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Life’s Priorities and Work

Devotional Thought of the day:

15  Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16  Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NLT2)

538         A terrible person is one who is ignorant but at the same time works tirelessly. Take care that even when you are old and decrepit, you keep on wanting to be better trained.

One of my favorite sports teams has a motto, “No Day’s Off!”

And it doesn’t mean 7 days in the office, 10 hours a day. As St Josemaria says, it is a terrible thing for a ignorant people to work tirelessly. But it does mean that what we do in our freetime affects what we do in our work.

And example of the athlete that trains and rests and eats as one fluid process, a process that is his vocation. Even when he isn’t playing what he is doing is in sync with the goals of his vocation. Time off to rest, training, time spent studying his art, all of those things are geared to make him better.

You could say the same for a surgeon, whose hands are precious. He wouldn’t engage in activities that would over stress and/or damage his hands, he wouldn’t get drunk the night before a major surgery, he would find ways to ensure he gets the rest and excercise he needs.

The same would be true for a pastor, a minister (in our synod, a Director of Christian Ed, Director of Worship, Deaconess or Deacon) any lay leader or really anyone in the church. Our lives need to be not just balanced between work and rest and time spent in devotional reading of God’s word, prayer, and adoration/worship of God, in receiving the sacraments (all of them!)

But we have to understand what our primary vocation is, what we need to focus and work on, and what are the things that support that work.

What is it? Something we have in common…

Being the Church, being the bride of Christ. Finding our rest and peace in Christ as He mercifully heals our brokenness, as our sin is forgiven, as we are made alive as we are joined to Him in baptism. Our vocation is our being transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Those things I mentioned as part of the balance that are what some call “spiritual disciplines” are not what we do to balance the rest out, rather, they are our life, they are ways to strengthen our awareness that we are walking with God.

It is that walk which the rest of our “life” (our work, our family, our roles at church and in our community) needs to resonate. Depending on God, realizing that He is involved in every part of our life, He sustains us, this is our primary role in life – our relationship with Him.

And as St. Josemaria points out, we need to continually be guided in this and to be trained by those who walk with Jesus as well. (that is another post perhaps) We need to work hard at it, for depending on God takes intent and focus, things easily lost in this crazy world and time.

This is our core, the experience of the love of God that is beyond our ability to explain. To spend time realizing that love, and learning to depend upon it.

Know you are God’s family and spend time experiencing and learning what that means. Celebrate it with others, and realize, this is your life!

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2327-2330). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Are We Waiting for the End of Time with Joy?

Discussion and Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 10  Announce to the nations, “The LORD is King! The world stands firm, never to be shaken, and he will judge its people with fairness.” 11  Tell the heavens and the earth to be glad and celebrate! Command the ocean to roar with all of its creatures 12  and the fields to rejoice with all of their crops. Then every tree in the forest will sing joyful songs 13  to the LORD. He is coming to judge all people on earth with fairness and truth. Psalm 96:10-13 (CEV)

794         Mary spent three days and three nights looking for the Son who was lost. May you and I also be able to say that our willingness to find Jesus knows no rest.  (1)

Carmelite Vow:   Let each stay in or near their own cell, meditating, day and night on the law of the Lord, and vigilant in prayer, unless otherwise employed by the Holy Spirit!  (2)

As I look at the last quote, it seems odd for me, a Lutheran pastor, to quote a Catholic Monastic Vow.  Luther was not known to praise monastic orders, he saw little use for them.  

But to dismiss this thought entirely, is to forget the amount of time Luther spent in prayer, and in the word of God.

What would happen if we spent this kind of time with God, that whenever we weren’t involved in our vocations of life, we were using that time for prayer.  If we made the time we spent entertaining ourselves, the time we watched “reality shows”, the time we spent just doing nothing, seeking the Lord?  If we gave thought daily to His return, His glorious return? I think we wouldn’t fear it, or see Christ’s return as simply an escape from the day’s trouble. ( I will admit there are days I cry out for his return, just to be done with the trauma and drama of this life)

I think the experience of being so aware of His peace would change us dramatically.  

We would hunger for those times as the Psalmist does, as we read of men like Luther and Wesley who would make a priority of hours a day in prayer. I love St Josemaria’s thoughts as well, what if our willingness, or desire to find Jesus knew no rest – if we looked for His presence, not just in the fifteen minutes of the day, but also for hours, and for the seconds when we have nothing else occupying our minds?

That would change how we view our vocations, how we view the daily grind of life.

It would change every encounter, as fueled by our time with Hi, our hearts would be centered on the glorious day of His return. The time where judgment comes, and rather than fearing it, we welcome it, because of the work of Jesus Christ. We welcome His coming, seeing the Father face to face, knowing as we are known.

Come, let’s plunge into a life of devotion, come, lets spend time with our Lord! Not to impress Him, not because of some expectation we hope to meet, but rather, in love with a God who would come and make His life here… among us.

Lord Have Mercy!

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3286-3288). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Celtic Prayer Book, Monthy Devotional Thought for the 3d Day of the Month

Obligations, Time Demands and Priorities

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:

Don’t create more obligations for yourself than… God’s glory, his Love, his Apostolate.(1)

Yesterday, as I talked about anxiety in my sermon, and the coming of Christ which overcomes such anxiety, one of the illustrations I used was that the word for anxiety might best be translated as “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”, or “frantic”.   It is easy to get into that kind of lifestyle, where we rush around from appointment to appointment, from task to task, spinning our wheels because of the demands placed upon us so quickly that we don’t have time to prioritize.  Everything seems to be an obligation, and we wonder if we can get it all done!

And in the fast paced, spinning our wheels type of days, the one thing we do not know, is peace.

And we need that peace.

In the quote I borrowed today, there is something I think we should consider, and try to implement.  Simply put, we must try to arrange our day, not by the tasks, and appointments and stuff of life, but realize what we are obliged to do is to walk that day in God’s glory, reveling in His love, and working from the assumption that whatever we do, it is because He sent us to do it, as His ambassadors, as His apostles, as His people bringing light into the world.   We start there in His presence – we must start there.  Not in the sense of we must because we need to be there, if anything we do is going to be of worth, if we are going to see God’s glory, if we are going to know His peace.

Once we remember we dwell in Christ, when we put on Christ, when we realize His mercy and love and peace – then, we will see the day unravel as He planned, we will see the things we do as His work, and it will be done, and done well, as the Holy Spirit works throughout our life.

Lord have mercy on us, and help us to realize You have, You are, and You will… every moment.  AMEN

 

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 521-522). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Today is God’s “take your kid to work day”

Discussion/Devotional thought of the day:

Back in the day, there was a song on Christian radio that had the following lyrics

“it may be the Devil, and it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody!”

Yesterday I wrote a little about priorities, then during the day, I started looking at all the demands for my time this fall.  I’ll have to head to St Louis at the end of the month, then Palm Springs for a three day meeting in September, then another one day meeting in October, plus all the normal meetings, all the normal stresses, balancing in the needs of my church (writing a new Adult Sunday School class ) with my family, and with other obligations.  The comes Advent and Christmas, and planning for those.  Some even say I should make sure I have time for myself, and too look after my health.

It’s easy for me to start evaluating the schedule demands, and list this event as more important than that event, these people not as important as those.  Now my evaluations are more intuitive than analytically, that’s how I operate.  Yet even as I do these things, my blog from yesterday keeps simmering, and I wonder, am I listening to God in these evaluations?  Am I considering His priorities, His desires, His needs.  Will my calendar reveal where my heart lies, and is it with Him?  Or am I acting more like a manager who doesn’t have a close relationship with God, if any?

How we set our priorities both on a daily basis and on a larger scale reveals who we serve, and is it God, or is it some other god?   Do we dare question our own analysis – do we question our own motives, and ask God to use us, whereever He would lead us?  Do we recognize that our schedule is one that is God’s as well, as He walks with us throughout our day?

Ultimately, our schedules may not change when we make God our first priority, when we realize that our day is one long appointment with Him.  We will still have the same people to deal with, the same schedule demands, the same hard decisions, the same vocations and occupations.  Yet if we see the day as one we spend with Him, in all those places, with all those people, we will look at the day differently…each appointment a divine appointment, each block of time has a divine significance.

It’s not so much using our time wisely, for personally I don’t have enough wisdom to do that.  But I can let God’s wisdom prevail – and walk with Him as a son shadows his dad on “take your kid to work day”

We cry out “Lord Have Mercy” then step back in awe as He does!

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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