Monday, September 29, 2014
Friends of Faith:
I know there are certain things that I do regularly (pray, go to church, and serve others) which give me a sense of joy, a sense of freedom and even a sense of accomplishment. But I also know my intention and goal to do these simple things more often, to say yes to God’s call, is often followed by the realization a couple of days later that I have fallen short of my promises and my goals.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: "What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him." Mt 21: 28-32
But yet even the tax collector and the prostitute were able to make lasting changes that allowed them to enter the kingdom of heaven.
So what attitudes are central to a believer’s life and what commitment to change brings about those attitudes and simple yet practical changes?
Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. Phil 2: 1-5
Yesterday Father suggested these 6 attitudes, goals and questions to accomplish our “yes” goals:
1) Love the Word of God. Pray one verse daily. If God’s word isn’t the center of my life, who’s word is?
2) Sacraments. Encounter Christ’s presence often. If God’s presence isn’t central to my life, than the only other possible center is me, myself, and I.
3) Worship. Spend time with God regularly. Going to Church on Sunday isn’t enough, keeping holy the Sabbath means more. Doing what is right is not always convenient, but to do God’s will even when we don’t “feel like it” means that I have made God bigger than me. Is God’s will central to my decision making? For if I do not DO the WILL of God, who’s will am I doing?
4) Stewardship. God has given us the gift of life and the gift of time. Do we give thanks to God for being able to breath and for having the time to see his creation? How much do I have that I take for granted? Do I thank God for life, and God’s “stuff” or am I constantly seeking more of the world’s stuff?
5) Prayer is listening to God. God may hit me over the head with fire and wind, but more often he is a whisper I need to listen in the silence for. We live in a noisy world that constantly tries to get our attention and if I am not listening regularly to God it probably means I am listening to the world.
6) Baptism is the doorway to grace. Do I keep the door of my heart open to His grace? Do I see the choice to choose God’s way as a burden or as an opportunity? Not all of life’s journey will be easy or without sacrifice – even Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross in answering yes to God. Is my yes to serving God bigger than my yes to serving myself?
If God isn’t bigger than us, than that means we have made ourselves bigger than God. Will I say yes to God and am I willing to make the commitment to change for Him?
Heavenly Father, You are bigger than life itself. I know you should be the center of my life in everything I choose to do, to see and to be. Help me to hear you, yearn for you, listen for you, spend time with you and give back to you. Thank you for ALL You have given me. Help me to choose to see that it is enough. Amen.
So why am I excited to give and to share the center of my life with others? Because I said yes to making God my center!
May you center your life on His word, His creation and His presence.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Friends of Faith:
Are you winning the race? Whether we realize it or not, we all have goals that we are working towards or training for – whether the race is as simple as teaching a child how to tie their shoes, or as difficult as losing 10 pounds or running a marathon—by our nature we work towards, and for, higher and higher goals and achievements. And we teach and have been taught to set our goals high, to have winning attitudes.
But how high are our goals really? Are our goals continually increasing (like teaching that child to read, fitting back into your wedding dress, or competing in a triathlon) or are they truly imperishable?
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor 9: 22-27
Unlike the goals we set here on earth where there is either only one winner or the goals keep getting greater, the goal designed for us by God is imperishable and meant for all to reach. There is nothing greater than a win in, for, and through Him.
Unfortunately though, many of us only set goals which are the touchable earthly goals of keeping up with the Jones’s or getting our kids to the top of some competitive sporting event. We focus on doing what will get us ahead on earth and forget about what God’s eternal design is for us—to love, honor and serve Him.
I find myself concerned with scheduling and planning my attendance at the next meeting, when I will have an opportunity to meet someone with notoriety, where I will eat the next meal and what I will see on my next trip out of town instead of on who needs my assistance, when I will let myself sit in silent prayer, or who is waiting for an invitation to come worship with me.
So the next time you find yourself competing, or encouraging your child to compete, or reaching to keep up with the Jones’s ask yourself: “What race am I running in?” “Is this “goal” God’s or mine?” “Will this competition allow someone else to experience and realize a gift of God or will it only achieve my own self serving desire?” “Will I make God visible to another through my action?”
Heavenly Father: You have created us to win, and given us a Church to guide us in reaching your imperishable goal. Help me to compete not to outdo my Christian sisters and brothers, but to search for ways to make Christ visible to them. Help me to be disciplined in my actions—not serving myself, not making more of myself, but serving others by lifting up and glorifying all of humanity with the respect and worth you created in each of them. Thank you for all the gifts you have given me which allow me to win much more than I deserve. Amen.
Be disciplined. Give in and give up what has become your own desire to instead search for what God desires of you. In reaching for the imperishable goal, God’s gifts will far exceed anything you might win here on earth.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Women of Faith:“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” Jn 12: 24-26
As mom’s we quickly learn to put aside our wants and desires to meet the needs of our children. Maybe it’s self preservation, that we don’t want to listen to a baby cry, but I’d rather think it is because that is the heart that God created in women. I see this character trait even among women who for whatever reason are childless, an inner sense of responsibility and compassion for someone in need… especially the needs of infants and those who seem otherwise “helpless.”I also think that this is why he blessed men with us as their helpmates – so that the stereotypical strength and courage of a man would be softened by the stereotypical caring and compassion of women – it takes both, together, to be able to imitate the full realm of God’s persona. For, together, we have been created in his likeness and image—and asked to continue the creation of His kingdom here on earth.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Mt 16: 23-26Again, Jesus speaks of growing by dying, of bearing our crosses and becoming like him, of losing our earthly life by putting our needs behind those of others, of putting our humanly life on the cross so that we are free to strive for heavenly rewards… to be self-giving rather than self-receiving.
For what good is it if we have earthly “things” but fail to attain eternal joy in heaven. What good is it if we have clothes, shoes and vacations if we have broken marriages and children starving for attention?Male and female, created together, under one mission, complementary, so that joined together we have the strength and power needed to carry the cross, the caring and compassion needed to assist each other, bear the burdens of day to day life, and the mercy and acceptance it takes by both in forgiving each other when we don’t quite live up to the roles we have been given.
Dying to my own needs…. Putting others before me…. Finding the joy in bearing my cross as He did for us. My mission may be difficult, but it is also necessary, not only to obtain my own place in heaven, but to grow and show heaven to others. This is the one, true mission that God set before each of us, to be a grain of wheat which dies so that others may live—first in the domestic church through our family and then in the worldwide church through our community.Heavenly Father, it is in Your image which I have been created, it is to Your image in which I hope to be changed by conversion. Through your Son, Jesus, You bore the cross for each of us. Help us now each to bear our crosses for you. May I see and accept each person you place near me as a child of God who needs my love, compassion, and forgiveness. Amen.
Take up your cross, die as does the grain of wheat and live for Him by sowing the seed of faith in others.Blessings,