Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Joy of not living the joy of faith? Absurdity or Grace?

“Therese of Lisieux underwent profound changes in her experience of faith during the Easter of 1896: Before that time she thought that atheism was a haunted position, a sham. ’I could not believe that there really were godless people who had no faith at all, it was only by being false to their own inner convictions that someone could deny the existence of heaven.'
Finally, her eyes were opened to realize that unbelievers really exist. She experiences the sense of the darkness, such impenetrable darkness, a darkness which cannot recognize the King of Light. ‘But here I am Lord, to whom Your divine light has made itself known.'  She finds herself in a situation which seems absurdly contradictory. She does not cease to participate in the light of the faith and at the same time she participates in the darkness in which unbelievers live. She is immersed in suffering never experienced previously and in joy greater than she ever felt before. She thinks that if Jesus has made her see the reality of unbelief and has made her participate in the night of unbelief, it is only so that she may turn the tables, so that she may live this state of darkness for the sake of unbelievers themselves. And, consequently, for her it is a new joy that she had never experienced until then.  A joy of not living the joy of faith so that precisely these 'others', these unbelievers who do not know this joy, might finally attain to it: 'What does it matter, that I should catch no glimpse of heaven's beauties, here on earth, if that will help poor sinners to see them in heaven.'”
Jean Francois Six (abridged)

In my own time, I often have similar feelings for those who either claim to be atheists outright, or those who simply live as if there is no God.  Where I used to view people through the lenses of society and media, in my old age I’ve tried more and more to surrender to God and trust He will give me His “eyes” to see others as He does, with lenses of LOVE.  Instead of reacting with shallow shock and disgust (the old me) at the myriad of young, screwed, glued, tattooed, crazy shorn and colored I see daily, or the old and cranky too, I see only those His Son called the “lost” who He came to save, to redeem for His Father’s Kingdom.  I encounter lesbian friends who I would’ve thought would desire anonymity in our culture, yet, they draw attention to themselves with outrageous looks and dress?!  Yes, I now “see” only people who are hurting and in search of true love and contentment.  I don’t know the “answer” to the entire world’s searching specifically, but I do believe it lay at the foot of a cross, and in the plans of a loving Creator.  I’m not a brilliant theologian or pastor, nor even a saintly old monk for that matter, but I sense my own feeble, humble presence has meaning in His grand scheme, His “divine conspiracy” as Dallas Willard would call it?  I do all the things a Christian is supposed to do, including attend church, etc., but I believe the real mark of a disciple of Jesus is simple presence in the world and to others on a daily basis, in love, grace and humility with a heart that desires only to impart the HOPE I’ve already come to know deeply.  A HOPE that gives me contentment beyond any the world or another person ever could.  That is why I live; as a father and husband, as a grandfather, and as a sinner saved by Grace who desires only to be a friend along the way to others.  While I’m still alive it is a divine calling.  Should I die today, I gain that “new heaven and earth” He has promised . . . I can’t lose!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Running away from God?

If you are running away from a wrong picture of God, does that take you further away from Him, OR, closer to Him?

Two people please God; one who serves Him with all his heart because he knows Him, and one who seeks Him with all his heart because he knows Him not. The former must help the latter in the journey.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 6:16 "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
John 10:14, 27-30 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’
Psalm 23:1-6 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Excerpts from James Barron: “Free From Religion” –

Religion is of this world.  Jesus is from heaven.

Religion is all about the outward and seen.  Jesus is all about the inward and unseen.

Religion tries to repair and fix the old creation.  Jesus made us a New Creation!

Religion’s yoke is hard work.   Jesus said His yoke was easy.

Religion uses fear to manipulate people to act.   Jesus’ love compels people to act, with joy!

Religion is proud.  Jesus is humble.

Religion is boring.  Jesus is an unexpected journey and adventure!

Religion is insecure.  Jesus is confident and secure.

Religion is competitive and envious.  Jesus is a rest.

Religion thinks itself wise.  Jesus thinks Religion is foolish.

Religion is a dead end.  Jesus is an open door to endless possibilities!

Religion is man-centered.  Jesus is God-centered.

Religion wants to control other men.  Jesus wants to set men free to live by Him.

Religion is death.  Jesus is Life!

Religion is depressing.  Jesus is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Religion keeps people in a boat that is sinking.  Jesus empowers people to walk out of the boat onto the water to Him!

Religion needs money to exist.  Jesus’ life needs no silver or gold to live and prosper!

Religion is mean to you when you do not agree with it.  Jesus is kind even to those who nailed His hands and feet.

. . . for the most part, we have found this to be true, so we choose Jesus.  }: