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Christmas is how close? GULP! Some thoughts on struggle that Christmas can be.

Altar with communionDevotional Thought for our seemingly broken days:

19  And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25 (NLT)

But, as St. Gregory the Great puts it, it is still only the time of dawn, when darkness and light are intermingled. The sun is rising, but it has still not reached its zenith. Thus the time of the New Testament is a peculiar kind of “in-between”, a mixture of “already and not yet”. The empirical conditions of life in this world are still in force, but they have been burst open, and must be more and more burst open, in preparation for the final fulfillment already inaugurated in Christ.

Two weeks from today is Christmas, a day some are able to celebrate with great joy with those whom they love, who they care for, as meals are shared, as presents are exchanged, as laughter and smiles are contagious.

Yet recognizing that Christmas is only two weeks away causes my anxiety levels to rise.  There are services to plan, sermons to write, music to practice, and most of all, people to pray for and try and find ways to comfort and to try to reveal God’s presence to, so that they can know some peace.

Some are stressed out by finances, or work situations.  Some are broken by their own sin, or addictions, or broken by the sin and addictions of those they love, that have caused deep division.  Some are grieving, and that number has grown this year.  Some are simply wandering, directionless, unable to find anything stable enough to give them hope, even as they drive by churches advertising Christmas concerts, and advent services, even as they set up Christmas trees and manger scenes in their own homes.

I like how Pope Benedict phrased where we are in life, in this time of the dawn, when darkness and light are intermingled.  There are shadows that seem to overwhelm us, to convince us we still are in the darkness. The struggles of life are still there, undeniably, yet there is a hint of the perfect, complete life we know is coming in Christ Jesus.

We are in the time of the “now, and not yet!”  The time where God’s kingdom is here, yet we struggle to see it.  The time when we are in God’s presence, though we cannot see Him,  It is a time where we have to depend on God, but still have so many doubts, where we have to have hope, but struggle to define that, and therefore to express it.

Which is all the more reason to gather together as believers regularly,  To celebrate the fact that we are in His presence, that Christ has cleansed us, that we have been baptized by His blood, and therefore have clean consciences! This all in order that we know, that when He returns, He is not just returning to us, but returning for us.

We gather to encourage each other with these facts, for too often we forget them in the shadows of the world.  Too often we get overwhelmed by sin, ours and that of the world.

There is the hope, that is the real message behind all the decorations, all the mangers scenes – and the lights symbolizing Jesus coming, He whose light shatters our darkness, He who is our light, the Light of the World.  He who is our comforter, He who is our peace.

And for the next two weeks, and until His return, the One who hears us when we cry, “Lord Have Mercy,” and find int he manger and the cross, He has!

So let’s get together in these times, often, so that we can cry and laugh together, and encourage each other, even as we look forward to the day of Chrsit coming.  AMEN!

Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.

It’s Hump Day…But You Need Rest to Finish the Week. Here is how to find it!

devotional thought of the Day:

1  One day it happened that Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us how to pray, as John used to teach his disciples.” 2  “When you pray,” returned Jesus, “you should say, ‘Father, may your name be honoured – may your kingdom come! Give us each day the bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we forgive anyone who owes anything to us; and keep us clear of temptation.'” Luke 11:1-2 (Phillips NT)
5  Then he added, “If any of you has a friend, and goes to him in the middle of the night and says, ‘Lend me three loaves, my dear fellow, for a friend of mine has just arrived after a journey and I have no food to put in front of him’; and then he answers from inside the house, ‘Don’t bother me with your troubles. The front door is locked and my children and I have gone to bed. I simply cannot get up now and give you anything!’ Yet, I tell you, that even if he won’t get up and give him what he wants simply because he is his friend, yet if he persists, he will rouse himself and give him everything he needs.”
9  And so I tell you, ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks.” Luke 11:1-9 (Phillips NT) 

470         Our Lord sent out his disciples to preach, and when they came back he gathered them together and invited them to go with him to a desert place where they could rest… What marvellous things Jesus would ask them and tell them! Well, the Gospel is always relevant to the present day.

What did the disciples see in Jesus as He prayed?

HOw did it differ from the prayers they saw in their families growing up, and in the leaders of the synagogue?

We hear them ask Jesus to teach them to pray, but these are men who had been praying all of their lives, They grew up learning to meditate on the word, great up worshipping God as they sang and read the psalms.   SO what is so different about the way Jesus prays, that they want to learn how He prays?

The answer, I believe, is found in the word, “rest”

Yeah. prayer is the most restful thing you can do, even as we struggle through another long week. (even the week after you get back from vacation)  We are tired, frustrated, worn down, even though the work we are doing is good and beneficial – it can also be spiritually and emotionally exhausting.

And we need that rest.

Sometimes desperately need it.

And it can be found, as we take a few moments, find a place that is quiet, and unload all the crap we are dealing with, all of the stress, all of the weariness on the God who cares for us. who loves us, who asks s to cast all of our burdens and cares upon Him.

As we become confident of His love and mercy, we can do that, accepting He will do as He promised.  what is best for us. ( It may take some to grow in this kind of faith and dependence – that’s okay!  You will need refresher courses in it too!)

As we do, as we unload all that we carry, the good, the bad, the blessings and the unrighteousness, as we drop it all we can breathe, we can find not just hope, but peace.  A peace that restores us, a peace that calms us, and refocuses us on the life we have in Jesus.

We need this daily, but as we do more, we need it more often.  As we mature in faith, we find a correlation between finding rest in God and our ability to endure.

Be at peace my friends, find the rest you need, pray, not as if you are doing somethign for God, but because you will remember He is with you…and loves you, and works to give you that peace.

AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2066-2069). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Take the Time and Pray… the Difference is Noticable

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought of the Day:

2  The message given to our ancestors by the angels was shown to be true, and those who did not follow it or obey it received the punishment they deserved. 3  How, then, shall we escape if we pay no attention to such a great salvation? The Lord himself first announced this salvation, and those who heard him proved to us that it is true. Hebrews 2:2-3 (TEV)

The first “work” of the priest is to be a believer and to be so always anew and always more deeply. Faith is never present as a matter of course; it must be lived. It leads us into a conversation with God that includes both speaking and hearing. Faith and prayer belong inseparably together. The time a priest spends in prayer and in hearing the word of God is never at the expense of his pastoral duties to the souls confided to his care. People can tell if the words and actions of their pastor have their origin in his prayer or only at his writing table.

As a young pastor, working p/t as a hospice chaplain, and part-time at a community college teaching computer science, I often got caught in a trap, as time was limited.  The demands of caring for my people, studying the scriptures and prayer often became what was cut out, sacrificed to the tyranny of the urgent.

I could justify this, and often hear others do this today.  The challenge is communicating that my need for time in prayer is not because I am holier, or more pious. For I know some will dismiss my advice to make time with God a priority because of such concern.  My denomination has its periods where being pious turned into extreme pietism, so those who advocate prayer and other spiritual disciplines are often treated with suspicion. 

That doesn’t change the fact we need to be communicating with God, we need to set up a regular time to give to God numerous burdens, our pains, our sins, and to listen to Him, as He shares His love, and the promises that flow from that love.  We can’t continue to carry those burdens on our own, they will crush   We need to hear Him say, I am here, don’t be afraid, don’t be anxious.  We need His comfort, for His words and sacraments to nourish and strengthen us, even as they cleanse us from sin.   If we don’t pray, if we don’t spend time listening to God, then our faith, stimulated at the “writing table” shows that we’ve neglected that which we’ve been saved and delivered into, the presence of God.

This isn’t a “pray because you have to, that’s what good Christians do”, this is a pray because you need it, you need to know God is present, listening, guiding, and comforting as we live in this challenge messed up world.

But when we come from such times, of seeing God repair our brokenness, when we hear Him whisper gently as He did to Elijah; then our ministry is not just dry and academic. After such times of intimacy with God, our words become deeply spiritual as well as wise, as our faith is tenable, real, and easily passed on to those we are called to care for, those we are called to serve.

My dear friends, whether you are pastors or priests, Sunday School teachers, elders, those who assist in facilitating the church’s praise and worship, it doesn’t matter your role as part of God’s family.

You need to pray….

And let others know how it helps you, as we struggle through this world so that they will do so, and be able to rest in the love of God.

Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.

An Invitation to Restful Peace… on Monday will you come?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought of the Day:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. 30 The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30 CEV

853      Use this prescription for your life: “I don’t remember that I exist. I don’t think of my own affairs, because there is no time left.” Work and service!

Don’t stop reading this post after the next paragraph. Keep going, it will be worth it.

The word submission has taken on a very negative tone in the last few decades.  Especially the idea of submitting to God, to allowing Jesus to be the Lord of your life.  I could give twenty or thirty examples of why, including the fact that some people abuse the idea of submitting to God, in order to get people to submit to them.    Men have done this to get women to submit, parents have done this to get children to submit, some in government, and even in church leadership want their people to submit.

But they don’t understand what submission is, they don’t get the paradox.  And they don’t understand that submission isn’t about wielding authority and controlling others, it is about freeing them from things that shouldn’t bind them, that shouldn’t oppress them, that shouldn’t such life and joy from them.

Instead, this paradox of submission is about freeing them to live life, to know God’s love, to experience peace.

You see this in Jesus words above in red, quoted from Matthew’s gospel.  Submitting to God means giving Him all the things that wear you down, that stress you out, that cause anxiety.  The things that burden us, that tire us out.  The stuff that leaves us exhausted, because they are out of our control.  Jesus would have us submit our lives, where we get so fixated on our life that we don’t ever really live it.

Worry’s about family, friends finances, health or eve facing death.

Guilt and shame from past sins we struggle with daily.

Resentment and anger from those sins that have been committed against us,

All this stuff Jesus asks us to give to Him, to submit to His care.  He would free us from these concerns of life.  Which is why St Josemaria talks the way he does, saying I don’t remember that I exist, I am not concerned with my own affairs, I am free to just live, to do and to serve others.

Biblical submission is not about recognizing someone’s authority over you, it is not about becoming their robot.  It is about realizing God’s care for you, HIs love, and allowing Him to do what He has promised.  It is about trusting Him, depending upon Him, knowing that He cares.

And living in the freedom of not worrying about, not hyper-focusing upon those things we cannot change.

But instead to live in peace… unexplainable, glorious, restful peace.

Even on Monday!



Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3021-3023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

May the Lord Lead Your Hearts

church at communion 2May the Lord Lead Your Hearts
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

†  I.H.S.

 May the grace, that incredible gift of God’s love, mercy and peace, lead you to share His message in a way that it spreads, and where it is heard and rejoiced in by all you share it with!

Rescue From Wicked People?

This week has been, to be honest, very trying.  My patience hasn’t been all that strong, neither has been my endurance.

It has been challenging, mostly because I wonder if we truly understand the love of God, and how He works in our lives.

I would love to say the election was the cause of it, but I think it only revealed what was hidden, as many of us identified those we thought we needed to be freed, or delivered from; the people Paul asked the Thessalonian people to pray he would be delivered from,

Those wicked, evil people who are not believers.

We think we know what that means; we probably have various people in mind.  Until I remind you that the word belief here is as often translated faith. So, the people we are talking about are those who do not have faith, who do not trust in God.  People who do not depend on Him.

Uhm – is this too close to home for you?  It is for me.

Because while I will easily say I believe in God, it is another thing to ask me whether I trust Him, or whether I truly depend on him.

Especially this week, as I have watched some of my closest friends call each other, and the people we are supposed to love and pray for, well, we haven’t done that this well in America.

Rather, we identified them as the enemy, because we don’t understand how they are different from us… until we realize they are “us.”

When it came to us

Paul is making a similar plea here in verse 1.

He wrote, “Pray that the Lord’s message will be spread and honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you!”

Which leads to a question – is the Lord’s message being spread and by us?

Or has that taken a back seat as our anxieties, and our fears about what other anxious people will do dominate us?

Is God’s message spread and glorified among us still?

Surely it can, yet there are moments where we gossip about our neighbors or fail to put things, as Luther explained, in the best construction. That’s not easy to do, it sometimes takes time, to sit with them and find out their fears, their concerns, their pains, and positions.

It takes communication, and we often damage the opportunity for it.

Can we return to the joy that we had when God’s message of grace we understood with our hearts, souls, minds and strength for the first time?

Can we see the message of God honored again, as it did when we first heard it?  And then can we dare spread it to those, who like us, find themselves broken in this world?

Can we do as Paul was confident the Saints then would, doing and continuing to do that which he taught us to do?

How we do and continue to do what God commissioned

The answer is, yes.

Yes, even though we sin, we can still be restored, the awe at the love of God can be found again.  It was why we remember our baptisms, where sin, all our sin, was washed away by God’s command, because of our connection to Jesus and His death and resurrection. To restore that joy of our salvation is why we gather here, to remember and reveal again the love of God through the words of scripture, and through sermons like this.

It is why we come to the rail, and receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ as we take and eat, as we remember the words of Jesus that established the covenant, as we are renewed by the gifts He gives us here.

We need this, all of us, from every demographic you can think of, from every political persuasion, we need to be refocused, revived, delivered and saved from the evil.  That happens one way,

Hear again the blessing of Paul,

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

There it Is, there is what we need, this incredible love of God, revealed to us.  Then trusting in Him, depending upon Him to save us, to strengthen us and guard us against evil becomes our nature.  Doing and continuing to do what we’ve been taught through scripture becomes not only our action; but our desire. This all happens because God leads us, leads our hearts into understanding and expressing His love for us.  That love, as it is revealed, causes us to trust in Him, to depend on Him, no matter what else happens.

For knowing how much he loves us, that is beyond anything.  What that loves is everything, it is glorious, and wonderful, joyful and enables us to endure anything.

We’ll even realize how many people that word “us” contains, and knowing that will cause this love, this message of God to spread rapidly, and be honored and glorified.

For it contains us all, for God so loved us all, and we all need to for Him to lead our hearts into a full understanding and expression of His love.

Here, he is doing that exact thing… may we realize it.  AMEN!

 

The Blessing of Anxiety….?

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Devotional Thought of the day:

1  A great anxiety has God allotted, and a heavy yoke, to the sons of men; From the day one leaves his mother’s womb to the day he returns to the mother of all the living, 2  His thoughts, the fear in his heart, and his troubled forebodings till the day he dies– 3  Whether he sits on a lofty throne or grovels in dust and ashes, 4  Whether he bears a splendid crown or is wrapped in the coarsest of cloaks– 5  Are of wrath and envy, trouble and dread, terror of death, fury and strife. Even when he lies on his bed to rest, his cares at night disturb his sleep. 6  So short is his rest it seems like none, till in his dreams he struggles as he did by day, Terrified by what his mind’s eye sees, like a fugitive being pursued; 7  As he reaches safety, he wakes up astonished that there was nothing to fear.
Sirach 40:1-7 (NAB)

I cast all my cares upon You. I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet
And any time I don’t know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon You  (Kelly Willard) 

307      Pray resolutely using the words of the Psalmist: “Lord, you are my refuge and my strength, I trust in thee!” I promise you that he will preserve you from the ambushes of the “noontide devil” when you are tempted and… even when you fall, and when your age and virtues ought to have proved solid and you should have known by heart that He alone is your Strength.  (1)

Anxiety is nothing new. People in every era are plagued or blessed by it. Obviously, the writer of Sirach was well aware of it, as were Solomon and David,  So have been men and women of God throughout the ages.  The most beloved hymn of Luther, “A Mighty Fortress” reveals his dealings with anxiety, His need for a safe place.

It can and should be used as a blessing, rather than the source of paralysis. It can be what drives us to seek peace, rather than dwell in fear and confusion, and it can result in a deep faith, dependence and confidence in God that is truly supernatural.

But to see stress as a blessing takes time, and the ability to be patient with ourselves, knowing God is patient.

When I see this work, it happens something like this.

1.  I enter into a situation where stress is high, or just as likely, something I say or do causes the stress to elevate.

2.  My mind starts to project what the horrid result will be (my mind is quite skilled at this!) and how to minimize pain and damage and drama.  If I let my mind get into this anxiety, the anxiety will increase geometrically, with a decrease in anything practical.

3.  The option is to realize the anxiety is a simple signal; you can’t do this on your own. It is a time to pray; it is time to seek the refuge and the sanctuary that is being in the presence of God.  To trust in and depend on God, for He is faithful.

We have to realize His promises are not impotent but driven by His love and mercy, they are true.  When Jesus asks us to lay our burdens at God’s feet, to cast our cares ( Psalm 37:5, Ps. 55:22, Mt. 5:25 , 1 Cor 7:32, Phil. 4:6 , Heb 13:-6.  1 Peter 5:7 do you want more verses to assure you of this?) upon Him.   When we do so, this is what Sirach is talking about when he mentions us reaching safety and waking up astonished that there was nothing to fear.

As anxiety begins, it is a signal of our need for God’s peace, of our need to remember that God is our refuge, which in Him we are safe.

This is the Lord who responds to cries begging for mercy, who is here to heal the brokenhearted, to free those crushed by life.

So feeling anxious about the political actions of the day?  Feeling frustrated and unsure of the future?  As you begin to worry, as it begins to get confusing, run, knowing God’s love and peace are where you are to dwell, for He is your refuge.   AMEN!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1239-1243). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Why Do You Insist On Struggling Alone?

Devotional Thought fo the Day:
22  “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” 23  Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.    Luke 9:22-24 (NLT)

26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.    Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)

252      Grant me, Jesus, the Cross with no Simon of Cyrene to help me. No, that’s not right; I need your grace, I need your help here as in everything. You must be my Simon of Cyrene. With you, my God, no trial can daunt me… But what if my Cross should consist in boredom or sadness? In that case I say to you, Lord, with You I would gladly be sad.  (1)

Occaisonally I hear the complaint, “no one knows what I am going through, and no one understands, no one cares.”  Sometimes I want to argue the point, confronting the opinion with that which proves it is not true.  Other times I simply want to say, “stop whining, trust in God, you know that is not true!”  And sometimes I want to walk away, tired of the complaints, which seem more an excuse for not living as one should.

But how do I walk away from myself?

Though I have heard such as a pastor and as a friend, I have heard it often in those internal arguments we have when we have that moment to think, when we have a moment where we are not recoiling from the constant stress that life provides. Even as I’ve shepherded others through those times, (some have even suggested I have a talent for it?) applying the same truth to my own life is difficult.

Part of me just wants to accept it, it’s part of taking up my cross, and I will get through it, eventually. After all, good Christians endure all things, right?

No.

We are not meant ot bear our burdens alone.  We are meant to share them, with God, and as our trust in God grows, with the people He’s called to be His own.

St Josemaria’s words that I read, that I need to inwardly digest this morning confront me in my struggles.They don’t dismiss the cross I’ve got to bear, but they remind me that a Christian doesn’t walk through such times alone.  And we certainly aren’t the heroes who bear the weight by our own strength.  We need to let Jesus be our Simon of Cyrene.   We have to let the Spirit intercede for us, even as we are too overwhelmed to know what to pray.

We have to know we walk with God, we walk in Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  We need to depend on a God who reveals Himself to be not just in a relationship, but to be the Relationship.

This is how we find ourselves to be able to rejoice in all things, and to not be anxious about anything.  In order to survive, it is not about bearing up with things bravely, it is about depending on Jesus, about living, not in view of that would crush us, but in view of the cross and the love revealed to us there.

For taking up the cross, our cross, is found in being united to His suffering and death, and His life. That is where our peace comes from.. a peace that doesn’t make sense.

A peace that is ours, as we let Jesus be our Simon, as we let Him be our Paraclete, our Comforter,  as we let HIm be our Lord and Savior!

AMEN!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1060-1063). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Key to Faith, Peace and Joy….on a Tuesday which is actually a double Monday!

Devotional Thought of the Day:photo(35)

1   LORD, I have given up my pride and turned away from my arrogance. I am not concerned with great matters or with subjects too difficult for me. 2  Instead, I am content and at peace. As a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms, so my heart is quiet within me. 3  Israel, trust in the LORD now and forever! Psalm 131:1-3 (TEV)

268 If you are convinced of your “poor quality”—if you know yourself—you will react to events supernaturally. Joy and peace will take a firmer root in your soul, in the face of humiliations, being despised, calumnies… In these cases, after saying fiat—Lord, whatever you want—you should think: “Is that all he said? He obviously does not know me, otherwise he wouldn’t have left it at that.” Being convinced that you deserve worse treatment, you will feel grateful to that person, and rejoice at what might have made somebody else suffer.  (1)I

it is Tuesday morning, but not a normal Tuesday.  It is more like a triple espresso version of Monday.

I could go into why, but each of us has our challenges, our crosses, our burdens to bear, The secret is to bear them with great joy, because of the peace that we have, that surpasses all understanding, a peace that comes to all who trust in God.

But that trust isn’t easy, having faith in God is something itself that is miraculous, that is supernatural because it simply isn’t natural to us.

There is a point in life where the world so overwhelms and oppresses us, that we want to emotionally crawl into a corner and go into a fetal position. To find a place where we can find security, where we can find peace, where we can find healing for our souls.

As I read this passage from Psalms this morning, as I looked at St Josemaria’s words in Furrow, something came to mind.  When we are so spiritually exhausted, when we are so tired, so beyond our abilities, focusing on being humbled isn’t an issue.  We simply are, and when we call out to God in such despair, we somehow, miraculously hear His voice, we recognize His presence. We find that we are embraced by Him, that we have found the rest and healing our souls so long desire.

All of a sudden, the supernatural becomes the natural, the work of God becomes our norm, and we walk through life, frazzled and joyous, oppressed and yet peace-filled, harried but trusting in a God who has proved His love for us at a wretched torturous cross, and proved to us that we dwell in Him. It is hard to explain, but it comes down to the simple humility that is described in the first commandment,

5 “The LORD said, 6  ‘I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. 7  ” ‘Worship no god but me. Deuteronomy 5:5b-7 (TEV)

It is that simple, humility is recognizing that we aren’t gods, that we aren’t in charge, but that He is.  He is our God, the One who has promised us peace, mercy, joy, because of the love He has for us. Living simply in that, we find something beyond, something supernatural, something that should become more and more natural.  That is why reading and studying (they are different disciplines) God’s word is crucial to our lives, it is why the sacraments, Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) are blessings that should be received frequently.  These means of grace bring us back to that level of humility, that place where we are curled up in God’s arms… that place where we simply know His presence, and His love… and that, that is enough for incredible peace, mind-blowing joy, and a strengthening of our faith as we walk humbly with Him.

Amen.

 

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1320-1326). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

In Christ, we are victors, (even on Mondays)

Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:

18  But the LORD says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. 19  Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there. 20  Even the wild animals will honor me; jackals and ostriches will praise me when I make rivers flow in the desert to give water to my chosen people. 21  They are the people I made for myself, and they will sing my praises!”   Isaiah 43:18-21 (TEV) 

20  But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21  and keep (guard/treasure) yourselves in the love of God, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal lifeJude 1:20-21 (TEV) 

616  Our life—a Christian’s life—has to be as ordinary as this: trying every day to do well those very things it is our duty to do; carrying out our divine mission in the world by fulfilling the little duty of each moment. Or rather, struggling to fulfil it. Sometimes we don’t manage, and when night comes, in our examination, we’ll have to tell Our Lord, “I am not offering you virtues; today I can only offer you defects. But with your grace I will be able to count myself a victor.”

As I was working through my devotions this morning, I struggled with it, you see, I need to get a jump on things.  Part of today I lose to a doctor’s appointment – so I have to jam 10 hours of work in 8, and now that I am running late, make that 6 or so.  Plus get a jump on tomorrow, because i host a pastor’s gathering here. I had to send a fax off – which made me look at my dad’s funeral bulletin, and I realize again, how much I miss him.. On top of that. and on top of that,, (what was the old song, rainy days and mondays ALWAYS get me down!)  and I am to distracted to do my much needed time of thinking, and meditating – which is really what the blog’s devotions are about – my processing, more with heart than mind, what I am hearing from God….

And the distractions and business of the minsitry would quiet that voice, or at least distract me from it. God didn’t just make me a pastor, a husband, a father.  Or make you to hold the vocations you have as you interact with church, and family and work.  We were made to be God’s people, to relate to Him, to know His love…. You are made for Him, to be His people, to share and revel in His glory, as His children.

Pause.  breath,… ralize that is who you are, this Monday… this day which seems to overwhelm us.

Keep praying, not within your own strength, but as the Spirit leads, as He moves you, we hear from Jude, and do this while treasuring your time in God.  For that is where we find rest and joy and peace and realize God will sustain us, even on the busiest of Mondays.

The last think I posted, the comforting words of St Josemaria, which remind me that I am not perfect, there are going to be Mondays I fall flat on my face. But in Christ, even my defects, even the times I can’t get it all done… God will use,  GO=od will redeem, God will somehow, miraculously make things right and holy. For that is what He does for His children.  For In Chirst, we are victors, even on Mondays…

For we were made for God, to be His people, His children, and even mondays can’t steal that from us!.

In my Old Testament reading, the underlined words cause me to stop…

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2277-2282). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

616      Our life—a Christian’s life—has to be as ordinary as this: trying every day to do well those very things it is our duty to do; carrying out our divine mission in the world by fulfilling the little duty of each moment. Or rather, struggling to fulfil it. Sometimes we don’t manage, and when night comes, in our examination, we’ll have to tell Our Lord, “I am not offering you virtues; today I can only offer you defects. But with your grace I will be able to count myself a victor.”

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2277-2282). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Need A New Years Resolution? Here’s An Miraculous and Missional One!

Devotional Thought of the Day!

5  Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. 6  Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. Colossians 4:5-6 (MSG) 

918 You should always avoid complaining, criticising, gossiping… You must avoid absolutely anything that could bring discord among brothers. (1)

Within the next week, you will hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions, the changes they know they need to make, and at least will verbally commit to attempting… and least for 3-4 weeks.

The above verse from Colossians, and the corralary from a devotional work from St Josemaria Escriva, I would ask you to consider, if you are making such resolutions.  If not, I would simply point out that the red letters above are scripture, and they are how God has planned us to live. ( in other words. resolve to make this a change anyway!).  I pray that the resolution is not just something in passing, but starts a movement.

We live in a society, where this is so counter-cultural, that we take to twitter, fb and every other means possible to complain, to criticize, (which is a nice way of saying condemn), to divide us from others. We fight for rights, we demand respect, we forget that the person we are upset with may have had a long tiring day, or that they are in grief, or that they are struggling with anxiety or fear.  We can’t know what they are going through, and that God may have sent us into their life to show them love, to impart to them a little joy and peace. To give them a moment to catch their breath and know that God will make everything alright.

Think of what that would mean to us, if someone did that for us when we are stressed, when we are dealing with loss, or fearing it. When we are feeling alone, and the one that feels like an “outsider”. We’ve all been there, we’ve all known the hurt, the pain, the anxiety, even to the point of compromising ourselves to avoid it. So how would we feel if someone reached out to us, in that very moment we were at our weakest?

This is what Christmas is all about, and in a sense the idea of New Years.  That God would reach into our lives, and put a stop to our being outsiders.  He makes us family, He creates in us a sense of belonging, by reaching out, comforting, drying the tears, forgiving us from sin, helping us to realize the height and width, depth and breafth of His love.  Then, He commissions us to go and bring word of that love to others that are outsiders as we were, People that are just asa broken, but hide it.  People that are just as in pain as we were, and strike out at everyone, people whose sins require the healing that only God can bring to them, but brings it through us.

They need Him.

You want a resolution that will chagne more than the numbers on your scale?  That will change life for others?  Here it is…scripturally sound, missional, loving, and can only be done,even miraculous, For it can only be done by living in Christ.

Lord have mercy on us, and flavor our speech with your grace, mercy and peace!  AMEN

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3732-3734). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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