The Synonym of Happiness… (or how to get happy in the midst of suffering)
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 If our faith is strong, we should be patient with the Lord’s followers whose faith is weak. We should try to please them instead of ourselves. 2 We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. 3 Even Christ did not try to please himself. But as the Scriptures say, “The people who insulted you also insulted me.”Romans 15:1–3 (CEV)
Instead, it took half a lifetime to appreciate, through a million experiments, every one of which proved the same result: that the way to happiness is self-forgetful love and the way to unhappiness is self-regard, self-worry, and the search for personal happiness. Our happiness comes to us only when we do not seek for it. It comes to us when we seek others’ happiness instead.
Happiness has an odd synonym, Or perhaps not a synonym, but a word that is so intimately related to it that they can’t be divided.
Happiness and self-denial.
We see that in the fact that it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the suffering on the cross. We see it in the appeal to Christliness – and the definition of Jesus who age it all up in Philippians 2. We see the same thing in Paul’s words to the church in Rome that appears above. As we are patient (long-suffering is a better transition) with those who are weak, we are focusing on their joy, on their contentment, on their ability to experience the love of God.
That doesn’t mean we condone their weak faith, but we put their growth as more important than ours.
We seek their best interests, we look to strengthen their faith, and in doing so, we find the joy we need. As Kreeft points out, forgetting self in the cause of love is key to joy, the key to happiness.
I know this to be true, as I see people amid suffering, and watch they grow in their faith as the Holy Spirit comforts them as they realize God’s peace. Seeing this happen is the greatest and most enjoyable of blessings.
It is why I love to share the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist. When I see people realize the incredible blessing they’re receiving, it makes everything else worth it. It’s when I hear that the Holy SPirit’s comfort is helping people through what they are going thru and that a simple word, or just being there helps them, this too is something that is a blessing.
It is the real reason why some pastors work more, ot have more opportunities to see God at work in people’s lives.
A warning about all this is in order.
Don’t just try and start living sacrificially on your own strength. It will burn you out. And examine yourself regularly, make sure you haven’t begun to live sacrificially on your own strength – you will burn out, and even develop a martyrdom complex.
Note that Paula advised this for those stronger in the faith – trust in God is the only way to accomplish this. We have to depend on Him for the joy, as well as the strength to do this, it is our intimate relationship with Jesus, that unity as we are drawn and united to His death and resurrection that makes self-sacrifice not only necessary but the great blessing it is.
He is our joy, and seeing others find that joy and the peace that comes with it can only be done as we are there with Him.
So you want joy, spend time with the Lord of life, the ord of Life, and as you do, you will be transformed, and love in a sacrificial manner as He did.
Lord, help us find life in Christ and find the joy He knew. AMEN
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 16–17.
The Purpose of Real Power…
Devotional Thought for the Day:
3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him complete power; he knew that he had come from God and was going to God. 4 So he rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel around his waist. 5 Then he poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. John 13:3-5 GNT
860 As soon as you truly abandon yourself in the Lord, you will know how to be content with whatever happens. You will not lose your peace if your undertakings do not turn out the way you hoped, even if you have put everything into them, and used all the means necessary. For they will have “turned out” the way God wants them to.
There is a video going around of a basketball coach, who is seemingly striving to empower other women. While we have a long way to go to make sure opportunities and pay are equal for people of both genders, there is an underlying message that I struggle with.
The search and focus on gaining power and influence without knowing the direction that power will be used to achieve. Power can be used for good or bad, and we need to develop people as much on how to use power, as we do to encourage them to grab all they can. Will we look to develop people spiritually and morally (there is a difference) to use power properly, even as we teach them to seek it out?
I look to the reading from the Bible in red this morning, and something struck me that I hadn’t really noticed before. This is one of my favorite stories, it is the basis for one of my favorite songs (Michael Card’s “The Basin and the Towel”) I know it inside and out, and just like every year, it will be part of the reading on Maunday Thursday.
This year, I saw that beginning phrase, “Jesus knew that the Father had given Him all power.” It goes on to talk that Jesus knew where he was coming from, where He was going (the cross). SO …. he serves. He takes the role that is humiliating as any, even though he was the guest of honor.
That is what he does in the context of having just some power, but all of the power. He uses it to serve, to teach, to benefit others. Jesus uses what power He has not to avoid the cross but to embrace it, because of His love for them, because of His love for us.
This is what power is for, not to increase fame, or wealth, or personal standing. Not ot get a kick “playing” with those you have power over. Rather it is to benefit those people you have been made responsible for, for power is only a tool of responsibility.
So teach our daughters and sons to strive to do their best, to find places to serve in where they can make the greatest impact. Where they can affect many, helping them learn to love. Help them achieve things that would take great effort, but always remind them of why they are there.
To love their neighbors who they can see, empowered by the presence, the mercy and love of God they can’t see, but can perceive.
For in his presence, there is peace, and contentment… and we are safe there, our hearts nd minds protected by Jesus. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3526-3528). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Am I Appreciated? Are You? Does it Matter if We Aren’t?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 “Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3 But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4 Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 (TEV)
693 It hurt you not to have been thanked for that favor. Answer me these two questions: Are you so grateful toward Christ Jesus? Did you really do that favor in the hope of being thanked for it on earth?
There is a part of us that cries out to be appreciated.
To hear someone say “thank you” seems only right, and when the thank you isn’t given, we are disappointed, even hurt. We may wonder about their manners, question how they were raised, even harbor a bit of resentment that our hard work and sacrifice was taken for granted, even ignored.
Examining our own expectation of that “thank you” never enters our mind, does it? Do we question our desire to hear that thank you? Or wonder if that announcement of appreciation was our motivation? Or why its lack would cause us to be bitter and resentful?
Or as the eminent theologian Jack Sparrow was noted to say, “The problem isn’t the problem. Your attitude about the problem is the problem.”
I think St Josemaria has an interesting point here. Are we as appreciative for what God has done for us, as we expect others to be for what we do for them? I am not asking this to create a guilt trip, precisely the opposite.
You see, our acts we want noticed and appreciated are actually how we show our appreciation for the work God has done for us. This life we live, is the fulfillment of Ephesians 2:10. What we want to be appreciated is the very life God planned out for us, as we’ve been recreated in Christ Jesus….a life lived in appreciation of His love.
I think as we realize this, then the appreciation of man becomes something that is nice, but not a need. The “thank you’s” are nice, but their lack becomes less noticed, as our actions become more something we are in awe of, as we realize they are done because of the Holy Spirit….. something that is holy and not our norm.
God is working in us! God is using us to bless others! What an amazing thing!
He has given us a place in life, and it is making a difference in others lives! And so our attitude changes a bit, and we begin to understand what Jesus said in Luke,
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 17:10 (TEV)
What happens then, is we desire that He be praised, that He be appreciated, that He be loved… and when that happens… we are content… and thankful for the opportunity.
Praise be to our Lord!…. and thanks for reading this!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1616-1617). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Image of God, Seen Today in Our Midst
Devotional Thought of the Day
1 Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NJB)
27 God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NJB)
18 And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NJB)
Is our being made in the image and likeness of God something invisible, something confined, perhaps, to the soul? But if so, then it is not an image, for an image is, by its nature, something that can be seen. And, in fact, we can see the image—not in the momentary flash of photography, but in the demeanor that reveals a life: in the goodness of a mother, in the uprightness of a husband, in the fidelity of a friend in our time of trouble, in the patience of one who suffers, in the gentleness and maturity of one who prays. When we see these signs, we are seeing the image of God. (1)
Every once in a while you hear about Jesus image, maybe in a piece of toast, or a tortilla or pancake, or in some artifact. It is kind of funny the fuss that is made over these things,
But what if I said I saw God’s image today, the glorious image of God, reflected in the face of an 89-year-old lady, or a two-year-old child, That claim might seem rather over the top. There is a strong Biblical basis for it. A basis recognized in the devotion I came across this morning.
I love how Cardinal Ratzinger sees the image of Christ, not in a static picture or print, but in a life lived reflecting the glory, the love and mercy of God. The glory of God at work, redeeming and reconciling for Himself a people, and doing it through….. the people He has redeemed. The people He has reconciled to Himself. He causes them to love, as the Holy Spirit transforms them into the image of Jesus. The Holy Spirit molds them, and as Eph. 210 discusses – we are changed into a work of art, God’s great masterpiece,
A people who resemble their Lord and Savior, the One, who sent the Spirit, to focus them on Jesus, and transform them.
So the lady in my Bible Study, who always pauses to pray, and give thanks and know God’s love, in Her I see the image of God reflected. In the two year old, who is most comfortable and most at peace at the altar, even though she can’t explain what happened in her baptism, in the friend who reaches out and listens, even though pressed for time. In each the image of Christ is reflected, the glory of Christ is seen and known and experienced.
Lord, have mercy, and He shows He does, as people find the healing that is only in Christ while helping others heal.
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 219). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
The Transformation of Easter: Part 1 The Change to Our Church
How Easter is Transforming Our World!
The Change to Our Community
† IHS †
May the Grace of God our Heavenly Father and our Risen Lord Jesus strengthen you, even as it transforms us.
Change versus Transformation:
I am about to tell you something is coming, and I want your reaction to the word I use.
What is coming, what will happen to us here at Concordia is “change”. You will not be able to resist it, you can’t stop it. Resistance is futile.
If you are like 90 percent of the population, hearing that might make you a little anxious, or you might wonder if there is anything that can be done to stop it.
Some of you might even begin to wonder what is changing. Some will automatically look and think of negative changes. Some of you might be thinking of things that could change for the positive. And what is ironic – you might be thinking of the same exact thing!
For the rest of Easter, we are going to be looking at the changes that happen to a church, matter of fact that are happening at our church.
But to alleviate the stress, the worry, the concern, how about if I use the word transformation instead? A transformation so complete, we might not even recognize ourselves, or our church, when God is through with us!
Today’s observed transformation
In our reading from the Book of Acts this morning, we see an incredible description of the change that will, no, the change that is happening to us.
It talks there of a church, the people that trusted in God that became united in both their heart and their mind. In every part of their existence. They were one in the way they felt, in the ways they thought. They desired the same thing; they reacted together to what was going on, and they identified themselves, all 8000 of them or more, as sharing the same life.
Luke tells us the uniqueness of this church; they were of one heart and mind to the extent of sharing everything they had with each other. I love the way the word pictures describe this; everything is held to be common, nothing special and set aside.
Therefore, if there were people in need, the rest of the people found a way to meet that need. No one lacked, because how can you let your people go without?
What a transformation we see happening to the people who trusted God! Who continually heard that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! (wait…)
I mean, what kind of people would liquidate their wealth, to help others, people they barely know?
The Change to our Norm
If we look at what God does to his people from the perspective of “before” the cross, the change seems frightening, and the description of the early church doesn’t make sense.
Give up what is precious? Trust people with what I treasure? Give up my security, to make sure others feel secure?
We talked about this when we talked about the Lord’s prayer, and the idea that we trust God to provide everything we need. It takes faith to live like this, an incredible amount of faith.
You can’t listen to the questions that would raise doubts about our fellow man. You can’t wonder if people need, or if they will abuse the blessing, or whether someone will be there for you, when you need the help, instead of being able to provide it.
You need to reach out and trust rather than be cynical, you have to have the wisdom to discern need, and the compassion to meet the need.
Our nature, even on the good days hears this and takes it as an obligation. That God requires us to change our hearts, to reach out with this kind of love, making the sacrifices as proof of our faith.
And if that is our belief, we shall surely fall short. We need to change…
Our old nature that was once in bondage to sin, Satan and feared death calls for us to protect ourselves, and what we’ve earned, what is ours by right. That leads to sin, as we struggle to get what isn’t ours, or we overlook our neighbors, and what they need.
The change is not so much in what is individually ours. Instead, we see what is God’s, and treasure that more than anything else.
The Beauty of the transformation…
Though the vision cast here in Acts is that what it looks like financially to be of one mind, I think we’ve seen here, at Concordia, what it means to be emotionally of one mind.
Paul talked of this too, when he told the church in Rome,
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:15-16 (NLT)
We’ve become “of one mind” here. We share deeply in each other’s joys, the moments when someone is baptized, or when someone has good news. We’ve shared as well in each other’s sorrows and griefs, stood beside each other in moments of grief. We’ve cried with each other often; it seems as often as we laugh together over meals we have shared.
That is the transformation that God works in His church, in His people. That we respond to each other. To meet each other’s needs before thinking about ourselves.
It’s come about not by force, but rather by focusing on God’s love for us, the love seen in the cross, and reflected as we share in His body and blood. By sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It’s what happens when we look to Christ, and as Paul says in 2 Cor 3, the Holy Spirit changes us, transforms us into Christ’s image, as we reflect His glory.
This change that happens isn’t our work, just as it wasn’t the idea of the apostles. It happens when we realize the love of God, revealed in the death of Christ for your sins, in his burial, and in the fact He is risen from the grave.
He has given us life, now and for eternity, living in the glory of His love, with one heart, with one mind. AMEN.
The Only Work The Church is Entrusted With
Devotional Thoughts of the Day:
For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation. God was in Christ personally reconciling the world to himself – not counting their sins against them – and has commissioned us with the message of reconciliation. We are now Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were appealing direct to you through us. As his personal representatives we say, “Make your peace with God.” For God caused Christ, who himself knew nothing of sin, actually to be sin for our sakes, so that in Christ we might be made good with the goodness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16 (Phillips NT)
103 Your life, your work, should never be negative, nor anti anything. It is—it must be!—positive, optimistic, youthful, cheerful and peaceful.
As I write this blog, a movie I’e longed to see id playing on my television. It is called Monuments Men, A bunch 0f artists and aficionados who have a mission. Some give all they have, their very lives to accomplish the mission. Some find a sense of redemption, a sense of meaning in the life that is given in pursuit of mission.
How much more should we be driven to focus on our mission? How much more should our love for God drive our mission, we should be willing to sacrifice for our mission, the way soldiers did, for the stakes are the same.
The mission, the raison d’etre, of the church.
In truth, there is only one ministry. There is one mission God has given His people. One work He has commissioned for us, the work He hs planned for us to be part of since before the foundation of the world.
The mission, the ministry of reconciling the world to Himself.
We are to be the agents of such reconciliation.
That is our only ministry, it is our mission, it is the work He has given to us, that He has gifted us.
It is our hope, it is our life, walking with the Lord, fulfilling His will.
And there are times where it gets to pessimistic, to depressing, to negative.
Yet it is too easy. We are effected by what goes on around us. The seemingly impossible task of reconciling people together. The seemingly impossible task of seeing what God so desires to come to fruition. We here of church politics, or we see brothers fighting each other without mercy, without recognizing the unity we have, because we are reconciled together in Christ. We see brothers dismiss each other, questioning each other, avoiding actual discussion, hiding behind defenses created to avoid any real conversation.
It is too easy to get caught up in the negativity, in the political machiavellianism. In the lack of reconciliation.
But what were we expecting? That this ministry, which required Jesus to die on the cross would be easy? THat we would snap our fingers and relationships would be reconciled and healed?
Even knowing the cost, we have a God who asks us in fulfilling His dream, of seeing Him call people to be His people, to see them healed, counted righteous.
it’s what we are called to do.
Nothing else. though we will do this in all we do……every vocation, in every place, in every moment we have. Especially in the midst of our sin…our sin, the sins of the people God calls, so that He can cleanse the of that sin.
So let’s get back to our service, let us work hard to diligently do what God has called us to do…..
and realize this…
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
Rejoice… He will complete this work in you! in us!
He has promised this. so trust Him!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 575-576). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Serving Others: Requirement of the Law or the Effect of Gospel?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27 (NLT)
167 Make up the time you have lost resting on the laurels of your self-complacency, and thinking what a good person you are, as if it were enough just to keep going, without stealing or killing. Speed up the pace of your piety and your work: you still have such a long way to go: Live happily with everyone, even with those who annoy you, and make an effort to love —to serve!—those whom you despised before. (1)
“Christianity is the only co-operative society that exists for the benefit of non-members (2)
Thirty years ago, as I was a sophmore (Literally translated ‘wise fool’ and it fit) at a small Bible College, I was somewhat of an idealist.
The school’s motto was that it was to prepare “Servant-Leaders” who would change the world for Christ. That was our mission, and many of us dreamed of the glory that would occur in our lives. Some of us would head to the mission field. Some into congregations where they would minister with children or youth or music, or some as preachers.
Thirty years later, I am less idealistic. I lost long ago the visions of doing something spectacular in the sight of God and man. And to be honest, with that burden gone, I find more joy in what i see God doing. As I heard of how my church members minister to one of their own this morning, as I observed them caring for the new people who visited our church yesterday. I hear of the sacrifice of others, as they care for their families, even their friends. These may seem to be little things – but it is amazing to observe God’s love pouring out.
At the same time, it is amazing to see the hunger and thirst for God’s word, for the sacraments. There seems to be this connection between God providing for us, and our providing, in very meaningful ways, for others. There is something about knowing the presence of God, and hungering to be present for others, There is something about receiving Christ’s mercy, about knowing that God is compassion towards us, and is passionate in His care for us. It empowers us, it drives us, it raises our awareness of those who need to know God..
One of my favorite passages to teach/preach/use explains this connection between God serving us, and our serving others…
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. Romans 12:1 (NLT)
This is the norm, when you walk with God. To imitate Christ as He served, serving those around. Such is the blessing of being a living sacrifice.
I think that may be the problem we have had in recent years. That we’ve made serving God an obligation, that you are only holy if you serve
But what if serving is a way of finding out who we are in Christ? What if it is a blessing, a gift from God as we realize how He has designed us to live? What if in serving, we find out how much more God services us? What if our serving is simply the side affect of becoming children of God?
Servants who lead – because our leader served.
This blog post has wandered a bit today… but there is an obvious need to return to these roots, to live in Christ, like Christ. For our own sake, to be a church that is more interested in those who are struggling, than in ourselves. But that can’t be done in a compensatory manner. It comes as we know, as we experience Christ. The Lord who served others in life, and by His death, and still serves us today…..
Lord Have mercy by guiding us to show mercy. AMEN
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 916-920). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Northumbrian Community: Celtic Daily Prayer, Entry for May 5
Christianity and …Tea
Devotional thought of the day….
We are in love with Love. That is why Our Lord doesn’t want us to be dry, stiff, lifeless. He wants us to be steeped in his tenderness!
It’s been about fifteen years now, since I was at Pepperdine running a department. It was tradition for our dean, or maybe our Asst. Dean to get everybody some kind of fancy imported coffee for Christmas. (the bunch of geeks that we were, we lived on caffeine.) But I don’t drink coffee, and though I would have been perfectly content with a 12 back of diet coke, he (or probably his office manager/exec asst.) got me a bag of Earl Gray and another bag of English Breakfast Tea, and one of those little mesh tea infusers. (what they used before the advent of tea bags – and what conciseness still use today)
To be honest, it does make a hug difference…. the way the tea tasted was superb!
When I read the words above from St Josemaria Escriva, I immediately latched onto that word “steeped” It is really just another picture of the concept of living in Christ, or abiding in Him. We are sort of like a glass of hot water, sitting on a table. Okay… I suppose I notice it there… maybe even look at the steam coming off of it. Yet through in a infuser, with a really good strong batch of tea… and everything changes. The steam coming off the top of the cup projects it’s flavor/scent throughout the room. the beverage itself comes alive and the caffeine… well it is cafeinne! 🙂 All of a sudden we are awake, and alive and we have energy.
Such is the effect of living in Christ, of His love, His tenderness, His mercy, His nature, infuses (not making a theological statement here- just the concept) us, it affects us in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend. The more we grasp His love, the more we begin to love others. The apostle Paul decribes such an effect this way..
14 And I got it, thank God! In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. 15 Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (MSG)
You desire people to come to know Jesus? You desire your church to be filled once again? You want to be effective in your vocation, and in your walk as a believer?
It starts with something simple – something quite passive, something that calls us to be still… and know He is God…the rest will come… it is the natural result, like the steeping of some leaves in a cup of hot water results in a great drink…
It calls us to be steeped in His love and tenderness….
Adore Him, for indeed He is worthy…
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1881-1883). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Another Post on Real Leadership in the Church
Devotional/Discussion thought of the Day;
Yesterday, I spent my day with brothers, who like me, serve a number of churches in our denomination. We’re called circuit counselors, and we have 8-12 churches and pastors we are elected by, to serve them, and to represent our district to them. A lot of the day was talking about our new manual, and what we are to do, what we are not to do, delineating responsibilities and the policies and guidelines which guide our work. One of the challenges is balancing out pastoral care to those we serve, and the responsibilities we have as “officials”. It is a challenge.
In a article I read this morning, a man that is rumored to be a potential archbishop of Indianapolis. Beyond having a very cool last name, (personal story there) the article talks about some politics in the Roman Catholic Church, but quotes the Archbishop on an issue, which seems to me to indicate a strong reason why he was chosen for the task.
““I am not here as a policeman, nor am I here as a tourist – I’m here about something much more serious: it’s about what we have bet our lives on. You and I have bet our lives on a person, on a message, on the dream of a kingdom.” (see http://www.indystar.com/article/20121017/NEWS/121017027/Reports-Pope-name-new-leader-Indianapolis-Archdiocese)
Now, while Joseph Tobin† and I may differ on a few points of theology that we both would contend are critical, in my opinion he gets the concept of Christian Leadership perfectly. It’s not about being a cop for the bureaucratic powers, a leader is not a polite tourist here to sample the culture – leadership is about the person of Christ, and about His reign and rule in our lives, and the responsibility that is inherent in His being our Lord, our Savior, and as I preached about a few weeks ago – our Brother who is not ashamed.
Does that mean there will be times where, in order to re-focus the ministry and work on Christ, there will be times of correction and even discipline? Yeah, there might be. But there will always be times of great joy as well – when all realize Christ’s presence, and the way it manifests itself in the life of people whom we serve. If we have bet our lives on the One who came into our lives to give us hope, then we have to work together, through it all, working together to keep the focus on Him.
I suppose that is what an Archibishop does, or for that matter, a Lutheran circuit counselor/pastor. Or nuns or elders or deaconesses, or deacons, or anyone who serves in the church. It all focuses on Him, and as we shepherd His people, it is to Jesus we must guide, cajole, encourage, and sometimes drag back to Him.
So He can love them, provide for them, heal them, protect them, be their Master and Lord. Ultimately, that is all a Christian Leader does…
Lord, have mercy on us, and on all who are tasked with leading God’s people home.
The Secret to Loving and Serving Others
Devotional thought for the day:
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’, he said, ‘what I have done to you? 13 You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. 14 If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.” John 13:12-15 (NJB) (
Consider listening to this song –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I47c29GvFY while reading this blog
The church has been designed to be a community, a place where people have learned to lay aside their wants and desires, and serve others, to nurture others, to imitate Christ’s life, and the blunt clear lessons like the one in John 13 – where he washes the cracked, dry, smelling feet of men who hadn’t learned yet to love, to be in a relationship – not just with their Lord, but with each other. THe lesson is harsh, and convicting, how often are we willing to get down on our knees, and deal with the muck those we are called to love have walked through?
It cannot be done, not in our own strength at least. Their burdens are too heavy, their pains too deep, the crap in their lives can, indeed cause us to turn away, spiritually and physically nauseated, disgusted. Or we wonder why, as Michael Card sings, we have to do this day after day, after day…..
So where do we find the strength to obey? Where do we find the power to live lives in this holy manner?
A catholic priest once wrote:
“When you start out each day to work by Christ’s side and to look after all those souls who seek him, remember that there is only one way of doing it: we must turn to the Lord. Only in prayer, and through prayer, do we learn to serve others!” (1)
That’s the answer – through prayer – through intimate conversation, through communion/fellowship – through letting Christ wash our feet,through letting him, remove our burdens, through letting Him still – clean up those parts of our lives that have gotten dry, broken, blistered, smelly….. through letting Him be God. It is the only way, as St. Josemarie told us, to find the strength to serve, to be there for people, to bring healing and love to their lives. We don’t have the strength
We have to let Jesus do that to us….cleanse us, heal us…
and then, the Holy Spirit will work through us to do the same for others.
And oh the joy, oh the inexpressible joy that comes from seeing others cleansed, and counted holy and righteous.
It sends you right back in prayer, to the throne of God, to praise and glorify Him!
Lord, show us Your mercy… even as You work through us to bring that mercy to those we serve around us!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 474-476). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.