Some will argue that such is a mandate, that we aren’t saved unless we reach that level of perfection.  Others will point out that it is wrong to tie works to salvation, works to being required to have faith.  They are so afraid that people would think they saved themselves that to teach anything as what we should do puts them into a frenzied panic.

Yet we don’t see that in the writings of St. Paul to the churches, especially this church in Thessalonika. We see a prayer that encourages and applauds living life in harmony with Jesus.  We see Paul plead with people freed from the Old Covenant Law to live a life in a manner consistent with what God created and recreated them to be. It is the understanding St. Josemaria had when he talked of our joy and peace transforming even the most shrivelled of hearts.

It is simply what we do.  It is a response to God asking us to “do our job.”

Do what you are created to do.  It’s not miraculous, though it requires a supernatural dependence on the mercy of God.  It is not special, it is just ordinary.  It is serving, ministering to the needs of those God puts in our path.  And the more time we spend with Jesus, the more it becomes, unnoticed.  It is just our life, and we encounter it with the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life!  

This is the life described in Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12-14.  A life lived, affected deeply, far more than just consciously by God’s work in our baptism, and in those times where we commune with Jesus’ Body and Blood.   When we are in awe of His love and His presence, when the Spirit has us focusing on Him, there is a mystical transformation that occurs, as God conforms us into His image.

And so we pray, and plead with you, do your job, confident that God will work in you, even as He planned.

So go, “do your job!”

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 599-601). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

How Easter Changes Our Worship


Featured imageHow Easter Is Transforming OUR World!

The Change to Our Worship

Psalm 150

Glory to Him Alone

Praise the Lord!

 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Hmmm, maybe you think I am saying, “praise the Lord”, as my praise of Him, the God who has called you by name and gathered you to this place.  The God who declared that you are His child, declared you are holy and righteous, backing that up by separating you from your sins, even as His united to Jesus, even as Jesus promised, when He said,

17  Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19  And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20  “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:17-21 (NLT)

Actually, like David’s Psalm, I am enocouraging you to praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

With your voices, with your hearts, with your lives,

Praise the Lord!

Why Don’t We?

There would seem to be three things that could stop us from praising the Lord.

The first is sin, and we are reminded over and over, that sin has been dealt with at the cross.  We are reminded of that in our baptism, where we are joined with Christ’s death, that or sins would be nailed to the cross.

Ezekiel tells us of this promise

25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. Ezekiel 36:25 (NLT)

as does St. Paul,

6  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:6 (NLT)

The Second is Satan, whose only real power is to accuse us of being sinful and evil. Again, the cross of Christ is the key to taking care of this, for there Christ defeated Satan by bearing our sins, even as the prophet Isaiah said He would.

10  Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10 (NLT)


That passage then goes on to describe the third enemy of mankind, the last thing that could try to possibly stop us from praising God, the fear of death.

11  And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die..

That doesn’t mean we give up on living, it means that we know what we started the service with, the promise, well, let me read it again

5  Those who win the victory will be clothed like this in white, and I will not remove their names from the book of the living. In the presence of my Father and of his angels I will declare openly that they belong to me.
Revelation 3:5 (TEV)

That means that we will enter into His rest, into His glory, that we will realize what Jesus promised when He said we would be in Christ and in the Father. That means we don’t fear eternity, but we look with patient expectation to His return.

You’ve been forgive, you’ve been cleansed, you’ve been made part of the family of God.  Satan’s been defeated, and eternity in His glory is yours, for you are Christ’s

So let us hear David’s words ring out – not just as David praises, but as the encouragement to know God’s love and mercy so much….that we cannot help but

Praise the LORD!

A Simple List To Revitalize Church Services: (just 2 things!)


Devotional Thought of the Day:

Featured image

37  Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: 38  Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places!39  Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” 40  But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.” Luke 19:37-40 (MSG) 

For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught[what they need to know of Christ. (1)

With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God; and in this matter they must lead their flock not only in word but also by example. (2)

Yesterday I was sent links to a number of articles about worship.  They were from every aspect of Christian faith, and from different views, even within my own small corner of Christianity, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

It was funny because each article had a “to do” list, that if you followed these things, your church’s service would be right, and people would benefit, and be blessed.  It was funny because the advice in the articles were often in complete disagreement!!

Dust off that organ!  Ditch that old organ!

Get people to used to the patterns and use of hymnals!  Get them out of rote use of hymnals!

Of course, they both stipulated the need for trained excellent musicians, that would leave the people in awe – whether organists or praise bands, even as they lamented the fact that people would listen to the musicians of the other style, and not sing!

I am not a expert in worship, I don’t have a PhD, or pastor some church of 2000.  I do teach lay ministers, guys and ladies who help their pastors by serving, and I am about to teach a class on worship.  It is the 7th or 9th time I’ve taught it.  In it I do rely on experts, like Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop William Willimon of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Robert Webber, and of course the Lutheran Confession – especially the article quoted above from the Augsburg Confession.  I also learn a lot from my minister of worship arts, Dr. Chris….. and this is what I have learned… and taught, based on experience.

If I boil it down, there are only two things that are needed to revitalize worship services,

Give them something to sing about.
Our job is to preach Christ, their hope of glory, to give a reason for why in the midst of this broken world, e have hope.  To reveal to them the height and depth, the breadth and width of God’s love for them – which is so clearly revealed in Christ’s incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and in their being untied to all of that, and given the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The presence of God’s Spirit which brings comfort, peace, mercy, assures us of God’s love and promises…

Give them that to sing about…..as they said at Vatican II – dispense the mysteries of God!  (and teach them what you are giving them! Vatican II and the Augsburg Confession both agree on that)

Let them sing
I have heard a million reasons why people don’t sing in church, why men won’t, why young people won’t, that older people won’t sing new songs.  When I came to my present church, it was clearly stated to me, this church has never sung, does not sing, will never sing!  The music choices pretty much guaranteed this, and propagated it.  Songs that required extensive vocal talent, sung in keys that even a first tenor and first soprano found challenging.  Words that couldn’t be savored, sometimes because you need a dictionary to define them.

We sing now, because we can.  We don’t always do it well, but it is from the heart, it is a reaction to God’s love, poured out on them.  From hearing it through every aspect of the service, from tasting it, touching it.  The songs are simple enough, the instrumentalists facilitate it. The people pour out the emotion need to pour out, the praise, the glory, the trust, the thanks, the despair, the lament… it becomes their music the lyrics that resound from their heart, and we let them sing it. (yeah – even those who voices are challenged)

They sing the praises of the God they know is present, they put into prayer the trut they have, to put it all into His care.

it is at the point that we are no longer afraid to let them sing acapella for a verse, for even a song….or a chant.

And it is wonderful….. whether the powerful anthem, or the simple cry of this version Lord’s prayer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4lcfXcZ68I   (this is how we do it – as our time of family prayer ends)

give them a reason to sing…..

let them sing…

give it a try… and see what happens….. as God is lifted up… and praised.

AMEN

(1)  The Augsberg Confession,

(2)  Catholic Church. (2011). Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Alleluia! He is Risen, therefore… We Praise Him!


Alleluia!  He is Risen! Therefore

We Praise Him for He Keeps His Promises!

Psalm 146

 

In Jesus Name

 

May you praise God our Father as you realize the richness of the grace, the depth of the mercy, and the overwhelming love given to you in through the work of Jesus Christ.

 

He is Risen….response…and therefore!

 

Once upon a time there was a pastor who tired of his work, and that people never seemed to hear the message that he labored to create.  As the story goes, he decided to do an experiment, and started to preach the same sermon, week after week.  Eight weeks or so later, one of his elders asked him if he had used one of the stories in the sermon before, because it sure sounded familiar.

Now, I’ve never done that, probably never will, but I have to admit I’ve been tempted a time or two.

I do imagine that some of the series we do get repetitive.  It’s not just me, it’s the readings and the focus of scripture. Though it may say the same thing many different ways there is but one message we preach – Christ Jesus who is the hope our glory.

Since Easter, we’ve used a familiar cry, getting more familiar it, perhaps even tiring of it. (though I hope not!)

Alleluia – He is Risen!

(He Is Risen Indeed, alleluia!)

and therefore –

(We are risen indeed, alleluia!)

Because of the resurrection, we have a new life, a holy life set apart to God,  Because of our resurrection with Jesus we have peace, and we persevere.

Today we realize we live a life that is lived in praise of God, because He has kept His promises to us, to those who call upon His name.
LORD versus YHWH

     They’ve got to hear this… but so do we!

     Luther’s explanation of the 2nd!

 

As we look at Psalm 146, which is the passage we focus on this morning, we see one word repeated over and over.  LORD – is all capital letters.

The word LORD is there, because the translators didn’t quite know what to do with God’s name.  It is the name he revealed to the Moses, to reveal to the people He would save.  It is the name we are commanded to never use in vain, but to call upon in times of need, and as we see today, to use to praise God.

Does it make a difference, whether we use Lord, which is a title, or the personal name of God?  Imagine a man call his wife, Mrs. X, or saying, “wife, come here!”.  As I asked people such questions this week, there was a consensus that using a title puts distance between two people, it acts as an insulator, moving the relationship from personal and intimate to more distant, more uncaring.

Luther, in talking about the 2nd commandment, talked of it, not just using the name of God improperly, but by using it in vain, because we don’t use it when we should, to praise Him, to praise Him by laying before Him our lives, our problems, our struggles.  That’s what we are supposed to do, that’s how we are supposed to use His name.

God gave us His name to use, to help us realize how committed He was to keeping His promises, the actions that He would take and complete.  That’s is why we have hope in YHWH, in God.

Hear the actions He takes again,

He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry! The LORD frees the prisoners! The LORD opens the eyes of the blind! The LORD lifts up those who are weighed down! The LORD loves the godly! The LORD protects the foreigners among us! He cares for the orphans and widows! But he frustrates the plans of the wicked!

Where others fail us, God doesn’t. We aren’t going to get that kind of response from anyone else.  We shouldn’t expect it from powerful people, yet we so often do, and complain when they let us down.  Their plans don’t last past the time they leave office, never mind until they breathe their last.  If our faith, if our trust is in God, then we have something, in them, not so much.

That is why we praise Him.
The Incarnational life – but not quite the way we think

That’s why we praise and glorify Him.

Just a few months ago, during the Christmas season, we praised God because, as the Gospel of John put it, “He came and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

We call that, using church words, the incarnation.

But we praise Him now for a different incarnation, that He has gathered us and given us a new birth Himself.  We were born again, linked with His death, so that we could be raised with Him, so that we could relate to God the Father as our Father, so that we could use His name.  He who dwelt among us, calls us to dwell in Him.

That is what Christianity is all about, the relationship we have with our Creator.  With the God who loves each of us, and pulls us into Him.  It is seen throughout our church service, from allowing Him to cleanse us from sin, to our leaving our burdens, the things that cause us anxiety in His hands in prayer, to communion, the most intimate meal’

He gives us His name to call upon, in prayer and praise. Knowing He is here, knowing He loves us,

That’s were find comfort, and the strength to do amazing things, as we reach out to those around us, loving those who do not know love, or the power of God to fix and heal relationships.

Incarnate, dwelling with God, or to use the old phrase, abiding in Him, we find something the world cannot give…..

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, and we are kept there, secured in that peace by Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

Advent Devotion: Convenient, Comfortable Christianity? Hmmm…


William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The F...

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) – The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1880) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?  Luke 18:8b (NJB)

 57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58  Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59  Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me,’ replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ 60  But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ 61  Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home.’ 62  Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’Luke 9:57-62 (NJB)

650 When will you realise that your only possible way is to seek sanctity seriously. Make up your mind—don’t be offended—to take God seriously. That levity of yours, if you do not fight against it, could end up by becoming a sad and blasphemous mockery.  (1)

Yesterday we began Advent, that time of year where we build expectation of Christ’s return, as we consider life prior to the Incarnation.

It is hard to look back, without considering the voices of the prophets, and their call on the people of God to take their relationship with God seriously.  Their reminders that we have a relationship with God who has made it possible, and that we should neglect that relationship.

Yet too often we do.

Advent seeks to shake us from that – to prepare us for Christ’s coming – not just the 6 lbs 8 oz Baby Lord Jesus, lieing in a smelly feeding trough, but the returning Lord who gave it all, for us.

It’s a startling image in this day where peopel are put out if they are asked to pay more in taxes, or meet the expecations others place on their time and their lives.  We want to be served instantly, we want it our way, we want things to be convenient, and comfortable, with no sacrifice and no cost.

We hear that salvation is free, that God paid all the cost for our sins, with Christ dieing on the cross, and we rejoice.  We focus on that part of the message of God.  We love it, rejoice in it, willing share that part with others.

But we don’t want the inconvenience of being in a relationship with God.  It might be uncomfortable, He might ask us to sacrifice something, to downscale our lives in order to help others. He might ask us to spend time with Him, and with those people at church that aren’t like us.  He may ask some of us even to suffer for the faith, and how many of us are really willing to do that?

SO the prophetic question is asked – do you trust God?  Are you willing to trust Him, even if it seems to mean some personal cost?  What if it means giving up a personal dream, or embracing discomfort?  What if it means being alienated from family?  What if it means our friends turn their back on us, because we won’t be there when they want us to be, because of our commitments to serve others, especially those others they might consider “less deserving”?  Will you trust God, when it costs you a little of what it cost Jesus, the shame He embraced on the cross? Are you willing to trust Him enough that you would embrace suffering, if it meant one more person would know Christ?

Remember why – it was for the joy awaiting Him, the joy of sharing His glory with you!  The joy of bringing you into the glory and love that is shared between this Triune God we worship.

Is your trust in Him, your love for Him enough to embrace a inconvenient, uncomfortable messy way of life?

Look beyond the manger, and the shining stars and “cute” depictions of the birth of Christ.  Look at the rejections He endured, Look at the cross He bore, and the investment He’s made, promising you the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. KNow His faithfulness, His trustworthiness, His love and mercy….

and embrace a life of faith and trust…. knowing that no other life is worth living.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2728-2731). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

If Faith=knowing Him, not just about Him…then Worship is…


Lord's prayer in Coptic language

Lord’s prayer in Coptic language (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional THought of the day:

7  “When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. 8  Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. 9  This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; 10  may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11  Give us today the food we need. 12  Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 13  Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. For Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory, Forever and Ever, AMEN!  Matthew 6:13 (TEV)

It’s necessary to be convinced that God is always near us. Too often we live as though our Lord were somewhere far off—where the stars shine. We fail to realize that he is also by our side—always. For he is a loving Father. He loves each one of us more than all the mothers in the world can love their children, helping us and inspiring us, blessing … and forgiving. How often we’ve erased the frowns from our parents’ brows, telling them after some prank, “I won’t do it again!” Maybe that same day we fall again…. And our father, with feigned harshness in his voice and a serious face, reproves us, while at the same time his heart is softened because he knows our weakness: “Poor boy,” he thinks, “How hard he tries to behave well!” We have to be completely convinced, realizing it to the full, that our Lord, who is close to us and in Heaven, is a Father, and very much our Father.  (1)

At the end of the Lord’s Prayer, there is what is called a Doxology, a time of praise and worship.  Some translations leave it out – citing that it doesn’t appear in some manuscripts.  Some do, taking the opposite approach that it appears in most.  I don’t bother with those explanations… all that much.

It belongs there… IMHO… for it is the reaction of what happens when someone can let God be God, when they realize He is by their side, as St Josemaria says, ALWAYS.   When we realize how loving He is, how merciful, how close to us, and our Father.

There are a few acronymns that would replace this prayer, this outline of prayer.  ACTS is one, ITCP is another. They have been used for a while, but I think they rely too much on our intellect and strength.  THey have us start where we should end – with adoration, with hearing how we are to live.  They don’t start with the relationship, the prodigal finding himself in the Father’s arms, the mom begging Jesus to heal her daughter, Peter… downcast and distraught, realizing his betrayal.

I think we need to start where Jesus taught us to. To pour out to God our despair, our brokenness, trusting that He is our Father, and as we pour out that brokenness, as He lifts the anxiety, the guilt, the pain from our hearts, as He assures us of our protection and His love.  It is then, as He lifts us up, as He calms us, as He reminds us of His love and peace… and His presence…

Then praise, and oh the praise.

I’ve often said we confuse the word translated as “believe/faith” with the gathering and storing of knowledge of God.  It isn’t.  It is trusting Him, finding ourselves in a relationship where we can depend,on God, and growing to the point where we turn to Him first, rather than trying to do this all on our own.  Praise and Worship isn’t about what we do – it is the reaction to what He has done.  It isn’t about being perfect enough in our performance, it is, having abandoned ourselves, living in Him, delighting in His presence, realizing we have been revived and healed and restored by Him, and living the  life He has given us.

We have been delivered into God’s presence, and He has told us, He is our Father – the incredible picture that St Josemaria paints of the our Father, the one who patiently works with us, correcting us, encouraging and empowering us, who simply wants to walk by our side through life.  Prayer is that conversation, that walk – that dance, as we together with God – enjoy His glory, enjoy His creation, and find ourselves led in this incredible dance of joy….

May you realize this day…how close you are to Our Father…

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 706-713). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Adoration- is it part of your worship?


Devotional Discussion of the day:

In a few days, the strains of familiar music will fill your ears, if it hasn’t already.  The sounds of Christmas (even though it is not advent.)

But as I plan out our special services, one chorus keeps resounding in my mind, echoing louder and louder, as it does as we sing it on Christmas Eve.

Venite Adoreum – Come! Adore Him!  ( Or as we sing it, O Come let us Adore Him)

It brings a question to mind, how much of our music – whether traditional choir cantatas, or contemporary pieces spend time in adoration, in awe, in realizing that this isn’t just another holiday to be happy, but this in God. present, real, here.  God coming in weakness yet fully in glory, God whom the angels in heaven cannot but praise, God whose reflection carried by angels causes incredible fear, (why else are their first words – Be not Afraid?)

Do we adore – with every fiber of our being – God in our midst?  God incarnate?  Do we pause to consider the enormity of this event, the blessedness?  The beyond all imagination glory of a humble stable, a young lass, and her  fiance, lookng down and knowing beyond all doubt..that this was God?

Maybe we don’t want to.. because if we do… we have to realize how much we need Him, desperately need Him.

Not just then…. not just on the cross…. but now.

Come my friends, let us adore Him!

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.

Neurodivergent Rebel

Rebelling against a culture that values assimilation over individuality.

Be Inspired..!!

Listen to your inner self..it has all the answers..

www.carlflynn.net/

Helping People Navigate the Intersection Between Theology, Technology & Popular Culture

Julian Stockwin

action-adventure historical fiction

Lynette Noni

Embrace The Wonder

Kosovo Baseball Initiative

Bringing Baseball to Kosovo

Annalisa Drew

The Ski Adventures of Annalisa Drew

Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait?

Just another WordPress.com site

lhsthriftshop

Just another WordPress.com site

A Good Life

Leaving Cancer Behind

Do Not Fear but Believe

Jesus tells us to be not afraid, so choose wisely

W.onderful W.orld of W.adholms

Random Reflections on Life, Theology, and the Bible

Good Morning Jesus

Let's have a daily conversation with Jesus!

46 Psalm

Be still and know that I am God

Christy Rawls :: Encouraging, Equipping, Empowering Others

E3 Ministries Director, Non-Profit Director, Teacher, Speaker, Encourager

A Peculiar Prophet

The Blog of Will Willimon

%d bloggers like this: