Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Thoughts on missions

What do you need for your mission? You need a keen sense of God as the absolute center of your life. In a word, you require the spiritual gifts of piety and fear of the Lord. I realize that these terms can sound fussy and puritanical, but they are actually naming something strong and essential.

First, you need fear of the Lord, which does not mean that you are afraid of God. It means that nothing to you is more important than God, that everything in your life centers around and is subordinate to your love for God. Second, your equipping needs to include piety. Piety means you honor God above everything else, that you worship him alone. These spiritual gifts enable you to find true balance; they allow you to discover what your life is about.

Equipped with these gifts, you are ready for mission. Having received the fire of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to set the world on fire.

Bishop Robert Barron


Friday, September 20, 2019

Thoughts on neighbors

God's Presence in Our Neighbors

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay The heart of Christianity is the great and incomprehensible truth that God’s true majesty, God’s authentic immensity, consists in God’s willingness to become lowly and forsaken, to pitch a tent among us and become one of us. God’s presence is sometimes revealed in lightning and thunder and smoke on Mount Sinai, but it’s much more likely to show up in the faces of our neighbors. And not just our respectable neighbors, either, but those whom we generally go out of our way to avoid: the poor, the ill, the imprisoned, the aged, the weak, and the despised. In their faces, if we but have eyes to see, we encounter God. In their lowliness and helplessness we discover the real majesty of a God of love and self-sacrifice.
—from the book Perfect Joy: 30 Days with Francis of Assisi  by Kerry Walters

Monday, September 16, 2019

Thoughts on faith

Faith is an attitude of trust in the presence of God. Faith is openness to what God will reveal, do, and invite. It should be obvious that, in dealing with the infinite, all-powerful person who is God, we are never in control.

One of the most fundamental statements of faith is this: your life is not about you. You’re not in control. This is not your project. Rather, you are part of God’s great design. To believe this in your bones and act accordingly is to have faith. When we operate out of this transformed vision, amazing things can happen, for we have surrendered to "a power already at work in us that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine." Even a tiny bit of faith makes an extraordinary difference.

Bishop Robert Barron

Friday, September 13, 2019

Thoughts on freedom

Freedom Is the Goal
Though the forces of evil infecting whole nations and peoples are often hidden, complex, and elusive, we are called, as Christians, to unmask and expel them in the Name of the God of Love....

As long as national security is our primary concern and national survival more important than preserving life on this planet, we continue to live in the house of fear. Ultimately, we must choose between security—individual, social, or national— and freedom.

Freedom is the true human goal. Life is only true if it is free. An obsessive concern for security freezes us; it leads us to rigidity, fixation, and eventually death. The more preoccupied we are with security the more visible the force of death becomes, whether in the form of a pistol beside our bed, a rifle in our house, or a Trident submarine in our port....

We must find a way to go beyond our national security obsession and reach out and foster life for all people, whatever their nationality, race, or religion.
Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thoughts on 9/11

Good and gracious God,

we come before you with heavy hearts
as we remember the events of 9/11.

For some of us
today is a mixed bag of emotions.

We hurt deeply
for those who lost their lives
and those who lost their loved ones.

We mourn the nearly 3000
who died that day.

We are humbled by the bravery of the first responders.

We continue to grieve with our neighbors
in the loss of our national innocence
our false sense of constant safety.

As we think of the way
New York and D.C. responded
with churches, synagogues and temples
opening their doors to ALL people,
as we remember strangers
carrying each other out of buildings,
as we are reminded of how
those who had much
shared with those who had lost,
and as we recall the bravery
of the passengers and crew
of United Airlines Flight 93
our pride wells up in us.

Yet, we struggle today,
not wanting to get caught up
in the macabre celebration,
the sometimes too prideful
remembrance of loss.

We still remember
how the world responded,
supporting us
and even declaring us one people.
“Today We Are ALL Americans,”
the headlines read.

And we remember the immediate call to war.
And the more than 1.5 million deaths from it.

God of all people,
teach us to be patriotic
but humbly so.
Teach us to see
the frailty, beauty and value of life
in light of this tragedy
rather than using it to elevate
trivial difference
to the heights
of divisive reasons for hatred.

Remind us
of the response of the American people
and not the response of the government
and its war machine.

Remind us
of the way
the true heart
of this nation’s people was reveled
in open doors, open arms and open hearts.

May we never forget
that on that day
we did not focus
on nationality, wealth, education, sex or sexuality.

We focused on need.
On humanity.
On love.

Call us back to that place in our hearts.
Instill in us the deepest sense of call
to be that people once again.

We remember all those
who, even today,
still suffer from the loss.

From NYC to Iraq the tragedy
has deeply and profoundly
impacted millions.

May we continue to heal
and help each other
just as we did


—Mark Sandlin, Patheos

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Thoughts on significance

On the road again
It's simple, really. Caring for people from creation to restoration is seeing the value and importance of every human being on this planet regardless. There is no one insignificant. No one who doesn't count. No one who is an outcast as far as God is concerned. No one without worth or dignity. No leaving anyone out. 

There is also no deciding ahead of time who is for us or who is against us. Jesus told His disciples that those who are not against us are for us. That's a pretty big assumption that doesn't necessarily mean how everyone will end up, but how we are to treat them along the process. If they're not against us, treat them as if they are with us and chances are, they might turn out to be. And even those who are against us doesn't mean they will stay that way. Jesus seemed to attract all types of people - many of them needy - He still does today. Jesus would not be the pastor of a homogeneous suburban congregation today; He would be the pastor of misfits.

This is where we need to stretch. We prefer to be around people like us. It's easy and it's comfortable, but something tells me heaven is not going to be like that. Heaven is, in fact, going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. Those may be people who may not want to be there. C.S. Lewis is the first writer I ever came across who painted a picture of people who actually didn't want to be in heaven (The Great Divorce). Paint a picture of Pharisees and you have a group of people who would not like heaven; it would include too many people they don't think should be there. The so-called "deserving" are never happy with grace; the "undeserving" don't care who grace summons, they just can't believe it included them.

Where people are at on their own walk of faith is not our business. We're not grading anyone - we're not giving them a quiz at the end of the session. We are on the road, but we are not in charge of our final destination. We are sharing our story with whomever wants to walk with us, but we're not responsible for their conclusions. That's God's business. We are responsible to love them, and be the good Samaritan to them along the way.  

John Fischer

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Thoughts on friendship

Friendship in Prayer Inspires Boldness

people-4050698_1920Prayer is about love, not insight. It is meant to establish friendship. Friendship, as we know, is not as much a question of having insight into each other’s lives as it is of mutually touching each other in affection and understanding. Friendship, as John of the Cross puts it, is a question of attaining “boldness with each other.” When we have touched each other’s lives deeply, we can be bold with each other. We can then ask each other for help, ask each other to be present without needing an excuse, or share our deepest feelings. Good friendship inspires boldness. The object of prayer is precisely to try to attain this kind of “boldness” with God, to try to reach a point where we are comfortable enough with God to ask for help, just as we would a trusted friend. But to reach this kind of trust we first must let God touch us in the heart, and not just in insight. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Thoughts on community

Your Inner Community
Those you have deeply loved become part of you. The longer you live, there will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more easily you will recognize your own brothers and sisters in the strangers around you. . . . The wider the community of your heart, the wider the community around you.
Henri Nouwen