Aug 30, 2009

Some Words From Carlo Carretto

God is always coming, and we, like Adam, hear his footsteps. God is always coming because God is life, and life has the unbridled force of creation...God comes because God is light, and light may not remain hidden. God comes because God is love, and love needs to give itself. God has always been coming; God is always coming.

~ In God's Footsteps

Aug 28, 2009

A Good Quote From Frederick Buechner

"There is the slow poisoning of what we call 'the environment' of all things, as if with that antiseptic term we can conceal from ourselves that what we are really poisoning is our home. It is no wonder that the books and newspapers we read, the movies and TV we watch, are obssessed with the dark and the demonic, are full of death and violence. It is as if the reason we wallow in them is that they keep our minds off the real death, the real violence. And God knows the Christian faith has its darkness and demons too, so discredited by religious crooks and phonies, so distorted for political purposes, and in thousands of respectable pulpits proclaimed so blandly and shallowly and without passion, that you wonder sometimes not only if it will survive but even if it deserves to survive. As a character in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters puts it, 'If Jesus came back and saw what was going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.'"

Aug 27, 2009

The Way of the Cross

"Jesus' life has a general narrative direction. We call this general direction the Way of the Cross. Jesus understood from the beginning that his was a life of sacrifice. His life flowed toward the cross at all times. He never climbed any first century ladders of success. The devil showed him plenty. The people begged him to climb them. Jesus rejected ladders and consistently chose the downward road of sacrifice."

From The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen

Aug 26, 2009

Jesus' Temptations and Temptations We Face...

Soon I will begin contemplating Jesus' temptations in the wilderness and how we are similarly tempted. I know much has been written about this across the centuries, but I too would like to reflect on it as I read what others have written. As I preach to myself, perhaps you may gain some nourishment from it. I did a quick google search on it and found this short gem from the Rev. William D. Oldland at: Speaking of the temptation for power he says:

Another name for this temptation is control. We want control over everything around us. We want people to notice us. We want the accolades. I call this the E.F. Hutton syndrome. When we walk into a room or say something our desire is for people to notice us. This temptation is very powerful. It occurs in homes and families. It occurs in business. It takes place in churches. Look at me. Look at all the things I do in the church. Look at how important I am in my own world. Another way this temptation rears its head is in addiction. We think we can control alcohol, drugs, sex, the compulsion to make money, or any other addiction. We are in control and nothing can control us.

Aren't we all guilty of this? At one time I didn't think power was a temptation for me. Ha! Usually when I don't think that I struggle with something I soon find that I do.

As I reflect and hear from God on this topic, I hope to post my reflections. I am open to hearing from you, too.

Thank you.

Aug 24, 2009

Isolation, Sickness & Spiritual Health (Re-published)

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

What happens when we are isolated from the body of Christ (even other denominations), or from people in general? Mal perceptions. In the absence of healthy others, ill-informed emotions and opinions emerge. We desinegrate into neurosis, perhaps without even knowing. It is impossible to be spiritually, emotionally, or physically healthy when we spend our days alone because there's no one to tell us we're wrong, in left-field, no one to encourage us when we need it most.Life-giving nourishment comes from being immsersed in the body of Christ. Probably the only reason that we would withdraw from the body is if we're homebound for one reason or another. Otherwise, let us not merely attend church, but immerse ourselves in the body. Our health depends on it.

Aug 23, 2009

Truthfulness, Untruthfulness, & Brotherhood - Bonhoeffer

There is no truth toward Jesus without truth towards man. Untruthfulness destroys fellowship, but truth cuts false fellowship to pieces and establishes genuine brotherhood.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer from The Cost of Discipleship

Aug 22, 2009

Jaded By Christians (An Oldie But Goodie Re-published)

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." ~ Isaiah 42:3a

You’re in a swirl of darkness. You experience soul-searing pain. Open wounds. Not only from your own pain, but from the countless injustices and atrocities around you. Numb. Your soul is numb. Your faith fragile. One wrong move and you’ll fall to pieces. You can’t see God through the fog of his people. Jesus said that people would spot Christians by their love, if that’s the case, then you couldn’t be surrounded by Christians because these people are selfish, stubborn, mean and angry. Grinding all sorts of axes. Tunnel-visioned. You’re disillusioned, don’t know what to believe or if you believe. “Is God who he says he is? Is what I’ve been taught about him true?” you wonder. Moreover if God is good and loving why so much evil, pain, and suffering? Why so many professing Christians who are nothing like Jesus? What can be done for you? Is this all there is? You fear falling into the bottomless abyss of unbelief. What you don’t want, what you don’t need is someone to quote Bible verses to you. Giving you pat answers. You bristle at the thought. You know what? Jesus isn’t that way. He doesn't kick you when you're down. But he asks, “What can I do for you?” Jesus came to reconcile you and all of creation to God. He wants to show you how to live, to make you whole--fully human. And he will walk with you as you heal. He knows the pace you can manage. He will sharpen your perceptions of reality through his word, through Christians who behave(d) like him, and through creation's graces. He'll answer many questions, and make you okay with not knowing the answers to others. He'll pour his life into you as you follow him. In turn you'll live your life to serve God and others. It's not the end for you. Right now, the best thing you can do is trust him and relax in his arms even if you can't pray or go to church or serve (he knows all this). He'll bring you around to truth and life and comfort.

Aug 21, 2009

From The Spiritual Life By Evelyn Underhill

"So those who imagine they are called to contemplation because they are attracted by contemplation, when the common duties of existence steadily block this path, do well to realize that our own feelings and preferences are very poor guides when it comes to the robust realities and stern demands of the Spirit. St. Paul did not want to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He wanted to be a clever and appreciated young Jewish scholar, and kicked against the pricks. St. Ambrose and St. Augustine did not want to be overworked and worried bishops. Nothing was farther from their intention. St. Cuthbert wanted the solitude and freedom of his hermitage on the Farne; but he did not often get there. St. Francis Xavier's preference was for an ordered life close to his beloved master, St. Ignatius. At a few hours' notice he was sent out to be the Apostle to the Indies and never returned to Europe again. Henry Martyn, a fragile and exquisite scholar, was compelled to sacrifice the intellectual life to which he was so perfectly fitted for the missionary life to which he felt he was decisively called. In all these, a power beyond themselves decided the direction of life. Yet in all we recognize not frustration, but the highest of all types of achievement. Thing like this--and they are constantly happening--gradually convince us that the over-ruling reality of life is the Will and Choice of a Spirit acting not in a mechanical but in a living and personal way; and that the spiritual life does not consist in the mere individual betterment, or assiduous attention to one's own soul, but in a free and unconditional response to that Spirit's pressure and call, whatever the cost may be."

Aug 19, 2009

Taking Up My Cross (Republishing A Few Oldies But Goodies"

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:37-39

I daily pledge to follow Christ closely. But now that he has given me a heavy cross, I balk. I realize that I wanted to pick and choose my cross. The cross that I am currently bearing isn't the one I would've selected. It's unbelievably harder than I imagined. I left all to answer this call, I sacrificed my Isaac, but now I'm complaining daily about it. I have a bad attitude.You know, I always thought I would've been Caleb or Joshua in the wilderness. Yet upon reflection, even though I never would've dreamed it possible, I am convinced that I would've died in the wilderness with most of the Israelites. Why? Because I've treated God with contempt by complaining which displays ugly unbelief.

When we ask God to give us our daily bread, one thing we are asking for is the nourishment that will provide the strength for us to carry our cross to our death. After he puts to death in us what he will, he'll raise us to new life. That's what I believe. That's what I remind myself of today. I need strength for today, tomorrow has enough evil of its own (Matthew 6:25-33).

"When we follow Jesus, it means that we don't know exactly what it means, at least in detail. We follow him, letting him pick the roads, set the timetables, tell us what we need to know but only when we need to know it . . . . When Jesus says 'Follow me' and we follow, we don't know where we will go next or what we will do next, that is why we follow the one who does know."--Eugene Peterson The Jesus Way p.240

Aug 18, 2009

The Art of Being Poor

The art of being poor is to trust in God for everything, to demand nothing--and to be grateful for all that is given.

John Chrysostom

Aug 17, 2009

Near Death Again...

I'm 31. But I think about death a lot. I am not morbid; what I mean is that I often think about the fact that every hour, every minute that goes by brings me a moment closer to my physical death. And I think things like, "Lord, what kind of life have I lived, and won't you live through me that I might make an eternal difference in this world? I am but dust, a passing breeze that does not return." I thought about death again Saturday night 8/15/09. Shawn and Iliana stayed home that night, because Shawn was preparing for a trip to Europe.

It had been a very full two weeks, as it is every year in preparation for students. I packed in four weeks of work into two weeks. On my way back from church on Rte. 72 a white chevy pickup truck stopped in front of me to turn left. As I waited for it to turn, I looked in my review mirror and realized that the old blue Suburban behind me, filled with four young people (in their late teens or early twenties that I had passed on a two-way earlier) didn't realize I stopped. I thought, "I'm a goner. I'll be smashed to a pulp into the rear end of that pickup." I estimated that they were traveling about 65mph. When they saw me and the truck in front of me, they swerved right to avoid me and oncoming traffic. They careened into the cornfield going very, very fast. As soon as the pickup swerved into the cornfield, I found a good spot and pulled over. I started to dial 911 and then heard the engine reving. Before I hit 'send' on my cell phone they backed out. I asked them if they were okay and they gave me a thumbs up sign. They drove away. Shawn and I drove by later on and he noticed that they barely missed being wrapped around the telephone pole. God spared my life and he spared theirs. I don't know anything about them. But I prayed for them. That Christ would be made real in them if they don't know him. And I thought about how God protected me again. It wasn't my moment to die. May Christ live his life through me, may his streams of living water flow through me into the lives of others. And I pray the same for you. We know not when we'll breathe our last. Amen.

Aug 8, 2009

Forsaking Everything For His Own Prestige

"In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, [Lucifer] could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige."

~ C.S. Lewis in A Preface to Paradise Lost