Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seeds? Words? Gardens?

Bear with me as I try to convey to you something that I do not know if I can put into words. Today as I was reading Sacred Scripture, a line of thought began to form in my mind. It begins with the concept of the logos, the Christ, the messiah. Jesus is the Word of God. That is something that almost all Christians agree on. It's also key in understanding the power of the tongue. First I want to talk about what the logos means to us, and what that means about Jesus.

We as Christians believe that when God spoke before time ever began, that the Word he spoke was Jesus himself. That the word that came out of his mouth, the word through which all things were created, was Christ. First off we see that when God speaks, he speaks a Word, and that Word is the messiah. It shows us how powerful that word is. All of creation, the universe, people, soul, spirit... all were created by a Word.

Next we see the concept that the Word is a seed. Jesus talked many times about the Word of God being a seed which is planted in the heart, in the garden of the World, which grows or not according to the condition of the soil. Here we see that the Word spoken by God has the power to multiply and grow, to create and uplift. The power of life and death, the power of all of God's creation is in a Word. The Word IS a seed.

Then I began to ponder the fact that we are made in the image of God. Being made in the image of God means that we should be aware that we also have power, spiritual power given to us by God's Holy Spirit. That means that when we speak, we also speak words. Now that seems very obvious on the surface. But let's look at what we said above, not only do the words we speak have power.. but they are seeds. When we speak we sow spiritual seeds in the garden of life. We have the power to plant spiritual food, or to grow weeds.

What does that mean for us? When we edify and uplift, when we build up and encourage... we are planting spiritual food, we are giving spiritual fruit... we are planting seeds of God's Kingdom. We are sharing the Word, through our word. We are spreading the Kingdom of God one seed at a time. At the same time, when we speak words that tear down or demean, words that harm and destroy, we plant weeds that choke and destroy the fruit we have planted. You see Jesus told us that the soil is very important to the growth of the seed. Did you know that God put man in charge of tilling and caring for the soil? Adam was given the job of protecting the garden of Eden, and we as descendents of Adam also have a duty to protect, till, and prepare the garden of our Spiritual world.. the Kingdom of God.

Are you building up God's kingdom? Are you spreading it one word at a time? Or are you planting weeds in your relationships? In your marriage? Is your home a garden of lovely flowers, tantalizing fruits, and gorgeous flowing rivers of kindness? Or is it filled with briars, burning sands, and empty river beds in decay?

His servant and yours;


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A personal relationship

I hear this phrase being thrown around a lot. It's very interesting to see how that people use it to mean something a bit different than what it really says. A personal relationship simply means a relationship between two people.  All relationships are personal relationships, no matter how many people are involved. But that isn't how it is being used. I find it is being used to say "My relationship is with God, not with you." I find it is being used to say I don't need to agree with you, or with the Bible, or with anything that anyone else believes; only with God.

There is a problem with that logic though, because God is not just a personal God, but a communal God. Let me try to give an example from my own life that will show what I mean. Back before my wife and I ever started dating we had a circle of friends, and then we had our 'own' friends. Our personal friends. Now one of those friends, a female friend of mine, decided that she did not like my wife to be. As far as I know my wife never did anything to her, but regardless of the story in the background, suffice it to say that this lady didn't like the woman I was marrying.

Now that's fine. She doesn't have to like her, but this is my wife we are talking about. As a Christian I am to love my wife as Christ loves the church. This 'friend' of mine decided to inform me that I could still hang out with her, but I couldn't bring my wife. That I could come visit her alone, but never with my family. There is a problem with that. I am part of that family. That is my wife. Those are my children. They come with me. They are a part of me. You don't want my wife around? Then I won't be around either.

Maybe that seems cold. Maybe. I am human after all. How can I say though that I love my wife, if I am willing to go hang out with someone who can't stand her, who bad mouths her, and simply choose that friendship over defending my wife. We cannot. Anytime we allow someone to demean someone in our presence that we love, and do not stand up for them, then we cannot say we truly love them. And oh how many times in our lives we have done just that?

So back to the topic at hand, a personal relationship. How can one claim to love Jesus, but not His body, the church? It's the exact same thing as saying to a husband, you can come but don't bring your wife... they are one person after all. (Ephesians 5:31) The same with Jesus.  You cannot divorce his body, and then claim to love him. You cannot take part of him, you must take all of him, body and soul, blood and divinity. Christianity is not a singular relationship between only you and God, but it's a family. That's what a covenant bond is.

You are part of the Family. That means you spend time with them, even if you don't like them. Our society is slowly eroding the family unit, the family structure in general. In the case of our spiritual family, we cannot simply walk away and pretend they are no longer one of us. God is who determines who is in our family and who isn't. It's not our job to do that. It's our job to live up to that family obligation. To love one another. To serve one another. To have a personal relationship not just with God, but with each other!

His servant and yours;

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Bars of Life

I thought he was gone,
This prisoner of war. 
In the dark night of the soul
A personal Darfur

An angry, dark man
Seeking for that happy day
Tripping down the ladder
Falling along the way

Thought to be in control
Truly tis but a myth
With St. Paul I cry out
My soul a vile pith

That I know to do
That I do not
A darkness creeps in
My essence of rot

There he is again
The man I thought I lost
A super hero, invisible
A heart of frost

Seeking freedom from this prison of sin
Found only in the word of the Lord
But truly as our Master has said
Tis a painful two edged sword. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Strong Enough to Bend

Do you remember Tanya Tucker? I remember her wonderful voice projecting from the speakers of my dodge Daytona. Tonight, the lyrics of one of her songs came back to my mind in a jarring moment of pain.

There's a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
And the reason its still standing
It was strong enough to bend

I woke up in the heat and walked into the living room. We have company, family from out of town, so both couches (and even a mattress in the middle of the floor) are filled with young kids. Someone had brought one of the plastic lawn chairs in and placed it in the corner. I sat down and began watching whatever was on the television, and before I knew it had returned to dreamland.

A few minutes later, I was startled awake with a painful reality. One of the legs of this cheap plastic chair had broken. There I was in an almost comical situation, except I was trapped, and my back does not bend. I was pinned between my own weight and the wall and my back was trying to bend under the weight. Since the titanium rods do not give...

Needless to say it was not just embarrassing, but quite a bit painful. My wife was awakened (I don't know if I made some kind of sound, or if God simply called her to my side, but I thank Him and her both) and she came in and helped me get out of this situation. As I lay there on the floor, still recovering from the pain of the pressure, I thought.. God I don't bend that way...

It struck me though that there was indeed a lesson to be learned. Much like the rods in our back, the Holy Spirit we are infused with as baptized believers of Christ, doesn't bend. It strengthens our spiritual core and it keeps us 'straight'. When we then who are filled with His Spirit try to do things that are against that nature, against the Spirit, it should hurt.. it should be uncomfortable.. it should be a little embarrassing.. and yes, we should be declaring in a painful gasp of breath "God, my soul doesn't bend that way!"

Thank you Lord for this lesson, I pray that I have learned it enough that I do not need another refresher!

His servant, and yours;


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Stranger

There was a child who lived with his grandfather by the side of a busy road. One evening the grandfather and this child were outside listening to the meadowlark singing her clear, sweet song as she perched on the fence post. Suddenly they heard a commotion up the road. A crazy beggar man, with a tilt to his head and a glaze in his eye, was lurching up the lane. All the children of the town were chasing him, throwing sticks and stones. Even the dogs were nipping at his heels. As the beggar man passed the house, the grandfather could see his humiliation beneath a sheen of desperation on the man's face. The child, however, saw a chance to have some fun and joined his friends. Too old to move very fast, the grandfather could only call out to his grandson to come back. Above all the commotion, the meadowlark’s song could be heard sweet and clear. The child broke from the group and ran back to his grandfather. Together they looked at the beggar man lurching and stumbling down the road chased by children and dogs.

The grandfather, eyes glistening with tears, knelt down and wrapped his arms around the child. The child dropped the rock in his hand and touched the tear that rolled down his grandfather's cheek.

"Grandpa", he said, "what's wrong?"

"Ah, laddie," said grandfather, "would you be knowin' who that crazy beggar man was?"

"No, Grandpa," said the child.

"Well I'm not sure as I know either, lad. But did you hear the lark? The lark was singing on the fence post, she was. And do you know what she was singing? There's words to her song lad, and never forget them, for she was singin:

"Often, often, often, walks the Christ in the stranger's clothes.

Often walks the Christ in the stranger's clothes."

Two tears struck the ground, one shed from the face of the grandfather, the other from the eyes of the boy, as together they watched the King of Glory stumble down the road. Often walks the Christ in the stranger's clothes.

Ever Wash Your Sandals?

Every summer, my sandals begin to start looking pretty filthy. That's when I get out the trusty scrub brush, dish soap and a water hose. As I was sitting outside scrubbing the inside of my shoe, I began to have several thoughts go through my head. First I began to think about how disposable our society has become. So much so that often times when shoes get this grimy, they throw them away. My children usually have worn them out by that time anyway. They seem to think that we are supposed to buy new ones when they are dirty, the same with socks!

Then my mind began to drift on how that God cleans our souls, just like I'm cleaning these sandals. I do it carefully so I don't damage them. I do it thoroughly so that I don't have to come back and wash them again, I make sure they are clean! Another thing I notice... even though they are dirty, they are scuffed, dinged up... they are pretty good sandals. All too often we Christians see ourselves as bad things, and yes our flesh can do some bad things... but we are also made in the image of God! We are pretty good things! We just have to get the dirt out and keep it out, and God can do that for us, and he has poured his grace out immeasurably through the sacraments of His Church.

Then my mind stumbles upon a very profound truth. We live in a very clean society as far as things go. We have running water, showers, and deodorant. We have paved streets, concrete sidewalks, and homes with floors. Our feet don't get that dirty in the grand scheme of things.. but look at the inside of my sandals and you'll see that dirt builds up fast! Those little bits of dirt don't seem like much on their own, but over time they build up and up, until you find your shoes filthy and nearly unusable. That's how the church sees venial sin. All sin is bad! Too many see venial as not bad, it's still bad! It adds up! It's the pebble that starts the avalanche, it's that little bit of dirt that on it's own isn't much.. but when you keep doing it... it begins to be visible.. eventually leading to the sin that leads unto death. (Mortal).

So keep your sandals clean. Frequently make available to yourself those sacraments that pour out daily in our church. Go to Reconciliation. Go to daily Mass when you can. Go to Church every Sunday reverently for that mere hour(sometimes less sometimes more) that it takes. Spend time frequently in Adoration when you can, find a chapel near your job or your home and go there when you have a free moment. Make use of sacramentals! Pray often! Repent often! Examine your conscience daily, so that you can see how dirty your sandals are getting.. and clean them before it's too late!

His servant and yours;