Sunday, November 27, 2016

St. Paul of the Cross and our love-union with Jesus
St. Paul of the Cross says that Jesus invites us into “the closest imaginable love-union” with him.  What a beautiful way to speak of the intimate union we share with Jesus!  When we consume the Body of Christ in the sacred bread, we are taking into our bodies the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.  It is hard to imagine being any closer!

It makes me think about whether my own body is worthy, ready to receive Christ.  Not just the physical aspects of course, which we have come to know as the temple of the Lord, but what about my whole body, the interior as well?
Is my heart one with him? 
Is my spirit open to loving as he calls me to?
Am I ready to offer myself for the sake of others?

These are big questions to which an answer in the affirmative requires big responses.  None of us feel truly ready, I would suspect, but that should not discourage us, for with God, anything is possible.

As we move into Advent, let us take time to consider the Second Coming of Christ, the reality that we will one day be judged with justice and mercy, and amend those things in our life that we can.

God’s justice, which always flows from mercy and compassion, still considers our own efforts and desires.  God understands our humanity and constantly calls us to himself.  There will be, however, some of us who choose to live as if he does not exist, and since we are not puppets and he does not force us to accept it, we are told it will not be good for us if we reject him.

Let us reflect over the next few weeks of Advent on the Good News that Jesus came to save us all, and how amazing is his sacrifice on the cross. Let us be grateful for his tender devotion to his loving children, even those who are wayward, and let us turn back toward him so that one day, when he comes again in judgment, we will not be afraid, but happy to see him!

God bless,

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Praying with the Psalms for the unfolding of your life

Two of my favorite lines to pray with from the Psalms come from Psalm 143:  “Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life (Verse 8b) and “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.” (Verse 10)

The Psalms in general are a wonderful resource to use for personal prayer, because they themselves speak so often from the human condition.  Despair, joy, troubles—it’s all in there.

But the two verses I quoted here reflect our confidence in God and our desire to give our life over to him.  Whatever is his will for me, that’s what I want to know and follow.  To say that he is our God speaks volumes about our awareness of him as Creator.  It is an acknowledgement that we are not walking our path in this world alone.

But how does God teach us to do his will?  Where do we find it?  How can we know it?

I am reminded of the title of a song that I use when God’s answer seems to be coming too slowly, or when I do not know what to do.  The song is by Steven Curtis Chapman and it is titled The Glorious Unfolding.

I am going to copy the lyrics here ( because they are so beautiful.  I hope they will speak to you as they have to me.  No matter where you are on your journey in life, just remember, there is a “glorious unfolding” going on.  Your story is not finished yet.  Wait patiently.  I have found that this unfolding for me seems to routinely take a couple of months, so I have learned to be patient with it!

God bless,
The Glorious Unfolding
Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
We’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

We were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning

Of this glorious unfolding
We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise God has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfolding

Just watch and see (unfolding)
This is just the beginning of the beginning (unfolding)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Are you dead in your ministry?

I admit that I have a tendency to do what they call "spiritualize" particular scripture passages.  This may not be such a good thing, but it is a natural way for me to meditate on them.

This is not the same as interpreting them according to my own ideas--which is not okay--but it is a way of listening to see if God is speaking to me in them.

I do believe there are numerous places in scripture that are meant to be taken literally, but, because of the variety of writing within the books themselves, there are also books or passages that emphasize a particular message or point which may use figurative language.

An example of me spiritualizing scripture can be taken from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 2.  The introductory passages are particularly powerful for me, even though they are addressed to the church in Ephesus.

From my perspective, I can relate these to ministry. Ministry can be challenging at times, making it difficult to stay uplifted in spirit.  The words in Revelation here, are so helpful.  We are reminded that God sees our endurance, our suffering, and our lack of weariness, and that is all well and good, but, as indicated, that is not the most important thing.

What we do have held against us is the loss of the love we had at first.  We must realize in ministry how far we have fallen if we do a lot of work, but do not put love into it, or work out of a place of love.

Look again at the powerful words in Revelation Chapter 3, addressed to the church in Sardis.  No mincing of words here!  "I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent."


Are you dead in your ministry?  Are you angry or worn out?  Do you find yourself growing cynical because you have seen and experienced too much of humanity?

The first step in returning to "the love we had at first" is to acknowledge the change in our attitude.  Be aware, be watchful, protect yourself from falling.

If we turn off the distractions we invite into our lives, and we turn ourselves more and more toward God, he will restore that light we once had.  He will renew our faith in Him, and in humanity.

None of what we do--absolutely none of it--matters if we do it without love.

As always, I welcome your comments.

God bless,