Monday, May 31, 2010

Beatitude (Part 1)

"The gateway to the Sermon on the Mount is the Beatitudes. They are God's answer to man's greatest question. Blessedness, beatitude, is what all of us are seeking all the time in and by everything we seek. Blessedness is always our end, whether our means is pleasure or power or riches or virtue or wisdom or honor or anything else. Blessedness is the summum bonum, 'the greatest good'. Everyone seeks it, but not everyone finds it, because not everyone knows where it is. Saint Augustine says, 'Seek what you seek, but it is not where you seek it.' Not everyone has a road map. Jesus here gives us the road map for our lives. This is the greatest of all treasure maps to the greatest of all treasures, and it is given to us absolutely free. It has to be a gift, for we would never have found life's most precious treasure on our own. Proof of this is the fact that the Beatitudes are shocking to us. They come like great jets of flame from the divine fire, solar storms on the surface of the sun of God.

The treasure they point us to is not just happiness, but blessedness. Some modern versions of the Bible translate the word makarios as 'happy'. This is a fundamental and disastrous mistake. In fact it includes three mistakes. For happy means to the modern reader (1) something subjective, a state of consciousness, a feeling. If you feel happy, you are happy. It also connotes (2) a temporary state, and (3) something dependent on fortune (hap is the Old English word for 'fortune' or 'chance'). Blessedness, on the other hand, is (1) an objective state, not a subjective feeling. So we can be mistaken about it, in fact, most of the world is. That's why Jesus has to teach us, even shock us. Blessedness is also (2) a permanent state and (3) dependent on God's grace and our choice, neither chance nor fortune."
~Peter Kreeft

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thy Creation

"Creator Spirit, who broodest everlastingly over the lands and waters of earth, enduing them with forms and colours which no human skill can copy, give me to-day, I beseech Thee, the mind and heart to rejoice in Thy creation."
~John Baillie

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
~Psalm 19:1-4a

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Love and Communion

"When you love someone, you use her language to be close to her. When you love a child, you speak and play with him as a child. This is how God relates to us. God becomes little so that we will not be frightened of Him, so that we can enter into a heart-to-heart relationship of love and communion."
~Jean Vanier

Friday, May 28, 2010

His Grace

"No matter what efforts I make, I cannot die to myself without His grace. I am like a frog that, no matter how high it leaps, always finishes back up in the mud. O Lord, draw me after You; for unless You do, I cannot move even one step away from myself."
~Dominic Barberi

Thursday, May 27, 2010

He Will Have Us

“God is not proud...He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Present

“Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?”
“This moment contains all moments.”
~C. S. Lewis

Monday, May 24, 2010

Relationship & Love

“This is the world He has made. This is the world that is still going on. And He doesn’t walk away from the mess we’ve made of it. Now He lives, almost cheerfully, certainly heroically, in a dynamic relationship with us and with our world. ‘Then the Lord intervened’ is perhaps the single most common phrase about Him in Scripture, in one form or another. Look at the stories He writes. There’s the one where the children of Israel are pinned against the Red Sea, no way out, with Pharaoh and his army barreling down on them in murderous fury. Then God shows up. There’s Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who get rescued only after they’re thrown into the fiery furnace. Then God shows up. He lets the mob kill Jesus, bury Him…then He shows up. Do you know why God loves writing such incredible stories? Because He loves to come through. He loves to show us that He has what it takes.

It’s not the nature of God to limit His risks and cover His bases. Far from it. Most of the time, He actually lets the odds stack up against Him. Against Goliath, a seasoned soldier and a trained killer, He sends…a freckle-faced little shepherd kid with a slingshot. Most commanders going into battle want as many infantry as they can get. God cuts Gideon’s army from thirty-two thousand to three-hundred. Then He equips the ragtag little band that’s left with torches and watering pots. It’s not just a battle or two that God takes His chances with, either. Have you thought about His handling of the Gospel? God needs to get a message out to the human race, without which they will perish…forever. What’s the plan? First, He starts with the most unlikely group ever: a couple of prostitutes, a few fishermen with no better than a second-grade education, a tax collector. Then, He passes the ball to us. Unbelievable.

God’s relationship with us and with our world is just that: a relationship. As with every relationship, there’s a certain amount of unpredictability, and the ever-present likelihood that you’ll get hurt. The ultimate risk anyone ever takes is to love, for as C. S. Lewis says, ‘Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.’ But God does give it, again and again and again, until His is literally bleeding from it all. God’s willingness to risk is just astounding–-far beyond what any of us would do were we in His position.”
~John Eldredge

“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.”
~Bruce Cockburn

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Holy Spirit

“When the Holy Spirit takes possession of a heart, a change comes about. If before there was a ‘secret rancor against God’ in the depths of a man’s heart now the Spirit comes to him from God and attests that God is truly favorable and benign, that He is his ally and not his enemy. He opens his eyes to all that God has been capable of doing for him and to the fact that He did not spare his only Son for him. The Spirit puts ‘God’s love’ into man’s heart (see Rom 5:5). In this way He makes him a new man who loves God and who willingly does what God asks of him. God, in fact, no longer limits Himself to telling man what he should do or not do, but He Himself does it with him and in him. The new law, the Spirit, is much more than an indication of a will; it is an action, a living and active principle. The new law is new life. That is why it is more often called grace than law: ‘You are not under law but under grace’ (Rom 6:14).”
~Raniero Cantalamessa

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Follow Him

“Jesus knew human nature as we cannot know it. He knew its baseness, as we even do not know it; He knew its frailty, its inconsistency. Yet, knowing it, He dared to say to us: ‘Follow me.’ How well He thought of us, how nobly He judged us who said to us, ‘Come where I go, follow me to the heights of self-sacrifice that I have climbed.’ He would not have said it unless He meant it, unless He knew that we could. He was no dreamer. He knew mankind. He knew the shallowness of those who then followed Him and of those who would follow Him, but He knew also their depth, their greatness. And knowing this He calls all of us to follow Him.”
~Bede Jarrett

Friday, May 21, 2010

God's Ways Are A Mystery

“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
~C. S. Lewis

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

~Words: William Cowper & Music: From the Scottish Psalter

Thursday, May 20, 2010

God's Grace

"He often points out our blindness and exclaims that those who content themselves with so little are to be pitied. God, says he, has infinite treasure to bestow, and we take so little through routine devotion, which lasts but a moment. Blind as we are, we hinder God, and stop the current of His grace. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith, He pours into it His grace and favors plentifully. There they flow like a torrent, which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads itself with impetuosity and abundance.

Yet we often stop this torrent by the little value we set upon it. Let us stop it no more. Let us enter into ourselves and break down the bank which hinders it. Let us make way for grace. Let us redeem the lost time, for perhaps we have but little left. Death follows us close; so let us be well prepared. We die but once and a mistake there is irretrievable.

I say again, let us enter into ourselves. The time presses. There is no room for delay. Our souls are at stake. It seems to me that you are prepared and have taken good measures so you will not be taken by surprise. I commend you for it. It is the one thing necessary. We must always work at it, because not to persevere in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord who reposes within. He will quickly calm the sea." ~Brother Lawrence

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Too Good To Waste

"There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes."
~C. S. Lewis

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Near The Cross

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Refrain:
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

~Words: Fan­ny Cros­by & Music: W. How­ard Doane

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good Thoughts

Simple, but profound...
"A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
~Roald Dahl

Friday, May 14, 2010

Psalm 46

God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress:
So we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea,
Even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.

The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

The waters of a river give joy to God's city,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day.
Nations are in tumult, kingdoms are shaken:
He lifts His voice, the earth shrinks away.

The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come, consider the works of the Lord,
the redoubtable deeds He has done on the earth.
He puts an end to wars over all the earth;
the bow He breaks, the spear He snaps.
He burns the shields with fire.
"Be still and know that I am God,
supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth!"

The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hail The Day That Sees Him Rise
























Hail the day that sees Him rise, Alleluia!
To His throne above the skies, Alleluia!
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia!
Reascends His native heaven, Alleluia!

There the glorious triumph waits, Alleluia!
Lift your heads, eternal gates, Alleluia!
Christ hath conquered death and sin, Alleluia!
Take the King of glory in, Alleluia!

Circled round with angel powers, Alleluia!
Their triumphant Lord, and ours, Alleluia!
Conqueror over death and sin, Alleluia!
“Take the King of glory in! Alleluia!”

Him though highest Heav’n receives, Alleluia!
Still He loves the earth He leaves, Alleluia!
Though returning to His throne, Alleluia!
Still He calls mankind His own, Alleluia!

See! He lifts His hands above, Alleluia!
See! He shows the prints of love, Alleluia!
Hark! His gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!
Blessings on His church below, Alleluia!

Still for us His death He pleads, Alleluia!
Prevalent He intercedes, Alleluia!
Near Himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
Harbinger of human race, Alleluia!

Master, (will we ever say), Alleluia!
Taken from our head to day, Alleluia!
See Thy faithful servants, see, Alleluia!
Ever gazing up to Thee, Alleluia!

Grant, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia!
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
Seeking Thee beyond the skies, Alleluia!

Ever upward let us move, Alleluia!
Wafted on the wings of love, Alleluia!
Looking when our Lord shall come, Alleluia!
Longing, gasping after home, Alleluia!

There we shall with Thee remain, Alleluia!
Partners of Thy endless reign, Alleluia!
There Thy face unclouded see, Alleluia!
Find our heaven of heavens in Thee, Alleluia!

~Words: Charles Wesley, Music: Robert Williams, & Art: Garofalo

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That Voice

"You can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity, because your identity is that you are the beloved. Long before your father and mother, your brothers and sisters, your teachers, your church, or any people touched you in a loving as well as in a wounding way--long before you were rejected by some person or praised by somebody else--that voice has been there always. "I have loved you with an everlasting love." That love is there before you were born and will be there after you die."
~Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home

"Until our Master summons us, not a hair on our head can perish, not a moment of our life be snatched from us. When He sends for us, it should seem but the message that the child is wanted at home."
~Anthony Thorold

Monday, May 10, 2010

Did You

Did you ever feel a sunrise?
Or hear the coming of the dawn?
And did you ever kneel on spring grass
when the winter snows are gone?
Did you ever hear a friend smile?
Or put your arms around a tree?
Did you ever touch a newborn baby?

Isn't that a lovely way to see?

~Words & Music by Ken Medema (blind from birth)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Motherhood

Mother’s Day – To my mother (mother of four) and my wife (mother of our four beautiful daughters) – Thank you, thank you, thank you… I don’t know how you do it all. You both are an inspiration and a gift from God. May He greatly bless you!

Three from Elisabeth Elliot:
“[M]otherhood is a calling from God… Think of Mary, who was willing to be somebody’s mother and to be known as His mother for the rest of human history. She was willing to give up her right to herself for the sake of her family”

Elisabeth Elliot spoke once about the demands on a mother and how difficult it is to find time to pray. She said, “Try looking up to the Lord with a hundred little looks of love during the day. Every now and then, lift up your eyes, lift up your heart and remember that Christ is in you. He dwells in you. He gives you the gift of grace. Learn to pray while you are peeling the carrots, driving the car or cleaning the house.”

“Mothers are always on call, expected to have all the answers and limitless energies. They’re supposed to do everything; it’s taken for granted. How can you be and do everything expected of you? What you need is a habitual sense of the presence of God. Think that Almighty God, who created the stars and keeps the seasons revolving in perfect rhythm, is there in your kitchen, in your bathroom, in the laundry room, in the grocery store. Mothers, be prepared for an arduous struggle. Your calling is impossible without prayer, the comfort and instruction of the Scriptures and fellowship in your church.”
~Elisabeth Elliot

Friday, May 7, 2010

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God,
Be still and know that I am God,
Be still and know that I am God.

I am the Lord that healeth thee,
I am the Lord that healeth thee,
I am the Lord that healeth thee.

In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust,
In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust,
In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust.

~Words: Anonymous, based on Psalm 46

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Faith, Hope, and Charity

"The whole substance of religion [is] faith, hope, and charity. In the practice of these we become united to the will of God. Everything else is indifferent and to be used as a means that we may arrive at our end and then be swallowed up by faith and charity. All things are possible to him who believes. They are less difficult to him who hopes. They are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues. The end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshippers of God we can possibly be, and as we hope to be through all eternity.

We must, from time to time, honestly consider and thoroughly examine ourselves. We will, then, realize that we are worthy of great contempt. Brother Lawrence noted that when we directly confront ourselves in this manner, we will understand why we are subject to all kinds of misery and problems. We will realize why we are subject to changes and fluctuations in our health, mental outlook, and dispositions. And we will, indeed, recognize that we deserve all the pain and labor God sends to humble us.

After this, we should not wonder that troubles, temptations, oppositions, and contradictions happen to us from men. We ought, on the contrary, to submit ourselves to them and bear them as long as God pleases as things highly advantageous to us. The greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is upon Divine Grace."
~Brother Lawrence (excerpt from The Practice of the Presence of God)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Relying on God

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done..."
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

True Giving and Receiving

“Giving yourself to others without expecting anything in return is only possible when you have been fully received. Every time you discover that you expect something in return for what you have given or are disappointed when nothing comes back to you, you are being made aware that you yourself are not yet fully received. Only when you know yourself as unconditionally loved – that is, fully received – by God can you give gratuitously. Giving without wanting anything in return is trusting that all your needs will be provided for by the One who loves you unconditionally. It is trusting that you do not need to protect your own security but can give yourself completely to the service of others.

Faith is precisely trusting that you who give gratuitously will receive gratuitously, but not necessarily from the person to whom you gave. The danger is in pouring yourself out to others in the hope that they will fully receive you. You will soon feel as if others are walking away with parts of you. You cannot give yourself to others if you do not own yourself, and you can only truly own yourself when you have been fully received in unconditional love.

A lot of giving and receiving has a violent quality, because the givers and receivers act more out of need than out of trust. What looks like generosity is actually manipulation, and what looks like love is really a cry for affection or support. When you know yourself as fully loved, you will be able to give according to the other’s capacity to receive, and you will be able to receive according to the other’s capacity to give. You will be grateful for what is given to you without clinging to it, and joyful for what you can give without bragging about it. You will be a free person, free to love.”
~Henri Nouwen

Monday, May 3, 2010

Use Even Me

"Let me ...put back into Thine hand all that Thou hast given me, rededicating to Thy service all the powers of my mind and body, all my worldly goods, all my influence with other men. All these, O Father, are Thine to use as Thou wilt. All these are Thine, O Christ. All these are Thine, O Holy Spirit. Speak Thou in my words to-day, think in my thoughts, and work in all my deeds. And seeing that it is Thy gracious will to make use even of such weak human instruments in the fulfillment of Thy mighty purpose for the world, let my life to-day be the channel through which some little portion of Thy divine love and pity may reach the lives that are nearest to my own.
...Amen."
~John Baillie

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Get Down

"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other. It is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts."
~F. B. Meyer

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Build Me A Home

Build me a home inside your scars
Build me a home inside your song
Build me a home inside your open arms
The only place I ever will belong
~Jon Foreman

Only Trust Him

Come, every soul by sin oppressed;
There’s mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His Word.

Only trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.

For Jesus shed His precious blood
Rich blessings to bestow;
Plunge now into the crimson flood
That washes white as snow.

Only trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.

~partial hymn by John Stockton