Lectionary sermon 10/20/2019

Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm 119:97-104
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Luke 18:1-8

There are many people, even people who proclaim to be Christians and pastors who are supposed to proclaim truth, who that believe the Bible is no more than a book, maybe a good book, but just a book nothing less.

Even though the church has believed in the authority and trustworthiness of the sacred Scripture since the time of Jesus up until the last century, more and more people no longer believe the Scripture is relevant for their lives.

These people obviously have a different perspective and faith than that of the Psalmist who proclaims, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe your righteous ordinances.” (Ps. 119:105-106 NRS)

Perhaps, just perhaps, the reason is that people do not like what the Bible has to say. In the Old Testament lesson for today, Jeremiah speaks to the concept of individual accountability. According to Jeremiah 31:27-34, we cannot blame others for our actions. Jeremiah lets us know that God is not a psychologist who says we are victims of our heredity or our environment. God is not lawyer who gives us loopholes and legal definitions to make behavior legal. God is not a philosopher who postulates the positions of what is good or bad. God defines what is good and what is not and reveals this in the Scripture. Maybe this is the reason so many are seeking ways to undermine Scriptural authority. They want to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. They want to make excuses for their behavior or failure. They want a loophole for themselves.

If Scripture is not the authority for Christian life and faith, what is? Our feelings? Our reasoning? Our traditions? Without the authority of Scripture, without its guidance, our foundation for faith is relative and open to deception and delusion.

The history of faith is filled with misinterpretations of the Scripture that have been destructive to the faith. Image how much more destructive such mistakes and fallacious concepts would mislead the faithful without the foundational authority of the orthodox trust of Scripture. I believe we are seeing this in our western culture.

Paul understood this and gives this exhortation and warning to Timothy. First, Paul tells Timothy (and us), “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NRS)

Then, Paul tells Timothy, “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)

It is hard enough in this life to struggle against all we human beings face. However, when a person chooses to ignore the foundation of Scripture that God has lovingly given us, they open themselves to myths that will leave them empty and alone in times of crisis. They will leave themselves open to deceptions they cannot even imagine with a destiny no human being would ever desire if they understood the consequences Scripture clearly spells out.

Those who discover the purpose of the Scripture relish in the understanding it gives and the perspective it offers. Only embracing the presence of God exceeds its presence in the life of those who love God. Scripture communicates God’s love. It communicates God’s care and compassion. It also reveals the mistakes we human being make. It warns us against foes we cannot even see. It describes the pitfalls of ignoring its teaching. It makes us aware of how wonderful and how fragile how life can be. It is the Word, a written revelation which points to the incarnation of God as one us, what this means and what this offers.

God makes us a promise, spoken in the Old Testament and reaffirmed in the New, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:10-11 NRS)

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” That word is the good news that was announced to you. (1 Pet. 1:23-25 NRS)

This Word gives us hope, in a God who loves us and responds to us in times of celebration and times of sorrow, in times of joy and times of difficulty, a word we can always trust.

In the Gospel passage for today, Jesus tells a parable of an unjust judge who ends up doing the right thing because of the persistence of a woman who will not be denied. The point of the parable is to remind us that if this judge will give justice out of irritation, imagine what a God who loves us, seeks us, gives us His world and who sent his Son to become one of us to lead us to salvation will do.

This is the good news we are given in Scripture, “Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (Jn. 14:23 NRS)

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. (Lk. 11:9 NRS)

Upon this we can build a foundation of faith and hope. Amen.

Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Follow Trump

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”
— St. Thomas Aquinas

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8 NRS)

After listening to the prayer offered at the Value Voters (i.e., religious Trump republicans) I had to ask myself, “What kind of training in moral theology did “pastor” Brunson receive in seminary?” Not only was his prayer a mockery of praying to God who loves the poor and oppressed, he also pretended to have his eyes closed as he read from a visible paper he was holding in his hand. Who was the show for? I have never heard a prayer skirt the edges of idolatry so closely while “praying” for the president. I believe if Micah had been present he would have cried, “What are you thinking!”

Yes, I will agree that President Trump has pushed for some of the things those whose devotion to the Republican party often overshadows their commitment to Jesus, but to believe that the person elected to lead this nation has any idea of what it means to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God is ludicrous. I do not know which hypocrisy was worse, the prayer or the man for whom the “prayer” was offered pretending to be “blessed” by it. President Trump may not go down in history as the worst president, but certainly he will be in the running for the most immoral and as far as being the president who told the most lies, no contest.

Morality as a standard for our “values” has become quite strange. Morality should flow from the love of God which is the truth of God. This love should fill us with gratitude and humility considering the grace we are given. To be moral is to understand justice rooted in love not selfishness. It is to understand mercy as caring, not conceit. It is to walk with God not think we are god.

It seems to those who believe President Trump is a chosen agent of God. I have a question for those people.  Is it moral to lie if it raises doubt about one’s actions and tries to divert responsibility for one’s actions?  Is it moral to abandon people to be slaughtered simply because you can and it will help you make more money? Is it moral to use the tax dollars of this country to manipulate another country into helping one’s one political agenda. And these are only this leader’s most recent activities for which Brunson prayed (I find it ironic that Brunson was held as a prisoner in Turkey and now prays for the man who is allowing Turkey to commit ethnic cleansing).

I do not like to get into political controversies, but when such irreligious mockery takes place so publicly I feel it is wrong to be silent. Yes, we are to pray for our political leaders. We should pray that they are guided by God. However in this case, I think we find evidence for the truth of Scripture that tells us who dominates the political realm of this world. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matt. 4:8-9 NRS) So I pray for President Trump that he is awakened to truth and if not I pray that he is impeached.


Lectionary sermon 10/13/2019

Jeremiah 29:1,4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

In the spiritual war that surrounds us, the battle is often waged on the field of perception. What is the field of perception? It is how we perceive our circumstances from either the perspective of the world or the perspective of God.

I want to begin with a story: A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

This is a battle fought on the grounds of perception. The difference in this tale from the battle we fight is that when a Christian fights this battle, the Christian has a promise. A promise I will carefully state now: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NRS)

Notice, I said I will state this promise carefully. because it is a promise that if it is misused if it causes pain or distrust. It is hard to see the good when a loved one dies. It is hard to see the good in personal suffering. It is hard to see the good in illness, violence, mental anguish and human sin. Never, ever say this promise to a person in such a situation. To do so is to profane the love of God.

What God is saying is that no human tragedy goes unnoticed. No human wrong is ignored. God will take that which has been bad and will use it in ways beyond our comprehension to bring about the ultimate good, even when we might not know the outcome this side of eternity. This is perhaps our greatest tool of faith we can develop. It is a tool we most definitely will need to use at certain points of our life.

Paul tells Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David–that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.” (2 Tim. 2:8-9 NRS) Paul, imprisoned for his faithfulness, his obedience, his sacrifice for his Lord, is fighting the fight of perception and winning. Paul is encouraging Timothy to fight as well.

However, our ability to win this fight is one of faith when we enter the battlefield of perception, we must first understand it is a fight the enemy is used to winning. Sometimes the only way we can even know we have been attacked and lost is when we lie devastated from wounds of deception, ignorance, complacency, delusion, and just plain selfishness in our own lives. The enemy capitalizes on these things and gloats over our suffering.

Take the covenant people of Judea. They lost the battle of perception by thinking false gods could help them. Thinking that military alliances could help them. Thinking that their cultural approach to their religion could keep them from being overtaken and exiled from their country. But it did. When they woke up, it was too late. For seventy years they lived in exile.

What did God tell them? Accept this captivity. Pray for the good of the land. Live your lives as you should. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jer. 29:7 NRS) This is the perception you must have.

Why, why did God give this to Jeremiah to say? Why, because the first thing we need to do when we find ourselves knocked down by the temptations faced in perception or the results of letting the enemy knock us down is realization and acceptance of our situation.

In Psalm 66, the Psalm for today, we find a prayer lifting God’s glory as well as speaking to the danger we face in arrogance. “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; (Ps. 66:10-11 NRS) The Psalmist cries out that God has done this. No, God did not do this. God allowed this. God allowed this so that the people might wake up. If you were to read the rest of this Psalm you would see that the Psalmist is led to cry out for forgiveness and God does hear. This is the way out of the trap of a false impression. This is the path to true perception.

Last week the text of the lectionary spoke on faith. The apostles wanted more faith. The problem is God has already given them access to all the faith they would even need, not as a possession, for faith cannot be concocted by human effort. Faith is a state of being grown through trust. Faith is a duty, an expectation, an obligation that gives us true perception and defeat our demonic foes. When God enters our life we have access to all the faith we need, we just are too deceived to understand.

There is a prayer that can help us in “our awareness that the God’s gift rather than our accomplishment gives us the confidence expressed by Paul: “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me” (Phil. 4:13).” This prayer is the Prayer of Examen. It is a prayer founded upon the recognition of God’s love for us, our gratitude, our realizing how we need God to help us win the battle of perception through the power of discernment, and the promise of God’s forgiveness when we fail. It is a prayer of reflection and realization of this fallen world in which we live. An unexamined life is a spiritually defeated life.

The gospel story today is the account of ten lepers. Leper were likely the most isolated, feared, and hopeless people of their time. Yet, in this perception of hopelessness they take a chance and seek out Jesus. Jesus heals them all and the leave. Only one comes back, a leper who was also a Samaritan. He comes back and gives praise to God. You see the others had the perception that the leprosy was their battlefield. It wasn’t. Their battlefield was a state of mind that would allow them to walk away from a gift of healing without a word of thanks to what only an act of God could make happen. Only one understood. Only one perceived.

We live in a world in which perception is becoming more powerful. Deep fakes can create lies that are believable. We are continually being manipulated by mega data. We sold a bill of goods by people who serve their own interests and, likely out of ignorance and arrogance are serving the darkness that is drawing closer and closer. God has given all so much but way too many think it is not enough so they seek to live in a deceptive perception that for someday they must account.

Will it be asked of us, “Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?” (Lk. 17:17 NRS) Will we be the one who understood or the nine who walked away?

There is a reason we need Examen



“For want of contrition, innumerable Confessions are either sacrilegious or invalid; the penitent so often breaks his promises to God, and falls again so easily into the same faults, and many souls are eternally lost. Contrition is that true and lively sorrow which the soul has for all the sins it has committed, with a firm determination never to commit them any more . . . Many Christians spend a long time in examining their consciences, and in making long and often unnecessary narrations to the confessor, and then bestow little or no time upon considering the malice of their sins, and upon bewailing and detesting them. Christians such as these, says St. Gregory, act like a wounded man who shows his wounds to the doctor with the utmost anxiety and care, and then will not make use of the remedies prescribed. It is not so much thinking, nor so much speaking of your sins that will procure their pardon, but heartfelt sorrow and detestation of them.”
— Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, p. 289

It is never fun to have someone trying to manipulate your emotions be it either out of ignorance or of malice. Perhaps the person thinks they are trying to “help” the person. Perhaps their motive is guided by a different spirit. Only God knows and judges the human heart.  I have learned that the best way to deal with a person who is acting in this manner, projecting their own darkness on others, is to avoid them. Toxic people can make you sick as well.

It is so true of what Ignatius says about the acts of our sinful nature. Contrition, true contrition should lead one to be more aware of the harm there actions have done and they should be more willing to take the right actions of penance. These acts of penance should not make of religious Schadenfreude, but of a true understanding and confession (even apology) for what they have done.

As a spiritual director I am very aware of how the enemy uses misdirection and self-deception to lead a weakened, devoted person to believing their bad is good and their good is bad. It is a hard thing to watch, but often there is nothing that can be done.  As Ignatius states, their wounded state has become so a part of them that they will not do what they need to do to escape it.  In fact, they use their weakness, there hostility, they illness and their transference issues to get attention or pity or to use as an excuse for why they behave the way they do.

A true prayer of examen with the help of a spiritual director can help a person move from the sacrilegious or invalid nature in their confession to allowing God to being the contrition and penance that helps real produce real spiritual health.

It is never easy, as stated above, to be someone else’s spiritual punching bag. Some times we can avoid it, some times we cannot. Sadly, such actions are seen more and more frequently in churches. So there are more conflicts, more people leaving the church due to such toxic individuals’ behaviors. When in such a state, it is best to just be aware of what the person is saying in the light of why it is said. Do not let their toxic personal poison sink into your own heart. Do not get into discussions with them, just be polite ignoring what is said and leave as soon is you can. Focus instead on your own reflections and actions. Learn from the Holy Spirit. Give the Spirit access to your mind and heart. Let the Spirit bring forth the things you need to correct and the things you need to cherish. This is the path of the examen.

I have listed the following quotes that have been helpful to me. I hope they will be helpful to you as well.

“You change your life by changing your heart.”
— St. Benedict of Nursia

“There is nothing the devil fears so much, or so much tries to hinder, as prayer.”
— St. Philip Neri

“Prayer is the duty of every moment. We ought always to pray, said our Lord. And what He said, He did; therein lay His great power. Action accompanied His words and corresponded with them. We must pray always in order to be on our guard. Our life, both of body and soul, our natural and supernatural life, is like a fragile flower. We live surrounded by enemies. Ever since man rejected the Light that was meant to show him the way, everything has become for us an obstacle and a danger; we live in the shadow of death.”
— Dom Augustin Guillerand

“Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.”
— St. John of the Cross

The Ancient Way



“Keep to the ancient way and custom of the Church, established and confirmed by so many Saints under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And live a new life. Pray, and get others to pray, that God not abandon His Church, but reform it as He pleases, and as He sees best for us, and more to His honour and glory.”— St. Angela Merici

My experience with the church has been that most churches do not like change. In my forty years of active clergy employment, I found that if I messed with the “traditions” of the church I was guaranteed conflict. Since most of the churches that I served were smaller older churches in changing communities or in small towns any change would generate conflict and  would fail most of the time.  This failure would most likely, at the very least, also risk the status of my employment. So I adapted and learned to focus on the spiritual formation of the few in such churches who were serious about serving God and letting the status quo have its way. This, however, was not the ancient way.

The problem was that this was not the calling God gave to me. As one called to be a pastor, I was tasked in leading those I served to the place where God wanted them to be. It was not to make the church larger in number (although many of the lay leadership said they wanted this but would do nothing to make it happen). My job was not to make people comfortable in their religious status by echoing a specific theological orientation (like “once saved, always saved”) or helping them project a particular cultural value (the Cowboy church). No, my calling was to try and lead them through the power of prayer and the influence of preaching to a deeper, more meaningful, and true walk in the will of God. I admit, most of the time I was a failure. The ancient way was not followed.

In my own spiritual growth, I have found passion and meaning in the ancient way of the church. The more I study (yes, I am still a student of my faith and strive to read at least one new book a week) on how to walk the ancient way, the more I understand the responsibility God has given to me is to pastor, a shepherd modeled after the twenty-third psalm. I am to seek this path even if I must do so outside of a profession or employment. The ancient way is the way of Jesus and the only way a person can follow this way is continually seek to live one’s life in the context of what Jesus revealed and what Jesus gave. To walk the way Jesus walked.

Jesus revealed to us what God had been doing throughout human history. Jesus became the ancient way. Because of human nature and failure, in order to worship God, there had to be a sacrifice. Sacrifice points to our reality. Sacrifice points to our thankfulness.  If there is no sacrifice their is no true worship. Jesus became the sacrifice and in order for us to worship him, we must come to His table of sacrifice we know as the Eucharist. If we do not share in the sacrifice of Jesus, we do not follow the ancient way.

Jesus also revealed to us the truth of the struggle. Being salt and light, wearing the armor of God, and joining together to use our spiritual gifts is how we fight this struggle. This struggle is not against other people (though often times the enemy used other people) but against the powers and principalities bent on our delusion and destruction. This is the ancient way, the way our Lord intended for the church to go.

The ancient way has never been an easy way. The multitude of denominations that claim Christian identity and truth is proof. I pray for God to bring a revival. A revival which will lead the faithful to either be a righteous remnant or a radical resurgence in which the ancient way is prayed and preached. I hope others are praying as well.

jesus banishing

To Whom Do We Give Our Time

“Let us make up for lost time. Let us give to God the time that remains to us.”
— St. Alphonsus Liguori

And all were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  (Lk. 9:43-45 NRS)

The above passage is very troubling. It is troubling because of the explicit warning/command Jesus gives to his disciples and their failure to comprehend what he was telling them to grasp. This raises two very disturbing questions. First, why we they unable to understand and second, why were they afraid to ask him about this saying?

I believe the answer to both question is grounded in two certainties.  These certainties are human pride and human gullibility. I believe they cannot understand because of the work of those forces in the word that would keep us ignorant of the truth that play on our desire to be in control of what happens. I believe they fear to ask because of a natural human fear to be seen as being ignorant. We would rather live what we see as a “little lie”, pretending that we understand, rather than reveal our ignorance.

When these factors come into play, we miss the instruction and guidance that comes from God. We are unable to discern what is going on around us and thus we waste the time we have been given on our own desires and the cleaver deceptions of the demonic.

In order to learn from the mistake of the disciples, we must not fall into this trap. Jesus was handed over to men. Jesus was being totally transparent with his disciples. Total transparency is a true act of love. The disciples should have been willing to be transparent with the Lord about their confusion and inability to comprehend. True confession leads to real freedom of the soul. The disciples should have prepared for what Jesus told them. This world in not friendly to humanity. It is fallen. It has entities dwelling upon it that are so spiritually sick, so filled with hatred toward humanity that they live to damage and destroy us in any way they can. Our only defense against such an evil presence is God. These dark deceptors work to steal our precious time given to us by God in order to hinder faith and sicken our souls. They will try to get us to confuse social desires for religion and human knowledge of what we think about God for true love and faith. Love, true love is about giving our time and presence to the One we desire.

Finally, we need to understand the perfect love drives out fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” (1 Jn. 4:18 NRS) When we give our time to God, even if we give it out of duty, it will turn into delight. When we give our time unto God (which includes giving God our complete attention, transparent and committed) we can avoid this mistake of the disciples and the fear will leave while the understanding pours in.

To have such discernment is the way we can truly, without self deception, give God our time.

Holiness is Hard

“Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux

I want to be holy! I seek it every day. I know holiness is all around me because God is all around me. I know holiness lives within me because God dwells within my heart. Yet, even though holiness surrounds me, is in me and seeks me as I seek it, search for it, and desire it above all things, I still struggle in my mind and heart to let its influence control my life. I am a sinner. Holiness is hard.

The reason holiness is so hard is because of the forces that seek to stifle it in our lives. Forces we often ignore, deny, or are ignorant. These forces power, purpose, and presence are determined to prevent our holiness. As we human beings live our daily lives there are activities and actions taking place around us continually that are working to enslave us to a domain of darkness. This strife has been going on since our creation. It is a strife aimed at God, the God who is love. It is a strife that hopes of creating hurt and sorrow within the divine heart. The Bible teaches that only a fool says there is no God. Only a greater fool does not understand our role as pawns the diabolical destiny of the powers and principalities attacking us. Powers and principalities whose insanity is to overthrow the One who is infinite and cannot be overthrown.

This darkness that draws us, deceives us, deludes us is the reason holiness is so hard. I believe this is why Jesus said, “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) It is so easy for us to just go with the flow of most of humanity that ignores God’s continuous calling of the dangers we face. Yes, holiness is hard.

So what do we do? How can we, deceived distracted and self-oriented sinners, ever find the way to holiness as simple as St. Teresa makes it sound? How can we stand against such a difficult opponent who knows us better than we know ourselves?

I have found in my own life the only hope I have is through commitment and discernment rooted in a humility that is willing to take the chance of depending on God’s grace and the opportunities it gives those who are willing to enter into the process of purgation, illumination, and sanctification that God’s will gives to us. I have found it is only when we are willing to be serious about our spiritual lives that we can find the way that leads to holiness.

I have served churches who have embraced a theology of cheap grace and I cannot return there. I have served churches that are like hobbits who only like to hear what they already believe in a way that entertains them and inoculates them from the truth that surrounds them. I cannot go back. I now seek to be in fellowship with other followers of the way who understand holiness is hard. I search for the few who grasp the importance of spiritual process and daily (if not hourly) discernment. But most importantly, I ask God to use me in a way that will help others prepare for what is most certainly to come. I seek to ask them to join me in seeking to be holy even though holiness is hard.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
(Eph. 1:3-4 NRS)



“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.”
— St. Maximilian Kolbe

You would think I would be used to hearing the following words by now, “I don’t need to go to “church.” I can study my Bible and pray at home.” Still, every time I hear these words it is like getting slapped in the face.

I have no idea where this concept of religious individualism came into being, no, that is not true, I do know where it came from. It came from the father of lies. Jesus made it clear, when we enter into the process of salvation we enter into a community, the covenant community of the called out ones we know as the church. When a person does not find their gifts, their calling with this called out community, they have already be deceived into traveling a path leading to their own spiritual destitution. The father of lies has succeeded.

Yes, the church has been and is involved in allowing some terrible things to happen. I carry many, many emotional and spiritual scars from serving the church (I have also found my greatest blessings and hope in the church as well). Churches can be mean, heartless, and judgmental.  Churches will always have those who create conflict, are hypocritical, and have no idea what Jesus expects from them. This does not excuse us from our responsibility of seeking to be salt and light in the midst of the church as well as in the culture. It is never a good idea to let excuses create indifference.

Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock (himself) I will build my church. Jesus did not say accept me and I will build your faith on the golf course or the lake or in any other kind of leisure or alternative activity. Without the communal support and spiritual resources  that God gives to the church, we will slowly, but certainly, enter into a spiritual indifference that can and most likely will bring spiritual decline and decay.

It would be very wise for us remember and retain the truth the writer of Hebrews gives us in warning and encouragement, “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Heb. 10:24-25 NRS)

Truth and Wisdom

“Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love.”
— St. Juliana of Norwich

It is very easy for those of us who are followers of Jesus to get caught up in the remains of Christendom where our faith is lived not as a fully committed lifestyle, but an appendage to a life that gives intellectual ascent to the faith, is involved in the ritual activities, and believed this is about as far as they need to go.

As a seeker and student of discernment, I have come to understand the importance of discovering the holy and wonderful delight in God. I am continually surprised by God’s grace and God’s love for me. I have found that even in the depth of desolation, depression, and disquiet of the soul, the love of God is there for me. It refuses to allow me to live in deception. It continually shows itself in all that surrounds me. It is an undeniable truth.

In times of contemplation, God comes to me as presence, a presence I know is there but this knowledge is not always from the five sense but a reality beyond my ability to logically label or through reason confirm. It is because it is. It is a presence that confirms, convicts, or comforts me in ways I can only embrace. This is the wisdom God gives, a wisdom of peace that stills the soul to the still small voice that is always speaking.

As I reflect upon my life, I find a disaster. I have charged way to many windmills, engaged in way to much narcissism, and been involved in the most stupid, idiotic activities a human being can be involved in, yet there is the truth that God loves me and the wisdom of God’s forgiveness, thus as St. Juliana, I have been coddled in the  holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love. I am so very grateful.



Trending: Likes, Followers, or Grace

“Great things are done through grace, and one attribute of the great things which grace enables the soul to do is their lastingness, their continuance, their permanent life and strength, as years roll past. I say, the works of grace are permanent.”
— Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 184, The Quotable Newman.

A measure of one’s fame (and sometimes profit) in our social media, internet-connected world is how many “likes” one gets for a picture, video or Facebook, twitter, or blog post or how many “followers” one can claim. It seems that many people now live for the purpose of finding or electronically publishing something that will “go viral.”

Why, why has this become so important? (Oh, by the way, I once had a blog, an attack blog, that at times got over 10,000 hits a day and yes, I was just conceited enough to think that was something.)

Today, these records of electronic observations is perceived as the new way to instant fame and/or notoriety.  But, as the old adage goes, “fame is fleeting” and what is viral today will likely be forgotten by next week. What do “likes” and “followers” accomplish?

At one time, my attack blog did bring about some change in a certain organization, but now, twenty years later I have to ask myself, “Was it worth it?”

Maybe if you have a company that get to advertise through your posting, then gets “likes” and “followers” will mean a person gets paid more, but how does it change our world? Will our “likes” and “followers” mean anything in eternity? Will our status with God depend on our “trending” or not?

The above quote from Newman speaks to what we should be paying the most attention, acts of grace. Acts of grace do change lives, make tremendous social impact, and in the end will be the most important elements of our lives. Yet rarely are they “trending.” Rarely do they bring and profit or notoriety in our current culture, but they will last for all eternity in the mind of God and in the soul’s who receive then with gratitude. There is a deep and powerful reason on of the most recognized and sung songs on this planet is the song, “Amazing Grace.” Something deep down inside of every human being there is an awareness of our need of grace.

I am thankful that I am now getting old enough, mature enough, and time-tested enough to grasp how much I owe to grace. Grace is never deserved but yet continuously bestowed. It can never be earned but is lavished upon us by God. And I know when I take my final breath in this world, it will be grace and only grace that will matter in eternity.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

                                                                                                         (2 Cor. 12:9-10 NRS)