TODAY

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Today
I awoke
To rich life found in grace,
Strong faith that abides
And promise that makes me whole.

Today
I arose
With fresh hope in my heart;
New thoughts on my mind
and feelings I’ve never known.

Today
I composed
A glad song full of joy,
To sing of great love
And mercy that ever grows.

Today
I will give
An offering of true praise
To honor the One
Whose compassion fills me so.

Welcome

This blog is dedicated to expressing all of the good things of God.  It is specifically christian on purpose.

If you’re thinking, “Oh no:  Religion!”  Relax.  To quote a saying from the Jesus Movement, “Christianity:  Not a religion, a relationship.”  This is about knowing the loving god.  It is not about “do’s and don’ts,” doctrine  or dogma (sorry dogs!)  Do feel free to raise contravercial topics; just be respectful.  Please refrain from name calling, criticizing specific people and crude language.  Thank you.

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”  1 Peter 1:3

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

HEART OF PRAYER

“The limitless loving devotion to God, and the gift God makes of Himself to you, are the highest elevation of which the heart is capable; it is the highest
degree of prayer. The souls that have reached this point are truly the heart of the Church.”  Edith Stein

(I say any believer can go there:  God wants to draw each of us into His intimate love and presence.)

The story of

the Jewish Carmelite Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, known in the world as Edith Stein, presents us with one of the more brilliant converts
to come to the Faith in [the twentieth] century; it also places us in close contact with a horrendous tragedy of the modern world, the Holocaust.
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Edith Stein was born in Breslau, Germany on October 12, 1891, the youngest of eleven children. In 1913 she began studies at the University of Göttingen
in Germany. She soon became a student of the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl and was later attracted to the work of Max Scheler, a Jewish philosopher who
converted to Catholicism in 1920. A chance reading of the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila revealed to her the God of love she had long denied. She entered the Church in 1922.

For eight years Edith lived with the Dominicans, teaching at Saint Magdelene’s, which was a training institute for teachers. She wrote:
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Initially, when I was baptized on New Year’s Day, 1922, I thought of it as a preparation in the Order. But a few months later, when I saw my mother for
the first time after the baptism, I realized that she couldn’t handle another blow for the present. Not that it would have killed her—but I couldn’t have
held myself responsible for the embitterment it would have caused.
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In fact, after her conversion Edith continued to attend synagogue with her mother. Meanwhile, she continued to grow and impress as a philosopher. In 1925
she met the Jesuit Erich Pryzwara, a philosopher who would have a tremendous influence on Hans Urs von Balthasar. Pryzwara encouraged Edith to study and translate St. Thomas Aquinas; she eventually wrote a work comparing Usserl with Aquinas.

In 1933 Edith entered the religious life with the Carmel of Cologne, Germany. She fell in love with the person and writing of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
She wrote:
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My impression was, that this was a life which had been absolutely transformed by the love of God, down to the last detail. I simply can’t imagine anything greater. I would like to see this attitude incorporated as much as possible into my own life and the lives of those who are dear to me.
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Because of the rise of Nazi power, Edith and her sister Rosa, who had also converted to Catholicism, moved to Holland in 1938. On August 2, 1942, Edith and her sister were taken from the convent by two S.S. officers. She was martyred seven days later. Fr. Connor writes: “On October 11, 1998, fifty-six
years, two months, and two days after her death at Auschwitz, Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II.”
From ignatiusinsight.com/

BEYOND YOUR OWN FRONT DOOR

If I were allowed to preach a sermon, it would be this:

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day.”
Acts 2:42-47 (NASB)
The question I want to raise is this:  What one thing can you do to reach beyond your own front door?

I have often heard this passage in Acts used to describe communes, but I don’t think that is what it is about.  There are a few points to make that clear:
perhaps the strongest is verse 46:
“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,…”
Here are some other versions:
…and breaking bread in their several homes, they shared their foodin joy and simplicity of heart (Complete Jewish Version)
They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. (God’s Word Version)

Almost all versions refer to eating together in each other’s homes.  That means they had their own places, just as we do.

Another thing I often hear people say is that sharing all things in common is communal in that none of us should own anything.  I think we can simplify this to something we can do:
If someone gives me 40 pounds of apples; then I give some to a neighbor and some more to a person at Church, I am sharing.  I still have all the apples I need; so do two other people.

Okay, time to turn up the heat!
I am coming to believe that the Western model of Church with Sunday Morning gathering as the main gig is backward.  Moreover, it fosters isolation.
What happens is, people go to Church, try to shut others out as they worship, shake some hands, visit a little; then go away for the rest of the week.  The result:  We don’t really know each other.
We have lost the part of Church that has to do with relationship:  Sharing meals at each other’s homes; giving and receiving so that no one has a need.
We have to spend real time with people in order to know that they have a need in the first place!
Psalm 133:1 brings up a fascinating point!  It says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to  DWELL  in unity.”
The word for “dwell” is “Yashab” (Strong’s Number:   3427)
It means, “To live, abide, sit, inhabit or remain.”
This  same word is used in
Psalm 4:8  “you make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 23:6  “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 24:1  “…the earth and all who dwell in it.”
There are plenty of other verses, but you get the idea.

In our passage from Acts, there are at least three indications that the believers were in close relationship:, other than the one I have already mentioned
Verse 42 begins, “They were continually devoting themselves….”
Verse 44 “and all those who believed were together…”
Verse 46 “They went to the temple together”  (They already knew each other)

Contrast all of this to our over-busy, isolated lives.
Away from Sunday Morning gatherings, we keep to ourselves, maybe extending our attention to a closest friend – if we even have one; perhaps we talk to adult children once in a while…  We don’t know what the other people who were at Church with us are doing, what their needs, gifts, dreams and struggles are.  We don’t know our neighbors’ names, let alone what they do or how they think and feel.
So how do we get from this isolated, impoverished state to the biblical ideal?
The same way we move into the other things of God:  One step at a time
If you are one to go about your week completely apart from other believers, what could you do that would be simple enough?  maybe call someone with whom you often visit on Sunday Morning?  Start saying, “Hello” to a neighbor?
Just find one thing; then when that is working, add to it.

Yes, you are soooo busy!  You and every other person you know.
I think busy-ness is one of Satan’s favorite traps:  If he can get us to be so occupied, we don’t have time to connect with others, he gets a huge victory – the old “Divide and Conquer.”

You’re unsure, uncomfortable or afraid.
Understandable: I’m calling you to change.
But consider this:  If you keep doing the same things in the same way with the same attitudes and the same people, what will you have?
Change is uncomfortable:  It involves risk, having to learn and find out, falling down sometimes.  But then comes the sweet success!
You might even find that you are less busy because a friend or neighbor can do something for you that you would have had to add to your already overloaded schedule.
You might find that a 10 minute phone call cheers you up so much, you get twice as much done.
Ask Holy Spirit to guide and help you; then reach beyond your own front door.

YOUR ENDLESS LOVE

When I consider
Your endless love for me;
How I am known
Through and through;
Into my heart You see.

I bow before You
And lift up loving songs
To worship You,
God my Lord,
To whom my heart belongs.

You draw me closer
Your tender words I hear,
Spoken softly;
Full of life;
Your presence is so dear.

You bring Your people
Into Your awesome light,
Love and heal us;
Breath of God,
In You is pure delight!

SOLITUDE’S TREASURES

Sometimes I need to be quiet
so that I can hear my heart speak.
Activities, noise, busy-ness and such
Make it hard to feel and see.

It’s when I take time to listen
And ponder each intimate word,
That the gentle voice of solitude
Whispers sweetly and is heard.

Oh to know her words of wisdom;
To be able to understand;
To become deeply acquainted
With god and His loving plan.

For such treasures I draw aside
With joy and anticipation
I give to God my own agenda,
I join Him with elation.

Ah, to dwell with such companions
Is greater than riches and fame!
To enter into love, hope and peace;
To worship His Holy name.

So I enter into silence,
To tryst with the friend of my soul;
To hear the melodies of Heaven
And know that, in Him, I’m whole.

GOD OF THE UNEXPECTED

Joseph was the youngest child
A thorn in his brothers’ sides;
Let’s get rid of him,” they said:
Rejected; yet favored by You.

David was the last in line,
Only good for tending sheep;
“You couldn’t want him,” they said;
But You anointed him as King.

How could Esther be the queen,
Merely a Hebrew woman;
“You were born for this,” he said;
And she saved her people from death.

Who is this carpenter’s son,
And from Nazareth at that;
“Crucify him,” they said;
Yet Jesus rose and saved us all.

God of the unexpected,
You know the least among us;
“You are my beloved,” You say,
And we rise up to follow You.