Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation. It is the time when the Church remembers and reflects on Mary's visit to Elizabeth after she found out she would become the mother of our Lord and heard of Elizabeth's pregnancy. The journey was long and difficult, yet Mary still went. It seems clear that she went to celebrate with Elizabeth, as well as to minister to her as she entered upon the end of her pregnancy. The Scripture tells us that on hearing Mary's greeting, the babe inside of Elizabeth jumped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

As I consider the Visitation, it is all about hospitality. It is about the desire to bless others at the expense of one's own convenience or comfort. Mary took Jesus to Elizabeth (and John in Elizabeth's womb). She went to bless and to be a blessing.

If we are Christ's, then Christ lives in us. When we go to bless people, we bring Christ with us. We bring Christ to the people. The simplest and most menial acts of mercy take on greater meaning as we ponder the fact that it is Christ in us bringing His blessing to the people. We see chores, duties, and even our jobs in a whole new light when we see it through that lens.

Today, like Mary, let us lay aside our own hopes and plans to bring Jesus to the people around us and bless them. A simple smile, or a sincere "how are you," can become the means of bringing God's blessing to people all around. Let us, then, carry Christ to the people in our own "visitation" every day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


It seems to me that in many Christian circles there are far more theological and devotional thoughts about the Holy Spirit than simple obedience to Him. On this day when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church, I echo the timeless prayer of the Church in sincerely asking: "Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the fire of Your love!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Choose Your Battles

I am in the midst of reading about King David from 2 Samuel. I am struck by his gentle spirit on one hand, but his voracious combativeness on the other.

We see David mercilessly slaughter his foes. We even read some of his sentiments in the Psalms. But then we see him remaining passive and even taking flight in other circumstances instead of staying to fight. What makes the difference?

David seems to have held it as a matter of principle that he would not engage in attacking the Lord's Anointed. Thus, we find him utterly refusing to attack Saul, or his family. We even find him exacting vengeance on those who killed Saul. Even though Saul was plainly in the wrong, David refused to fight back. Instead he resigned himself to trust in God to work it all out.

The second instance in which we see David refraining from battle is when his son, Absalom attempted a coup. He most likely could have easily routed this upstart army. But he could not bring himself to fight against his own son, albeit that he and Absalom were fairly estranged anyway. Again, he trusts God to do what is right, even if that means losing his own life.

What do we learn from this? We face times of conflict. We often wonder if the path the Lord would have us take is one of combat or forbearance. How are we to know? Taking a page from David, we can see that there are times when we are called to fight. We are to fight couragously and persistently. We are to fight in faith, trusting in God for victory. Such times are when we are fighting to defeat those foes which God has called us to overcome. Fleshed out for us in our modern times that will mean winning against our own lusts and sins. It will mean standing up for truth, justice, morality, and life. In these instances we are called to do battle and never back down.

But there are other times when we face more personal battles. We see those in leadership and authority who are misusing their positions. David's example shows us that we are not to come against them directly. Rather, we are to pray and leave the outcome to God. He will take care of it. We just need to trust Him.

Secondly, there will arise conflicts with our brothers. These may be family, friends, other Christians, or even those in the world. They may attack us pesonally in a variety of ways. For the sake of love, both of God, and our brothers themselves, we learn from David's example that we run from these battles while we again commit ourselves to prayer and faith. God will see to it that it works out.

The great difficulty for us here is that we are not usually as resigned to God as David was. We want things to work out our way. David was content to die if that was what pleased God. It seems to me we must come to this same place. It is the place we are constantly called to. It is the place of the cross.

If you find yourself in the midst of battle today, ask yourself which kind of battle this is. Are you fighting for the truth of the Gospel? Justice for the poor? Morality? To preserve life? Then fight with all your might. Be strong and courageous in the power of the Lord. But if it is a personal attack from authorities or acquaintances, abstain. Run! The Lord will be with you. He will take care of it. Trust Him and you will see the glorious victory of God- just like David did.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The New Pharisees

I am continually growing weary of the cultural newspeak drummed into our consciousness every waking minute. It never fails that I read the paper, surf the web, or turn on the television and there I am treated to the latest phenomenon in "choice", "sexual preference", and other psycho-babble. In the midst of all of this I am suddenly aware that the Pharisees have changed their clothes. They no longer wear the religious robes of Jesus' day. Instead they are outfitted in the latest fashion of pop culture and social consciousness.

Remember the classic confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew 15. The Pharisees were upset because Jesus' disciples didn't keep their tradition. But Jesus replied, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" Then He went on to rebuke them for creating traditions that had the effect of nullifying God's Word. He wrapped up by saying, "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with thier lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,'" (vv. 7-9).

So it is today. The new Pharisees have a tradition as well. It is a tradition of about 40 years now in which any and every sexual perversion is to be normalized and accepted. Furthermore, unintended consequences from said perversions (pregnancies, STD's, AIDS, etc.) are to be dealt with swiftly so as not to jeapordize the intended pleasure of these perversions.

So while God has said, "You shall not commit adultery," the new Pharisess have taught that adultery is an outdated expression from tight-minded Christian radicals who have too many hang-ups about sex and sexuality. Therefore if it seems good to the parties involved, then it should be encouraged. While God has said that a man shall not lie with a man as he does with a woman, and that no such person will inherit the kingdom of heaven, the new Pharisees assure us that some people are just born this way and each person ought to have the right to choose his/her/not sure- sexual preference. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

So how do we deal with this? Unfortunately, too many well-meaning Christians are going right along with it. They are either afraid that maybe science knows more than God, or they're just too afraid to buck the establishment, or they are so inundated with the values of the current culture that they're not quite sure there is a problem after all. In contrast to this, we see Jesus confronting it head on. Look again at how He dealt with the Pharisees in Matthew 15. Or, for that matter, how He did it again in Matthew 23, or on numerous occasions throughout His ministry. Jesus was not afraid to confront hypocrisy, especially when it was having the effect of carrying the masses away with it.

This is exactly why I feel these are the new Pharisees. The single thing that characterized them was hypocrisy. They thought the whole world should live by their rules. It's just that they didn't always live by their rules. Those propagating such things among us would have us embrace a plethora of perversions while jettisoning any and all Scriptural guidelines. It is a recipe for disaster.

I urge all who read this post that call themselves Christians to stir yourselves and see what is happening in our day. Do not be content to sit back and accept it. Confront it head on. Be content with their ridicule, or their laughter. They won't be laughing on that great and terrible day when each of us will answer to God for what we did when we were on earth.

Let us confront the hypocrisy, and shine the light of God's truth throughout our world!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Like Jesus

There is a lot of talk about the historical Jesus. What was He like? What was His world like? Many scholars attempt to find out all they can about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. There are a lot of things I wish I knew about Jesus. I wish I knew what He looked like. I wish I knew what His voice sounded like. I wish I knew what kind of personality He had. I wish I could have heard Him tell a joke- or laugh at one. Yes, there are a lot of things I wish I knew about Him. But none of those things would help me imitate Him.

The Gospels don't answer all the questions we have. They're not intended to. Their point is to reveal to us the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord in such a manner as to lead us to faith in Him that we might receive eternal life. So while there are a number of things I don't know about Jesus, there are a great many things I do know about Him. And what I know about Him is intended to lead me to imitate Him.

One of the things I see about Jesus is that children enjoyed being near Him and the common people heard Him gladly. This means that Jesus must have been pleasant and easy-going enough to make people feel welcome and comfortable. This is amazing when you stop to think that He truly was holy. Without sin, He did not give off an air of judgment. Rather, He exuded love. I want to be like that!

I am a wretched sinner. Yet, I come of so pompous- so self-righteous. The more I strive after holiness, the more I become aloof. Jesus wasn't like this. I don't want to be either. So I must believe that the closer I get to Jesus, the more amiable I will be to sinners. Seems like a contradiction. But it's not! It's the way it should be.

God help us draw nearer to You that we might show more of your love and mercy to all people. May they be drawn to you by our example and not repelled. Amen!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Still Here

I have just recently finished two on-line courses. I am not taking any for the next session. So I will have a little bit more free time. I hope that some of that will result in my being able to post a bit more frequently here.

More to follow...

Friday, May 04, 2007

In Christ and For Christ

Sometimes when I am praying I actually take some time to let God do the talking. Usually He just puts up with my laundry list of wants and my complaining. But not too long ago I had the sense that He wanted to speak something to me. So I was quiet for a while and just listened.

He challenged me with the attitude in which I live my life. I am too selfish- too self-centered. My life is to be lived in Christ and for Christ. What does that mean?

To live in Christ is simply to allow Christ to live through me. It is His life that is to shine. I can only live as He is living in me. To do this I need to remain in constant contact with Him. More than just a few quiet moments in the morning, I must learn to train myself to be in continuous prayer. As I do I will remain in constant communion with the Lord, allowing Him to truly live His life through me.

To live for Christ is the same idea but looked at from a bit of a different perspective. This goes back to the idea of "what would Jesus do?". To live for Christ is to see all of life as being done for Him- for His pleasure, and for His glory. So if I work, I do it for Christ. If I play, I do it for Christ. If I serve, or visit, or whatever I may do I must do it as unto the Lord. This helps change my perspective so that I don't distinguish between secular and sacred events. All of life is sacred. Anything becomes an act of worship. This is how it ought to be.

I wish I could say I've really grasped this concept and am doing very well with it. The truth is, that I don't believe I grasp it very well and I am miserably failing. However, I do believe this is something God spoke to me and so I am confident He will give me the Grace to do it. I just need to keep at it.