John Wesley’s Fear has come True

I clipped this news article from the internet. While I know the internet is a place where you need to be discerning about what is true and false, this article and the interview it presents did actually happen.

Leaders from the United Methodist Church have announced a tentative plan to split the church over differences on whether or not Methodists should be Christian or some sort of social group with a vague deist motif that makes up morality based on whatever it feels like.

“There was just no way to reconcile differences,” said Rev. Lloyd Patrick, one of those dismayed by the recent push by traditionalists to follow the Bible instead of each person’s own heart. “A lot of people still want to follow Jesus — a person from 2000 years ago who made no statements about pronouns and thus has no relevance today — which is just silly since we all know so much more now and have a better grasp on morality than a bunch of ancient people.”

Rev. Patrick went on to describe how Christian beliefs put an unnecessary burden on people, as they can lead to ridicule or even being canceled. “I guess they don’t have to worry about that in primitive places overseas,” Rev. Patrick said, “but we can’t be expected to deal with that in the U.S.”

While most of the U.S. Methodist churches are moving in a more modern direction, away from outdated beliefs like Christianity (comment: chronological snobbery), it’s mainly in less developed nations ( in places like Africa that are still hung up on things like the Bible, necessitating the split. We got no statements from anyone there, though, as it didn’t seem worth listening to such unenlightened views.

I chose to join the Methodist church seven years ago after a struggle with Baptist polity that left me disillusioned and close to burn out. I stayed with the United Methodist for seven years and then, after being basically dumped by the conference in which my membership resides. I joined the Methodist church thinking that the Methodist church would still be seeking the things John Wesley sought. I was wrong.

Still, I continue to attend a Methodist church due to my wife being on staff and due to the fact that the church she is on staff with is a very orthodox leaning church.

I do not know Rev. Patrick. He is not a leader I would follow. His statement is full of logical fallacies and seems to be derogatory toward the Methodist church in Africa. I feel sad for such people who seem not to have an actual relationship with Jesus. I feel sad for people who have abandoned Christianity for modernism. However, the Lord told us this would happen.  

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. (2 Tim. 4:3-4 NRS)

The myth that morality is defined by culture and that there are no moral absolutes has always been a stumbling block to humanity. We, since the fall, have a tendency to try and define what is moral by our own preferences. Please pray for those who have abandoned faith for a pseudo-relevance that will only lead to consequences that will not building the church up but drag it down.

Lectionary Sermon (Gospel) for October 24, 2021

Mark 10:46-52 If Asked, “What would you want?”

Timaeus, a name which means to honor. Was blind. He was not always blind but sometime in his life he could see.

Back to his name for a moment.  The name comes from the Greek noun τιμη (ti-may) describes something that is dear, valuable or honorable. It stems from the verb τιω (tea-o), to honor, revere, prize highly or simply: to value or price. Both this verb and its noun speak of an intimate knowledge of the thing assessed, and an intimate knowledge of the item’s usefulness relative to the economy at large. What a difficult name for a blind beggar to carry. What honor was there in begging? What honor was there in being blind?

Forgive me for bringing myself into the story, but I, myself, have learned something of blindness. I lost my left eye (my dominate one). When I close my eyes, my mind tries to get the left eye that is not there to be dominate. This I am embraced by total darkness. The thought of losing sight in my other eye can create fears that I frequently face (with God’s help and grace).

I see people begging on the streets of the town that I live. They are not blind. I cannot image how a blind person could survive in such a situation. At least in the culture of Jesus day, giving help to a begging person was an honorable thing to do. There was not thought of them being welfare kings or people who would just misuse whatever was given to them. Before we judge people, which we should never do, we should get to know them and their story.

I have no trouble with this story. I know I have no trouble thinking that this guy, Timaeus, a name which means to honor, is in a deeply destitute and downtrodden state of mind. This is his life, depend on others. He must ask others for handouts. He likely depends on others to help him find food and shelter. He has no hope of his life improving. But then something happened.

In the place where Timaeus, a name which means to honor, was sitting, begging, a commotion began. In the story of Jesus given to us by Luke and the Holy Spirit we are told that Timaeus asked what was going on. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth, the teacher and healer was near. When Timaeus hears this, he begins to yell for Jesus. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk. 10:47 NRS)

Timaeus, whose name means to honor, yelling seems to embarrass or irritate many of the people in the crowd. Either that, or they are troubled by his disparate state and do not like being reminded or their own vulnerabilities,   They tell him to be quiet. This causes him to yell even more. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk. 10:47 NRS)

Why did the people try to silence Timaeus? We are not told. What is apparent is that either the people did not thing Jesus could do anything to help Timaeus and his yelling was bothering them or the people did care about Timaeus at all and just wished he would go away and not interrupt their opportunity to see the latest religious celebrity.

Marginal people, people like Timaeus, like the beggars we see on street corners, the homeless we see wandering our streets, the mentally ill, the addicts and all the other people who spent every day depending on the goodness of others often find that goodness lacking. Too often we try to silence those individuals with ordinances, loitering laws, or any other way we can keep them out of sight and out of mind. We try to make them invisible.

They are not invisible to Jesus. Jesus hears Timaeus’s cry. He calls for Timaeus to come to him. The crowd, instead of trying to silence him, “they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” (Mk. 10:49 NRS)

Interesting, first they try to keep him quiet him and now they are trying to encourage him. The ethics of crowds is as fickle as any ethics can be.

So Timaeus gets up quickly (throws off his cloak) and comes to Jesus. Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Jesus has compassion on the man. First, Jesus hears his cry for help. Jesus is paying attention to the people around him. Jesus was always look for those who he came to serve. This man was lost in darkness. Jesus is going to give him sight. `

Also not, Jesus understood empathetically.

The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. (Ps. 146:8 NRS) Psalm 146 is a Psalm of compassion for those with little hope. Jesus very word bring up the deepest desire of this man’s heart. He does not ask for money but mercy. He knows it would take a miracle for him to see. It took a great amount of faith in the one who asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Timaeus, whose name means to honor, tells Jesus he wants to see again. And then, he does. And Jesus tells him something very important that penetrated much deep than the vision which had been restored. Jesus said his faith is what healed him.

Now, I need to be very careful as one called to proclaim God’s word. Do not try and compare your faith to this man’s. Don’t let what his faith does for him be your standard or goal. Faith is very personal. Faith is tied deeply to our most trusted hopes. Our faith is a gift to us. It is a relationship between us and our God.

This man, Timaeus, whose name means “to honor,” could not go to work, perhaps pursue an education. He could start a family. He could travel and take in all the things he had missed in his blindness.

This is not what he does. He becomes a follower of Jesus. He understands what his faith had done for him and now he wants more than just to see, he wants to see Jesus.

William Berry in his book, Finding God in All Things, brings up how easy it is for us to doubt in this age. We can doubt ourselves, doubt our purpose all because of the pressures of this world. Something similar can happen in the relationship with God. People begin to wonder whether it is all a psychological trick they have played on themselves.[1]

I don’t think this man ever doubted Jesus.

Doubts are easy these days. Hope is hard. The love of many is growing cold. Spiritual blindness covers our world. I believe we too should let our Lord know our desire is to see, to see by the power of faith. The choice is ours.

.


[1] Barry, William A.. Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (p. 45). Ave Maria Press – A. Kindle Edition

Lectionary Sermon (Gospel) for October 17, 2021

Mark 10:35-45 Servants more than leaders

The secular world and now, the church world is being bombarded by books, blogs, podcast, and seminars on leadership. I find it interesting that Jesus did not call individuals to mentor as leaders but worked to help the twelve and others to become something far more important, servants. In our passage today we find Jesus declaring,

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45 NRS)

This is what Jesus said, it is what he did. Jesus came to serve. God choses the path of servanthood. Do you not think that this is also what God expects of us? Are the things we do – attend church, occasionally give money, and maybe just maybe having a personal quiet time? These are good things, I believe, but

Jesus could have spent hours a week at the temple worshipping God, but he did not. Jesus could have had one Bible study after another, but he did not. Jesus came to serve. Jesus came to wash feet. Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless. Jesus gave insight to the ignorant. Jesus came to serve the sentence of those who were guilty and separated from God.

In our passage, two of Jesus’s disciples come to him with a request. They wanted Jesus to give them status. They want to sit next to Jesus in His kingdom. They had ambition. They had desires. The problem was that their ambition and desires where not in line with what Jesus was teaching about status.

Did they meet the qualifications? They said they did. I don’t think they had any idea of what Jesus was asking of them. They would meet the qualifications. They would pay a dear price for their faith but as to who would have the places of honor they desired; Jesus stated that such decisions were not his to make. My question is then, who makes them? I believe that we do!

When the other disciples get angry at the two for asking what they asked, Jesus used the time to give instruction on this manner. He stated he did not give positions. He did state that such honors, such positions are based on desiring to be a servant, “but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mk. 10:43-44 NRS) Our attitude, aptitude, and actions will determine where we fit in the Kingdom of God.

Let’s use our imaginations just a bit. Start imagining a world in which everyone wants what is best for everyone else. Imagine a world in which we would want to help our neighbor. Imagine a world in which all governmental rules and laws were in favor of caring for people and providing what they need to build the best communities in this world. It would be pretty awesome.

This is the world that will eventually take the place of the world we now live in. This is the way Jesus modelled for those of us who followed him. It is not an easy road. It is a rode that goes against the spirit of this world. It is road that is filled with temptations and distractions. We will face the tests our Savior faced. Jesus warns us, “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you.” (Jn. 15:19 NRS)

We should expect difficulty in this world. If our struggle to walk the narrow road is not challenging, if we are comfortable with the world and are willing to participate and cooperate with the world to just get along, and if an examination of our practices and priorities shows we are more of the world than we are in our participation in our Lord’s kingdom we need to ask ourselves why?

The Apostle Paul gives us a good reason for why we should be concerned. Paul tells us, “For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  But our citizenship1 is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:18-20 NRS)

Paul goes on to say, “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mk. 8:36 NRS)

If we are not engaged in serving our Lord and others, we are gambling with our eternity. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33 NIV)

This is our growth plan. This is our emergency action plan. The Scripture makes it clear, “to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Rom. 2:7-8 NRS)

But what about grace. We are saved by faith through grace. Yes, no truer words have been spoken. But we need to remember the rest of the inspired revelation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God –not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Eph. 2:8-10 NRS)

We are “made” for the good works of Jesus. This is not just attending church. It is not just owning a Bible. It is not just “being a good person.” It is about being a good Samaritan. It is about alleviating suffering when we can. It is about help others, comforting others, and serving others. If we do not desire to do such things, if we are not seeking to do such things, or if we avoid even thinking about such things, we need to ask ourselves why?

“For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Lk. 19:10 NRS) Jesus came to be a servant in order to show us the way to achieve our full human purpose. He gave his life for us. He gave his all for us. He is still offering us the best path, the eternal path, of being with Jesus on his right or left, not as positions of superiority, but of positions of service. This is God’s call to us. How will we respond?

Two paths, O Yes…..

Sometime ago I put up the following quote on Facebook:

“Be one of the small number who find the way to life, and enter by the narrow gate into Heaven. Take care not to follow the majority and the common herd, so many of whom are lost. Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow; the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.”— St. Louis de Montfort

Shortly after I put up the post, I receive a negative comment. This negative comment led another comment that accused me of having a very narrow view of God’s love. I have no idea why my post would inspire such a comment other than what I have come to discover, any reference to any accountability for anyone’s lifestyle, makes one somehow not as “free” or “space saving” or as understanding of God’s love as one should be.

I do believe in that God is love. I believe God loves every human being and offers every human being the opportunity for grace, acceptance, and love. I also believe love (by its very nature and definition) must be a freely chosen relationship. Love can exist and not be reciprocated. Love takes a risk of rejection. Love is willing to endure even heartbreak.

Then there is the issue of the very words of Christ: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14 NRS)

Is this passage to be trusted? As a spiritual director I have found that, first, discernment is an absolute need in experiencing love and not an imitation of love. Second, authenticity, can what you believe be trusted? How trusting are you of your spiritual supports? This leads to the third crucial element, trust.

Yes, it is a universal truth that human beings make decisions. It is also true that some human choices lead to an outcome of destruction. It is also true that percent of the people who populate this planet make choices taking advantage of situation of birth/race/class and then jump on the easy way through selfish choices that bring benefits to themselves letting the rest of the world fight over what remains.

Yes, there is a wide easy road (the easy part is a deception) we can jump on with the majority of the world. It would be hard to argue against this.

What amazes me is what is said about the road that leads to life. It is the non-patronizing, none-to-subtle warning, and discerningly approving call to a hard road to life that rings of truth. This I can trust. The fits into orthodox apostolic teaching. This fits with the realities of everyday life. And, for me, this fits with my own personal experience.

While it is a sad reality which God shall endure with us, there is a future reality of separation. Call it hell, Gehenna, or whatever you wish. It does exist. Only those who chose that path will, because of what love is, be allowed their choice to be honored.

Better is what deep down, all human beings at some time in their life, have a feeling of what love is, a feeling of a desire for truth, and a draw on their hearts from God. God wishes that none should perish but have everlasting (sentient, present, beyond time) life.

Oh, yes, this I do believe.

VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT

Whether we are aware of it or not, at every moment of our existence we are encountering God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is trying to catch our attention, trying to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship.[1]

The above statement is the best practical application/definition of what human life is all about. This is the mystery of Presence. God is always present. Dr. Carl Young has this inscribe on his tombstone, “VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT, (Invoked or not invoked, the god is present).”

These thoughts, given to meditation and then contemplation can offer us gifts of insight into God’s love for us. Gifts like an understanding of acceptance and interest that God has for us.

Example, have you ever had to sit and watch a person? Say, a fussy, hungry, well two-year old who has learned the word no. It can really test our patience. If the above statement is true, then God watches every two-year-old in the world as well as watch us. Yes, God watched our formative years with all our stumbling, failing, sometimes stupidly courageous, sometimes frightfully timid. God has watched all our sins and still, in the face of such disrespect and lack of appreciative understanding, God seeks a conscious reciprocal relationship.

I can honestly say that the happiest times of my life have been when God has awakened in me reminders of God’s love for me and in me. When God touched me, brought true illumination my way, and offered to exchange my continual self-loathing for opportunities for humble reflection.

How many times has God had to seek me out (even while pastoring a church) and guide me to remember what is at stake and why all people are important. All people are engaged in life. The physical world in which most people are competent in navigating and defending themselves and a spiritual world in which they are under attack all the time with lies and deceptions about both the right, left, middle or any other category one wishes to imagine or label.

Yes, we are all involved in a continuing cosmic drama. We face the hatred and fear of sentient beings who are hostile to human existence and operate primarily in the spiritual realm.  Jesus has overcome these beings and their leader. We have not. We only win spiritually when we learn to draw as near to God as we can so God’s strength and wisdom in discernment can be our strength and wisdom.

 I am thankful that God gives us the ability to grasp in faith the real presence of God that is around us all the time. A God who not only walks with me, but also when invited, lives in my heart. It is this promise of the presence that makes every day an opportunity to be overcomers in our spiritual struggles and to discover even more ways in which VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT.


[1] Barry, William A.. Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (pp. 14-15). Ave Maria Press – A. Kindle Edition.

Discussing Death

But there can be no question that Kubler-Ross and the movement she helped to start rejected the reduction of dying to a medical event and initiated nonmedical conversations about death. The very fact that her list of the five “stages” of dying (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) became part of popular culture is evidence of the impact she and the movement had.[1]I missed out on the five stages of grief that Kuibler-Ross defined with death. My initial death was cause by an impulse that was wrapped in depression, dejections, and despair. In a fit of insanity and foolishness my life came to an end as I bled out on my front porch. I remember floating over my body as the EMTs tried to both stop the bleeding and to restart my heart. Then suddenly I was in a place of evaluation (judgement). I knew I deserved hell. Yet, this was not what God had planned. It was not time for me to die. I was allowed to come back (and yes, there are times I wish I would have stayed dead but God ways are not my ways even though I wish they were).

How do I make sense of all this? Perhaps the following quote can express my feelings adequately, “I am a Christian. I know of no other way to talk faithfully about the Mystery at the heart of our world than as a Christian. I know of no other way faithfully to make sense of these senses than as a Christian. Of course, it is easy to be presumptuous here, easy to claim to know too much. Even so, as a Christian, I dare to claim that all our responses to Mystery are in fact responses to the God whose story is told in Scripture.[2]

Now, I wait with experiential expectation. I also have a much deeper appreciation for life. I find joy in seeing “baby bumps” as I know it represents another soul who can chose to love God. I enjoy relationships more and things less since my encounter with eternity. I know God is there waiting for me. So, for know I can say with Paul for me to live is Jesus to die is gain.

Blessings


[1] Allen Verhey. The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus (Kindle Locations 635-637). Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 840-843). Kindle Edition.

Thanks for the Reminder

There are times in my reading that I come across a statement that brings a strong reminder to my thoughts.

Whether we are aware of it or not, at every moment of our existence we are encountering God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is trying to catch our attention, trying to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship.[1]

The above statement is the best practical application/definition of what human life is all about. This is the mystery of Presence. God is always present. Dr. Carl Young has this inscribe on his tombstone, “VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT, (Invoked or not invoked, the god is present).”

These thoughts, given to meditation and then contemplation can offer us gifts of insight into God’s love for us. Gifts like an understanding of acceptance and interest that God has for us.

Example, have you ever had to sit and watch a person? Say, a fussy, hungry, well two-year old who has learned the word no. It can really test our patience. If the above statement is true, then God watches every two-year-old in the world as well as watch us. Yes, God watched our formative years with all our stumbling, failing, sometimes stupidly courageous, sometimes frightfully timid. God has watched all our sins and still, in the face of such disrespect and lack of appreciative understanding, God seeks a conscious reciprocal relationship.

I can honestly say that the happiest times of my life have been when God has awakened in me reminders of God’s love for me and in me. When God touched me, brought true illumination my way, and offered to exchange my continual self-loathing for opportunities for humble reflection.

How many times has God had to seek me out (even while pastoring a church) and guide me to remember what is at stake and why all people are important. All people are engaged in life. The physical world in which most people are competent in navigating and defending themselves and a spiritual world in which they are under attack all the time with lies and deceptions about both the right, left, middle or any other category one wishes to imagine or label.

Yes, we are all involved in a continuing cosmic drama. We face the hatred and fear of sentient beings who are hostile to human existence and operate primarily in the spiritual realm.  Jesus has overcome these beings and their leader. We have not. We only win spiritually when we learn to draw as near to God as we can so God’s strength and wisdom in discernment can be our strength and wisdom.


[1] Barry, William A.. Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (pp. 14-15). Ave Maria Press – A. Kindle Edition.

Lectionary Sermon (Gospel) for October 10, 2021

Mark 10:17-31 Whirlwind Speculation

Our passage begins with Jesus getting ready to go on a journey. It is time to go on the road again. We are told that as Jesus get ready to leave, he is approached by a man who kneels at Jesus’s feet. The man asks Jesus the ultimate question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

However, question, why does he use the word inherit?

“How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

At first this can seem like a very benign teaching. A parable about camels and needles. About the evil rich. As usual, the Scripture can be so subtle. Who has wealth? What defines wealth? Why can it be so spiritually harmful?

First, back to the young man. What is his quest? Affirmation. The young man needed affirmation from someone who had a name. Jesus definitely has a name.

The Scripture reveals this young man was wealthy. In the pop theology of Jesus’s day, being rich was a sign of being blessed by God. So this very confident, young scholar of practical theology who had many wants Jesus to give him affirmation.

Jesus, looking at him, loved him  (Mk. 10:21 NRS). Grasp this, God loves this young man. Jesus loves this young man. God is open to risk. Jesus reaches out.

As for affirmation, Jesus does and he doesn’t. Jesus affirms his desire to try and follow the law, a law he only superficially understands, but points out his one weakness, that is his dependance upon his wealth. His wealth is his faith.

The young man walked away

This passage is a challenge to one of the difficulties every human being must face. What is our wealth, and do we depend on it more than upon God?

This should be of great concern to those of us who seek to follow the teachings of our Lord. The following warning is worth contemplation:

The word of God does not mature in those who are smothered by the cares, the riches and the pleasures of life (Lk 8:14). This is true both of individuals and of society. A community that centers its life on pleasure-seeking becomes pragmatic rather than principled. Its commitments to honesty in speech, to justice in work and wages and to sacrifice for the good of others are all slowly debilitated. It is not accidental that permissive sexual morality is accompanied by a rising crime rates.[1]

I believe there are more than enough studies, data banks, and research that would support the quote just given.

So, will Jesus bring such a confrontation to us today through the presence of the Holy Spirit? How does the Holy Spirit guide our wealth?

Are there legitimate questions we should ask ourselves like: Has my wealth been dedicated in this world to sustain self and to invest in treasure that is not of this world? Do I care about negative effects wealth can have? If I have invested my wealth, are its profits gained in a way that is helpful or harmful?

Now before I go further, I must state that I believe the most important thing that God seeks to reveal in this select passage is not one having to do with how much wealth we have or don’t have. I believe it has everything to do with the only mindset to successfully following Jesus.

The disciples argue over Jesus words. They had bought into the health and wealth theology of their day. God is the one who makes people wealthy. Jesus just destroyed the foundational perk the rich were supposed to enjoy. Who then can be saved!

Jesus simply replies that it is not possible for humans to save themselves. Salvation comes from God.

Peter will not let it rest. He begins to tell Jesus of how poor he and the others are now that they are following him, as if being poor and making sacrifices for such an amazing opportunity made them entitled.

I believe Peter gives us a good example of the mistakes which come from reactive theology and is a perfect example that; Fifth Rule. In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Wisdom from Ignatius of Loyola.

Do not react, respond to God even if God says wait.

Jesus tolerates Peter. Jesus responds with a vision of recompense, restorations, and reward. And yes, Peter, even eternal life. I wonder how the disciples felt when they heard Jesus say these things. Were they awed? Were they comforted? How do you believe they responded?

The story could stop there but it does not. Jesus has now shown us how he responds to those who seek him. He is never too busy. Jesus calls on us to think about how we view and use wealth. Jesus dispels the myth of the blessing of the rich. Jesus also made it clear that the only hope for this rich is the same as that for the poor, a dependance upon God’s mercy. And yes, we find out there is a reason to save up treasure in heaven and no matter our situation now, we have promises awaiting.

All this is wonderful. Then Jesus says, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mk. 10:31 NRS)

Somehow I believe living in the power of the Good News now in the Kingdom of God is the only way we can fulfill those words of our Lord.


[1] Dubay, Fr. Thomas. Authenticity . Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

Tell Your Story

But I am lowly and in pain; let your salvation, O God, protect me. (Ps. 69:29 NRS)

I came across this quote in my continuing study of spiritual direction:

[T]he beginning of any contemporary retelling of the story of Jesus…must start with: “I never saw him. I never heard him. I never touched him. But there were those who did. And they told others, who told others, who told others still, who eventually told me. And now, in my turn, I tell you. And you then, can tell others. And so, you see, there will never be an end to it.[1]

I thought to myself, “How true this is for most people; however it is possible to be touched my God and a person can have an actual physical experience of being in God’s presence. I make this statement as one who has experienced both. My experiences where not because of any righteousness on my part (in fact it happened after an act the was truly a sin) but were gifts of grace given to me at a time of despair and desolation. My experience is my experience and I believe it is not the norm. It is my story an one I gladly own and share.

What I find important is the quote is this, “[T]he beginning of any contemporary retelling of the story of Jesus.” We need to always be retelling the story of Jesus as we know it to be true. We are not all called to be rhetorical experts. We are not all called to be detailed theological apologists. We are however called to,  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet. 3:15 NIV) We must tell our story.

In the process of being a pilgrim on the spiritual way we are going to encounter a lot of people who really need to be travelling with us. Yet too many of us are weak in our storytelling of our Lord. Perhaps we have become to skeptical, too cynical, to unsure of our own walk of faith to talk about it with others. This is a challenge we must overcome.

I believe we have entered a time in human existence when Christian prophets are needed more than ever. We need to let people know what our God has done for us. People need to hear our story of Jesus. Perhaps your story is, “I have never physically seen Him, but I have seen what he can do. I have never physically heard his voice, but the ears of my heart have. I may never have touched him, but I have been touched by him in many times and many ways. Your story is important.

Tell it often and tell it well.


[1] Beckman, Betsey. Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction (Spiritual Directors International Books) (p. 47). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Yes Virginia, God does honor our choices, even when they are so, so wrong

Right and Wrong Way Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

A few days ago, I put up the following quote on Facebook:

“Be one of the small number who find the way to life, and enter by the narrow gate into Heaven. Take care not to follow the majority and the common herd, so many of whom are lost. Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow; the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.”— St. Louis de Montfort

Shortly after I put up the post, I receive a negative comment. This negative comment led another comment that accused me of having a very narrow view of God’s love. I have no idea why my post would inspire such a comment other than what I have come to discover, any reference to any accountability for anyone’s lifestyle, makes one somehow not as “free” or “space saving” or as understanding of God’s love as one should be.

I do believe in that God is love. I believe God loves every human being and offers every human being the opportunity for grace, acceptance, and love. I also believe love (by its very nature and definition) must be a freely chosen relationship. Love can exist and not be reciprocated. Love takes a risk of rejection. Love is willing to endure even heartbreak.

Then there is the issue of the very words of Christ: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy1 that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14 NRS)

Is this passage to be trusted.

Current argumentation from polls in matters of moral conduct tacitly supposes the expectation that most men will accept gospel morality. It loses sight of the fact that Jesus had plainly said that few would enter the narrow gate and tread the hard road of his moral code (Mt 7:13-14).[1]

As a spiritual director I have found that, first, discernment is an absolute need in experiencing love and not an imitation of love. Second, authenticity, can what you believe be trusted? How trusting are you of your spiritual supports? This leads to the third crucial element, trust. I trust the Bible to be true. I believe all Scripture is God-breathed and that the Holy Spirit guides the faithful in their reading of the Scripture in a way the leads them to God’s will. I trust the Holy Spirit.

So, through my own after death experience and through my study of the Scripture I am guided to believe there are two paths. If once choses to ignore God, that is one’s right as a free, moral being. If one believes the Scripture, “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angel;” (Matt. 25:41 NRS) then it is important that people understand this. It is not a fear tactic, it is a moral reality. To talk about this reality is not downgrading God’s love, it is highlight the gift of choice that makes us unique as human beings.

Blessings.


[1] Dubay, Fr. Thomas. Authenticity . Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.