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The Challenge of the Cost of Revival

Devotional Thought of the Day:

“O LORD God of our ancestors, you rule in heaven over all the nations of the world. You are powerful and mighty, and no one can oppose you. 7† You are our God. When your people Israel moved into this land, you drove out the people who were living here and gave the land to the descendants of Abraham, your friend, to be theirs forever. 8 They have lived here and have built a temple to honor you, knowing 9 that if any disaster struck them to punish them—a war,d an epidemic, or a famine—then they could come and stand in front of this Temple where you are worshiped. They could pray to you in their trouble, and you would hear them and rescue them. 2 Chron. 20:6-9

If I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first.
Between a rugged Church coming out to the streets and a Church sick of self-referential narcissism, without doubt, I prefer the first.
When the Church does not walk, she falls apart like a sandcastle
.

The Lord requires us to go to the end of our misery, our poverty, our sin when we are before the Most Blessed Sacrament. Being poor, this is our title of nobility.

Perfect Churches don’t need revival, so they do not see it happen. The same goes for people who have it all together, whose lives are not crushed by sin, who have no worry about death, who never had to deal with temptation, or struggle with demonic activity.

Of course, the only churches and eople that are that good are those who are already in the God’s presence.

The rest of our churches are wounded and broken. Their people are not prim and proper, but are worn down, and look and smell like they’ve just finished a 10 hike in the mountains and desperately need a bath, a showed, and manybe another bath.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a church that is about to undergo revival, a person who about to experience God’s ability to transform them must be in the mdist of their misery, they must address their spiritual poverty. For there, they can cry out to God, in the place where He has set aside to remind them He is with them, they He is patient and desires to transform us.

For as we cry out, we begin to see the reality of His rescue, we being to see the salvation that He has promised is not far off, but that we are in the midst of it.

He will hear us.

For it is the Holy Spirit who moves us to call upon Him, to reach out, only to find He’s been there all the time.

And in awe at His work, His patience, His love, we find the life He has created us to live. A life that is not static, a life that findss meaning in revealing His love to others.

A life that llives for the moment when another person, or another community realizes that God is with them.

Lord, help us learn to stop hiding from our brokenness, but tather let you heal and restore us. AMEN!

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 185). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Buttet, N. (2012). The Eucharist, Adoration and Healing. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 123). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Mondays, the Wife of Job, and an Uncomfortable Faith…

cropped-will-new-camera-12-2008-167.jpgDevotional Thought of the Day:

9His wife said to him, “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?”
10 Job answered, “You are talking nonsense! When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?” In spite of everything he suffered, Job said nothing against God.  Job 2:9-10

75         Miles—soldier—so the Apostle calls a Christian. So it is that in this holy and Christian war of love and peace for the happiness of all souls, there are, in God’s ranks, tired, hungry soldiers, covered in wounds… but happy. For they bear in their hearts the sure light of victory.

It is foolish of us to regard the demands of faith—which makes unwanted demands on us and contradicts our own will—as “legalistic” and “institutional” and whatever similar terms may suggest themselves in order to shake ourselves free of it and so to sink into the leaden emptiness of a lusterless and selfish existence that receives nothing because it gives nothing. This thought should strike us anew: admittedly faith is uncomfortable, but only because it challenges us, compels us, to let ourselves be led where we do not wish to go. In this way, it enriches us and opens for us the door of true life.

There are Mondays, and there are Monday’s in which people around us act like Job’s dearly beloved, wife.  Actually out of the 142 days that have passed so far in 2017, too many have been Mondays, and it seems as many have had people like Job’s wife in the background.

Or maybe I’ve met Job’s wife as I look in the mirror, as I see the trauma of this world, the suffering of people, and I utter those words, directed to myself.  Maybe not curse God and die, but perhaps curse God and find a cave to hide in, give up, find something else.    

I know the tired hungry soldiers, covered in wounds who try to minister to the people of God.  Who struggle to work with people, trying to reveal to people the love of God who will cleanse and heal their hearts, their souls, their minds.  It doesn’t seem reasonable the pain endured by missionaries and pastors, teachers and other church leaders.  

I know the weariness of Job, slammed time after time with disaster and trauma, and I would pray for the faith to praise God when He provides times of discomfort and growth as well as the times where everything clicks right. For there are times we are led where we don’t want to go, there are times trusting in God makes us suppress our own desires and want, and sometimes, even our needs. We also suppress our own despair, recognizing it for what it is, and how Satan would use it to isolate us from the comfort and peace found in Jesus.  There are times we are called to be like Jesus and need to rely on His Holy Spirit to sustain us, even as He was sustained.

We can either curse God and run/die, or we can trust in God’s faithfulness in His promise of comfort and peace.

It’s hard, and often we waver, but He is faithful.  And when we stumble, we can let Him pick us up, cleanse us again, and lean on Him in this journey of life.

The victory is sure, the hope of glory is ours, and He is here, and will never abandon us.

Amen.

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 535-538). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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.

Be a Missionary: Serve All People, including the most broken around us?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 8  He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9  letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, 10  a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earthEphesians 1:8-10 (MSG)

22  On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker; 23  and those parts that we think aren’t worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don’t look very nice are treated with special modesty, 24  which the more beautiful parts do not need. God himself has put the body together in such a way as to give greater honor to those parts that need it. 25  And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. 26  If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness. 1 Corinthians 12:22-26 (TEV) 

“It’s easy to love the people who are standing hard and fast, pressing on to meet their higher calling.  
But the one’s who might be struiggling?  We tend to judge to harshly, and refuse to try and catch them when they’re falling.
We put people into boxes and draw our hard conclusions, and when they do the things we know they should not do we sometimes write them off as hopeless and we throw them to the dogs.  Our compassion and forgiveness sometimes seem in short supply.”  (1)

600  Serving and forming children, caring lovingly for the sick. To make ourselves understood by simple souls, we have to humble our intelligence; to understand poor sick people we have to humble our heart. In this way, on our knees in both intellect and body, it is easy to reach Jesus along that sure way of human wretchedness, of our own wretchedness. It will lead us to make ‘a nothing’ of ourselves in order to let God build on our nothingness.  (2)

On my mail pile, and about to be in my discard pile is a small poster, challenging people to “become a missionary.”  It saddens me in a way, because the it focuses mission somewhere “out there”.  It is of course, and there are those God is calling to be a missionary in places that are far different, far more “extreme”.   But it overlooks the fact that we are all missionaries, we are all “sent” as the apostles were, to take the gospel into places where only we go.  To our families, to our neighborhood, to our work places. 

We are missionaries when we determine to love those that are struggling, when we reach out to those that are falling, when we patiently work with them, helping them take each step, being there when they cannot.  Being willing to look at their situation, their actions, their lives, not to condemn them, but to realize how much they need God’s love, and how they will have to be nursed back to spiritual health. 

Make no mistake, ministering to the broken takes time and effort, patience and endurance, and mostly, trust in God.  Know that God has given us all we need to minister to them, He has provided all that is needed to see them brought into His family.  They are the ones to whom we are sent, even though the work may bend us over, and we feel like we will break.  If not break, that we will lose our patience, succumb to frustration, or even despair. 

Yet that is our calling, they aren’t just a mission field, they are the mission, they are the ones God has loved enough to send Jesus to die for, and to send us to serve, to minister to, to bring God’s love so that they can find healing.

Perhaps the challenge in doing so is that we have to confront our own brokenness, our own inability, our own failures.  Indeed we must, for it is then we see the power of God at work in our healing, that leads us to the confidence that God desires that they, yes, even they, can come to know that healing.   It is through our weakness, that we see the power of God unleashed, and trust Him enough to do what others see as impossible, There, in our humility, we find the very things they need, the mercy, the comfort, the peace, the love of God, who delights in making us His own.

SO do not fear, do not hide. cry out Lord Have Mercy, and go tho those He has sent you to, that they may learn the cry as well!

(1) from Celtic Daily Prayer, Harper One Publishing, pg. 307  (attributed to Chuck Firard)

(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2220-2224). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Having a Crisis of Faith? Come Join us!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

22  So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. 23  Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24  Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25  Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. Hebrews 10:22-25 (TEV) 

324 The dust thrown up by your fall blinds and disorients you, and you have thoughts which rob you of your peace. Have you sought relief in tears by the side of Our Lord, and in confident conversation with a brother?  (1)

If a pastor or priest or even lay ministers are honest, they will admit (but not often) that they have what some call a “crisis of faith” occaisonally.  We aren’t perfect, and its my opinion that our people must know this.   Simply put, if we are hoenst about this, then they will be as well, and we will be able to minister to them in spirit and in truth.

A crisis of faith isn’t that we don’t believe in God, but that we simply struggle to believe in God.

It may be that the trauma in our own lives is too much, or that the trauma we help others go through has taken its toll as well.   It could be our sin, or temptation, which finds a spot in our weakened state and steps on through.  Despising our own weakness, we try to overcome it on our own, rather than deal with it at the foot of the cross.  Or it can simply be that we have fallen into a rote faith – we go through the motions, numbed by time to the words, and the God whom they reveal.

Either way, it is as our spiriutal life has become paralyzed.

There is a need in such times for each of us to have what they now call a “spiritual director”, or what I prefer to call a “father-confessor”. Someone who is able to speak for God to us, someone who will shepherd us and guide us, and help us until the fog clears.  Someone who can share God’s love because they’ve known it during their own crisis, their own brokeness. (which is why I think we have to let people know we go through such times ourselves)   They are the ones that can find us, and have our permission to find us, in our  caves, when we choose to isolate ourselves.

We need those times, when we can hear the still small voice of God comforting us.  Even so, we can’t, especially in those times, avoid gathering with others, sincere in our brokenness, yet needing the encouragement that comes from realizing we are not alone. We need to hear of God’s faithfulness, and to celebrate it together.  This too is essential, a major part of our Christian life.  For when we realize that God doesn’t give up on any of us, we begin to realize that His promise of being faithful includes us.  The illusion is then pierced, and we realize the crisis of faith isn’t a crisis of trust, or us being abandoned by God.

It’s simply that we are tired and overwhelmed and… well yes broken.

We say at my church that we are a place where broken people find healing in Christ, while helping others heal.

The cure for such times, is not to avoid the people of God, fearing they will not understand, it is to come and be embraced by them, to join them at the altar and receive the grace of God as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ (yes – during a crisis of faith – communion, the eucharist is a blessing.. a very needed blessing!)   For we all have had, and maybe even having a a crisis of faith, and the church, the people of God provides a great sanctuary during such times.   Let’s lift each other up, as God calls us together, a people He will care for, a people He will comfort.

And that starts with us, those who lead in church… those who are broken, so that you may have faith, for if God can heal us… He can (and will ) bring healing to your crisis.

For the Lord will have mercy!

I know – received it over and over.   You can too.

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1529-1531). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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