Tuesday, April 27, 2010

our daily lives . . .

So, yesterday as Cody spent his first day working at Discovery Kingdom, Jocko the walrus (2600 pounds) decided he liked Cody and began "playing" with him, including at one point slamming Cody into a concrete wall! But, since Cody didn't move (fall down, etc.) Jocko immediately backed off thinking he had met his match?! Life as an "animal whisperer" is full of adventure.

Speaking of getting physical, little Anthony Cayden DeFazio ("Tony") has been "stomping" around his Mommy's (Karly) tummy lately, letting everyone know he's planning on being an athlete just like Mom and Dad!

And finally, Kyle is jamming to get paper #3 done before his marriage to his beloved (and ours) Laura this June! The occasional Ultimate game seems to keep him going, along with M&D's prayers!

The "journey" along the Narrow Road is full of adventure, and we depend daily on God to guide and protect us all.

Monday, April 26, 2010

a "seasonal" God . . .

Seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, times when the Lord is so real it seems any activity you undertake is a spiritual experience.

Seasons of dryness, when things are so bleak that even a plateful of Sinai sand would be considered a feast!

And are not these seasons from the hand of God? If so, what is His goal in the matter? He is taking you to that place where you can be a man/woman for all seasons. Where seasons don't faze you . . . no, not even the glorious ones. An old apostle said it so well to a young man. 'Be ready in season, be ready out of season.'

We are all very subject to seasons; yet these seasons are there to make us eventually seasonless. There is only one way you are ever going to learn to triumph over all seasons, and that is to go through each and every season . . . many times. When you can reckon the sound of abundant rain and the hot blowing of a dry spell exactly the same, then you will be nearing the land of maturity.

Psalm 90
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn men back to dust,
saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men."
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass of the morning-
6 though in the morning it springs up new,
by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
10 The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span [a] is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many seasons as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor [b] of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 27:13
13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

taking criticism graciously and without offense or depression . . .

Yep, I could personally use some work here . . .

“Another way to know the Lord has gained some ground in your life: when you can accept criticism, even if viciously served, without a sense of resentment and with no need to retaliate.” [Gene Edwards, The Inward Journey]

The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 57


My son, your patience and humility in time of adversity are more pleasing to Me than your great consolations and devotion during times of prosperity. Why do you give in to sadness when some­thing slight is said against you? Even if something worse had been said, still you should not become disturbed..

But let it pass for now, This is not the first time this has hap­pened to you, nor is it anything new. And if you have a long life ahead of you it won't be the last.

So long as no misfortune comes your way you are sufficiently brave; you give good advice to others and know the right words to use in encouraging them. But when some sudden and unex­pected trial comes knocking on your own door, that advice and encouragement abandon you.

Keep in mind how frightfully weak you are when a trouble­some trifle besets you, but remember, when this or a similar situ­ation befalls you, it is all for your salvation.

2. Keep each trial outside your heart, as best you can, and if it has already knocked you down, don't let it keep you down nor keep you long under its power. If you cannot bear it cheerfully, at least bear it patiently.

Even if you are unwilling to bear the remark and feel anger ris­ing in you, hold yourself in check and let no unbecoming word es­cape your lips that might give scandal to little ones. The inflamed emotion will soon calm down and the return of grace will change your inward sorrow into something sweet.

As I the Lord live, I am ready to help you and comfort you more than ever before; all you need do is put your trust in Me and devoutly call upon Me.

3. Take courage, and gird yourself to endure still greater trials. Though you often see yourself harassed and severely tempted, still all is not lost. You are a man and not God; you are flesh and not an angel! How can you always persevere in the same state of virtue when even Lucifer failed the test in heaven and Adam did the same in paradise?

I am He who raises and rescues those who mourn, and those who readily acknowledge their weakness I lift up to have a share in My divinity.


4. Lord, blessed be Your word, sweeter to my mouth than honey and the honeycomb. What would I do in my many trials and tribula­tions if You did not comfort me with Your holy words? Does it matter which and how many trials I undergo if in the end I arrive at heaven's harbor?

Grant me a good end and a pleasing passage out of this world. My God, remember me and direct me along the right road lead­ing to Your kingdom. Amen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

from Celtic Daily Prayers – prose & poetry

Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm, I say to Thee, 'Lord, why am I here? What is there here to stir my gifts to growth? What great thing can I do for others - I who am captive to this dreary toil?'

And seven times a day Thou answerest, 'I cannot do without thee. Once did My Son live thy life, and by His faithfulness did show My mind, My kindness, and My truth to men. But now He is come to My side, and thou must take His place.'

From Hebridean Altars

Even though the day be laden

and my task dreary

and my strength small,

a song keeps singing

in my heart.

For I know that I am Thine.

I am part of Thee.

Thou art kin to me,

and all my times

are in Thy hand.

Alistair Maclean

I trust in Thee, O Lord,

I say, Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand,

my times are in Thy hand.

Blessed be the Lord,

for He hath wondrously shown His steadfast love to me,

His steadfast love to me.

Psalm 31:14-15, 21

Enrich, Lord, heart, hands, mouth in me

with faith, with hope and charity,

that I may run, rise, rest in Thee.

George Herbert

As the rain hides the stars,

as the autumn mist hides the hills, happenings of my lot

hide the shining of Thy face from me. Yet, if I may hold Thy hand

in the darkness, it is enough; since I know that,

though I may stumble in my going, Thou dost not fall.

Alistair Maclean

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Suffering for Christ and His Church

If you haven’t suffered, then these words may disturb you. But, if you have suffered or are suffering, I trust they will bring you some measure of consolation; that you are suffering for the church, that you are bearing your “cross”, which you have gladly taken up in response to Christ’s love for you. There is a beautiful mystery in the cross, and when we suffer for Him, we participate in that mystery. The Apostles knew this, and Paul wrote often about it. The following excerpts are from The Inward Journey, by Gene Edwards. It has been said of this book, “You must read it, you’ll hate it!” For encouragement though, I have included chapter 59 from Book III of The Imitation of Christ. May God cajole and console as only He can in your reading and meditation of these words.

“There are many great success stories around, but those works very rarely reflect the bride of Jesus Christ. Sometimes she seems to be as elusive as her Lord. Rarely do you see her beautiful and whole, gathering somewhere in the city. Rarely will you ever gather in a place where you will sense the deep work of Christ in the corporate body of people. Being with a people who have been made one ... and whose oneness - tested by the long trek of time - is found in nothing, absolutely nothing, but Christ. Such a people is rare, exotically rare. Rare because that glorious work which the Father did in the Son was so rare.
Another way to know that the Lord has gained some ground in your life: when you can accept criticism, even if viciously served, without a sense of resentment and with no need to retaliate. Joseph said about his brothers, if you remember, that 'they meant it to me for evil but God meant it to me for good.'

Christian workers especially have a tendency to talk of anything that opposes their little world and their little work as being from the devil. (My, how much of that attitude I have witnessed in these last 30 years.) Such an accusation on the part of a worker, they tell you, this whole thing is of the devil,' surely makes it rough on the poor brother who is really causing the problem. He wakes up to find all his friends now thinking he's the devil ... or a reasonable facsimile. It's an uncomfortable feeling, is it not, to be sitting out there in a meeting and hear that what you are doing is 'the devil's work'. I hope you survive; but frankly the chances are very slim that you will. Sure, I wish Christian workers wouldn't talk that way. Such talk has clubbered my blood for a generation. But they do. For centuries past they have and for whatever centuries lie ahead they will continue to. If the day comes that someone says of you, 'This is of the devil', I admonish you, check your heart, check your mouth, check your motives. Get clean, get your motives pure, surrender your will, opinions, desires and hopes to the Lord. Then lift up your head to the hills and know that all things are permitted from the hand of the Lord. Sorrow, joy, hope and fear. Refuse to accept even this as from the hand of the Lord and chances are you will get bitter. A bitter Christian is a devastated Christian.

One brother wisely said, 'The cross is usually exactly the opposite of what we thought it was.' When suffering comes your way, there is one thing that you certainly will do: you will ask the Lord, 'Why has this happened?' There is something else almost as certain. You will receive no answer. If the 'why' could be removed, dear brother, most of the transforming power of the cross would disappear. The 'why' factor of the cross is perhaps its sharpest, most effective, most deadly aspect. Remove the 'why' factor of the cross and there really isn't much suffering involved in it.

Then what of those who are delivered, and delivered instantly from their sufferings? And what about this matter of exercising faith and therefore being delivered? Sitting over there near you are two Christians. One is doing great, the other is in great pain; yet, the second seems to be just as worthy as the first. Why do his afflictions persist? Is it a lack of faith? What a quandary. What are we to believe? Of the two, who is closer to God? Has the afflicted brother failed in faith? Will the proper exercise of faith always triumph over affliction? He who has been delivered by his faith has triumphed. He who is not delivered, yet faithfully (though weakly) yields - this one has also triumphed! And if the truth is known, there is yet a third brother, the one who suffers and yet cannot find the strength to yield gloriously. He is only willing not to become bitter under the strong hand of God. He has no glorious story of healing or yielding, but it may just be that the pain he is going through is great enough and the work of God strong enough to pen¬etrate past all his grumblings and groanings and change the inner man. Maybe, just maybe, even this one has triumphed!

I have observed through the years that most Christians have little understanding of the word 'season'. Our Lord is a sea¬sonal God; He comes, He departs. His faithfulness never changes, but His seasons do! There are seasons when the tree is green, there are seasons when it is dry, and seasons when, for the life of us, the thing looks dead. Now, does this mean you are serving some capricious God who comes and goes by whim? Or, could it be, that it is only through seasons that true growth may come? Paul said, 'Does not nature teach us?' Fruit from a tree comes to us as a result of three or four seasons. The Christian and the Lord's body both need rain and sunshine, cold and hot, wind and doldrums. Seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, times when the Lord is so real it seems any activity you undertake is a spiritual experience. Seasons of dryness, when things are so bleak that even a plateful of Sinai sand would be considered a feast! And are not these seasons from the hand of God? If so, what is His goal in the matter? He is taking you to that place where you can be a man for all seasons. Where seasons don't faze you ... no, not even the glorious ones. An old apostle said it so well to a young man. 'Be ready in season, be ready out of season.' We are all very subject to seasons; yet these seasons are there to make us eventually seasonless. There is only one way you are ever going to learn to triumph over all seasons, and that is to go through each and every season ... many times. When you can reckon the sound of abundant rain and the hot blowing of a dry spell exactly the same, then you will be nearing the land of maturity.

What can you do, in your hour of hurting that might please your Lord? My guarded answer is: very little. You can rejoice. That's one possibility. You can yield to Him. With joy you can offer up to Him the situation and say, 'Lord, I know this is from Your hand.' But the chances are you are not going to get anywhere near that. So what can you do in the midst of adversity? You can kneel; you can weep, and weep, and weep. This you can do. There is one thing you must not do. Complain if you must, groan if you must, and get angry if you must. But oh, dear brother, stay far distant from bitterness, and from blaming others. Do that and you are dangerously close to forfeiting all future spiritual growth. On some future occasion when things are really getting rough you might remember those words. Keep reminding yourself of this, 'For this I was made a minister.'

Is it possible to know if there is true brokenness in a man? I think so. Such a man is not in rebellion toward anything:
1) nothing in his circumstances,
2) nothing that has to do with what other people inflict upon him,
3) and certainly not anything that God chooses to lay
within his life. He is at peace in all three circumstances.

“A broken and contrite heart the Lord does not despise.”

The Lord did not complete His suffering, (though He did complete His work.) It has been given to the church to complete the sufferings of Christ. Suffering not yet filled up waits out there for you. You see, the body is also Christ. The body, which is the church, is part of that Christ. There is suffering out there yet to be endured, yet to be known, yet to be embraced by that part of Christ which is called the body. We all thank God that no one member of that body will ever have to know and endure all the sufferings that Jesus Christ experienced while living on earth. But each one of us - because we are in some mysterious way one with Him - will taste some part of His experience of suffering. One within your fellowship may know ridicule. Another will partake of physical pain, another will know rejection, perhaps someone else may taste what it means to be vilified and verbally, socially crucified. And perhaps, just perhaps, there will be one within your fellowship who will touch that awful thing which Christ touched in that last moment on the cross: the dark night of the spirit. There is one aspect of the cross that none of us will ever know - praise God! We will never know what it means to be the sin-bearer. That is one thing which I will never experience, nor will you. He and He alone has experienced that. He experienced the one thing that none of us should have escaped, and the one thing which He need never have known. He became the sin-bearer and thereby took suffering that was truly mine. Now you must step into your place in the body of Christ, and you must receive and you must bear some segment of the suffering which is Christ's - that is, that part of Christ which is the church.

If you ever see a great work of God,
something joyous,
alive and real,
something of Christ,
something that is Christ,
something enduring,
then you may be certain of one thing:
some lonely saint
silent, alone
went to the cross,
suffered, died
and fell into the earth.
And for what did that someone die?
for that lovely harvest,
that work of God
which now you see
and declare to be so beautiful.
There must be another day,
and another body of believers.
A day when someone else
must fall into the earth
and die.
And that someone may be you.

If you cannot cherish what it is the Lord is doing in your life, at least do not waste what He is doing in your life. Lay down the self-pity, and with all the strength and grace that He allows you, yield to His work. If you cannot make it up within you to yield totally to your Gethsemane (most of us can't) then at least yield up to the light the dark feelings of resentment and bitterness that are trying to hatch inside you. One day you are going to come to the conclusion that serving the Lord is mostly crying ... and suffering ... and agonizing. What can you do in that sad hour? Nothing really, except bend over double and absorb into your being those sufferings, sufferings which really belong to the church. In that hour, bear her sufferings for her. And if you happen to look up, you will see her going on her way, gloriously rejoicing. She will be oblivious to the fact that she is, at that moment, so very glorious because you have suffered.”

The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 59:

Lord, what can I rely on in this life? Or, of all the things under heaven's vault, which object is my greatest comfort? Is it not You, my Lord God, whose mercies are without number?
When You were absent from me, Lord, when did things go well? And how could they ever go amiss when You are with me? I would rather be poor for Your sake than be rich without You. I would rather be a pilgrim traveling the earth with You than be in heaven without You. Where You are there is heaven, and where You are not there is death and hell.
You are my sole desire and therefore I long for You, cry out to You and beseech You. There is no one in whom I can fully con¬fide; there is no one whom I can trust to help me when in need, except You, my God. You are my hope and my trust; You console me and You are faithful in everything.
2. Everybody looks after their own interests but You look after my happiness and my salvation, and You see that all things work unto my good. Even though You send me various trials and temptations, You, who are accustomed to try Your beloved ser¬vants in a thousand different ways, design all this for my benefit, and I am to love and praise You no less during times of trial than I am when You fill me with consolation from heaven.
3. Therefore, it is in You, Lord God, that I put all my hope and trust; on You I lay all my anxieties and worries. Everything that is not You I find terribly unsteady and insecure.
My many friends are of no help to me, nor can influential asso¬ciates aid me. Wise counselors can't offer me the correct answer, nor can the books of the learned give me any comfort. No precious stone can buy me my freedom, nor can any secret and tran¬quil place give me safety. None of these are any good to me unless You Yourself, Lord, assist and help me, comfort and console me,
teach and defend me.
4. Whatever may seem good for our peace and happiness is really nothing if You are absent from us; of themselves all these things can do nothing for us.
You are the end of everything good, the highest point of life and the depth of wisdom. Your servant's greatest comfort is to place his trust in You above all else. To You I raise my eyes. In You I trust, my God, the Father of mercies.
Bless and sanctify my soul with Your heavenly blessing and let it become Your holy dwelling and the throne of Your eternal glory. Let nothing be found in Your respected “temple” that may offend the eyes of Your majesty.
According to the greatness of Your goodness and the multitude of Your mercies, look upon me and hear my request, the prayer of Your poor servant, who sojourns here in distant exile in a region of shadows and death.
Guard and defend my soul living amid the many dangers of this corruptible life and by Your grace direct me along the paths of peace to my fatherland, the place of everlasting brightness. Amen.

Only by Grace,


Monday, April 5, 2010

prayer of brokenness

I ask You, humbly, and from the bottom of my heart: Please, God, would You write straight with my crooked lines? Out of the serious mistakes of my life will You make something beautiful for You? Give me fresh vision. Let me experience Your love so deeply that I am free to face the future with a steady eye, forgiven, and strong in hope.

following Jesus . . . and seeking His Father (and ours) alone, above all . . .


You have never despised a contrite and humble heart.

It is at Your feet that we have a place of refuge from the raging enemy, and it is there that our brokenness is mended and our uncleanness washed away. (from Book III, Chapter 52)

Chapter 53



Son/Daughter, My grace is precious and it allows no intermingling with worldly affairs or earthly comforts. If you desire this grace, you must remove every obstacle to receiving it.

Choose some quiet place for yourself and love to dwell there alone. Don't look for occasions for idle conversation, but pour out your devout prayers to God so that you may continue to preserve contrition in your heart and maintain an unblemished conscience.

Look upon the whole world as nothing and prefer serving God to everything else. It is impossible for you to serve Me and at the same time take delight in ephemeral things.

Withdraw from your acquaintances and close friends, and keep your mind detached from all worldly comfort. This is what the apostle Peter meant when he instructed the followers of Christ to regard themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world.

2. Great is the confidence of the man, who is about to die, when he knows that he has no attachment whatever to anything in this world. But a weak individual cannot bear to have his heart de­tached from everything, nor can the unspiritual man understand the liberty enjoyed by the spiritual man.

When a man sincerely desires to be spiritual he must renounce all his friends, those near and those far away, and must beware of himself most of all.

If you have completely conquered yourself, you will easily con­quer all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over one's self. The man who has so conquered himself that his flesh is now subject to his reason, and his reason, in turn, is obedient to Me in all things, that man, I say, is master of himself and lord of the world.

3. If you wish to rise to this degree of perfection you must man­fully begin to lay the axe to the root and dig out and destroy all your hidden unregulated inclinations toward self-love and mate­rial advantage.

From this one vice of self-love proceed nearly all the other vices that need uprooting and as soon as self-love is eradicated, great peace and calm will follow.

Because there are only a few who strive to die perfectly to themselves and, thus, rise far above themselves, countless others remain caught in their own webs and their spirits languish in their incapacity to soar on high.

Whoever wishes to walk freely with Me must put all evil pas­sions and unregulated desires to death and must never cling to any creature through self-love or self-interest.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Celtic Daily Prayer, ppg. 248-267, Harper One 2002

Approaching Easter
This is particularly appropriate for Maundy Thursday. A towel, some soap and a basin are needed - perhaps several of each. 'The Basin and the Towel' and 'Let me be your Servant' may be said or sung all together, or said with a different reader for each verse. All say together the words in bold type.
Jesus said,
'A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another, as I have loved you.'
In an upstairs room a parable
is just about to come alive;
and while they bicker about who's best
with a painful glance He'll silently rise.
Their Saviour-servant must show them how,
through the will of the water
and the tenderness of the towel.
And the call is to community,
the impoverished power that sets the soul free
in humility to take the vow
that day after day
we must take up the basin and the towel.
In any ordinary place,
on any ordinary day,
the parable can live again
when one will kneel and one will yield.
Our Saviour-servant must show us how,
through the will of the water
and the tenderness of the towel.
And the space between ourselves, sometimes, is more than the distance between the stars. By the fragile bridge of the servant's bow, we take up the basin and the towel.
And the call is to community
the impoverished power that sets the soul free
in humility to take the vow
that day after day
we must take up the basin:
and the call is to community;
and day after day
we must take up the basin and the towel.
Michael Card
I was dreaming that I was treading the streets of the Holy City, pottering about like a tourist. In my wandering I came upon the museum of that city of our dream. I went in, and a courteous attendant conducted me round. There was some old armour there, much bruised with battle. Many things were conspicuous by their absence. I saw nothing of Alexander's, nor of Napoleon's. There was no Pope's ring, nor even the ink-bottle that Luther is said to have thrown at the devil, nor Wesley's seal and keys. I saw a widow's mite and the feather of a little bird. I saw some swaddling clothes, a hammer, and three nails, and a few thorns. 1 saw a bit of a fishing-net and the broken oar of a boat. I saw a sponge that had once been dipped in vinegar, and a small piece of silver. But I cannot enumerate all I saw, nor describe all 1 felt. Whilst I was turning over a common drinking cup which had a very honourable place, I whispered to the attendant, 'Have you not got a towel and basin among your collection?' 'No,' he said, 'not
here; you see they are in constant use.' Then I knew I was in Heaven, in the Holy City, and amid the redeemed society.
Knowing that He came from God and went to God
... Jesus took a towel and basin.
A. E. Whitham
In the following song 'Sister' or the name of the person addressed may be
inserted in place of 'Brother'.
Brother, let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road. We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night time of your fear. I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I'll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow, till we've seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony, born of all we've known together of Christ's love and agony.
Brother, let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.
Each in turn washes another person's feet, until all have participated. This is an informal time; songs may be sung, music played, coffee served!
At each point or station on the journey a reading is provided which acts as a narration. Following this is a prayer in which one phrase is repeated by everyone as a response.
His accusers brought many false charges against Jesus, but He spoke not a word in His own defence. 'Crucify him!' they shouted.
Pilate washed his hands, to show the decision was not his own, but he did not dare to side publicly with Jesus; instead, he was willing to content the people.
So Jesus was condemned to death.
Lord, when You were misunderstood,
You silently forgave;
but we so often respond in anger.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, You gave us opportunity to choose Jesus, but for so long we have chosen the rebellion that demanded Your death. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Jesus was scourged. The whips cut His back until it was shredded and bathed in His blood. A crown of thorns was set upon His head in mockery. Then they returned His robe to Him, and brought Him to the cross on which He was to die.
Jesus embraced the cross, resting it painfully on the smarting wounds on His back.
Lord, You were scourged and wounded; You deserved no punishment, but were punished in our place. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus.
When You were already hurting, You embraced the cross. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus.
Jesus had willingly embraced the cross, but His physical body was weak from lack of sleep, from the pressures of arrest and trial, and from torture and beating.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Jesus said, Yes, but His body hesitated and He fell to His knees, determining to rise again even in His weakness.
Lord, You embraced and shouldered Your cross,
but Your body was weak.
Your Body still is weak:
Your people shrink from the weight of suffering.
In our weakness, Lord, let us pray:
Your will be done.
Your will be done.
Jesus, You were first a carpenter:
build us into what You desire,
and secure every joint tightly,
that we may hold together.
Plane the rough surfaces of our relationships.
We are Your workmanship -
Your will be done.
Your will be done.
Jesus, You said 'YES' to the Father's will;
and only Your body hesitated.
May we, Your Body, no longer hesitate,
but follow You in Your obedience, saying:
Your will be done.
Your will be done.
As Jesus again shouldered the cross and bore its burden, He glanced ahead and saw His mother. He could not stop to talk, to explain, to gather her in His arms and comfort her. All His energy was being soaked into that cross.
Who are My mother and brothers? Those who do the will of My Father.
Not My will, Father, but Yours.
Lord, You had to leave the security
of home and family, twice.
You left Your Father to be a man with us,
and left Your human family to die for us.
You had to pray to Your Father:
My God, I trust in You.
My God, I trust in You.
Lord, when we leave all and follow You and it hurts those we love,
help us to know that You have been there, too;
that no one leaves behind father, mother or loved one
but is more than rewarded in the end.
Help us to pray:
My God, I trust in You.
My God, I trust in You.
Lord, when Your cross pierces
our own desires,
and makes us call out,
let our cry be, through our pain:
My God, I trust in You.
My God, I trust in You.
Simon carried the cross of Christ. At first it was just a tiresome and unwelcome task he was forced into by the soldiers; only later did he recognize his privilege in shouldering the burden of the One who made the worlds.
He was compelled to carry the cross part of the way for Jesus. Simon, himself a stranger, an outcast, often misunderstood, per¬haps identified with Jesus, and felt the gratitude of this Man above all men; and amid the pity Simon felt for Him, he felt a burning compassion flowing back to him from Jesus, a burning, life-changing love. Simon carried the cross of Christ.
As Simon took the weight of the cross from Jesus, You have taught us that we must bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. May we carry Your cross. May we carry Your cross.
Simon was one just passing by,
but suddenly he was compelled to change direction,
and, with all his strength given
to the carrying of the cross, pressed through the crowds to the Place of the Skull, Golgotha, Calvary.
Sweet Jesus, like Simon, may we carry Your cross. May we carry Your cross.
An act of compassion. A woman called Veronica places a cool cloth upon His hot and tired face. He feels the coolness of the cloth, and the love with which it is offered. And through His pain He smiles - a smile never to be lost, never to be extinguished. She reaches out to touch His face, and He leans His head into her hands, within her reach.
Oh, blessed day! The Master touched her life, her heart, her outstretched hands. What faith! What lovely face! What timeless meeting ... O blessed Christ.
Christ of the human road, let us,
like Veronica, reach out to touch You,
and, sweet Christ,
show us Your lovely face.
Show us Your lovely face.
Legend or living person, Veronica, by example,
teaches us to be Your witness,
that others may gaze into Your loving eyes
and know Your smile.
Show us Your lovely face.
Show us Your lovely face.
As we see Your face by faith,
we learn to become like You, Lord Christ.
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That the world may see Your glory: show us Your lovely face. Show us Your lovely face.
The pain, the exhaustion, the love that drives Him on - but the cross is so heavy. Again He falls beneath the weight; and in bitter resolution - Thy will be done - and in fatigue, Jesus again drives Himself up against the cross, and carries it on towards the fateful Hill of Death.
Lord, some of us are never far from tears,
and some of us have forced ourselves not to cry.
Bring our tears into Your captivity and direction,
that they respond to Your voice.
You have the words of eternal life.
You have the words of eternal life.
Lord, You have the words of eternal life. You have the words of eternal life.
Will it never end? I'm not as sure as when I started. I never knew it would be like this. But this is my firm choice: Lord, I will go on with You. Lord, I will go on with You.
Lord, often I fall,
and the temptation is not to rise again
and continue with You.
When I fall and others watch and laugh,
or say, 'I told you so, you'll never make it,'
give me the strength to fulfil my promise:
Lord, I will go on with You.
Lord, I will go on with You.
As Jesus continued, painfully stumbling along the road to Calvary, a group of women joined themselves to the procession, wailing in the manner normally considered appropriate for a funeral procession. But Jesus told them instead to cry out to God for themselves and their own children.
Jesus fell again. Oh God, how many times must I fall and pick up that cross again? As many as seven times? Or seventy times seven times? For ever; until this never-ending road is ended; until the impossible is completed, the unbearable borne through all eternity.
For the sake of My children, My sons, My loved ones, My bride, My people, 1 must go on. I will not, I must not, give up now. The way of sorrows, the way of pain, the way of self-renunciation, the way of My cross.
How long the road You came for us, Lord, with Your smarting burden! O Lord, Your love has no limits. Your love has no limits.
You picked up the weight of Your cross,
the weight of our sins.
We are Your burden, an overwhelming burden;
but that burden is sweet to You
because of the love You also bear to us,
an overwhelming love.
Your love has no limits.
Your love has no limits.
Lord, I know You can forgive me: Your love has no limits. Your love has no limits.
At the place of death the King of life is stripped of His clothes. Naked, He came into the world; naked, He is taken from the world. Vulnerable, exposed, God became man. He was a crying, helpless, dependent baby. Now, vulnerable, exposed, His heart, His life, His body all bared before the world, He will be hung up to be mocked. But God is not mocked - His very nakedness is a parable, a sacrament, a picture of the Father's hurting heart exposed in love to us.
Lord, You were stripped of the robes You wore,
but You were the same - it didn't change You.
Things meant little to You; You never hid behind them.
You showed us the Father's heart,
so open and broken:
may we be open to You, and to each other.
May we be open to You, and to each other.
Lord, for our sake You left the riches of heaven
and became poor.
You came within our reach.
May we be open to You, and to each other.
May we be open to You, and to each other.
You did not hold on to even the little You had left to call Your own. May we be open to You, and to each other. May we be open to You, and to each other.
The nakedness of God was exposed before the world. Lord, O lovely Christ,
may we be open to You, and to each other. May we be open to You, and to each other.
No robe was left now upon Your tired shoulders,
just a crown of mockery on Your head.
You were still a King.
You loved, and won rejection and pain -
but still You loved.
May we be open to You, and to each other.
May we open to You, and to each other.
The journey was at an end. Jesus was quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The soldier felt for the depression at the front of the wrist; he drove a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly. The title 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews' was nailed into place, and the cross¬bar lifted into position. The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed.
The victim was now crucified.
'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.'
He is our peace.
Jesus, our sin put the nails in Your hands. It was love that held You there. It was love that held You there.
Jesus, our sin put the nails in Your feet. It was love that held You there. It was love that held You there.
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The soldiers hoisted Your cross on high.
You were their prisoner;
but no one took Your life away from You.
You gave it willingly, freely.
It was love that held You there.
It was love that held You there.
You were lifted high upon that cross,
even as You had prophesied when You promised:
'I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all people to Me.'
It was love that held You there.
It was love that held You there.
As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. As He pushed Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. Jesus fought to raise Himself, in order to get even one short breath. 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'
To the thief dying at His side: Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.'
To His mother and His closest friend: 'Woman, behold thy son' - 'Behold thy mother.'
In the words of the psalm foretelling the death of Messiah, He cried: 'My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?'
Father God, You waited through the long hours of agony, when He was robbed even
of the sense of Your love, Your presence, when the sin and disease and hatred and darkness overwhelmed Him so greatly. He was wounded for my transgressions. He was wounded for my transgressions.
Father, what love is this of His?
What love is this of Yours
that His dying love reflects?
Your forgiveness for me,
as we gaze upon His sacrificial death,
is as truly an undeserved gift
as the pardon He spoke to the dying thief.
It is mine if I will only receive:
He was wounded for my transgressions.
He was wounded for my transgressions.
Jesus could now feel the chill of death creeping through His tis¬sues. And with a loud voice He cried: 'It is finished.' His mission of atonement had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: 'Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.' A while later, the soldier pierced a long spear into the side of the dead man, to His heart. The watery fluid and blood that flowed out show us He had literally died of a broken heart - not the usual crucifixion death of suffocation. The friends of Jesus were allowed to remove His holy body, and for a moment his mother held Him again upon her lap, cradled in her arms.
Let Him sleep now. It is finished.
See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down !
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Did e'er such love and sorrow meet? or thorns compose so rich a crown? It was for me. It was for me.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ my God. All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood: It was for me. It was for me.
Laid in a borrowed tomb, awaiting the sign of Jonah
- the only sign that would be given to His generation
- that after three days and nights in the womb of the earth,
the belly of the fish, the grave and hell,
He would come forth to do His Father's will
- Jesus the humble Son of God, the exultant Son of Man,
the eternal contradiction, the Blessed One.
The end is not yet. Weeping endures for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.
The good news - 'He is risen' -
will burst upon the Son-rise.
Therefore with joy shall we draw water out of the wells of salvation.
When all is dark,
and Hope is buried,
it is hard to trust His words
that promised, before the pain:
He died that I might live.
He died that I might live.
In His death is my birth. He died that I might live. He died that I might live.
In His life is my life. He died that I might live. He died that I might live.
My Jesus! He died that I might live. He died that I might live.
The following passage is taken from chapters 15 and 16 of the Book ofNicodemus, one of the manuscripts circulated early in the life of the Christian community. It is not, of course, accepted as canonical, but is rather in the style of the medieval mystery plays which teach through recounting the stories dramatically. This sec¬tion, which may be used as a spur to meditation during the strange period of waiting between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, vividly illustrates the statement in the creeds that Jesus descended into hell, and imagines what happens when He gets there!
Satan, the prince and captain of death, said to the prince of hell: 'Prepare to receive Jesus of Nazareth Himself, who boasted that He was the Son of God, and yet was a man afraid of death and said, "My soul is sorrowful even to death." Besides He did many injuries to me and to many others; for those whom I made blind and lame and those also whom 1 tormented with several devils, He cured by His word; yea, and those whom I brought dead to thee, He by force takes away from thee.'
To this, the prince of hell replied to Satan, 'Who is that so-powerful prince, and yet a man who is afraid of death? For all the potentates of the earth are subject to my power, whom thou broughtest to subjection by thy power. But if He be so powerful in His human nature, I affirm to thee for truth that He is almighty in His divine nature, and no man can resist His power. When therefore He said He was afraid of death, He designed to ensnare thee, and unhappy it will be to thee for everlasting ages.'
Then Satan, replying, said to the prince of hell, 'Why didst thou express a doubt, and wast afraid to receive that Jesus of Nazareth, both thy adversary and mine? As for me, I tempted Him and stirred up my old people the Jews with zeal and anger against Him. I sharpened the spear for His suffering; I mixed the gall and vinegar, and commanded that He should drink it; I prepared the cross to crucify Him, and the nails to pierce through His hands and feet; and now His death is near to hand, I will bring Him hither, subject both to thee and me.'
Then the prince of hell answering, said, 'Thou saidst to me just now, that He took away the dead from me by force. They who have been kept here till they should live again upon the earth, were taken away hence, not by their own power, but by prayers made to God, and their almighty God took them from me. Who then is this Jesus of Nazareth that by His word hath taken away the dead from me without prayer to God? Perhaps it is the same who took away from me Lazarus, after he had been four days dead, and did both stink and was rotten, and of whom I had possession as a dead person, yet He brought him to life again by His power.'
Satan answering, replied to the prince of hell, 'It is the very same person, Jesus of Nazareth.'
Which, when the prince of hell heard, he said to him, 'I adjure thee by the powers which belong to thee and me, that thou bring Him not to me. For when I heard of the power of His word, I trembled for fear, and all my impious company were at the same time disturbed. And we were not able to detain Lazarus, but he gave himself a shake, and with all the signs of malice, he immediately went away from us; and the very earth, in which the dead body of Lazarus was lodged presently turned him out alive. And I know now that He is almighty God who could perform such things, who is mighty in His dominion, and mighty in His human nature, who is the Saviour of mankind. Bring not therefore this person hither, for He will set at liberty all those whom I hold in prison under unbelief, and bound with the fetters of their sins, and will conduct them to everlasting life.'
And while Satan and the prince of hell were discoursing thus to each other, on a sudden there was a voice as of thunder and rushing of winds, saying, 'Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lifted up, O everlasting gates - and the King of Glory shall come in.'
When the prince of hell heard this, he said to Satan, 'Depart from me, and begone out of my habitations; if thou art a powerful warrior, fight with the King of Glory. But what hast thou to do with Him?' And he cast him forth from his habitations.
And the prince said to his impious officers, 'Shut the brass gates of cruelty, and make them fast with iron bars, and fight courageously, lest we all be taken captives.'
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But when all the company of the saints heard this they spake with a loud voice of anger to the prince of hell: 'Open thy gates that the King of Glory may
come in!
See also part 14 of 'The way of the cross', p. 262.
Where is my Lord?
They have taken Him away.
All I see is a tomb, a place that is empty.
And just when I need Him,
and long for His voice,
even His body would not wait for my tears.
Shut away in a box, He has conquered their coffin.
Shut away in a book, He fulfils, Living Word.
Shut away in our concepts, He shatters such shackles.
No prison can hold Him; no tomb thwart the miracle.
His life is our liberty; His love changed my life.
No dying can rob me of what He has given:
once blind, now I see.
Hallelujah! His promise:
'In the day when the hearts of men
fail them for fear,
then look up, little flock,
your redemption draws near.'
Let all creation
give thanks to the Risen Lord.
Give thanks to the Risen Lord!
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Filled with His praises,
give thanks to the Risen Lord.
Give thanks to the Risen Lord!
He is our Shepherd, and we are His sheep. Give thanks to the Risen Lord. Give thanks to the Risen Lord!
Stepping out boldly, we claim resurrection. Give thanks to the Risen Lord. Give thanks to the Risen Lord!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Selfishness is at the root of the world's troubles

My life is not my own . . . do I just understand that today?! When I think of believe my life is my own, I will pursue self interest; worldly desires; recreating with friends, material wants, selfish habits and hobbies, and more. But, my life, if I am honest with myself, was bought at great cost to the lover of my soul, it is NOT my own. I belong to God and in Him is my true fulfillment. Oh yes, the world is truly full of temptation, and the dweeb is prowling around peddling his "sweets". O Lord give me strength and give me wisdom to pursue righteousness for your Name's sake! Now I see that every good thing is a gift from You. And, as I submit to your Will, I receive Heavenly blessings . . . even in the midst of earthly trials.

"Take my life and let it be consecrated unto thee."