Devotional Thought of the day:
9 The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. 10 The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and melt away, the earth and all that it contains will be burned up. 11 Since everything is coming to an end like this, what holy and saintly lives you should be living! 2 Peter 3:9-11 (NJB)
48 It would be good if it could be said of you that the distinguishing feature of your life was “loving God’s Will”.
Most of us go through life, living day to day. Because of that we give little thought to tomorrow, or next week, or eternity.
We want everything now, and the struggle ( noted 30 years ago by M Scott Peck ) with delayed gratification has only become worse. We can’t wait months anymore, sometimes we can’t wait hours.
SO how can we understand a God who will be patient for decades with us, who will be patient for millennia with humanity? How can we understand the patience that is born of a desire to have us realize we are His people?
For that is His desire, that we realize the Jesus died, not just to separate us from our guilt and shame, but so free of it that we spend time with our God who is holy and righteous, who wants to care for our children. God is patient, hoping we understand His desire to call us His friends.
If this realization was the distinguishing feature of our life, and of our lives together, how incredible our lives would be! How we would consecrate ourselves to His mission, to the vocation of the apostolate – realizing we are sent, whether we work in a church, or at Best Buy or running a country, to see this desire of God fulfilled. Whether it is a friend we are sent to , or a homeless person, or a corporate CEO/COO. It doesn’t matter. God desires to see all His friends at His table. All of them.
Eternity is the goal, an eternity spent in the most loving relationship there is, eternity spent free of pain, of guilt, of shame, and eternal life.
So think about tomorrow…. and God’s desire for it… and watch your life change!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 402-403). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thoughts for the day:
Matthew 5:43-45 (MSG) 43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
Mercedes Morado and Begoña Alvarez, who were among those who worked with Monsignor Escrivá for years, wrote that his spirit of forgiving and understanding toward those who slandered him grew progressively, to the point where he could say in all simplicity, “I don’t feel any resentment toward them. I pray for them every day, just as hard as I pray for my children. And by praying for them so much, I’ve come to love them with the same heart and the same intensity as I love my children.”30 He was putting onto paper something of his own personal experience when he wrote, “Think about the good that has been done to you throughout your lifetime by those who have injured or attempted to injure you. Others call such people their enemies…. You are nothing so special that you should have enemies; so call them ‘benefactors.’ Pray to God for them: as a result, you will come to like them.”31 On another occasion, Encarnita Ortega witnessed how he reacted when told that Father Carrillo de Albornoz had left the Society of Jesus, later apostatizing from the Catholic faith. Monsignor Escrivá was visibly moved and deeply sorry. He buried his head in his hands and fell silent, withdrawing into himself, praying. Salvador Canals reminded him that this same man had once organized a very serious campaign of slander against the Work. Monsignor Escrivá interrupted him bluntly, “But he is a soul, my son, a soul!” (1)
Facebook is becoming more and more for me a place of sorrow, a place I dread to go.
The reason is, in part, the present governmental crisis, the shutdown of the government.
But my sorrow isn’t caused by that, but by the reactions of many friends, most of whom are followers of Christ. Yet, even as they fall on both sides of the issue, they do so with anger and wrath to an extreme I haven’t seen yet in my life. They act like they are the survivors of church bombings in Pakistan, or the other persecutions that is literally costing lives – not just money, in this world. Again – I long for real discussion on these issues – but not this series of diatribes against President Obama or against the Republican leaders. Will the people of God grow up? Will we return our focus to things that truly matter, like the salvation of souls? The healing of wounds caused by sin?
Or will we major in the minors? Will we continue to neglect a need for God, because our focus is on governments, or economics or protecting ourselves? Will we mourn over sin, over those who choose separation from God, and will we rejoice when prodigals come home? Heck, will we seek them out, even as Christ sought the treasures in the fields
Will we become like Christ – who embraced suffering, so others could be healed, so others would know life as the children of God?
In order to do that, we’ll need to develop that same kind of spirit that was observed in Escriva. And I would be keen to note that it grew in him – it obviously needed to.
Is our reputation, our feelings, even our own personal well-being worth more than a soul that is broken, that is so easily healed by God’s mercy and grace? Can we put the best construction on our enemies and adversaries work? On those who battle in Washington D.C. or in St Louis, or here in our backyards?
Or are their souls worth trying to bring God’s light to? Are they worth mourning? Are they worth sacrifiing time to pray for them, and the effort to love them?
Lord have mercy on us – and help us minister to those who oppose us,, or whom we think oppose us. Develop in us the heart of Stephen the deacon/martyr, and may our spirit grow, and may that growth itself encourage others to depend on you.
(1) Urbano, Pilar (2011-05-10). The Man of Villa Tevere (Kindle Locations 1819-1832). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Forgiveness – A Stumbling Block Or An Anchor? (pearlsofwisdomconsultingservices.com)
- Encountering others on Holy Ground. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Persecution, Martyrdom, the Love of Christ…. and a hard lesson in prayer (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Love Them, Love Them, Love Them: Discipleship lessons from the gym…and Coach C (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Have We Shut Down…the church (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotion of the Day
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24 (TEV)
2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2 (TEV)
The Cross marked his life. He took as his daily motto, “Nulla dies sine cruce: no day without the cross.” A touchstone whose truth had been proved by experience. But he brightened it up by adding two words in front: in laetitia, in joy, which denoted a disposition, a grace, for his way of living. His personal aspiration was thus “In joy, no day without the cross.” If ever a day passed without some note of adversity, Monsignor Escrivá would go to the tabernacle and ask, “What’s up between us, Lord? Don’t you love me anymore?” Not that he liked pain. But he was convinced that the cross was the royal seal of the works of God. “To me, a day without the cross is like a day without God,” he used to say;8 he did not want there to be a single day without it as a stamp of authenticity. (1)
The last two days were some of the hardest days I have encountered in my ministry. 7 top level tragedies and traumas, a 400 mile drive, a long day at work. A facebook thread that made me wonder why some go into ministry….for the wrath and venom poured out was unlike any I have seen.
It was a day where I was drained by noon, as much emotionally as physically, but physically suffering from “drive-lag”.
Yet, as I look upon it this morning, I understand that there is no way those days can happen, unless God is with me. To deal with broken hearts, very borken lives, some dealing with it, some running from it, some doing both at the same time. (that is called running in circles )
At the end of the day, no, really before that, I was wiped out, finished, broken myself. Too tired to think straight, to tired to enjoy life.
But when I went to sleep – I slept – knowing that God was present, not just in my life, but in the lives of everyone I know enduring trauma. Somehow, despite my anxieties, and fears and all the crap that is going on in this world… God stripped me of it, took the burdens into His hands. Otherwise? I would have been up half the night.
I suppose on of the reasons I love St Josemaria Escriva’s works, is because of such honesty. Because he is an example of trusting in God, in knowing God’s presence, that taking up such a cross is doen without thinking, its done without complaint, its done – knowing that we are simply here to bear the burdens that others can know Christ’s peace, and love, and mercy. But we can’t bear those burdens long – they will chew us up and spit us out, exhausted, overwhelmed, maybe even bitter and disgusted with life.
But we follow Him, to the cross, to His death, to that point where every sin was paid for, every point of brokenness removed… and then we find ourselves alive!
For we bear our cross to His cross. For His cross takes it all…. and brings healing and joy – and rest – but we have to see ourselves there.. at the foot of the cross, seeing His brokeness, seeing His blood spilled on the ground, seeing His eyes… looking down upon his, with a joy that knows by that very pain He is enduring… that He is freeing us from our burdens, our pains, our crosses. We can’t deal with our burdens, our brokeness, we can’t have faith and trust in Him, unless we recognize those things we bear… and realize they are to be nailed to Him, to His cross.
“In joy, no day without the cross“…. because our crosses require us to be with Him, to let Him ultimately bear them. For joy is there, awaiting us, for He is there awaiting us.
Lord, have mercy!
Yesterday was a rough day, One of those days you realize is a cross to bear.
(1) Urbano, Pilar (2011-05-10). The Man of Villa Tevere (Kindle Locations 1552-1559). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- The Mission: To Reveal Jesus Lifted Up (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Dare to Be Christian Means Dare to Be Broken (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Persecution, Martyrdom, the Love of Christ…. and a hard lesson in prayer (justifiedandsinner.com)
16 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. 17 He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ 18 Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, 19 and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’ 20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ 21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” Luke 12:16-21 (MSG)
People engaged in worldly business say that time is money. That means little to me. For us who are engaged in the business of souls, time is glory! (1)
It seems we live in a world that concentrates on the here and now, and that now is imitated by the church. Back in the ’80’s,w e called this the Tyranny of the Urgent.
I think it has gotten worse, and we rarely, if ever, look to the long run, whether in how we invest our money, or something even more precious, our time. We want thee quickest turn around The quickest route to healing and recovery, and we will settle for far less than God has promised. Heck – do we even bother to consider the long range outcomes anymore, or do we just react to everything that is happening, to focused on “this moment” and what has to be accomplished?
What would happen if we did pay attention to our future? How would it change how we spend our time, our money, our lives? Would we give more time spent in God’s presence? Would we spnd time – not questioning those mysteries He hasn’t revealed to us, but simply being amazed by the truth of them? Would we consider our careers differently? Would we see what we do with our spare time differently?
Josemaria Escriva said, “time is glory”. The more I read that, the more I realize it is true. Because time, our time, has been revealed to be spent in the presence of God. God promises to never leave s, has promised to be very patient with us. Do we realize the time spent in His presence is spent in His glory – even if we cannot see it revealed clearly as it will be in heaven?
I think this is the biggest difference maker, to know God’s presence, to revel in it – to value and cherish it. To even be a little defensive of those times – until we realize how to integrate them into our blessed lives and walk with God.
So take a afternoon – find a quiet place – and think it through – what takes your time, how is it invested..
Then figure out how to spend it, knowing that you are in the presence of God!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 904-906). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- VIP Concert Passes, Surgical Nurses and Divine Appointments.. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- What Do We Choose to Invite into our Lives? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Meditating on God’s Love (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day…
It may sound strange, but part of my morning discipline is looking at FB prior to praying – well actually- while I am praying as well.
Some may think it sounds strange – but I find it a great tool to figure out who needs me to pray for them. Either because of trauma, or perhaps temptation, or perhaps that they realize they need forgiveness, and seek it out. (no I am not thinking of you particularly as I write this… I swear!)
This morning, many are struggling, especially the parents and grandparents who are dropping off their children from school. There is a sense of anxiety – even a sense of fear. As I dropped my own son off this morning, it seemed like everyone was looking at everyone else differently – as if we were trying to determine who could be a threat. We are a little more defenive a little more on edge- a little more suspicious. Teachers may be as well.
Will we return to normal one person asked…will things ever be the same again? Will we ever really, truly trust our schools to be a place of safety. Will we go back to business and life the same way?
My answer may sound strange, but.. I hope not.
Not that I like the things the way they are…at all…but I think some things need to change. I like the way how a priest once put it,
Ure igne Sancti Spiritus!—burn me with the fire of your Spirit, you cried. You then added: “My poor soul needs to fly again as soon as possible…, and not stop flying until it rests in God!” I think your desires are admirable. I will pray for you often to the Paraclete. I will invoke him continually, so that he may nestle in the centre of your being, presiding and giving a supernatural tone to all your actions and words, thoughts and desires. (1)
Most of our souls are not flying today, but I question whether they were flying before Friday, when we heard the tragic news. Have we been journeying to find our rest in God? Have we sought Him, His presence His peace, Hil love, His guidance for how we are too live in life? Do we see all of our varied vocations, parent, employee, boss, child of God, as journeys toward God – as opportunities to walk with Him – as an encounter with the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit who is their, not to condemn, but to lift up? Whose correction is not simply to point out our wrongs – but to free us from that which constrains and binds us?
After tragedies – people often seek solace, peace in the church – they feel lifted and strengthened and loved – and then slowly, over a few months, we sink back into our normal patterns – trying to live without God, trying to make it all work according to our plan our logic.
I hate trauma – I hate having to deal with it… and the only thing I can find positive about it is this – it brings me back to the priorities and what should be normal. To live life adoring the God who love me, and to love the people He has given me – all of the – especially the ones that cause me to pray..to love the people He has brought into my life.
If that was our norm… let’s return to it… if it wasn’t – maybe this time, will cause us to return to the normal God desires…
Cry out daily – Lord have Mercy…. and rejoice that His mercy and peace is yours – and that you can share it others.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1957-1962). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
“Holiness is attained with the help of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in our souls, through grace given us by the sacraments and as a result of a constant ascetical struggle. My son, let us not have any false illusions about this. You and I—I will never tire of repeating it—will always have to struggle, always, until the end of our lives. So we will come to love peace, and we will spread peace around us, and we will receive our everlasting reward.” (1)
It’s time to get back to work, back to the grind of daily ministry, of seeing the list of prayer requests great me from being a week away. Glad to see some praises there as well, glad to see what people are thankful for in their lives. But it is time to get back to work.
It never really left of course. There were those in Rome that struggled with life, and with issues. There were people we met and talked to, who didn’t understand the magnificence of God’s glory, that was testified all around them in the artwork of mankind. But now I am home, with my family, with my church family, the people that have bonded together while we have sought peace.
Holiness is a struggle, and as St Josemarie says, an ascetical struggle. But I’ve come to realize ascetical isn’t about what you are giving up, it isn’t about sacrifice of things noble and good. It is the sacrifice of things which distract us from God, from His love, His mercy, His glory… and yes, the peace that we come to love. it is so counter-cultural to our world that we cannot grasp onto it easily. The televisions and music blaring, the things that crave attention of our senses. Each, if not focused on God, robs us of some of His peace. Each, if focused on God, draws us into that peace, into that life where it makes sense.
It’s good to be back, it’s good to look at Jude and the passage on which I shall preach tomorrow… it’s good, because even more than standing in the Basilicas of Rome, in the chapels, and in the oratory, it is here that I will find peace…. among the people I have been called to share that peace with,
It is a struggle, but a very joyous one. For God gathers us together, as His people, called and marked by His Name…into His presence… may we always recognize the glory that comes in such times.
It is good to be home!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1647-1651). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
1Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 What, then, will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life? Or what can anyone offer in exchange for his life? Matthew 16:24-26 (NJB)
cross, “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 (mission), 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 was one of those exercises on leadership retreats that caused me the greatest concern. Standing on a ladder, with ten people below me, the retreat facilitator ask me the cross my arms, close my eyes… and fall backwards – trusting the ten people (including a couple of petite ladies) to catch me.
My thoughts went to my own wretched condition, significantly overweight, tall and awkward, the idea that they would catch me? Really? I looked back, thinking about my peers, and their…err…reliability. I heard the coach’s assurance – everything will be fine…..
Eventually, the frustration overcomes the fear and I fell into the arms of my friends.. who didn’t let me crash on the ground, they were able to bear the weight.
Trusting God is a lot like that – for part of trusting Him is found in trusting that He can deal with our past struggles, and our future failures. That He can overcome the hindrances in our lives, that He will sustain us, heal us, bring us to completion. We have to abandon ourselves, let God strip us of the pride that leads us to self-preservation.
It isn’t easy….
It takes a lot of time with the cross – seeing that Jesus did that same thing …. He abandoned His life, His Spirit, into the hands of the Father.
Now it is our turn – with a difference…. The Spirit’s presence, coaching, encouraging, bringing us life….
Father, help us to abandon ourselves into your Hands…. Help us to trust…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1637-1641). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devitional/Discussion thought of the Day:
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit. “Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NASB77)
“Say slowly and in all earnestness: Nunc coepi—now I begin! Don’t get discouraged if, unfortunately, you don’t see any great change in yourself brought about by the Lord’s right hand… From your lowliness you can cry out: Help me, my Jesus, because I want to fulfil Your Will… Your most lovable Will!” (1)
It is amazing how God can use the simplest of things to create lessons for us. For the last week, I have been putting eye drops – more like a gel in my eyes to counteract the effects of a eye infection. I push the kell through a tube and into my eye, and then wait.. I never knew how long three minutes could be. Then 10 minutes later – another eye drop and more time waiting, eyes closed. Five times a day.. I repeat this – and now, 8 days later, my eye is a little less affected by light.
Change can take forever, especially when it is for the good.
Thirty years ago, we became a culture that sped up. Things like microwaves and cordless phones and the first remotes for our 13 channel televisions came out. And patience as a virtue became ever more rare, and ever more valuable. Back then – being connected to the internet (remember Prodigy) meant you could communicate online and the speed of 2 letters a second…with a good connection! Now with Smart Phones and testing with wireless routers and all the other changes, our attention spans and our patience is even more…. rare. ( sit at Jack and the Box drive-thru for 4 minutes with a five year old if you want to see what I mean!)
Change is needed in our lives, but not often the kind of transformation we think. The kind that is spoken of in Romans 12 – the transformation of our minds This is known another way as well – the churchy word “repentance”. Scripture talks often of that change – as we are transformed into the image of Christ – the work that God does in our lives and the lives of those around us.
But sometimes, this transformation is very slow in appearing. In fact – it will not be fully revealed until Christ’s return. (see last Sunday’s sermon blog) The challenge is not to look at ourselves – not to grow in despari – but to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, cry out to Him, meditate on His love and sacrifice. You may not see the difference, but others will! And take this thought in closing…. it is not you that completes the work – look to Him and keep looking…
“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1550-1553). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
Spiritual life is—and I repeat this again and again, on purpose—a constant beginning and beginning again. Beginning again? Yes! Every time you make an act of contrition—and we should make many every day—you begin again, because you offer a new love to God. (1)
What? You thought a blog with this title was going to be about politics? Nope – something far more important.
I thought about “translating” St Josemarie’s statement into “lutheran”, but the basic concept is solid, and I will mention the change in a moment.
It is to easy to look at life as if one action, one slip up, one sin can break us. It doesn’t matter if that sin is ours, or if that sin is one committed against us. If we trust’s Christ’s promise, it is not even the 1001 first sin that becomes the “straw that breaks the camels back. For there is no such thing. In 1 John 1, God promises, “ On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. “1 John 1:9 (MSG) That promise is good, and true.
And here is where I differ slightly with St. Josemarie. Here is the one I remember from growing up:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
The change in the modern Act of Contrition, with the insertion of “do penance” is the only real issue I have. For absolution is promised with confession, and is already promised and delivered in baptism. So I’ll stick with the old AoC. Or more simply – and perhaps with a sense of great need… cry Lord Have Mercy! ANd know with absolute assurance… He has!
We are free – we have a new beginning.
Let us celebrate the mercy of the Lord!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1503-1506). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day.
“Looking on the immense panorama of souls who are awaiting us, and being struck by the wonderful and awesome responsibility before us, you may at times have asked yourself, as I have: “Can I contribute anything, when the task is so vast? I, who am so puny?” It is then we have to open the Gospel and contemplate how Jesus cures the man born blind. He uses mud made from the dust of the earth and saliva. Yet this is the salve which brings light to those blind eyes! That is what you and I are. Fully aware of our weaknesses and our worthlessness, but with the grace of God and our good will, we can be salve to give light and provide strength for others as well as for ourselves.” (1)
I sit and my desk and wonder. What if the church was as diligent, as determined, to spread the gospel of Christ as it is to see a candidate elected who they assume shares their moral beliefs? Why don’t we? Why do we look at a world where as many as 6 billion people do not understand God’s love, who can’t comprehend God’s mindest towards them? How can we put one mission – that of a political and economic cause, above the mission where everyone becomes a child of God, where true peace is found, as mercy and peace rule?
If Romney wins, the bulk of the world lives in the darkness of sin andin fear of death, and are oppressed by Satan. If Obama wins, the bulk of the world lives in the darkness of sin, in fear of death, and are oppressed by Satan.
Is the reason we don’t take our call as the people of God, as the servant-priesthood of all believers more seriously? Do we see the incredible task before us, and think it is too big?
It is time for the church to step up, not to get involved in politics of the earth, or even politics of the church, and reflect Christ’s light to the world. But the church isn’t our buildings. It is you and I, people who have begun to see Christ’s work in our lives, healing our brokenness, cleansing us from all sin and all injustice. This is our life – to bear witness to light, following in the footsteps of fisherman and tax collectors and rebels. It’s not in travelling the world for most of us, but simply in bringing hope to the hopeless, sharing peace with those who are riddled with anxiety, showing mercy to those who cannot conceive of anything but cold justice and retribution and revenge.
Today my friend, you are called to be God’s child – to be like Christ to a world that is lost and broken. It starts in your workplace, and your home.
Look to Him, reflect His love… you will be amazed at how local your task is.. and how immediate.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1454-1460). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.