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Real Prayer…Changes things… Will you?

Devotional Thought of the Day…

 1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

426      Today once again I prayed full of confidence. This was my petition: “Lord, may neither our past wretchedness which has been forgiven us, nor the possibility of future wretchedness cause us any disquiet. May we abandon ourselves into your merciful hands. May we bring before you our desires for sanctity and apostolate, which are hidden like embers under the ashes of an apparent coldness” ”Lord, I know you are listening to us.” You should say this to him too.  (1)

It has been said that if we are to preach about sin, we should preach against real sin.  The sin in our lives, the sin in our hearts and minds.  Not the sins of those in Washington D.C., or among some broken group of people.  But our sin.

In my devotions this morning, I came across the above quote by St. Josemaria – and it resonated with me, because it asks us to pray a real prayer.

Not just a prayer to changes things, but a prayer to change us.

A prayer of confession, and a prayer that acknowledges our real weakness, in our past and in our future..(2)  A prayer that acknowledges our wretchedness, and future wretchedness – and begs that this not cause anxiety…for we are confident in Him.

Jesus in Pray

Jesus in Pray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A prayer that seems to be generated in this midst of our spiritual “dryness”, where we realize our desire to be God’s children has dampened, as has our desire to bring His love to the world.

A prayer that realizes our hope is found, not in our strength, nor in our faithfulness, but a prayer that confidently is spoken, knowing that He who is listening is faithful… knowing that He is listening!!!

In the Romans passage – worship is similarly abandoning our lives in the presence of God.   Letting God transform us, letting God breath life into the barely warms embers, changing our mind (repentance) into the mind of Christ.

That’s a real prayer… change us Lord – make sure we know you are Lord – that you are here, listening and working…

A prayer in confidence that addresses the real issue…

Will you pray so?

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1637-1641). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Comment – the strongest people I have know – have dealt with physical trauma to the point where there bodies are wasted away… there, stripped of their strength – they find God’s immeasurable strength sustaining them.

Can a life be lived for God

Devotional/Discussion thought of the Day

 1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2 Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (TEV)

This has been a favorite verse of mine since Bible College.  A call to live a life that is dedicated to God, and to His work.

Most people who study to serve as pastors, missionaries, Christian teachers and a great deal many find this verse resounds with them.  O to live in such a way!  O to give up everything.   We think we might, just might be the next Bonhoeffer, or the next Mother Theresa, or maybe the next Luther – calling people to fix what is wrong with the church!  Or the next St Francis, who ushers in a time of peace and contemplation.

Then we begin to serve… and the realization hits us.  Sacrifice isn’t glamorous – it is often downright boring.  The crowds don’t come in masses (or come to mass/worship often) and it seems like forever between points where we can rejoice and be in awe of God’s work in and around us.

We also struggle with temptation and sin, and often joke that the problem with being a living sacrifice is that we can get off the altar.  Some of us become cynical or sarcastic ( or at least let that part of the “old Adam” come back alive)  I find that especially hard – as I think about the way I see the church here on the field, and the politics of the church at home causing them not to have the emotional, spiritual they need, or hearing how they have to go back to do fundraising, interrupting their work here.

I would long for our service, our sacrifice, to be as easy as Josemaria Escriva wrote:

“Each and every creature, each and every event of this life, without exception, must be steps which take you to God, which move you to know him and love him, to give him thanks, and to strive to make everyone else know and love him.”  (1) 

This is what – in our nobler moments we long for – to make every moment part of our journey toward, and with God.  Lord would You be so merciful as to let our nobler instincts come into existence!  Yet we find ourselves, falling so short!

That is where the second verse in Romans comes into play – we do not transform ourselves – God changes us, almost imperceptibly,  primarily because He does use each and every creature, each and every event, to draw us closer to Him. Paul describes this to the church in Corinth with words that are also so dear to my heart.

 18 All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory2 Corinthians 3:18 (TEV)

Josemaria’s “must be steps” is true, but it is not our strength or wisdom, or even our desire that makes it so.  It is His work, the Spirit’s dynamic transformation that comes to us, even as we are helpless babes being baptized, or even the octogenarian, know realizing how much God has been calling them, courting them.

Spiritual Disciplines then, aren’t so much about our molding our hearts and minds and actions into an awesome tool for God.  It is far more simply looking to Jesus, dwelling in His love, realizing more than ever, how much He is present, that the incredible words that we say, over and over each Sunday – still ring true…. and because of that your life is not just lived for God, it is lived with Him.

The Lord is with you!

(1)Escrivaa, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2507-2509). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Will I ever retire from the ministry? No! And..

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day.

People often comment about pastor’s never retiring, and I have often wondered how to explain to them, that being a pastor is never a career, it is not a job from which you can retire.  It was hard to explain, until I came across this great explanation – given by a Catholic priest….

A long time ago someone asked me, tactlessly, whether those of us whose career is the priesthood are able to retire when we get old. And since I gave him no answer, he persisted with his impertinent question. Then an answer came to me which, I thought, is indisputable. “The priesthood”, I told him, “is not a career: it is an apostolate.” That’s how I feel about it. And I wanted to put it down in these notes so that—with God’s help—none of us may ever forget the difference.  (1)

What Lutherans call the “office of Holy Ministry”, what my friends who are catholic call receiving “Holy Orders” is not a career, it is something about who we are – it becomes as much our existence, even though we poorly serve in it, as any other thing which defines who we are.   Priests, pastors, deacons, bishops/district presidents, whatever the semantics, those called into ministry, serve with their very lives.  I love how Romans 12, describes such service.

1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Romans 12:1 (TEV)

Living sacrifices don’t have expiration dates – we are what we are.  Those called into the office of ministry serve, and when they “retire” they find other people to serve, other places – often those places that can’t afford a pastor – or another pastor.  Nor should they, even at least serving as mentors to younger pastors, or spending their times investing themselves into the next generation of servants – doing so, not with the air of the professional – but the attitude of Christ – with gentleness and humility, lifting up those who have served.

But that brings me to another point, the idea that while some are called to the office of ministry, all of us are called to minister – for the word diakonos – minister – simply means servant.  Romans 12 goes on to describe a number of ways all those in the church serve – just as St Peter  says in 1 Peter 2:9.

9 But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light1 Peter 2:9 (NJB)

You do not get to retire either – and I see this – some of the most dependable servants in the church, are some of the oldest, and indeed some many would wonder why they bother.

When I think about it – the reason we, as believers, shouldn’t retire – the best reason is this:

Because it’s not just a job… is walking with God – and seeing Him at work...

Remember to ask that His mercy is seen, as well as had – as you serve for the rest of your life as well.



(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2165-2170). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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