Devotional Thought of the Day:
16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with! James 5:16 (MSG)
“In te, Domine, speravi—“In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped.” And together with human means I prayed and took my cross. And my hope was not in vain, nor will it ever be. Non confundar in aeternum—“Let me never be confounded.”
You don’t know what to say to our Lord in prayer. Nothing comes to you and yet you would like to ask his advice about many things. Look: take some notes during the day of the things you want to think about in the presence of God. And then go with those notes to pray.” (1)
In Bible Study this morning, we were looking at the 11th chapter of Hebrews, and the first fourteen verses. As we talked though Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham and Sarah, we saw something very inspiring.
We saw the trust they had, not in the promises, but in the God who they knew existed, and knew was with them, that they could seek Him out. More than that – since we know the stories, we had the assurance that sin didn’t separate them from God. They were given hope – not just for the moement, but the hope that comes from a life of walking with God, the hope that is assured by love, and is never in vain. The more we talked, the more the concept solidifed that though they couldn’t know all the details of what awaited them, the knew God clearly, trusted in Him, spent time with Him.
But what do we pray about? How do we have a conversation about life with the God who created the stars?
Well my first question is, “what do you need to trust God in/for/with?” Write them down as St. Josemaria suggests ( you could tweet them to Him?!) or text/fb message them to yourself for later review. Lots of technology things out there – but then, set the time apart for them. Think through them, ask God for guidance, to be the active partner that He has promised to be in your life. (Managing Partner actually) All through the day – keep reminders of what you need to discuss with God, sure the traumas and problems, but also the things you need to voice you admiration and adoration of His creativity, of His sense of beauty, of His ability to bring healing and peace.
And trust Him, deeply, even more deeply than you trust yourself.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 377-383). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 (TEV)
7 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. 8 Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ 9 and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. Philippians 3:7-9 (MSG)
“You wrote to me: “To pray is to talk with God. But about what?” About what? About him, and yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, great ambitions, daily worries—even your weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions—and love and reparation. In short, to get to know him and to get to know yourself— “to get acquainted!”” (1)
For the last year or so, I have been toying with the idea of going back to school, to get a doctoral degree. I’ve thought about which degree to get, for there are a number of fields that interest me – from worship, to sociology, to counseling, to homiletics and other pragmatic areas of ministry. Yesterday I went back to where it all started, 30 years ago this fall, as I entered a “non-denom” Bible College – in a very accidental “God-thing” type moment.
Combine with that preparing to preach this weekend – “Trinity Sunday” we call it, a day to meditate upon how God has revealed Himself to us, as three distinct, yet …..One. One of the greatest, most complicated theological doctrines there is, and yet, still so far out of ability to comprehend. ( Read the Athanasian Creed – an incredibly beautiful explanation of God, yet each phrase, raises more questions, leaves us more in awe. And for a theologian, albeit an amateur one, (as all pastors are – as serving others takes precedence…always… over such deep thoguhts) I love to just sit back and plumb the depths of the minds who wrote far more comprehensively than I can think.
But then I come to St. Paul – a man who was a first rate theologian in his day, prior to His conversion, who wrote the quotes above. It doesn’t matter how much I know, I’ve got to realize I am loved, I have to understand why Paul so desired to be embraced by Christ, why everything else took a back seat to knowing, not the details.
Which is where Theophilus – the person Luke writes his gospel for comes in. The name in Greek is Loved by God/Lover of God. But it is that relationship that matters, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have revealed that we are the beloved, that we never walk alone, that we have been cleansed and healed and are loved. It is starting from there, realizing the miracles our being justified and sanctified are only to deliver us, the children of the Father, the ones Jesus calls His friends, the ones who are the Home of the Holy Spirit. We must be Theophilus, before we ever become Theologians..
I would never say to not study theology, but first, come to know God, as St Josemaria says – get acquainted with Him in prayer. Talk to Him – about everything and anything. Listen to Him, hear Him tell you of His love, of His mercy, of His grace. That is what matters, in a way, it is ALL that matters….. for knowledge even all the data we can generate about Trinity – without that love… is nothing….empty…worthless.
I pray for you (and ask you to pray for me, as the apostle Paul did for the people of Ephesus…
14 For this reason I fall on my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its true name. 16 I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, 17 and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, 18 so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. 19 Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (TEV)
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 365-368). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought of the day:
7 And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. 8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. 9 Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you. Philippians 4:7-9 (TEV)
“When a layman sets himself up as an arbiter of morals, he frequently errs; laymen can be only disciples.” (1)
A disclaimer to start with: I have been having to deal with, preparing to deal with, and contemplating taking on a few things that are injust, unfair, and is in one situation – evil. Why I do this, I don’t know – and it frustrates the heck out of me.
When I read the words of St Josemaria Escriva, quoted above this morning, my reaction was twofold.
The first was that I thought the word pastor/priest should be added to the word laymen. As I think through that one, I realize that we as individuals do not, but in our role as ordained, as we stand in Christ’s place – by his command and forgive and retain sins, we do have that role. We even have the role to confront people who have sinned against us. (see Luther’s Large Catechism – the section on the Ten Commandments – The 8th Commandment for a great discussion of this)
But we cannot set ourselves up as the arbiter, as the judge, jury and executioner. Not our role.
The other reaction I had, is – this statement flies in the face of 60% plus of what I see on FB. From people commenting on selected photos of presidents and their umbrellas, to comments about how evil that person is, or this one, or how unjust this situation and that is, we vent our frustrations on the internet. We like having that illusion of power, and an illusion is all that it is. We feel like we can strike back, that we aren’t powerless, that we have a voice, that we somehow fulfilled a religious obligation. And we are just spinning our wheels, and our souls. There is a time to effectively work to overcome evil – in a way that is personal and caring and effective.
We haven’t been doing what’s good and beneficial. In fact, when we set ourselves up as judge and jury, as we spend our time digging up the mud on this person or that, as we fight for our “rights”, we effectively say “no” to the peace of God. We take the matter into our hands – and with the illusion of power, allow things to take our minds off of what St. Paul suggests we should be doing,
Focusing on Christ, and His work. Looking at the things which will bring Christ into the picture, His mercy, His love, His gospel.
Whether it makes things fair or not. After all – Christ didn’t combat evil – talking about what was fair and moral. He overcame it – by loving us enough to suffer the evil – to show us that love.
As we deal with Mondays, and a complicated week – and we want to strike out because its not fair, let us instead remember we are nailed to the cross of Christ – that we’ve died and risen with Him.
Therefore – we are home – and at peace.
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 310-311). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- It’s Not About Calling the Qualified, or Even Qualifying the Called… it’s about revealing Christ. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Serving God where ever He calls you to service (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Dissatisfied? Discontent? Frustrated? Try losing yourself! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Do they know of your trust in God from your FB postings? (justifiedandsinner.com)
Our Place is His Place
And the World would know!
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May we welcome the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, confident of the love and mercy with which He cleanses our lives, and sets them apart to live in Christ with the Father!
Mi Casa et Su Casa: Ruth
Pentecost is more than a Sunday we celebrate once a year. It is more as well than the longest church season of the year – when that banner is up there, and when I wear a green stole to symbolize the growth of the church.
It is the start of something wonderful, something which defines every day every moment of our life. Because of the Holy Spirit, the one we confess is the Lord and Giver of our life.
One of the best illustrations of that life is found in the story of Naomi and Ruth. The promise that Jesus makes to us, comes more fully into focus when we hear the promise Ruth made to Naomi,
But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; 17 where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD—not even death itself is going to come between us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. Ruth 1:16-18 (MSG) 16
Of course, the Holy Spirit doesn’t say it quite like that – but the desire, the commitment, the very attitude of God is no less than Ruth’s, even unto death, God has made us a promise. “and We (the Father and Jesus) will come to him, and make Our Home with Him.”
May we indeed be like Naomi, and realizing that God has His heart set on going with us, may we give in, and welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives.
May we rejoice in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, may we rejoice in His presence, here and now.
Judas’ lack of vision
I was given an article this week, a pastor’s comments on the ascension, that troubled me. The basic concept was the reason the pastor thought Jesus ascended to heaven. He basically said the lesson of the Ascension was that God “trusts” us. That He left us to finish His work and trusts us to do it. Here’s a quote: “These were Jesus final marching orders: ‘Go everywhere you can and be a witness for love.’ And then He left”
Some really bad theology there, for a number of reasons. But I seem to recall the words a little differently
“18 Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20 and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (TEV)
It’s that last line, the I will be with you always, that somehow I think the pastor missed.
And I think Judas’ question shows us why.
“Lord,” he says, “How is it that you will reveal your glory to us, but you will assure the world won’t be able to see it?”
I guess all the “light unto the gentiles stuff” and “that the world may know” that seems so much a part of the gospel readings slipped Judas’s mind for the moment. Even as I think that the mission of making disciples slips our mind occasionally.
Along with some of the other things God would have us do, like loving our neighbor, or feeding the poor, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and forgiving those who have sinned against us.
I pray that God doesn’t just “trust us, and then leave.” I need, and I believe you need the constant presence of the Comforter, to heal us, to comfort us, to empower and commission us to use the very gifts that the Spirit has invested in us….as we depend on Him
The Miracle of the Holy Spirit’s Ministry
As these two widows, the young Ruth and older Naomi moved to Jerusalem, Ruth took on the role of the provider. She was the one who went out into the fields and worked, she cared for her mother-in-law, even as she promised.
In many ways, this too pictures the relationship of the Holy Spirit with us, nourishing us with the word of God, gathering us to the sacrament, Jesus prophesies about this work in this way. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
This blessed work of the Holy Spirit, is something we so desperately need in our lives. For the treasure of the teachings of God are so easily pushed aside as we deal with the challenges in this world. We need to know God’s love, we know He is with us, we need to explore the depths of His love, and how that love changes us from people outcasts, to being His very children.
We need the Holy Spirit to help us adjust our priorities, to help us keep our focus on God. We need to be reminded of our baptism – the very place where the Spirit was poured out on us, reviving us and renewing us. We need the Holy Spirit to grant us repentance, to help us treasure the incredible words of Jesus, the promises made to us by the Son of God. We need to be reminded that God’s will is that no one should perish, that all would be transformed by God.
Here is how Paul described this work of the Holy Spirit,
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. Colossians 1:27-28 (TEV)
In other words – our place, wherever we are, He chooses as His place as well. And that is what the Holy Spirit teaches us, even as we teach others.
What is that message?
So what is it the Holy Spirit calls us to our minds, that which Christ had taught the disciples? Jesus said it this way,
“I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”
And the Father sent His Son to save us, to make us His own people.. and such you are…
For he has done this – He has left us in His peace, He has given us His peace, the comfort the Holy Spirit has made known to us.
Assured of this – we have no need of troubled hearts, nor anxious minds..
For the Spirit reminds us, we dwell with God, we are in Christ, we are welcome here… in His peace.
- Welcome Holy Spirit? (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional Thought of the Day:
5 ”I am telling you the truth,” replied Jesus, “that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit. 7 Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again. 8 The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8 (TEV)
24 I will take you from every nation and country and bring you back to your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you and make you clean from all your idols and everything else that has defiled you. 26 I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. 27 I will put my spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. Ezekiel 36:24-27 (TEV)
“Get to know the Holy Spirit, the Great Unknown, the one who has to sanctify you. Don’t forget that you are a temple of God. The Paraclete is in the center of your soul: listen to him, and follow his inspirations with docility.” (1)
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the beginning of Pentecost. The beginning of the church, it’s birth in water and Spirit, that simply confounded Nicodemus, that incredible pouring out of God that started then, and continues during every worship service, with every baptism, with every remembrance of the work of the Spirit.
While many churches pull out all the stops for Pentecost Sunday, do we realize that Pentecost isn’t a day. It is not even a season of the church year, but the era in which we, and so many have gone before us in, and who knows how many will follow in, in our stumbling steps. It is Pentecost that we are in, as we take every breath, as we struggle with every sin, as we pray in desperation those prayers our hearts wonder will be heard, and be responded to by God with action.
If we really contemplate this, do we welcome it, or do we shy from it.
CS Lewis once described Jesus, using the picture of Aslan the lion, and stated that Aslan isn’t a tame lion, that Jesus isn’t a tame God. I think that is the nature of the Holy Spirit as well, the wind isn’t tamed, it can’t be. He is in control, and if we have any sense, that should begin to scare us, for we know the Spirit’s goal, it’s mission – to cleanse us as Ezekiel prophesied and rid us of our sin-hardened hearts.
But do we want that, more than one day a year? Are we willing to hear God, do we want to know His presence continually? Are we willing to listen to His voice, to those He calls around us? Are we willing to let Him cleanse us? Are we ready for that? Are we ready for the Holy Spirit to ready our Heart, our spirit, our mind, and our strength to be separated from all that would hold us back from walking with God?
Or would we rather look at theology, or politics, or morality, or anything other that what God will do in our lives? Will we welcome His fire purifying us? Will we welcome Him removing the dross from our lives?
A hard question…
May we be willing to trust in His mercy, even as He does it!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 299-301). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotion Thought of the Day…
26 From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. 27 He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; 28 as someone has said, ‘In him we live and move and exist.’ It is as some of your poets have said, ‘We too are his children.’ Acts 17:26-28 (TEV)
There are a couple of young guys I get to interact with once in a while. ( I get to interact with others, but this morning I am thinking and praying for these two. ) Like I was at their age, I want to change the world, or at least a small section of it. Yet, like them, I wandered through careers, trying to find that place where I could not just excel at what I did, but find some kind of contentment at it.
I got to talk to one yesterday, the other, well I will hopefully see him soon.
But I feel both have a call to ministry. They are avoiding it, and well I was there too, once upon a time. Matter of fact, I can be pretty good at avoiding God still. Pretty simple for a pastor – the more we minister to others, the more we don’t allow God to minister to us.
But this blog entry isn’t about them or about me, it’s about all of us, and what we try to avoid. It is not about serving either – well one of the fringe benefits of realizing what this blog is about – well you will begin to desire to be more and more like Jesus, especially as He ministered to those who were, well, a little obstinate, a little desperate, pretty defensive, and well were sinners. Because that’ what we were…when He found us.
This blog is too help us mature, but Christian maturity, as my young friends will realize, is less about becoming independent and self-sufficient. It is, rather, about becoming dependent on God’s presence, on realizing He is with you – that your very life is found, in His presence, that He guides your movements, that because in Him we exist, He is never far from us.
I know most of us guys will grimace at the use of the word “intimacy”, but I have yet to find a word to describe this relationship that God has called us into. But to try and accept this – even it is too much to comprehend – God is with us. We dwell, we live, everything we do is in His presence. It is when we realize this, when we revel in it, when we dance with joy and abandon because we know His love… (like Snoopy) that everything changes. That we realize His promises, that we realize His providing for us and His protection. That we take chances, that we sacrifice, that we endure – knowing, expecting, trusting that He has us in the palm of His hand.
It becomes the center of our existence, and everything else is measured – not by how many dollars we earn, or what we have, but simply – knowing God….
And it is there – in His presence, that we realize our true life, our true calling.
May S and K find that calling – that seems a bit obvious to us, and may we as well realize that where God has placed us, He has done so for a reason – it’s where He has chosen to dwell with us.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 ”At that time the Kingdom of heaven will be like this. Once there was a man who was about to leave home on a trip; he called his servants and put them in charge of his property. 15 He gave to each one according to his ability: to one he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then he left on his trip. 16 The servant who had received five thousand coins went at once and invested his money and earned another five thousand. 17 In the same way the servant who had received two thousand coins earned another two thousand. 18 But the servant who had received one thousand coins went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. 19 ”After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20 The servant who had received five thousand coins came in and handed over the other five thousand. ‘You gave me five thousand coins, sir,’ he said. ‘Look! Here are another five thousand that I have earned.’ 21 ’Well done, you good and faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!’ 22 Then the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, ‘You gave me two thousand coins, sir. Look! Here are another two thousand that I have earned.’ 23 ’Well done, you good and faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!’ Matthew 25:14-23 (TEV)
I dream—and the dream has come true—of multitudes of God’s children, sanctifying themselves as ordinary citizens, sharing the ambitions and endeavors of their colleagues and friends. I want to shout to them about this divine truth: if you are there in the middle of ordinary life, it doesn’t mean Christ has forgotten about you or hasn’t called you. He has invited you to stay among the activities and concerns of the world. He wants you to know that your human vocation, your profession, your talents, are not omitted from his divine plans. He has sanctified them and made them a most acceptable offering to his Father. (1)
As a Lutheran pastor, one of the doctrines that we count on is in regards to the Office of Holy Ministry, the interesting balance of those who serve the priesthood of all believers. A vocation that is never about authority, but can only be about responsibility – we are responsible to care for souls – using God’s word and the Sacraments as our primary tools. But the Office of Holy Ministy, (or Public Minsitry) does not free the laity from their responsibilities as priests of God. Just the opposite, the Office of Holy Ministry serves them and assists them in their ministry.
Each of us is in ministry, in the strictest sense – being a diakonos – whether clergy or laity, or someway in between. But the challenge is seeing our work, our homes, our errands as that of ministering in the stead on by the commissioning of God (i prefer commissioning to command) That is true where ever we go, whatever we are doing. We re being sent there by God – to represent Him, to tell of His love with our words and our lives. It is not our work as much as the work of Jesus. This means more often than not we die to self – we get the heck out of the way, our priorities, our lives are set aside, and His replace them.
This is seen in the quote by St. Josemaria as he says at the beginning that we sanctify our lives – by setting them apart – sanctifying themselves – but then at the end – we realize it is Jesus that sanctifies them and makes them acceptable to the Father. That this is the role of “ordinary” people – (we in the clergy are of the opposite of “usual” . It happens whenever and where ever Christ has placed you, planned for you to be.
So there is your holy vocation…. let Him guide and empower your service there.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 823-827). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- The Pantheon, An Example of Redemption and Transformation and Vocation (justifiedandsinner.com)
- It’s Not About Calling the Qualified, or Even Qualifying the Called… it’s about revealing Christ. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Is Teaching People That They Must Go to Church Right? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Dissatisfied? Discontent? Frustrated? Try losing yourself! (justifiedandsinner.com)
Discussion thought of the Day:
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Matthew 6:12 (MSG)
38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 39 40 Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:38-40 (MSG)
In this life of ours we must expect the Cross. Those who do not expect the Cross are not Christians, and they will be unable to avoid their own “cross”, which will drive them to despair. (1)
If the atrocities that happened in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic sickened you, this blog may be difficult to read. Please know that even a I type these words, I am praying specifically for those who will struggle with this.
I think we, as the church, must pray for this man, we must cry out to God that God would bring Dr. Gosnell to repentance, to the very transformation that leads to life. I say this neither lightly, nor ignoring the horrors that occurred at his direction, at his hands. I as much as any, struggle with the abortion issue, because of the circumstances of my birth. If I was born 8-10 years later, society would have approved – heck – would have recommended that I be aborted. Having now met my birth mother, I am pretty sure she still would not have…yet….
Obviously we need to pray for Dr. Gosnell’s sake that he finds the mercy that can only come through the Holy Spirit circumcising his heart, through the hardness being excised. It would be a miracle as mind-blowing as any I’ve seen or heard of in my life, a conversion far more incredible than that of Chuck Colson, and perhaps even Dahmer. We cannot let this man go forgotten, we have to realize that sharing the gospel with him, and praying that God would raise up the chaplain who will minister to him in prison, is essential.
But, as we are taught to pray, we need to do it for our sake as well. We can allow ourselves to be hardened and callous to this man, we cannot just demand justice, ignoring that he too, is a life. If we do, if we are merciless – then we have turned into the same kind of monster we perceive him to be.
As St. Josemaria tells us – we have to expect this cross, we have to expect to bear the cross of ministering to the greatest of sinners. We cannot avoid it.
For if we do we fail and despair. If we do, we will convince ourselves that there is a limit to God’s grace, a limit to His reach, a limit to His ability to grant someone repentance.
And eventually, that limit will find itself growing – leaving more and more in the position of being beyond grace. Until we find ourselves outside the limit of His grace.
If we determine Gosnell can’t be reached – if we decide his reconciliation is not something we will pray for, bearing that cross, we will start down a dangerous path.
Dahmer was saved, as were Paul, as was King David, as are we…
Let’s pray for Dr. Gosnell, and for those involved in the abortion industry, for the victims, for those convinced that it is “okay”, for those who work and advocate for it.
That they would come to know the grace found in the only begotten son of God.
May we find God’s mercy to pray for them, to pray for Him.
Let us pray….
LORD HAVE MERCY!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2748-2750). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- FB Behavior and the Theology of the Cross… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Do they know of your trust in God from your FB postings? (justifiedandsinner.com)
Discussion thought of the Day:
2 Those who speak in strange tongues do not speak to others but to God, because no one understands them. They are speaking secret truths by the power of the Spirit. 3 But those
who proclaim God’s message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort. 4 Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God’s message help the whole church. 1 Corinthians 14:2-4 (TEV)
Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by the people 1 Corinthians 14:2-9, but it has also been so ordained by man’s law. The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public worship. (1)
Last night, during the time my son and I spend reading scripture and now the Augsburg Confession together ( in Kindergarten – he chose that after 10 times reading the small catechism to me!) we came across this passage, one I think my denomination overlooks I think. I know I do – simply because in a conversation a month ago, I brought up the quote from 1 Corinthians 14 and was told that it wasn’t speaking about Latin and German (and High English) but rather (their words) just speaking in tongues.
Sigh, I allowed them to get away with it – forgetting that in this Article – it is made all to clear that our spiritual forefathers were talking about using language that people know – and use regularly.
I have also backed down a bit when people claim that the liturgy is not for people seeking God, but rather for the initiated, for those that cherish words like salutary, words like Nunc Dimitis, and grasp the many varied and intricate ways the mass point people to the fact that Christ is merciful, loving and present in their lives. This is a reaction to those who claim that the church service must be seeker-sensitive ( I think they mean seeker driven – but that is my opinion) Again – look at our Lutheran Confessions, the ceremonies of our liturgy are not for those with all the knowledge – but are to benefit those without such knowledge. It’s not for the spiritually elite, but those of us who have been spiritually bankrupt – without understanding what we need to know about Jesus. ( His love, His mercy, His presence – heck even the middle one needs to be unpacked — mercy= His compassionate and careful cleansing us of all that is unjust – our sin and the sins of others that affect our lives )
I so love the attitude of Melancthon in writing this – an attitude that shows me how much our forefathers cared about those who didn’t know God, or those who knew of Him, but didn’t know Him. I love the balance that says – what we’ve done is good – great – this liturgy speaks of Christ – but let us speak in a language those uninitiated in the faith.
Let our words proclaim His love, His mercy, His presence in our lives! Let those words be such that they are heard, and treasured.
And may we see the glory of God that is with us, as we see the awe in faces as they hear and know the love of God – and with us begin to explore its depths, heights, breadt and width! AMEN!
(1) — Augsberg Confession, Article XXIV
- Narcissism in the Church today….breaking it down so “they” can say AMEN! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Beauty of the Liturgy – Evangelical Catholic VIII (justifiedandsinner.com)
In Christ, One With the Father
† Jesus, Son and Savior †
As we are drawn into the life of Christ, as we come to realize the depth of His love and mercy and the peace which goes beyond all comprehension, may we find that we the world knows of God’s love, because they see the evidence of it, in us.
Listening in on a Overwhelming Conversation
Two things we learn
You are walking down the hallway, and overhead your name mentioned, before you respond, you realize you aren’t being called – but rather you are the topic of conversation.
Or you are asked to go look at something on someone’s computer, and rather than what you expected, you realize that they left up an email, where you are the topic of conversation.
Do you keep listening? Do you silently tiptoe up to the doorway, pressing your back against it so you can hear even better? Do you walk away? Do you cough or somehow make it known you are there? How do deal with the embarrassment if you are caught listening, or reading? Which is harder – if the conversation was really critical, or if the conversation was one discussing something very special, even unbelievable that would be done for you?
I feel a little like that – as we read the gospel of John today. This incredible conversation between Jesus and the Father. This intimate look at their relationship – their interdependence, their inter-existence, that goes beyond explanation. We are talking about the mystery of the Trinity.
Even as that is a mystery beyond comprehension, this prayer of Jesus takes it one step farther, one step even more… challenging to believe….
The conversation is about… us. About bringing us into Their sacred relationship, about bringing us into their life, about sharing with us, their glory!
Jesus is praying and that we would belong in that relationship as amazing as that seems, Together with people from every time in history and every tongue and every people, we are in Christ –and are one… ever as Jesus and the Father are one.
Even when we struggle to realize it, it is known by the world, through our words, our thoughts, and deeds,
We are to be One, in Christ, in the Father
As I struggled to write this sermon, I was more and more aware of the necessity that we get what Jesus is praying for – even if we can’t comprehend how it happens, or what it all means. As Vicar Mark and Deacon Mike talked about it on Monday night – we were stymied.
How do you explain verse 21? What can illustrate it? That Jesus prayed that we may be one – that seems easy, until you understand how “one”.
Hear it again..21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us,
This isn’t unity in the sense that fans of the patriots are sure that we will trounce the Jets. Or unity is mission – which is critical for a church to be who God calls us to be, for us all to be pushing on the same side of the box.
It is far deeper than just unity in purpose – it’s more intimate, more awe-inspiring this unity in substance that is so indescribable – yet so holy, so precious, so overwhelming! It would be overwhelming if it was “just” the Father being in Jesus, Yet this relationship is reflexive – as the Father is in Jesus, as Jesus Is in the Father. They are – indistinguishable in character, in purpose, in existence, in being.
They are One… (remember to pause)
In Jesus – we are joined “in” Them. Not just to them, but in Them. What a glorious, incredible, beyond our ability to imagine, concept. Jesus says that “they also may be in us.” Slight clarification there, because of the English – it sounds like that hasn’t happened yet, but the verb tense there means a continuing state that starts in the past and is still active now.. and for the unforeseeable future.
In this case we are in the Father and the Son…for eternity. (pause)
As Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles, “In Him we have life, and we move and we exist.
Or as Jesus says in Colossians,
12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 (NLT)
You are in Jesus – united with Him in baptism – and therefore as He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him… you are there!
That this is seen by the world, that they may believe
While I might not like accidentally overhearing or reading the critical conversation about me; I think it is far more embarrassing and awkward when people are praising you, or when they are planning to shock you with something, and you happen in on the conversation.
I don’t think I am alone in this, because I think most of us understand we aren’t perfect, and when people praise us, we also realize there are things that they could criticize or even crucify us for, if they only knew.
Most of us don’t realize when we are living in Christ, because it is just that – it is living – it clicks, it works and we find ourselves content. We find great dissonance though and discontent when we are not in that peace, when we are struggling in our unity with Christ and with each other.
While we may not see it – the world does. I am more and more convinced that the church, when it remembers its place is in Christ, in the Father, the more natural it grows – as the world knows why Jesus came – and comes to trust in it as much as we do.
That’s what being drawn into Christ does – that is what being baptized into Christ has done, it was what finding yourself strengthened as you eat the Body of Jesus and drink His Blood does. The Holy Spirit, through word and sacrament transforms us, it causes us to remember Him, that He dwells here – it unites us all, together in Him, in the Father.
The world will notice this, it notices the love, the caring, the peace.
They won’t notice our call for them to follow our moral code, or even our views on science, or on history, or on the nature of man. They may not notice our excellent music, or our preaching, or the beauty of the stained glass and what each symbol means.
They will notice the unity in substance, our unity in love, the will notice the Christ in which we live.. and the peace that passes all comprehension.
For Paul says it clearly -
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. Colossians 1:27 (TEV)
They will notice as we see revealed the glory of the Father shared with the Son, into which we’ve been drawn as we share in The Trinity’s love, and for they will seethe change it makes in us, and give him glory.