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The Paradox of the Gospel. You are Valjean and you are the Bishop

Les Miserables Valjean's soliloquy lyrics (2012) - YouTube

Devotional Thoughts of the Day:

9  That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He came into the world – the world he had created – and the world failed to recognise him. He came into his own creation, and his own people would not accept him. Yet wherever men did accept him he gave them the power to become sons of God. These were the men who truly believed in him, and their birth depended not on the course of nature nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God. John 1:9 (Phillips NT)

He told me that I have a soul
How does he know?
What spirit comes to move my life?
Is there another way to go?
(Jean Valjean’s Soliloquy- Les Mis)

Go out into the streets to look, find, knock on doors,instruct and evangelize!
In a history marked by vulnerability our Lord Jesus Christ breaks in with an unstoppable strength and courage. That’s the Good News,the core of our preaching: the outright proclamation of this irruption of Jesus Christ incarnate, dead and risen, in our history.

The humblest Christian is called to live a miracle, a life that is a moral and spiritual life with such intensity and such purity that no human being can do it—only Jesus Christ can do it.

Yet this is no evangelicalistic theology, which is grounded in the same triumphalistic anthropology of the “I” (“I have decided to follow Jesus—no turning back, no turning back”). Instead—I believe that I cannot believe—the reversed Trinity of Luther’s catechism holds in tension the human inability in theology, faith, and life with the Holy Spirit’s work through Word and Sacrament. Thus, the third article is the actual turning point of the entire catechism, because everything that follows (prayer, sacraments, living in community) is precisely what happens to unbelievers when, the Holy Spirit acts on them, turning our “Woe is me!” into “Kyrie, eleison” (Lord, have mercy!). The theology of the reversed Trinity is literally “theo-logy” (God word), where God speaks to us and by speaking declares the old new, the sinner a saint, the unbeliever a believer—God’s service to us, not ours to God.

This mornigns devotional readings were accompanied by Les Mis, and the words of Jean Valjean kept echoing in my ears, as he considers the humble bishop who paid for his salvaiton…and yet Jean’s attitude was not to face who he was, but to create a new life, ignoring who he was. (In the book, this is a constant theme, for him and Javert.)

Their journey is the vulnerability that Pope Francis notes, a vulnerability we need, a lack of resistance to the incarnation, for Jesus must become incarnate in each of our lives.

It is the only way to change our cry of despair, as Wengert notes, from dismay and despair to the expecation of God hearing and acting on our cry for mercy. That is the only way we can live in the life of Christ that Tozer explains, a life that is obviously not ours, for it is not within our ability.

How does the bishop know Jean ValJean has a soul? Because the bishop has one, and has seen Christ invade it. It is why the silver is worth far less than Jean’s soul. It is why the investment is worth it, though it will take decades, with only a glimpse of the return here and there. Not until his death…is it revealed. ( I believe Colossians 3:1-4 explains this quite well)

You have a soul, and I have one as well. It is where the Holy Spirit dwells, bringing us peace, even as we struggle within this life.It is were our faith, our dependence on God is formed. It is where joy resonates from, when anxiety and trauma threaten to overwhem us. It is where peace exists, far beyond our comprehension, it is where we know His love more intimately than we can express.

Yet, we can share it with others… for that to is a miracle. You are ValJean and you are the Bishop.



Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 366.

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Timothy J. Wengert, Martin Luther’s Catechisms: Forming the Faith (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2009), 46.

Have You Tried Talking WITH Him?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. Gen. 4:26b

Once the Holy Spirit’s work in our heart begins, grace, forgiveness, cleansing take on a form of almost bodily clearness.
Prayer loses its unmeaning quality and becomes a sweet conversation with Someone actually there. Love for God and for the children of God takes possession of the soul. We feel ourselves near to heaven and it is now the earth and the world that begin to seem unreal.…

Doing some reading for a class I am taking, there was a comment that the number one of the thing pastors can do to sustain good ministry is to engage in regular spiritual discipline. (the Lilly Foundation was credited)

It should be common sense, if our goal is to connect people to God, to help them encounter and experience His love, we need to engaged in that dialogue with Him. That is the sweet conversation Tozer describes, what gives meaning to actual prayer. Without the confidence that God is listening, prayer is simply the recitation of words, a philosophical incantation done ot offer a placebo.

But because the Holy Spirit is there, teaching us to call on God… everything changes.

To deny this, or to neglect it, is tragic, for how can we neglect hat God has created, the ability to talk with Him, as was given in the earliest days, as God gave to men and women the ability to talk with HIm directly.

Luther would note this too, as he explains in the large catechism about prayer. It is part of our lives, not just and after thought. ( I highly suggest reading this!)

The other point Tozer made is based on the reality that is expressed in Colossians 3, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3 (NLT2) Prayer helps us realize that Gid is present, and our relationshp with Him is the basis of reality. Who we are, what we are, we are defined by that relationship with Him, and nothing else is as real as that. Nothing else transforms us that way.

So pray, just start, ask the Spirit to guide you… and rejoice.. for God is listening…

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

The Paradox of Hell and the Love of God

Because He is Risen, We have Risen as well!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

41  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. 42  Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 43  But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention! Matthew 13:41-43 (CEV)

1  Michael, the chief of the angels, is the protector of your people, and he will come at a time of terrible suffering, the worst in all of history. And your people who have their names written in The Book will be protected. 2  Many of those who lie dead in the ground will rise from death. Some of them will be given eternal life, and others will receive nothing but eternal shame and disgrace. 3  Everyone who has been wise will shine as bright as the sky above, and everyone who has led others to please God will shine like the stars. Daniel 12:1-3 (CEV)

Heroic love for God and neighbor is, of course, closely allied to profound intimacy with the indwelling Trinity. To a large extent they are the same thing. We love Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the extent that we are in an intimate prayer communion with them which is lived out in our actions. And we have a vibrant love for our neighbors (spouse, children, friends, co-workers, parishioners) to the extent that we love God. The first and second commandments cannot be separated—as both Scripture and life experiences make clear.

Third, I strongly suspect that what goes to Hell is not the kind of thing we would recognize as a human being at all if we saw it. It is more like ashes. A damned soul is one who has made an ash of himself. Hell is fire. Fire burns and destroys. Just as what goes to Heaven is more human than it ever was on earth, what goes to Hell is less human than it ever was on earth. It has lost its soul, its center, its self, its I, its humanity, its personality. It has become “legion” (Mk 5:9). Compared with a person, it is what a thousand slivers of broken glass are to a mirror. It deserves not hope or prayers or pity, for there is nothing there any more to pity or to love, only dust to sweep into the dustbin. If time still held us in its grip in Heaven, we would remember what this thing once was—a person—and regret that it had not fulfilled its potential. But in Heaven all is actual and present for Heaven is our participation in God’s life, and in God all is actual and present. There is no regret or fear over what might have been or still might be.

I believe that Hell exists.

I have no other reason than scripture, though every man-made religion indicates some eternal consequence, so natural revelation indicates that God has put such a warning into the heart of mankind. There are passages that talk about it in the Old Testament, and Jesus doesn’t mince words about it in the New Testament.

There will be people that endure eternal shame, eternal disgrace, and pain like has never been known. And there will people who share in the glory of God and shine like the stars.

The question of how one reconciles that with a God who is love presents for some a challenge. Why would He create people who would spend eternity in eternal torment in a place He also created?

Kreeft’s answer is simple, we choose one or the other, We make ash of ourselves, emptying out of ourselves to be destroyed. We choose a life that is empty, not just morally, but of His presence. And that is revealed to be lifeless.

The option is to be involved in a intimate life of prayer, knowing God’s presence, knowing He is listening and cares, hearing Him speak to us. That eternal life begins here. This is why Old Testament Saints and New Testament martyrs wouldn’t choose idolatry if that meant they could avoid death.

God meant to much. That intimate relationship they had come to know was worth more than anything anyone could do with them. A life of prayer, of conversation and meditation makes all the difference. For that relationship is what matters. It is the difference between life and death, heaven and hell, abundance… or ash…

In the end, that is all we have…this amazing, wonderful, abundant and intimate life with God.

Living it in, is hat makes us holy.

Lord, have mercy on us, sinners who need Your presence revealed to us.



Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 155–156.

Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 72.

A Deepening Confidence

Devotional Thought for the Day:

16 The three men replied, “Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves. 17 The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 CEV

Dost thou feel that all thy desires are satisfied in Jesus, and that thou hast no want now, but to know more of him, and to have closer fellowship with him? Then come continually to the fountain, and take of the water of life freely. Jesus will never think you take too much, but will ever welcome you, saying, “Drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”

2652 The Holy Spirit is the living water “welling up to eternal life”3 in the heart that prays. It is he who teaches us to accept it at its source: Christ. Indeed in the Christian life there are several wellsprings where Christ awaits us to enable us to drink of the Holy Spirit. (694)

Prayer is no illusion. God’s will and ours really do touch and interact in prayer, not in the way that a human father’s and son’s do, but in the way that the divine Father’s and Son’s do. The ultimate dignity of prayer lies in the astonishing fact that through prayer we share in the very life of the eternal Trinity.

I’ve often wondered about the confidence the three men had in God. As I’ve wondered about it, I’ve also heard the same question of these willing martyrs and those who have proven the words, that they were willing to die rather than worship some other God. Those questions and comments usually run this way,

“Pastor, what those martyrs did was amazing, I don’t think I could ever handle that!” Or, “Pastor, I would fail if that was my test, does that mean I am not saved?”

I think we see the confidence the men had, and feel like far less faithful people. We struggle when the government says we can’t worship in the buildings God dedicated for that purpose, We struggle when persecution means we don’t like it when people don’t agree with us.

So how could we walk into a furnace, confident that God was with us, whether we bake, broil, or simple dance and sing?

I think the context is important, what the people around the king wanted to take from them was the most important thing in their lives.

Their time with God. Their time of prayer and adoration and meditation. Their time of being reassured of His presence, of His love, of His promises. Far from home, this is what God them through each day.

That is why Spurgeon talks about drinking in Christ, and why the Catholic Catechism talks of the Spirit facilitating our new life of which Christ is the source! And Dubay’s incredible thought that in prayer we not only let God share in our lives, we share in the life of the Trinity. (This is why I describe the liturgy as a dance – that the prayer and meditation of a liturgical church service is simply a sacramental prayer.

This isn’t a do this, and you will gain the confidence to be a witness of God. It isn’t a way to exercise and strengthen our muscles of faith. That confidence grows stronger, not by our effort, but simply because of the joy we know, as we find peace in God’s presence. That presence of God means so much that we would allow nothing to supplant it, we would desire to have it more, to share it with those around us.

This isn’t an illusion, a coping mechanism, a opiate for those who struggle in life. Prayer is the greatest reality we can encounter. For through it, even the most heated moments, can become a time of joyous fellowship… one that hopefully will amaze those we pray for who persecute us… to the point they begin to praise God.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 637.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 148.

Dealing with a Spiritual Fog

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Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace. 15 Don’t forget that the Lord is patient because he wants people to be saved. 2 Peter 3:14-15 CEV

Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray.

But we still cannot change God, can we? No, we cannot. But is that why we pray? To change omniscient Love? Isn’t it rather to learn what it is and to fulfill it? Not to change it by our acts, but to change our acts by it.

To be sure, God’s name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may also be holy for us.

Time for some honesty.

I am struggling through my devotional time this morning. Too many distractions, phone calls, texts, emails. Add to that the weariness of 202 days of COVID. Back pain worse than usual adds to the total, not to mention grief and stressors that are there. I feel like I am in a deep fog…spiritually.

This is where I need to be, oddly enough, still trying to pray, and meditate, searching for my Lord’s voice, eventually, this is where my heart will find its rest.

Part of my mind hears other, save yourself for work, you have tasks to do. I’ve been mocked by others, who say they don’t need such a time, they pray throughout the day, holding conversations on the fly. I’ve got others who see no pragmatic reason for prayer, since God is all knowing, all powerful and what He does is for our best anyway. (Assuming of course that we love Him and are called according to His purposes. ) So if we can’t change what God’s going to do… why bother?

It’s time to breathe. to slowly and simply pray, to e quiet, and realize where I stand is holy ground – as is the place where you are standing. We aren’t professional prayers, there will be days of struggle. God knows that too, that is why there is the Holy Spirit there to comfort us, to empower us, to help us find the will and desire to keep seeking, to keep struggling to hear His voice.

in that process, God will strip away everything that divides us from Him. The anxiety, the grief, the pain will help sharpen the focus, and the sin will drift away. Been through this cycle enough to know this, even as I am stuck in it once again.

God is here, He sees us, and is working even now… and knowing His patience and desire guarantees that I am not alone in this struggle. that I am not alone in working on this moment.

He is here, so I can pick up the tablet again, and read His word, and see the stories of those who struggle as well. Struggle though I may, I know He struggles with me.

Lord, please don’t only have mercy on us, reveal that mercy clearly! AMEN!

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 637. (#2650)

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 147.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 346.

Time to Pray God’s will is done…in us.

Devotional Thought for this day:

To everyone who shares with us in the privilege of believing that our God and Savior Jesus Christ will do what is just and fair. 2 I pray that God will be kind to you and will let you live in perfect peace! May you keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus. 2 Peter 1:1-2 CEV

The sentence that precedes this cited paragraph brings us exactly to our point: “Worse yet, the poll results suggest that what we know has very little effect on how we live.” This statement could be expressed in neon lights, for it says exactly what lies beneath the remarkable resistance we are analyzing in this chapter. “What we know has very little effect on how we live.” This applies not only to a wise use of food, but also to what we know from the beautiful moral teachings of Scripture, what we see in the lives of the saints and celebrate in our liturgies all through each year. “What we know has very little effect on how we live.”
However, a caution is in order. The general statement should be qualified, for there are people who are growing in deep conversion as they are growing in prayerful intimacy with the Trinity.

As a failure at dieting, I know that Dubay is right when he compares what we know about dieting having an effect on how we actually eat and drink. Even more concerning is projecting that insight into the life that should be lived based on our knowledge and trust of God. We know how we should live, we know what would please God.

Yet, the Apostle has to pray that those who trust in God grow, not just in their knowledge of God, but their intimate knowledge of Him. (gnowsei in Greek is knowledge, the intimate kind of knowing shared between a husband and wife that are in love. ) It is as if this is our greatest battleground as a believer, this knowing God deeply.

It isn’t that the option is there, the entire liturgy, from the songs and hymns, to the readings, to the prayer, to the intimate time of the Lord’s Supper. The nurture of this relationship is provided, the opportunity to explore the love of God together is part of the reason the church exists. (the other reason is to invite people to join us!)

So why aren’t we falling deeper in love with God? Why aren’t we becoming truly holy, why aren’t our lives becoming more and more dedicated to God? Why isn’t prayer becoming easier and our desire for that time becoming stronger, and even unquenchable?

I could come up with 10,000 reasons, each taking up time and effort. But perhaps it is better to do as Peter does, and pray for each other, and perhaps for ourselves. What would happen if we truly begged Jesus, as the old hymn noted, to have His own way with us?

It is time to find out…

Heavenly Father, do not look on us as if we are weak and broken, and unable to relate to You. Instead, send Your Holy Spirit to set us afire, purifying our hearts and empowering us to live life walking as the children You love. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Your Son, our Lord and Friend, who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, AMEN!

Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 51–52.

The King, the Missionary and the Priest walk into…

Devotional Thought for Today:
1  First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2  Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. 3  This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. 4  God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5  There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6  God showed us this at the right time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (CEV)

“I think more of the place where I was baptized than of Rheims Cathedral where I was crowned.  It is a greater thing to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a Kingdom.  This last I shall lose at death but the other will be my passport to an everlasting glory.” (St. Louis IX, King of France)

746      From there, where you are working, let your heart escape to the Lord, right close to the Tabernacle, to tell him, without doing anything odd, “My Jesus, I love You”. Don’t be afraid to call him so—my Jesus—and to say it to him often.

In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and noting more should be vut on his gravestone:-
WILLIAM CAREY, BOTRN AUGUST 17th, 1761.: DIED-
A wretched, poor, and helpless worm…on Thy kind arms I fall.”

The king and the missionary knew the same thing.

They understood what truly mattered in life. Both had amazing successes, and failures beyond imagination. They were known and loved by some of those they served, and hated by others. Neither was perfect, yet both knew what mattered in their life, to the extent that I would hold their words up to you, and ask you to come to similar conclusions.

The same conclusion that St. Josemaria urges us, even as we work diligently, to let our hearts escape into God’s presence, and declare boldly, “my Jesus…”

You see that is what the great missionary to India meant, as he fell into the arms of Christ. Nothing else in his life was worth recognizing, save that. The King, choosing more important the moment where the Father unites him to Jesus, in the death and resurrection of Christ, (see Romans 6, Colossians 2) says the same thing.

Everything that is critical in life boils down to to that point, where Jesus makes us His people.

This is what we need to pray, that as God is revealed to people, that they know His love, and His mercy, so shown to us at the cross.

It is the presence of God that we need in our lives. That is where everything changes. To realize that is what Jesus gave up to gain for us, to be welcome there in the presence of the Father, to be drawn into the glorious love in which the Trinity dances, this is everything.

That is the point of the religion we call Christianity. Not to just explore where we have come from as humanity. Not just to reign in behavior, teaching people how to be good to each other.

Our purpose is that everyone, from people in France and India, clergy and politicians and those they lead, know the miracle of being welcome into the presence of God!

This is why we pray for people, surely asking for God to help them in their times of being challenged, but that they might now Him as well.

So my friends pray for all… and pray they come to know the living Lord Jesus, and then together with Louis, and Josemaria, and William, find the peace that passes all understanding, as we experience the Love that goes beyond explanation.. and know I pray you know this too!.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Spurgeon, Charles. Morning and Evening – Morning, August 29, Logos Edition

Do We Make Church Boring?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful. 3 Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. 4 Please pray that I will make the message as clear as possible. Col. 4:2-4 CEV

736      Your life cannot be the repetition of actions which are all the same, because the next one should be more upright, more effective, more full of love than the last. Each day should mean new light, new enthusiasm—for Him!

God designed all finite things to be eventually boring because He designed our heart with an infinite hole in its center, a hole that cannot be filled even with the whole enormous but finite universe. There is a Black Hole in our heart analogous to the physical Black Holes in intergalactic space that can suck all the matter in the universe into themselves. This spiritual black hole is the restless heart that will not and cannot rest anywhere except in God, its home.

Gracious souls are never perfectly at ease except they are in a state of nearness to Christ; for when they are away from him they lose their peace. The nearer to him, the nearer to the perfect calm of heaven; the nearer to him, the fuller the heart is, not only of peace, but of life, and vigour, and joy, for these all depend on constant intercourse with Jesus.

There is a challenge in leading worship, and in leading a church. It is all to common to get in a rut, to try to do the same pattern of worship faithfully. But as St. Josemaria points out, we can’t just be repeating everything, over and over.

Please be careful, I am not advocating changing the church service every week, but to engage in it better every week, To be more effective and build the enthusiasm in the service. Not just an upbeat sense of enthusiasm, but an enthusiasm, a desire, a will that is focused in on being in the presence of Jesus. For in His presence, together, being cleansed by His blood, by being fed on His word, by being united together in Him, each week can be the same thing, done in a way that continually draws people closer.

This is the same for private life, as the black hole is filled with the presence of God, the only thing that can fill it. It is no different to say “never give up praying” as it would be to say, “never stop being aware of being in the presence of God” for both are the same thing.

The way to keep from getting into a rut in either your devotional life, or in church is to remember Who you are talking too, Who you are walking with, to realize what happens as you draw nearer to Him. Pray for your pastor and worship leader to help you realize that you are in God’s presence, not just in theirs! (They should be like waiters in a restaurant – you should know they were around, because of Who has been brought to your attention – but Who is brought to your attention is the focus, and the reason you are there!)

Let God fill you! Let God bring about your healing, as you realie He is forgiving and sanctifying you.

Sing, pray, listen, with the knowledge of His presence…

Church and private prayer will never be boring then… you will desire it more and more. And the day you don’t, just refocus on Jesus.

AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 89.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

A prayer…about prayer

ST MARY OF PEACEDevotional Thought of the Day:
18  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT2) 

738      I will never share the opinion—though I respect it—of those who separate prayer from active life, as if they were incompatible. We children of God have to be contemplatives: people who, in the midst of the din of the throng, know how to find silence of soul in a lasting conversation with Our Lord, people who know how to look at him as they look at a Father, as they look at a Friend, whom they love madly.

The more I read about prayer the more I understand why people are confused by it. Presently I am taking a class on Spiritual Formation, and most of the texts approach the subject rigidly as if spiritual disciplines need the same approach that a Marin Drill Seargent would use!

I understand how that comes about, the person teaching so wants others to have the benefit of praying that they will use at means at their disposal to get people addicted to it.  The disciple is not encouraged to pray, they are manipulated to do so.  sometimes that is by sheer guilt, and other times by promises that scripture doesn’t make. (The most recent was sharing anecdotal evidence that linked prayer to church growth, leaving the reader to believe that their lack of prayer was the reason they didn’t have record numbers.)  We may be sincere in our desire that all men pray, but sincerity does not always mean we teach it the right way!

So how can we encourage people to pray?  How can we share with them the peace that comes from communing with God, even if for a few moments in the heat of the day?

I love St. Josemaria’s approach. Indeed, that was how I found his writings, looking for ways to encourage lay ministers and deacons to spend time with God, while they work so hard in secular jobs. As disciplined as the people in Opus Dei are, my experience with them is that they embrace prayer with joy, not as a duty, but as the most pleasing moments in their day. This was true when I was in Italy, and saw the church in their offices there. Our “guide”, who took time away from other work, gratefully allowed us to spend time in the sanctuary praying, as it allowed him to do the same. It was a blessing to pray in the sanctuary, rather than just at his desk!

Years later, I realized that he talked of praying at his desk as if it was so common.

How I long that we do that in our lives, to grasp at the precious moments of prayer, as we would a love note from a spouse or the hug of a child. For that is what prayer is, a moment to share in the love between God and us.

Somehow, that is the message we need to share, inviting people into the time of prayer, sharing with them the peace and comfort we find, as we meditate on God’s love, and lay our burdens on Him.

Then the verse from Paul’s writing isn’t burdensome, but a joy to see fulfilled in our lives.

Lord Jesus, help up not only learn how to pray, but how to lead others into a life of prayer, meditation, and constant communion with You, and the Father and Spirit with Whom You reign, ever One God, AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Is This What We Should Pray for?

St francis at the crossDevotional Thought of the Day:

and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: 6 Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. 7 He gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. 8 Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Phil. 2:5-8 CEV

Do you believe that your sins are forgiven, and that Christ has made a full atonement for them? Then what a joyful Christian you ought to be! How you should live above the common trials and troubles of the world! Since sin is forgiven, can it matter what happens to you now? Luther said, “Smite, Lord, smite, for my sin is forgiven; if thou hast but forgiven me, smite as hard as thou wilt”; and in a similar spirit you may say, “Send sickness, poverty, losses, crosses, persecution, what thou wilt, thou hast forgiven me, and my soul is glad.”

When people talk about Philippians 2, they usually mention the incredible description of Jesus found in verses 6 through 11.  It is an ancient hymn, sometimes called the Carem Christi.

But we forget that it is an invitation.

An invitation to suffering. An invitation to love like Jesus loves.

An invitation to know the love of Christ, to know it so intimately that you don’t reject pain and suffering for the cross, but embrace it, s Jesus did, for the joy that it will bring.

That is the point of that hymn being shared, to help us learn how to embrace the hard things in life. To see them as the opportunity to imitate Jesus!

This is possible for the very reason Spurgeon notes. We realize what it means that we are forgiven, that our relationship with God is perfect and new.  Everything that was broken has been healed, everything that was corrupted was restored.  How amazing this is! How incredible! It can and should overwhelm us as it becomes more clearly revealed.

Even to the point where we “ask for it!”  We ask for the pain, the suffering, whatever it costs to help others come ot know God’s love. For it is worth it, all the suffering, even martyrdom, if through it one person comes ot know the Lord’s love for them.

As we suffer, as life hauls off and wallops us, we begin to understand the cost to Jesus of living us, and that love, not our own strength, sustains us. Not only sustains us, but empowers us as we realize what it all leads to, the vision Paul used in the next chapter,

10  All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11  so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:10-11 (CEV)

I pray that you and I will come to want to suffer and know the power that raised Christ to life. AMEN!

 

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

 

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