Jesus Has Been Trying To Tell Us!

August 29, 2012

You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.  – Cornel West –

 

Our amazing and loving Lord has been trying to write this message on our hearts since He walked this earth in human form and He still is trying to urge, to teach, to command us to love.

 

He came!

He loved!

He served!

 

If you have picked up a newspaper, turned on the television or radio, or simply walked down any street whether far or near, you cannot deny that we have failed in this . . . it is not “they” who have failed.  It is not an undefined “those who walk in darkness” who need to hear this message . . . it is each and every one of us.  Regardless of the denomination of the “church” you belong to, you know that we are the body of Christ and that the ultimate message is love yet all too often the message we focus on is one of being judge.  God is the judge.  We are not.  Want to change the world?  Reflect His love!

 

 

 

 

 


New Series – Reflecting on the Cross

August 22, 2012

I just received a piece of mail which made me cry.  On the surface it was a simple letter from a dear friend from church.  I am part of a ministry at church which she leads – Lay Eucharistic Ministers.  She wrote a cover letter and slipped it into the envelope with our new schedule.  There was something in the way she closed her letter to us that was so real . . . a blessing to us all and the words “I love you.”  How often do we seek love yet not find it?  Oh, I’m not saying it isn’t being offered to us, but I for one can be caught up in my “stuff” and not “feel” it even though I really do “know better.”

I am so totally in love with Jesus and church has always been a key part of my life, but one Sunday afternoon a friend and I were chatting after services and I followed her to the altar as she took care of the linens and things and at one point I couldn’t hear here speaking because I suddenly truly felt blown over by the feeling that I was on “holy ground” as I stood behind the altar.  I started to shake and my eyes burned with choked back tears.  As my friend took the chalice to be washed for the next Mass, I instantly knew there was a ministry for me.  The one which suddenly seemed to call me was Lay Eucharistic Minister.

The next chance I got I asked to be permitted to joint and was licensed and trained.  This grace filled position means that I administer Jesus’ precious blood to communicants during the Holy Eucharist.  There is not a single time I serve near the altar when I do not shake and choke back tears.  But there is also not a single time I serve the Lord in this way in which I am so in awe of the Holy Ground on which I stand that as I serve Him and my fellow worshippers, I cannot help but smile. It doesn’t matter what challenges I’m facing nor whether the sun is shining or not.  The minute that chalice is in my hands, I am so filled with the presence of my King, my precious Lord, that I can’t keep from smiling and have to fight not to break out in song and dance to Him. 

That being said, I realize that even on the Sunday’s when I’m not scheduled to serve, I can’t help but fix my eyes on the cross at the altar and my priests hands as they become vessels to consecrate that bread and wine to be Jesus’ body and blood. 

The special relationship I have with my Lord rises above anything else in my life and so as I reflected on this in my quiet time just now after reading the letter from my Sister in Christ, I found myself reflecting on the cross and all it means.  So, I now begin a new series called “reflecting on the cross.  Today along with this testimony, I offer you the photograph at the top of this post taken in the room I sit in as I write this.  I call this image by the same name I’ve given to this series.  I ask the Lord’s blessing on each one of you . . . you have no idea how much of a blessing you are to me. 

 


Loving Heart – A Quote For Sunday

August 19, 2012

Okay, this is a quote for all times and all places, but how fitting that I should find it on Sunday morning between church services! 

Break bread with me?

A loving heart is the truest wisdom.  – Charles Dickens –


The Painted Tree

August 18, 2012

I was just thinking of a television special I saw last year about a Christmas tree farm.  It sort of disappointed me and I’d wished I hadn’t watched it.  Love pine trees, love the way the branches smell, love the look and color and scent in the lumber from a pine tree.  Mmmmmm!  Why my disappointment?  They paint their trees so they will look like a “Christmas tree is supposed to look.”  Didn’t God get it right when He created them? 

I also thought of when I learned to paint and draw.  It always disappointed me, in those early days, when I looked at my finished field of grass in a painting and saw how “wrong” my grass looked.  I used green paint.  Grass is green, isn’t it? 

The true definition of something, the true meaning of a thing, isn’t necessarily our quick assumption or easy answer.  So, what brought this to mind?  A friend of mine just excitedly announced that her place of worship, her “church” just bought a real church building.  My friend is very active in her church.  It’s been meeting in a variety of available and affordable buildings.  When you think of church, do you think of a cute country church painted white with a picket fence, double doors swung open to welcome the local faithful?  Do you see a bell and steeple and stained glass windows with small brass engraved signs saying “in memory of . . . ” hung next to the windows? 

Perhaps your mind sees a big cathedral of stone that’s been there for hundreds of years?  Perhaps you can hear in your thoughts the echo of hundreds of years of shoes clonking across the stone floors.  Can you see the old well-worn and polished wooden pews?  Hear the sound of the of the magnificent pipe organ?

Those are churches . . . but they’re not “the church” for that is you and me.  My friend has every right to be excited about her church and its new building which was built specifically to be a church.  I’m excited for Mary and her fellow worshippers, but do you know what I’m more excited about?  I’m more excited that she’s been every bit as eager and joy filled about the “church” she’s belonged to all along whether services took place in somebody’s livingroom, the ball field, or an empty store at the mall.  Church can be anywhere there’s a believer or two and the presence of our loving Lord.


OUR Vocation As Ministers – Yours And Mine!

August 3, 2012

Have you heard recently about how “the church” is failing in its mission?  How about those priests and pastors?  Seems there’s a lot of discussion on how they should do their jobs . . . it doesn’t matter which denomination or “church” you belong to.  If you are slowly walking to your car after services and aren’t overhearing criticism of what “they” should be doing and how “they” have failed . . . get your hearing checked.  More is often said in lunchrooms, bars, and so forth.  I’ve heard plenty said by folks who don’t go to church at all.  Seems the comments against the work of the church (and I question their source of information) are many from folks who may not know what a pew looks like.  I’m not judging, just repeating what I keep directly hearing.  There’s always some newspaper article, television news report, etc., and it’s rarely a shout of “hallelujah.” 

So, in thinking about this and in thinking about my role, about the load carried by those in ordained leadership roles within “the church” and the like, I did some reading.  I had a preformed answer but was seeking “higher authority” for facts.  Well, folks, we may not be living into the vocation, but as baptized and/or baptized and confirmed Christians (depending on your own denominational doctrine) we are all ministers.  Those sacraments and the promises made by and for us gave us that role.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost enables us and we have much to do.  Not some vague “they” at all. 

Seems to me that when those who are not part of a church body offer “reasons” related to all the “church” is doing wrong, their words sound a bit like “the dog ate my homework.”  I can’t know what’s in another’s heart, but my ears sometimes hear it that way.  It also seems that if we spent just a small percentage of the time we devote to lamenting “what’s wrong with the church today” we might come to realize we yes WE are the church and WE have a vocation and commitment made with the Lord to be His ministers. 

My church has hundreds of members yet 2 fulltime priests and 1 part time priest.  How then can the ordained clergy fulfill their own roles AND the roles we ourselves have formally and sacramentally committed our lives to?  It is time to do our part.  What’s wrong with the church these days?  It might just be that the answer is OUR idleness in not meeting our commitment.  It is time to prayerfully step up and live as Christ has called us to.

Acts 6:2 ” “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God”


Piety WITHOUT A Church Pew?

July 27, 2012

WOW!  I just “heard” a conversation . . . okay, read it on Facebook, which I found so disturbing.  Sadly, as I say this I realize that we could all be convicted of the same thing at some point or points in life.  Perhaps that is the reason it troubled me so. 

Someone had stated an opinion on a comment made by a political candidate.  The individual was clearly not a fan and the comments made by others in response were, all but one, equally opposed and eager to be critical on the candidate.  I must say that not one person mentioned issues or policies, and all used only vague statements like “idiot” and “stupid” and worse.  Then there was one comment that in my mind and heart was set apart from the rest.

This person quickly stated that said candidate “goes to church every Sunday” spent the rest of a very long comment SCREAMING at all who might read it about “I bet YOU don’t go to church at ALL.  Well I always do and anyone who does knows that I’M RIGHT WHEN I SAY” and on he went raving and accusing and judging.  Wow.  There was no expression of faith.  There was not one actual fact stated.  His comment was rudely expressed assumptions and opinions based on those assumptions. 

Consider for a moment that, as impossible as it is, he actually knew who did or did not attend church on Sundays.  Relevance?  Consider as well that, since our faith regardless of denomination or religion, does compel us to reflect it in all we do and draw others to faith.  Being a Christian, I have to ask, which is more likely to draw others to faith, how much piety I show in a church pew or in the grocery store, the parking lot, the highway as you speed by me, cut me off . . . Does my behavior when I knew I’m being watched convince you to change?  Does my behavior when I think nobody’s looking reflect the same?

Anyone can behave well in church, but if we simply define church as a building in which we sit on a regular basis, we’re missing something.  The church is US.  I can quote Jesus, mention something I read in Paul’s letter to Romans . . . but if I put the Bible down, leave the room and chew you out for rushing to the checkout counter ahead of me in line . . . curse you out to “keep that kid quiet” or pitch a fit because you worked a few minutes late and “I slaved over this dinner!”  and more . . . are you likely to want to learn more about this faith that I’m trying to get you to believe in?  I don’t think so.


“You Are Special!”

July 25, 2012

Why is the title to this post in quotes?  Because I just said those words . . . my heart and my soul are sharing the good news or should I say GOOD NEWS with my mind and my mind is listening!  I was just reading a passage from Ephesians 2 and wanted to share it with you for the message it contains is eye-opening if you, like me, have ever questioned whether you indeed are special.  So, if you’ve ever doubted this read the following and then LOOK IN THE MIRROR and repeat after me “YOU are special!” 

“21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


FOCUS ON GOD – A Quote For Monday Morning

July 16, 2012

Whether it’s over the kitchen table having breakfast, at the water bubbler at work, in the grocery store, or at church, it seems we have a long list of complaints about all that’s wrong in life and all that we should be doing to fix it.  Seems the complaints never become fewer . . . I am always side stepping a lot of talk online, on the radio, etc., of what is wrong with the church and this is especially disturbing. 

Ultimately, all we have to do is love . . . the Lord our God, one another, and ourselves.  That’s it.  The other stuff?  He’s got it.  He had a plan long before we saw and heard the problem existed.  We’ve got our duty spelled out.  Let your light shine, be a reflection of His love.  On the list of things we “should” do today, tomorrow, this week, this month . . .  where’s that on the list?  Is it on the top? 

All too often, it doesn’t make the list, not OUR list.  Seems more likely than not it’s absent, but our verbal lists include a whole host of things “somebody” should . . .  and “they” should . . . and there’s even a whole new page for the “why didn’t” things . . . again, why didn’t “she” or “he” or “they” and not why didn’t I . . . MOST disturbing of all is the “why did God” or “why didn’t God.” 

Isaiah 48:21

\21 They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
    he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock
    and water gushed out.

 

God placed this quote above on my heart yesterday.  I could go on and on about all those few words reveal, but ultimately, they are summing things up well.  God is God, I am not.  He has the big stuff well in hand.  I have my instructions . . . my job, while challenging sometimes, doesn’t come close to the magnitude of His.  Mine is all about the love . . . the things that are impossible for me to even think about much less accomplish or “fix” if you will . . . they were never meant to be mine to deal with until I picked them up and began wrestling with them.  I’m letting go.  The sky is blue and the sun is shining.  I know this because I looked up! 

 

 

Here’s some of that water gushing out of the rock . . . side of a mountain actually. 

 


Jesus Changes Hearts and HIPS?

June 19, 2012

Okay, stay with me, guys!  I heard a wonderful sermon on Sunday on Jesus changing us.   You heard the rumor that people can’t change?  Amazing what the Lord can do when we give our lives to Him!  Let me also interject that if you are in the Charleston SC area and need a church, my church and my priests – Fathers Rick, Chris, and Charlie – will truly bless you.  So, getting back to the point . . . yes, we can change – Jesus is ready to bless us in ways we cannot imagine.  We cannot change ourselves in the ways that are vital to our souls, but He can do all things. 

So, recently several of my articles have spoken of storms in the spiritual lives of many of us.  If we focus too much of our attention on the storms, we can’t see and thus cannot accept the blessings EVEN WHEN THEY ARE RIGHT THERE WITH US.  Sometimes, we are so focused on the storms, that the blessings are being poured over top of us by a loving and protective Lord and we STILL can’t see them. 

Need an illustration?  Okay.  Here’s the deal with the hips.  I do not own a scale.  They are depressing and I threw mine out when I moved to SC from MA.  I am either healthy or not.  The number bums me out, so I’m not looking.  Can’t.  Scale went to the dumpster almost five years ago.  So, that being said, I’ve been wanting forever it seems to lose weight and get in better shape.  I’ve found, to my amazement, that vegetarians are NOT nutty.  Veggies, when you don’t buy them in cans (which I grew up with) have flavor, texture, color, nutrients . . . I actually LIKE them!  Know what else?  Meat?  It’s really not all that great.  Not even talking about the treatment of animals here.  I am finding if faced with burgers or spinach, I get more excited about the spinach!  It’s good!  It tastes better . . . my thoughts on this have little to do with the fact that Bessie the cow is cute, either.  Veggies are good!

So, as I dress in the morning, I have been frowning over the fat lady looking back at me.  Seemed like things should have been different.  Why do I look so bad.  I try.  I do the right thing, a lot of  the time.  I ate the radishes and celery and didn’t miss the potato chips.  Why is the outlook so bleak? 

Took my Mom to a favorite thrift store today.  Mom is having health issues . . . losing her sight and now losing her hearing as well.  This weekly trip to the thrift store raises her spirits.  I love thrift stores and really really appreciate this one for everything is washed, dry cleaned, pressed, polished . . . and still the prices are awesome!  So, as Mom poked about being in no hurry for me to take her home, I wandered about and saw a pair of designer jeans.  Looked at the tag.  Wow.  These are actually new!  They are fashionable.  Wow, it must be nice to be able to wear that current style.  Look, they’re only $3.00.  Wow. 

Suddenly, I HAD to try them on.  Didn’t want to.  I knew that trendy jeans were for other people.  I knew the breaks (low price, etc.) were for other people too.  I knew I could never . . .  I could not walk away from them.  Truthfully, I did walk away last week from this very pair.  Amazingly, nobody bought them yet.  A little voice kept telling me to try them on.  I ignored it.  A voice inside me pointed out that nobody would see . . . I’d be in the fitting room.  No risk of public embarrassment.  Why not take a couple of small steps into the nearby fitting room with those high-end designer jeans? 

I did it.  I DID IT!

Guess what?  Those smaller size and trendy styled jeans?  The ones in a style I could never wear?  Had never in my adult life been able to consider?  They fit!  I walked out of the fitting room with them on.  Yes, into the store where people could see me!  People in the area all looked at me.  I didn’t die.  I didn’t blush.  I smiled.  When you have the ability to wear the close-fitting, stylish jeans, why schlep through life in the baggy butt ugly ones? 

We settle for baggy butt jeans in our spiritual lives too.  Jesus is right there offering us the high-end designer jeans of our soul . . . but we’re used to those baggy butt jeans.  They are comfortable.  Nobody laughs at us.  They keep us warm enough.  We’ve had them a long time and we’re okay with them.  Why try something else?  It might not be . . . .

Know what?  We have the Light of Christ in us.  We are not made to hide our Light under a bushel or in a pair of baggy butt jeans!  We are made to shine that Light!  We were not made to be okay!  We were made to be AMAZING!  Do you want AMAZING?  Give Him your heart . . .  and your hips, too!   He loves you! 


It Is NOT Too Late For YOU!

May 27, 2012

Okay, some would say I’m “too young” to be thinking of . . . and others that I’m “too old” to be thinking that . . . know what, though?  No matter what your own challenge is, give it to the Lord and surrender yourself fully to Him and your life will change folks.  He will use all of your life experiences and He has a plan for you.  Your age doesn’t matter, nor your gender, your knowledge , nor your bank account balance (for which I’m glad) nor any excuse you can think of.  We tend to make the Lord SMALLER than He is.  No matter what your situation is, He can redeem it.  He desires to pour His grace on and in you and lead you to the amazing life He has for you.  Just ask Him. 

Ever heard of Bill Burnett?   An Archbishop in South Africa, Burnett referred to himself as a practical atheist.  Now, folks he was an ARCHBISHOP and he knew all about the Lord.  He knew his “job” and performed as expected . . . then one day the Holy Spirit filled him and his ministry and his very life changed beyond anything he could have imagined.  He didn’t know what he was missing . . . but he sure found out due to God’s grace. 

We don’t either.  We live lives that are sensible and practical and we tell ourselves it’s “good enough” or even try to convince ourselves we have it “better than most” and yet, where is it written in the Bible that our Lord promised us “good enough?”  Everywhere you look are references to His great love and mercy and to His desire to give more than we can desire or pray for.  What to do?  Give yourself over to Him.  It’s not giving up.  That’s for quitters.  It’s a new beginning and a new heart.  He has riches for you that you can’t even imagine.  Why would you walk away from that?  Have a heart – His.  Don’t settle when you can SOAR! 

 


%d bloggers like this: