Friday, April 29, 2011

A lying tongue

Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Mat. 12:34) He also said that what we put into our bodies does not defile it, but that which comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and it is that which defiles a man(Matt 15:18). What does that mean to us? It means that what is inside of us is evident by our words and actions. If our heart is filled with love, then our words will be filled with love. If our heart is filled with hate then our words will be filled with hate. Words have power. They have the ability to edify and the ability to destroy, the ability to lift up and the ability to cast down.

How are you using your words? Are you building up your neighbors? Or gossiping behind their back? We've all been guilty of gossip. Sometimes not even on purpose. We start talking and the story being told reminds us of another story we've heard, and before we even think about it we're telling that story. A story that we may never have verified, or probably never should have heard in the first place.

Proverbs 25:18 says, "A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow."

Often we dont think about our tongue as a weapon,and even when we do we only think of it as a weapon when someone is standing right there and we are giving them a tongue lashing. You see the tongue is a very deadly weapon. It can injure the heart. Break the determination of someone, or even bring them to sorrow and depression. It can hurt those right in front of us like a maul. Or it can hurt someone fruther away, like a sword in an arc. It can even injure someone who is far off, not even present at the time, but piercing them non the less like a stray arrow in flight. Each time we choose to say something about someone we either build them up, or tear them down. We as Christians should be ever weary about tearing someone down. We cannot draw people to Christ with anger and hate. When someone sees a group of Christians arguing over slight differences, the first thing they are going to do is say "I want nothing to do with that." I don't blame them. I've even been the one arguing before. How can we say God is love, if we ourselves do not show that love? We must show that love adn be that love in the world. Our kingdom is not of this world, but we are here in this world non theless. Just like a visitor in a foreign country, we are envoys sent by our King to spread His message. We should be showing the world how our King does things, and going out and being his arms and hands.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."

Francis of Assisi said famously, "Preach at all times the gospel, when necessary use words." Our lives should be a lamp to the world, on top of a hill to illuminate the path to Christ. A person shouldn't have to ask you if you are Christian, every thing you say and do should point to the love of Christ. Even if you are just toiling away at work, do it as unto God. How much improvement would your job receive if you were working for God and He in the room? Even though you are working for someone else, you should be working for God. Every moment of everyday should be the gospel. We should be lifting up the world, and leading it to the Holy Spirit. A sign post in the desert where others can see the oasis in the distance.

James 1:19 warns us to be swift to HEAR and SLOW to speak. We need to each sit back at times and simply say nothing. Wait before you say it and consider if it's even worth saying. Will what you are about to say change the situation? Will it help the other person feel better? Am I simply saying it to make myself feel better at the expense of their emotions? Silence can be a powerful tool. In this age of digital communciation all to often we can send out a message of anger and emotional abuse before we even consider what we have written. The enter key should have a cool down timer, that you can't post or send another message until you have thought about it for 30 seconds, or even a few minutes. Each of us needs to develop that examination of conscience, to determine our motive behind the message we are about to send. Is it a message Christ would want us to send? Or simply something that our flesh is wanting to send.

And above all, I am not advocating that we be door mats. We are not here for people to wipe their feet on. We are here however to wash one anothers feet. Let us learn to be servants one to another, lifting each other up to the Lord, until every person is lifted up in His name.

In Christ,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We are known by love, not division

If I have the gift of prophecy, can fathom all knowledge and mysteries, and have the faith to move mountains, but do not have love... I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2

Last night we gathered together at our local parish and enjoyed the solemn, and beautiful Taize service. We gathered together not a signle denomination, but a family in Christ. There were Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalian, Baptists, and Protestants. It wasn't a lecture, or a chance to show case differences. It was a moment where God's children came together despite their slight differences and put that all aside, to worship God and marvel at his grace.

We prayed many prayers for many different people. From the clergy, to the missionary. From the politician to the student. From the blessed to the oppressed. We came together in the shadow of the Cross and worshipped our Lord God. We need to do this more often. It shouldn't be Christian against Christian. In public forums all to often the most vocal arguments are between two Christians, not even between a believer and a non believer.

We should be encouraging people to come to Christ, not discouraging. Not arguing over doctrinal differences, but praising the truth that Christ is our Lord and our Redeemer. I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. -Romans 16:17 We, the body of Christ, should not be divided. We should not be putting obstacles in each others way, only truth. Truth of the Bible upon which all doctrine, all faith, and all hope should be based. Minor differences should be set aside, and faith in Christ should prevail.

More especially, as a dear friend of mine said, correction should be of love. It shouldn't be a moment of public redicule or condemnation. It should be a moment in silence, aiding a reformation. Speaking to someone in private about God and what He wants for them. A moment of gentle reminder, and shared love in the burden of sin. We should be holding each other and weeping, holding each other and rejoicing! Hugging and giving one another a holy kiss! Grasping a hand in warmth and fellowship. How are we to be known? What is our instruction? Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35)

Are you showing love? Are you giving love to your friends? Your family? Strangers? Are you perceived as a man/woman of love in the community? Do people even know you are there? Do your neighbors know your name? Do you wave at them at the mailbox? When you're sitting in silence, praying to the Lord do you pray for good things for that person you just can't stand? That fellow that just gets on your nerves and is always in your way? Do you hug someone at church when you see them for the first time in years, letting them know you missed them? When you shake hands do you get it over with as fast as possible, or hold there hand warmly and look them in the eye? Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. -1 Corinthians 13:4

Insert your name in the previous scirpture verse and ask yourself, am I showing love? Is Brian patient? Is Brian kind? Is Brian envious or does he grateful that others are blessed? Is Brian boastful or generous in praising others? Is Brian proud or humble?

Easter is a time of reflection and a time of an examination of conscious. I pray that God will guide each of us to be more patient with our loved ones, our friends and those we meet in our daily lives. I pray that he will bring Kindness in our hearts and provide us with the ability to show it and eloquently lavish others with edification. I pray that God will provide me with the ability to see others as His children, and be happy for them when they have something that I do not. To give them encouragment and love. I pray that God will keep me humble that I may ever remember that I am only saved by His grace, and that all good things come from Him and not from ourselves. That God will keep pride and boasting out of my life, and allow me to interact always with love and courtesy.

In Christ precious name I pray, Amen

In Christ,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Can you not stay awake with me one hour?

"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.'"

Have you ever tried to sit in the garden with Jesus? Several Christian denominations recreate that situation on Maundy Thursday. They go off into another place where they sit in the presence of God. The room is dark and only lit with candles. The mood is sober and anxious. It's a time of contemplation, a time of prayer.

Last night I had the chance to participate in this. Closing my eyes I could imagine myself in the garden, attempting to stay awake while Jesus was praying. While I sat there praying and worshipping, I could hear others doing the same. Some were shuffling their feet, or moving their prayer beads. Occassionally one of us would cough, or breath heavily. After a very short time I heard a yawn somewhere. I imagined Jesus saying to me, "can you not stay awake with me one hour?"

All to often we think, if I were there I'd have stayed awake! If I were there, I'd not have betrayed him! If I were there! Then when we are really faced with it, and we realize the difficult position those men where in. It had been a long day, they had finished dinner and it was late at night. Their minds were exhausted from the day and all the wonderful teachings and thoughts they had learned from their master. They weren't sitting down to fall asleep. They simply were human. As we are human. How often do we spiritually fall asleep and do something that we know we shouldn't have? Are we trying to keep vigil with Christ? Knowing that he is about to be betrayed by our own flesh? Or do we just go through life only thinking of Him on Sunday?

As I sat there picturing in my mind the scene, I grew nervous and anxious. Knowing that at any moment there would be soldiers and Judas. That my Jesus would be turned off and betrayed with a kiss. That there would be soldier's who would beat him, mock him, and crucify him. Then God reminded me that we betray Him often. We proclaim our love for Jesus and then we live a normal life. We proclaim our hearts to God, but then we walk out of the church or worship service and go back to living just a normal, sinful life. We go in and kiss Jesus on the cheek, and then forget Him while we go enjoy life's pleasures.

The Garden scene is a powerful reminder that we have to be alert, be vigilant. Keep our lamps full of oil, continually living for Jesus. Not only when at church but daily dieing to our flesh. Carefully living so that we are neither falling asleep in apathy, nor betraying our Lord with a kiss. Holy Week is not only a celebration of what Christ did for us, and of His resurrection, but a call to repentence, reconciliation and devotion. Have you devoted your life 100% to following our Lord?

Pray with me if you so choose,
Father I know that I have not been the person that you have designed, and want me to be. I know that I have sinned and fallen short of the perfection that you desire. Help me by renewing me, and by guiding me through your Holy Spirit to do the things that you want, and to avoid the things that abhor you. Give me strength and love, peace and joy. Gather my heart into your arms, and keep me spiritually awake. I pray that my heart will always be centered on your Word, your Truth, and your Light. Amen.

In Christ,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.

My good friend Clyde brought this wonderful little story by today, and I just had to share it.

Malachi 3:3 says "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this staement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason of her interest beyond her curiosity and the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of th efire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy. -- when I see my image in it." If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Isn't that beautiful my friends? That God is watching us during our trials and He is leading us through the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Him? That we are being refined, and that the end result is that others will see God reflected in us? Ah how I want to grow so close to Him that I always feel Him guiding me and sheltering me. To get to the point where my life is a complete communion with Him. Do you want Christ to reflect in your life? Have you asked Him to mold you into the person He knows you can be?

"Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

John 13:4-5 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Today is Holy Thursday, which means many denominations will be performing an ancient ritual. One given to us by Jesus Christ himself. Jesus was about to go to the cross and he knew that. He was having a beautiful dinner with his disciples. He got up to wash the feet of his disciples. Peter objected, why would the King be washing the feet of his servants? Why would Jesus, who was over all, kneel down and do something so base, so common. Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

Can you imagine this moment? Sitting there with your feet dirty from your travels. Having Jesus Christ himself bown down before you and begin to gently, lovingly wash your feet clean? It's a symbol of something so much greater. You see Jesus as a servant to God, humbled Himself to die on the cross in our place. He washes us of our sins! He spoke volumes when he said, that if He doesn't wash us, we have no part with Him. We need to be washed by the blood of the Lamb, and we need to follow His example.

We need to get down on our knees, humble like a servant, and wash one anothers feet. I don't just mean physically, though I find the ceremony extremley beautiful. A moment in which a man can be a servant to another, and do something common and base, something unpleasant by most standards but by doing so He is emulating the example set by God. There is something glorious about being involved in this, I can only imagine how powerful the act must seem as the person doing the washing. Reaching out with love to touch the foot of someone else, and to gently and lovingly wash them, for a moment just being their servant and not worrying about life, only about them and their need.

We also must serve one another. Jesus said, "What I have done you must copy." How do we do that in our daily life? We find the common need of our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, and we meet it. We reach out to those who need food and we provide. We find those who need help, and we help. We find that neighbor who lost her job, and we help her find a new one. Or we cook them a meal during hard times, and invite them over. We find that lost friend and we become a light to them, never beating them with our words, but offering kindness and love. We notice those who are normally at church and have stopped coming, and we call them or visit and ask if they are ok. We let people know we miss them. We tenderly and lovingly reach out and wash their spiritual feet, never thinking of ourselves, but thinking of them. Jesus told us, that "whoever loves God, must love his brother." Every action should speak of love. That's a very difficult life, but through prayer and communion with God and the aid of His Holy Spirit, it is very possible.

So I encourage you today, if you've never been to a foot washing ceremony, find one in your area and watch knowing what it represents. Close your eyes and see Christ washing the feet of the disciples. Sit in prayer and thought, and if you participate close your eyes and be in Communion with God to the point where you know that it isn't just a man kneeling before you, but that Christ lives in his heart. That Christ is washing your feet in spirit.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Words Have Power!

Words have power. We as Christians should truly believe that. Often we don't even consider what we are saying or to who we are saying it, we simply say what we are feeling. Many times that feeling is not a good one, and those words are embodied with our pain and our sorrow. We pray for something without considering what it will be like when it comes to pass, and then we complain when it does happen! How many times have we prayed Lord I don't want to go to work, please don't make me have to go to work. Then we wake up one day and our car won't start.. then we start complaining, God how could you let this happen? I need to get to work!

Mathew 11:12-14 & 19-25

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

When evening came, they went out of the city.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"

"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

Do we really believe the words of Jesus? Do you pray knowing that God will answer your prayers? Or do you pray and then worry day in and out if it's going to happen? Many will tell you that God doesn't answer prayer, but I disagree. Jesus told me he does! If you pray that your day will go better, that you won't have as much stress, don't go through the day worrying about things. Let go and just go through your day, live knowing that he is answering that prayer. If you ask God for joy, turn around and be joyous! Know that God will answer the moment you ask, and if you don't have the words? Or can't bear to say them? He'll say them for you! The Spirit of God will intercede with groanings!

Romans 8:26 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Remember that when you say something it comes to pass! Don't go out cursing someone or yelling at someone wishing them ill, you may regret it! Jesus, having the faith in God that we should have, simply cursed a tree and it died! How many times have you said something to someone and regreted it? "I wish you would just go away forever!", "I hate you! Leave me alone!", "Just go die somewhere!" or even worse, how many times have you heard someone throw out the phrase "Go to hell!" Do you really wish that on anyone? Words do indeed have power. Speak only that which you want to come to pass, and if you truly don't want it to happen, don't say it. Mama always told me, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

In Christ,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two become One!

Relationships have been coming up a lot lately, and I feel that many of us can always use reminders about what a Biblical marriage, and even a biblical courtship can be about. One of the biggest problems we have in today's society is that both people in the relationship aren't giving 100% of themselves. They enter a relationship intending to have their own this, and their own that. We often forget that as Christians we believe that when we are married, two become one.

Genesis 2:24 - For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

You see, even our secular legal system takes this to heart. (Though many are trying to make legal documents to keep them marriage from being binding.) When a man marries a woman, he and she are both an entity as far as the law is concerned. What she owes becomes his debt, and what he owes becomes her debt. A popular joke is that what is mine is hers, and what is hers is hers! We can laugh about that, but in reality we should be saying, What is ours is ours!

How much more pleasant will our marriages be if we simply stop thinking of our spouse as another person, but an extension of ourself. Would we say cruel things to ourselvs? Would we purposely beat ourselves up? Would we hit ourselves? If someone beats themselves up we consider that person to have some mental issues. Likewise we consider people who beat up their spouses to have mental issues as well. In a healthy relationship, we edify one another, that is we say good things about one another, and help each other with our burdens. As the proverb goes, Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

A very powerful statement, And "don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry"(Ephesians 4:26), this can be so important for a husband and wife, or even a dating couple. Even if you believe you are right, even if you are 100% convinced that you are the correct one in the argument... go appologize before you go to sleep. Tell her you are sorry for harboring ill feelings. That you didn't mean to get so mad at her! The same should be true for the wife. It is amazing how beautiful a relationship becomes when one puts their spouses feelings above the need to be 'correct' at all times.

One other thing to consider, is where your spouse is coming from when he/she comes to you with advice. It's really difficult sometimes to know that they mean the best, or that their heart was really where it should have been. Often times one explodes instead of receiving their counsel. The hardest thing in the world is when you think your wife is disappointed with you, or when you think your husband is upset for some reason. Try to understand where he/she is coming from. Is it from a warm place in their heart? Even if they aren't good at vocalizing it in a polite way, are they really just trying to love you? To show you they pay attention to your action? They respect your opinion? Remember that your wife/husband should be your BEST friend. There should never really be a need to go somewhere else for the companionship that you should already have with that spouse. I'm not saying you shouldn't have friends, just that we should never be going to others for the things that we should be getting in our marriage.

What do I mean by that? I mean that if you need intimacy, someone to share something private with, it should be your spouse. You shouldn't be sitting at the computer late at night sharing with a stranger though the internet something you haven't even told your significant other. You shouldn't be taking phone calls on your cell phone that your wife has no knowledge of, and that you have no intention of telling her. Nor should you be having meetings that your wife/husband does not know about, say when you are out of town working, or they are.

Remember carefully this following verse, from the letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Put your name in the place of love, and see if you are doing it right. Would your spouse say you are patient? Would he/she say your are kind? Would they say you are not irritable? Would your spouse say you are quick to forgive? Would your spouse say you do not boast or are humble? Would he/she say your polite to her at all times?

Remember, more especially, love never gives up! You should never give up! You should always be trying to make your spouses life as pleasant as possible, and sharing your dreams! Your heartfelt desires! Your passions for God! As St. Peter said, Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

In Christ,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who will we see in Heaven? Jesus? The Father? The spirit? All three?

A friend of mine posted the question, When we get to heaven, I know we will see Jesus, but will we also see the Father? The Holy Spirit?

One of the best things about the book of Revelations is it gives us a glimpse into what heaven will be like. The angels singing worship and praise, the saints joining them, the martyrs crying out from under the alter, the Lord sitting on the throne. Let's take a look at who we see.

We see in Revelations that we see God on the throne Revelations 4 - And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. This is a description in Johns words of seeing God himself.

Jesus is mentioned later as ministering at the alter, offering himself as a sacrifice. God is still on the throne, and Jesus is also present and separate.

Revelations 5:5-6 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

So yes, you will see God the Father and Jesus, the Holy Spirit itself exists between them. The spirit of Love and Truth that they share in harmony. Many indicate that the seven spirits of God in front of his throne are all one and the same, the Holy Spirit but seen as 7, because 7 is the number for biblical perfection. It means completion and rest. The Spirit is the completion of the trinity, and it is what brings us joy and peace (rest.)

In Isaiah we see that the spirit of God is a seven fold spirit. Isaiah 11:2 "And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." Then again in Ezekial we see Ezekial 1:10-12 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went."

So we see that in Isaiah's vision there were four angels that did the bidding of God's spirit, the Holy Spirit. Now let's look at revelations in the description of those angels.

Revelations 4 5-6 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spiritsa of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back

We see a direct corelation between the 7 spirits of God and the Holy Spirit from these verses. The 7 descriptions of the spirit of God, the spirit of the Lord (Holy Spirit) who imparts wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and reverential awe! We also can see that these are indeed the spirit of God before the throne of God, by this statement in Revelations 1:4-5 Grace and Peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness. You see only God can impart grace and peace. This verse reminds us that all three are one, but separate. So the simple answer is, all three are God but we will indeed see all three as separate people in Heaven.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why does God permit bad things to good people?

I think this is an excellent question, though I think it's worded in a way to make a negative answer. Someone mentioned recently about how could God allow a man like me, who works for God and tries to do God's will, to need to have his spine fused. Or how I could have a condition like nephritis. Why does God allow good things to happen to good people? First, I have to admit I don't consider myself a good person. Rather a flawed one, one clinging to grace, and trying to do what's right. But I do think this question needs an answer, and many just haven't seen it.

God is in control, I think all Christians agree in that. But we are also taught that God will not allow us to go through anything we cannot handle. Like Job we may indeed have to bear many burdens, and pick up a heavy cross, and follow our Lord. Just like Job, it was by God's permission that the things were allowed to be done to him. We know that God allows it, but do we really understand that God may also be preventing a good deal of pain?

Take my back for instance. I had a condition called scheuermann's kyphosis. My back had always had it's problems, but towards the end of 2006 early 2007 it got to be a very difficult burden. I had trouble sitting for any length of time, and I had trouble standing. I came home from work in terrible pain, and was simply unable to bear it. I ended up having titanum rods put in my spine. 26 screws, and 6 feet of rod. I still struggle with some tasks, and if I over do it I will have to spend some time laying down the next day.

Why would God allow that to happen? Or better yet what if instead I ask, what did God prevent? We know that God gave the surgeon the ability to fix my back. My back isn't getting worse anymore, and now I know my organs will not eventually be crushed by the worsening of my spine. I'm in pain, but no more than before. Instead of progressively getting worse, I am remaining pretty much the same. You see, I'm not going to die from it, and God gave us that knowledge and guided the surgeons hands to prevent me from dieing on the table.

I don't think God creates a great deal of the pain that we experience, though He could prevent it. How much of our diseases and hardships are we creating in our own food? Our diet? Science has proven that meat consumption is directly linked with cancer promotion, but we still eat meat. Science has proven that chlorine and flouride are detremintal to our health, but we still put it in our water. We know that pesticides get absorbed in our bodies and in our foods, but we still allow them to put pushed on to the food that we eat. I believe a great deal of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many other disorders could be solved simply by diet alone. While God permits us to do our own free will, we are truly to blame for a vast majority of the pain in the world.

We create the imbalance in the world by destroying rain forests, by feeding 80% of our grain to build meat and dairy, when it could be feeding the world. God isn't really sitting by and causing calamity, we really are in our own hearts. Could God stop you from doing things that harm the environment or each other? Yes he could. Instead though He has given us free will, will to choose what is right over what is wrong, and He has left those cohices to you and I. We also have to remember that God can do many things, but in the end He also chose to let Jesus die on the cross, for us. He could have at any moment lifted Himself off the cross, and rebuked all around who were harming Him. But He didn't, He instead extended forgiveness to those around and to all of us.

There is a beautiful movie, called the Robe, that illustrates this perfectly. Peter tells Marcellus (forgive me if I got the names wrong, it's been years since I read that book) that he has to meet this young girl, who Christ healed. When she comes into the scene, she can't walk. Her legs don't work. How could Christ have healed this young girl? She is still crippled! Instead she tells Marcellus the story of her healing, how that she was bitter and angry and now she was full of peace and joy! You see healing isn't always physical, but it IS always spiritual.

Who knows how much worse things could have been? What has God put his hand down and said, No you shall not harm this child anymore. How many times did he save someone from being shot in a robbery? They were still mugged, but they are alive! They could have been killed, and that alone is a blessing from God. How many times have you seen someone in a car wreck, where the car was totally smashed and the person walked away without a scratch? I've seen it first hand with my cousin Tate. The doctor said that if the steering wheel had gone in one inch more, Tate would have been dead. He was beat up, and hurt.. but he lived. How many times has God helped you by carrying you when you thought you couldn't walk, or how many times has he given someone 10 or 15 more years than they would have had? Sometimes we forget when someone dies that they were in pain, and maybe, just maybe they couldn't have taken it anymore. Or maybe, they were supposed to have died years ago, but God gave them a few more years for our sake?

We definitely have to begin looking for the blessings in our life, and not the curses. Looking to see God's love multiplied around us, and not looking to see what he hasn't done. We need to start giving from our hearts, until every child is fed! Every person is clothed! And starvation is a thing of the past. We need to educate and put our bodies to doing God's work. Let's start helping one another, and sharing the Grace that our Father has extended to us.

In Christ,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How can I pray without ceasing?

Prayer is many faceted. That is there are different forms. Sometimes part of prayer is listening. The point is that we should be in communion with God at all times. How do we do this? First, we do actual prayer. Whether it's four minutes a day, 10 minutes, an hour.. each person has a different prayer life. They should do as much as they can personally, and as much as God leads them to do.

Sometimes I sit with my wife in complete silence. I even study her face, or smile and watch her as she does her college homework, or fixes some papers for work. She knows I'm there, and knows all she has to do is say something, and I'll get up and help her or get something for her.

This is part of what God wants from us. Even when we are watching TV or working in the garden, or at work. We should be listening for His prompting, and ever ready to jump and do His bidding.

We also look for God in others. The Bible reminds us that when we do something for the 'least of these' we are doing it for Christ. Part of our prayerful outlook on life is to consistently look for ways to help people, serve one another, and thus serve God.

Then there are specific times we can pray. At dinner, before we eat and even after. It's easy to give thanks while hungry, much more so remembering to thank God once our stomach's are full! We can thank God in the morning when the sun comes up. At night when we see a beautiful moon. St. Francis once woke an entire village up with the warning bell, yelling look at the Moon. He was so enamored with the beauty of God's creation that he wanted to share it. He even went out and preached to 'creation' literally. Was found often preaching to animals in the wilderness, or picking up worms and moving them out of wagon tracks so they wouldn't be killed.

Is that a bit extreme? Maybe. It does remind us though that our lives are filled with blessings. In our communion with God we need to see that those blessings are there, and give thanks for them. When we see a child behaving exceptionally well, we know that God has a hand in that. When we see a bird feeding it's young, we know God has a hand in that as well.

Prayer is about remember that our bodies are a temple for God. That each breath, action, though should embody that. Giving thanks to God for everything, even when it's difficult to do so. For the good and the bad. Vocally at times, in thought at others, on our knees when appropriate, and even when simply walking through the yard. Even washing dishes can be a powerful reminder to thank God. Remember that he created the wood that a beautiful platter is made of, and he created the 'creativity' that went into making that platter! That when we see a beautiful painting it reminds us that God was the original creator, the original painter! That the rainbow in the sky is God's creation and that each breath we take is filled with a reminder that God gave us that breath, He breathed it directly into man and quickened his mortal body! Prayer is not just listing things that we have to be thankful for, but simply existing with God in our bodies.

The Bible says the spirit utters groans that cannot be put to words, when we have no words to say. Prayer is much like that at times. God knows our hearts, and where they are dwelling. By thinking on things of heaven, love, faith, hope, charity etc, we are existing in a state of prayer. So even when we are vegging out, not really paying attention, our hearts are still calling out to Him. That is what continual prayer is. Calling out to God, even when we aren't saying a single word.

We Christians must live ever present to the current moment. Not dwelling in the past on our failures, or worrying for the future. Simply living in the moment and knowing that God will provide what we need, and calling out for Him, searching for His face. Continually doing His work, and reminding our mind to think His thoughts. Through love and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be transformed. Transformed in ways we cannot do alone. Until our life is no longer a reflection of ourselves, but of the divine love and radiant grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

In Christ,

Monday, April 11, 2011

How can our burden be easy, when we have a cross to bear?

Simon of Cyrene. A man who had a huge role in history and in the most important events in the redemption of man. He was the man who, when Jesus fell and could no longer bear the cross, was compelled to lift it up and carry it for Him. It's difficult to think that God in the form of a man, was so weak He could no longer carry it. The God in Him was strong, but the man in Him was just like you and I. He could only go so far, before He needed help.

You see God was using Simon for many things. Many believe he was the Simeone mention in acts, and I do believe that myself. God called Simon to carry the cross, not because God couldn't have given His mortal body strength, but to teach us one of the most important lessons that we as Christians need to know.

Each of us bears a cross! We are compelled to do just that. That cross is our flesh and our lives, our temptation and tribulations. That cross can get so heavy that our yokes no longer seem light, and our burdens seem bigger than any mountain. But we are also compelled to do something even more magnificent and beautiful, to carry each others crosses! We are not just to be concerned with our own walk, but to reach out when someone is under a huge load and offer to carry it for them or with them.

When someone has a death in the family we can help with that cross by cooking some food, sending a card, simply being there for them! When someone is down on their luck, we can leave a simple envelope in their mailbox with a few dollars in it. A note saying Jesus loves you. Mowing their yard, or helping them replace a car part. God has given each of us knowledge to do things. Some are electricians, some are concrete workers, some can sew, some are good with taxes. We as the body should be doing these things not only as a profession and not only for our families, but for the entire body of Christ. Finding someone who needs a light replaced, a blanket fixed for their child, a concrete pad for their driveway. Help someone who has trouble with numbers do their taxes, or someone who can't cook learn to do so. We are to be like Simon and pick up the cross of the body of Christ. To help the body bear their burden, and to help shoulder the load. Then we see why Jesus said, "For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."

Go out and serve one another, not just in preaching the gospel, but physically get out and use your God given gifts to make life here on Earth, more like our life in Heaven. We cannot simply pray Thy will be done, and live as if it hasn't. Let us love one another so much, that the world cannot help but say, look at those Christians... their love for God is evident in their actions.

In Christ,

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Suffer not the children

Today, after everyone returned from the church service, my wife, children, and I decided to go out and eat together at a decently nice restuarant. We all piled into the car and drove about twenty five minutes to get to this place that we really enjoy. The food, music, atmosphere, all of it just really jives with us. As we got there we noticed the parking lot was exceptionally full. The hostess informed us it would probably be twenty, twenty five minutes before we could get in. So we decided we would wait.

We sat there in the little entry way waiting patiently as people came and went. There were several benches, and most of them unoccupied. My youngest ran back and forth sitting on different areas, playing with her baby doll. Finally she ran up to me, and jumped in my lap. She said, I love you daddy. Then curled up and just sat there while I rocked her with my knee. For a few minutes I was living a moment of what I believe Heaven is made of.

She was content just to be there in my arms. She knew that she could safely jump in my lap and didn't need permission. She didn't hestitate, or say is it ok. She simply took for granted that daddy was there and she was safe. That she could relax and even drift in her thoughts to the music in the room.

When was the last time we thought of God that way? God is our Father. Often we think of Him as the stoic, unyielding judge who will exact vengeance. How often do we remember that He is our Father, and we are safe in His arms. We are forgiven and can without any hesitance, any fear walk up to Him and sit in His lap. That he will wrap His peaceful arms around us and never question the moment. That we don't need permission to be with our Father, we just simply can be! How often do we have faith that we are completely forgiven, and that our Father is simply waiting for us, patiently and lovingly to want His affection and touch. We must be like little children, confident not because we have earned it, but simply trusting in the love of our God.

I pray that each of us will have our eyes opened, until we can see God the Father for who He truly is. The loving, forgiving and patient God. The one whose arms hold us when we cry, whose knee bounces us when we need pacified, and whose hand reaches out to pick us up when we fall. That we will learn to not simply provide lip service to the acceptance of grace, but to truly believe in our hearts that we are forgiven! That we are the children of God! To truly understand that grace and not only accept it, but to run out and share it! To shout it from the rooftops and from the sidewalks! To say, My God, my father, I know that you have forgiven me though I do not deserve it! Thank you Father for your wonderful, magnificent grace that covers all my sins! Help me to show others your true, and perfect love!

In Christ,