Devotional thought for our days…
14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. 16 When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT)
15 But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, 16 but answer in a gentle way and with respect 1 Pet 3:115-16 NCV
66 My God, teach me how to love! My God, teach me how to pray!
Every once in a while, when doing bills, I put the wrong month in, and sometimes the wrong year.
It is hard for me to accept we are in 2017, and that we are almost at 2018. It seems that this should be in the future, way in the future.
Similarly, it sometimes feels like the promises of God aren’t here yet, like 2017 shouldn’t be, I can’t see it, I can’t picture it, even while I long for those days when my hopes, my expectations will be fulfilled. The expectations and hope that make up my faith, the answers I need to answer people with, as St Peter says, in a gentle way and with respect. Even to those who do not respect me, especially to those who do not respect me, or God.
That is the amazing thing that gives me hope!
We see it in the underlined part of the first reading, these people who hated GOd, who turned away from Him and worshipped gods they made of wood and metals and gems. Those who ignored what He would say, especially when He told them that He loved them.
These people of God wouldn’t call him master, they wouldn’t call Him by some official titles, but they were to use an endearment to call Him by, a name that revealed the love that they recognized was between them.
For God would win our affections back, God would restore us, and we would willingly give ourselves to Him, a response to His healing and caring for us.
FOr we would finally realize that He loves us!
We are Christ’s bride, not His slave, we are the Father’s beloved children not, the servants who run from His anger. We are the companions of the Holy Spirit. RElationships that are not bound by law, but love. A relationship that began because God was stubborn and patient, not willing to let us perish, but bringing about in us a change of mind…
A change that comes when we begin to see His love for us fully revealed at the cross.
May we realize this is now – this hope, this expectation is not just in the future, some far off date when we finally realize He loves us. That was revealed at the cross, and at our baptism, and every time we share in the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar.
This is our reason for hope, our assurance of everlasting life, with the God who doesn’t want us to call Him Lord and Master, but beloved…for
He loves us…
And so we pray, with St Josemaria, that God would teach us how to love, how to interact with Him!. Lord have mercy on us! (And be confident and know He has!)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 452-454). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Backseat Conversationson the Way to Heaven:
This Trip Was So Fast!
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May your confidence in the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be strengthened, and enjoyed!
The Journey Continues as We Draw closer
As we’ve compared our life to a long car journey, often times the journeys included a little conflict as some of the sermons mentioned. But there were times of great fun as well. Times were we competed in quizzes, or saw the glorious surroundings, or just had great times talking or singing silly songs…..
Anyone remember 99 bottles of beer on the wall?
Did anyone ever finish it? The song, not the beer!
There were times when we had so much fun in those journeys that we were disappointed when we arrived at Grampy’s house, or Auntie Lainey’s. We would be so disappointed that we’d have to be dragged out of the car.
It is as if we forgot what was waiting for us when we got to where we were going. The feast of incredible proportion
We would get to the door, and smell the sausages, or remember there were presents or French onion dip awaiting us, and of course the car was a faint memory.
We had forgotten the destination, we were so intent on the fun.
As we look at the psalm that was read earlier, we can see we aren’t the only ones who spend the journey forgetting about the destination.
We so need what the psalmist prays for, in verse 12 where he writes:
12 Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
The Trip Is Too Fast to Get it Right!
Have you ever gotten to the end of the week and realized that all the things you meant to get done didn’t happen? Then Friday comes, and as we come to think about the week, we realize all that we’ve done that wasted time, and all the important things that we didn’t accomplish.
Life can be like that, it flies by too fast. One moment I am sitting in a favorite hiding place, reading a Hardy Boy’s book, the next moment I am approaching 50, watching my son read the same story.
Beneath this time issue is an ominous problem. Like the servant with only one talent in the parable today, when the master returns, what will we have to show Him?
Will Jesus find that we did what He’s asked, giving others the message that God has given them the gift of reconciliation? Will He find us making disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Will He see us confessing our sins to one another, that we would be healed? Will He hear of us caring for the sick, the imprisoned, the lame, the widow and orphans?
Or will our lives be like the Psalmist describes?
3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” 4 For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. 5 You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. 6 In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered. 7 We wither beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your fury. 8 You spread out our sins before you— our secret sins—and you see them all. 9 We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan.
In thinking about how short the time is, do we see a need for God’s desires, God’s will, God’s priorities to be out own? Or do we do what we think is right in our own hearts? If we bother to think about time from God’s perspective, then what follows should be realizing how much of God’s wrath we deserve.
Yes, the wrath we deserve.
We admitted to it, if we meant the words we said during our confession and absolution. Or did you not really mean it when you said you deserve His temporal and eternal punishment? We do. You do, I do. The world does.
What if God, as the psalmist describes, spread out your sins before him, like a card dealer spreads out a deck of cards? Or a thousand decks of cards… or 100,000 decks of cards.
How would you react, if every sin you committed, with all the documentation, was laid out before God?
How would this time that we have been used? Would it be well spent, or would we be in fear for our eternal lives?
That is the question the psalmist is asking,
And the very reason we have to be able to know how brief a time our journey is…..
The Verse of the Day
I am not sure if it is because of time constraints, or why those who choose the length of readings shorten some of the psalms and the readings. I mean I understand Psalm 119 being broken up. But here, as in other places, the breaks don’t quite work.
We ended our reading today, with a prayer that God would teach us to realize that the is short, that life is very brief, so that we can gain wisdom, wisdom to spend our time well, and in a God pleasing way. But how? When we deserve His wrath?
I put part of the psalm in the Alleluia and Verse today, it is a continuance of the prayer to realize how brief the time is…
13 O LORD, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
It is a prayer, that was fulfilled at the cross, a prayer where God did come back, and lived among us., he didn’t delay any longer, but He heard the prayer of His people, and responded, and came to us, and died for us.
A prayer answered as He took pity on us, paying the debt for our sin, and even more, He satisfies us with His unfailing love.
A love that will cause us to sing His praises far into eternity, a prayer that is the result of our realizing the time is short, and spending this journey with God. The psalm goes on, describing the reality of wisdom in prayer,
“15 Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. 16 Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. 17 And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful.
This is what Moses meant by understanding the brevity of time when he wrote this Psalm, about the joy and good that God provides for us in our lives. That is what redeeming the time as Paul the apostle calls it. It is about seeing God at work in us, walking with us, and leading us to do work bringing the message of His love, and reconciliation. This is how we fulfill His desire…as we share our lives with Him, trusting Him,
It is then, knowing the value of our time spent with Him, trusting in Him, that we know His peace, and may that peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN? AMEN!
WHAT MEANS THESE STONES:
Land of my fathers,
how i long to return,
What means these stoneswhich beset thy coastline, who in twisted agony cry out, in praise and supplication of Him and the renewal of the faith that bled to secure them here. Yet we would walk again thy sacred paths, repair thy ancient ruins restore the broken altars, raise up the foundations of many generations.
Part of me knows that some of my feelings are caused by bereavement, or loss. Yet passages like this one from my devotions this morning resonate with something inside me. A dozen or so years ago, when we went home, I was grieved to see the church of my youth closed, Last year, after my father passed away, I stood across the street from it on a Sunday afternoon. It is now some kind of academy…..no longer a place where God’s word is preached, where people are baptized, where people receive the body and blood of Christ.
where spirituality, once vibrant, is now cloaked in mediocrity, the neighborhood poor and seemingly without hope.
It’s not that one church, there are many that are but shadows of what they were, as there are many where I now live. I’ve seen some rebuilt, an incredible blessing of peace where there was discord and misery, and a romantic tie to the past. I know those ties, even as I know they aren’t entire…accurate.
Yes the churches weren’t closed, yes, they all had multiple services, multiple masses. But what was important was that there is where we first walked sacred paths. Not sacred because of the stones, but sacred because of the company that we walked in, for there we first walked with God.
The idea of seeing St Francis’ or St Anne’s or the other fellowships I know of restored is indeed romantic, and sometimes – seems to burn a hole within me, especially those “back home.” But those ruins are restored every time I baptize someone here. They are rebuilt every time someone kneels at the altar, and is given the Body of Christ, and the Blood shed for them. They are rebuilt when I am working with those I have been entrusted to mentor, even as I was mentored by Fr Alex, and Fr. Janounis, and Pastor Chip.
Rebuild the ruins back in Massachusetts and New Hampshire? I would take up such a task, were it offered. Yet what I need to realize is that task isn’t just in that locality, in the land of my dad and grandfathers, and the Parkers and DeLucas. It is done here, in this place. The land to where we’ve been called. In a land where the church also needs to be restored. .
Can ruins be restored? Yes. Let’s get to work then, guided and empowered and placed by God.
Lord, have mercy on us…
Devotional thought of the day….
14 So, when gentiles, not having the Law, still through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, then, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves. 15 They can demonstrate the effect of the Law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defence . . . on the day when, 16 according to the gospel that I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges all human secrets. Romans 2:14-16 (NJB)
35 Bless the Lord, all the Lord’s creation: praise and glorify him for ever! Prayer of Azariah 1:35 (NJB) *
7 O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Jeremiah 20:7 (NIV)
Sitting in the airport the other day, getting frustrated by playing a silly game on my phone, I recognized the same kinds of frustrations that I’ve been dealing with for a while in life. As I got on the plane, I was reading a new book, recommended to me by a friend. Written by a Catholic priest, it talked about the lessons of faith learned through watching Star Wars, and how to apply those to ministry. Very well writtent this book, and so while taking it in, I thought of my frustrations and decided to write this blog.
So here are the things I’ve learned about God from playing this frustrating, addictive game.
1. Achieving your goal may take some time!
Nothing in Candy Crust saga is impossible. It just seems like it! Eventually the little things will line up, you’ll get rid of the bombs and you will finish that level. It may take you a week, or 30-40 trips to the bathroom (come on – be honest – you play Candy Crush there!). You might put it down for a couple of days, you might even delete it off you tablet. But the levels aren’t impossible. Likewise, we will endure through the struggles in our lives. Some may take longer to play out, some may be very very frustrating, some may cause us to want to drop out. The funny thing is, we get all excited to finish a level… only to take on… another level!
But we will endure them, and in fact, sometimes we will learn a lot more about life (or the game) because it takes so long!
2. You aren’t God
How many times have you wanted to choose what colors fall next? How many times have you gotten wanted to bargain with the processor, just drop me a blue candy there, and I will get you a new SD card, or a pretty new case! Or gotten angry as that last bomb ticked off, and you had to start again? There are times I wonder if my failues are deliberately caused by the computer – that they want me to fail. Most of that anger is silly, but it shows me how much I want to be in control of the game… and of my life.
Sometimes, I’ll be honest – like in the game I want to play God. Sometimes I am actually foolish enough to think I can do better, or that God is playing with me, like He did with Jeremiah, at least in Jeremiah’s mind (see Jeremiah 20 quote above…) But God isn’t the programmers of CCR. He’s promised that He’s in charge, that He is our Master, that He has obligated Himself to do exactly that which is good for us.
3. Mistakes are in the past!
So you failed 40 times at a level. Guess what! When you hit play, all those failures are history, and they have no impact on the new game, or the new attempt to solve the problem.
Likewise in faith, when we hear 1 John 1:8- when we confess our sins, and trust God to forgive them and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, we start as new as the day we were born, and the day we were born again. The sins we’ve committed are in the past, the failures are gone, and while they lurk in the shadows, they really can’t affect how we live today, We might listen to them, we might learn from them, but the glory of the Ministry of Reconciliation that we’ve been given (see 2 Cor. 3-5) is that God’s work is complete. He has forgiven us, He has cleansed us, and hit the play button again.
I could go on and on about this one… there are things about this game that so mirror the frustrations of life. There are amazing things, when you think all is lost and a striped candy and a mirror ball show up next to each other with one move to go, and the day is miraculously saved. But there is one thing for sure, and that will be my last point..
4. The makers want your time.
I bet that the designers of CCS have an innate or learned knowledge. They have a goal, expressed in how many minutes we maddle move little things around, trying to achieve our goal. They want our time, because for them, it means $$$$. God is neither so manipulative or so greedy for stuff that doesn’t matter. But He wants our time as well. He wants to spend it with us, showing us His love, showing us His mercy, sharing with us He re-creation of the world, because the blood of Christ was spilled on the cross. He wants your time, because He loves you, because that’s what this life is all about. The people of God, and those who have yet to realize that He loves them but will. Gathered together in His arms, cared for and loved.
As incomplete this silly little game is, that last point, in their brokenness and ours, says it all. For they realize how precious our time is….and want it. Not as much as He does, and not for the same reason.
Maybe.. we can spend some more of it with the Lord who loves us, and takes care of our failures, and walks with us through the levels of life.
- Persecution, Martyrdom, the Love of Christ…. and a hard lesson in prayer (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
15 So watch your step. Use your head. 16 Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! 17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. 18 Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. 19 Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. 20 Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 (MSG)
“There is also, he added, “another richness in our culture”, another richness that prevents us from getting close to Jesus: it’s our fascination for the temporary”. We, he observed, are “in love with the provisional”. We don’t like Jesus’s “definitive proposals”. Instead we like what is temporary because “we are afraid of God’s time” which is definitive. “He is the Lord of time; we are the masters of the moment. Why? Because we are in command of the moment: I will follow the Lord up to this point, and then I will see… I heard of a man who wanted to become a priest – but only for ten years, not any longer…” Attraction for the provisional: this is a richness. We want to become masters of time, we live for the moment. ( Pope Francis’s honily this day… from Catholic News Agency)
We live in a world that is, as Pope says, fascinated with “the temporary”. We look to the short term investments to make a killing, we lease cars so that in two or three years, we can buy a new one. We buy into a system that causes us to replace our cell phones, our tablets, our computers every two or three years. We hear that young people will not have one career in their lives – but 3 or 4 or more (heck , I am on my third…) And less we forget marriage, people trade in their lifetime commitments like they were library books.
I labelled this blog – the “Idol of Time” because that is what it appears to be. Yet I think the Pope sees it very clearly – this is an Idol, because while we claim to value it, we also want to desperately control it. That’s the thing about idols – they are far easier to control than God is, who as CS Lewis put it (and Chesterton as well) God cannot be tamed. So we try to become Master’s of our own time – setting up calendars and planning our next moves, working to see what new thing we can distract ourselves with for the moment, thinking that we’ve got it all now. Then the next commercial makes us realize we are out of date already.
That’s why we are attracted to the temporary, to that which is unsustainable, to that which needs to be replaced.
But what id we were to focus on that which endures – that which is sustained – that which has a meaning that can never be replaced?
What if we understood the will of God, what if we took the time in prayer, and in reading His word, and in finding encouragement as we fellowshipped with those who also knew His love? What if our joy was found in seeing people cleansed and healed and finding God’s presence – not far off in some othre universe, or even on vacation in a gloriously beautiful place like the mountains of New Hampshire, or Rome, or China? What if we found God’s incredible majestic presence in our homes, our work places, our cars as we drive – and yes… our churches. Would we then look at those places differently? Would we find contentment in the simplicity of knowing He is there?
Would we find the joy that would explode in our singing praises?
Let God manage our time, let Him redeem it, let Him show us His will… His love, His mercy…His peace…and an eternity of wonder and awe and…Him
- Why our Idolatry is Worthless (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
You say yes, you are determined to follow Christ. All right. Then you should walk at his pace, not at your own! (1)
I have often wondered why things don’t happen… or why they aren’t happening. Some of those things involve me – some involve my church, some involve those I train in ministry.
It is very much like the feeling a teenager gets – awaiting their 16th Birthday, and then realizing – just because I am 16, that doesn’t mean I get my license.
Or when we think we are ready for a promotion and it goes to someone else. Or, why does it take so long to achieve this goal or that goal. Weight loss might be the goal, or perhaps it is getting that next/first degree. Or getting married, all take time, and all, are worth the wait. (Well maybe the PhD isn’t, but hey, I can dream – can’t I?)
Spiritually, are we any more willing to wait? Are we willing to be patient as we invest ourselves, make sacrifices, attempt to control our impatience and frustration and even anger, hoping the person we are working with, will finally get it, and have the breakthrough that will help them live in the freedom Christ died to give them. It maybe impatience with ourself as well, as we struggle to understand, struggle to be at peace, struggle to take that next step in our faith, to see our dreams and desires to do something for God, achieved.
Maybe we think our spiritual growth should be like a microwave- 45 seconds and we are DONE! COMPLETE! MATURE.
In reality – sometimes its more like a crock pot… (I didn’t say you were a crock or a pot – our growth is) Hours and hours of stillness, letting God’s word, and His love, simmer within us. Then, all of a sudden, we have reached a goal. It’s one of those Psalm 46:10 moments.
(yes – go look it up – it’s good for you…)
( I am not kidding – go look it up – even if you think you know it)
Yeah – that verse… it’s a hard one isn’t it?
It’s hard to be patient with God, but I think its harder to be paitent with ourselves – to admit our failures, to confess them and be absolved.. to get through the trials (see James 1…yep… go ahean… go on now) to persevere.
But I think that is how we grow best… for it requires something else we are used to…walking with Jesus… not running ahead – but enjoying the stroll He takes us on.
Walk at His pace… slow down – bask in His love, find rest for your soul… you will get there.. (as will the people you patiently bring with you..) in His time.
Oh – and one of my favorite blessings to you, as this blog ends….
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2003-2005). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotion/Discussion thought of the day…
It’s after 2 o’clock and I am finally writing this entry, because I went golfing with a good friend and his son – both of who are much better golfers than I ( I also had some visits to make… please keep my friend Brenda in your prayers – she’s awaiting some reduction in swelling so they can remove her gallbladder..) I had planned to be back here around 10- – but life happens.
A s I was playing golf, it caused me to contemplate on our lives as disciples of Jesus, as those who try to walk with Him, imitate him (or imitate those who serve Him imitating Him). Far too often, my concentration isn’t enough – and though I hit off the tee well, and onto the green, I end up three putting. Or maybe my weight issues cause some imbalance in my swing – and off goes the ball into the trees. And sometimes, on the hole that appears to be the hardest, we relax knowing we can’t make it – and instead hit it perfectly, and find ourselves wondering why we can’t do this – every swing, every time.
It’s that Romans 7-8 thing – the things I want to do – I can’t manage to – the things that I don’t want to do – dang it that’s just going to happen (like on the 7th and 9th hole – where I hit the ball into the same spot in the same exact sand trap!!!!) So often in my Christian life – oh does that happen – I sin and can’t avoid it, I get frustrated because I can’t play like Tiger or Phil, I can’t seem to overcome the sins and anxieties caused by not trusting in God.
As the round ends, as you enjoy a diet coke (or a beer – but we were playing to early for that) , the game fades away, as you remember the laughs, the companionship, and realize what a great time you had – kicking back in the sun, enjoying the trees and the silly squirrel that wanted to attack the ball. That’s what makes the day – not the frustration of averaging a double eagle. So to – at the end of the day, as we realize that our bad “putts” and hooks have been forgotten, as we enjoy the day in the presence of our Father in heaven… as we realize that He just enjoys the walk with us – and He’s the One who judges whether the day was a success, or not – that’s life.
Don’t take the game seriously – enjoy the companionship, the fellowship… with the One who for joy endured the cross, and for laughs let us invent golf…..