WE HEARD THE GOOD NEWS, BUT ARE WE LISTENING?

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So proud of Andy Schmelzer…From Coos Bay!  <  See video here!

Gift:  Fortitude (Courage) – With the gift of courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risk as a follower of Jesus. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death.

Reading:  For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened.Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.  (Hebrews 4:2,11)

Observation:  As you know, if you have read my journal before, I do not usually highlight the reading, unless it is the words of Jesus and I think I need to highlight in red.  However, today’s first reading for Mass, so reveals a truth about something that happened last night in our little town, I had to highlight it in bold letters.  After I post the video for last night’s rally outside of PP’s new facility, I think it will be abundantly clear why I think this first reading is speaking to us in this country now.

Personification:  Faithfulness. It is true that I am a little jealous of this guy that I met for the first time yesterday, because of his courage to stand up to the abomination that is PP.  I hope that I can stay faithful to the Word of God and our church, so that God will show me the way he is using me to do the same thing Andy was last night.

Prayer:  Lord, continue to build up in me courage and by your grace, keep me always faithful to the calling that you have laid on me and let us be united in your church with those who listened.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

The proof of God is right in front of me, or I don’t have any faith…

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The upper part of The Transfiguration (1520) b...

The upper part of The Transfiguration (1520)

Gift:  Fortitude (Courage) – With the gift of courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risk as a follower of Jesus. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death.

Readings:    1 Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence 2 of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1)

5 But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.  (Mark 9:2-4)

Observation:  My reflection on these verses took longer than usual this morning.  I apologize for the wait for anyone who looks forward to them.  I am feeling a little stress, because of a service that we are doing at our church tomorrow night.  I am certainly looking forward to it, but with my wife being 8 months pregnant and my son, who is in sixth grade and wanting to grow up to fast and not understanding how the world can just consume you, it is difficult to stay focused on my journaling some mornings.  Anyway, the message for me this morning is just a reminder that I do not need to look very far in my life to see evidence of God’s existence, and it is only by faith that it is possible to see the miracles that he has worked or is working in our lives.

Personification:  Love  I will focus my attention on showing God love for all that he has done in my life and then make it my

The boys...

primary focus to show love to my wife for the miracle of life that she is carrying and the amazing woman that she is.  After that, I will make sure that my boys know that I believe that God is working in them to bring his power to light by transforming them into new creations, made to be more like Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for carrying me through the tough times of my life and still loving me regardless of my past mistakes.  O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all of my sins, because of your just punishments, but most of all because you are all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin.  I ask and pray this act of contrition, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

God will reveal when you are to rest…that is, if you are doing his work!

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The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  Through him (then) let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.  Obey your leaders and defer to them,
for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.  (Hebrews 13:15-17)

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 The apostles 14 gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  15 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.  (Mark 6:30-32)

Observation:  I would hope that I am not reading something in to these two readings this morning, but I can’t help but feel like I should be scheduling a vacation soon.  However, it is not my time that I am working with, it is his.  So, unlike the advice that I would get from this world that would say that I should schedule my vacation in advance, to make sure it happens, I am going to wait until the opportunity arises and just be ready when the time comes.  It was true for the apostles and as the author of Hebrews says, it is true for us that we should be about the work that God would give us to do, and defer to our leaders to tell us when it is time for us to go away to a deserted place and rest.

Personification:  Patience  In order to display the fruit of patience, I will have to wait on the Lord to show me when it is time for me to take a break.  As for now, I know that there is much work to be done to prepare for the next few months and I am confident that the Lord will be right at my side, even though I don’t deserve it.

Prayer:  The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. I praise you Lord, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Remember the Saints, not necessarily the ones already passed…

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Saint Benedict's - McKenzie Bridge, OR

Gift:  Fortitude (Courage) – With the gift of courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risk as a follower of Jesus. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death.

Reading: 1 Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.  Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.  Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.  Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Hebrews 13:1-8)

Observation:  I was going to consider just a part of this reading in my journal for today, but there is just so much there that I couldn’t pick out just one part.  I could definitely be more hospitable to people when they come to my house or our church.  It is true that the prisoners in our society are often overlooked, especially by me and there are plenty of excuses that I could give for why that is, but the truth is that I should at myself as one of them.  There is still a healthy amount of racism in our society and I should continue to consider that we are all one body, in this fight together.  The rest really speaks for itself, except that I want to remember the people today that brought the faith to me and consider how peaceful their lives will be at the end when God calls them home.

Personification:  Love  The admonition to let mutual love continue, starts out this chapter in the book of Hebrews.  I believe it was so that we could start to get a glimpse of God’s love that he sent us his Son to earth to show us what love is.  As the end of the first reading for today’s Mass says in the 8th verse, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”    He loves us as much today as he did the day that he died for us on the cross, and as much as the day we will join together with him for eternity.  For me, I want that day to be today, now, this minute, this second.  I will consider the love shown to me by those who came before me, especially the Son who died for me on the cross over 2000 years ago, and I will act accordingly.

Prayer:  Lord, let me be an example of your love to your people who need it so desperately in this world.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Thank you Jesus, for suffering to help me…Come awake!

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Gift:  Understanding– With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.  

Reading:  Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.  Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.  (Hebrews 3:14-15,18)

Observation:  I was interrupted in my journaling this morning, because of some issues my wife and I had to clear up at our oldest son’s Middle School.  Anyway, God is good and the issue is handled and I got to meet an amazing Catholic Vice-Principal at my son’s school.  As for the reading, when I met with the “Young Faith” group today for lunch, guess what verse they picked to discuss…I didn’t even realize it until I got back to my journal to finish my post.  The reading stands alone and I will talk about how I feel I am going to personify some fruit of the Spirit to explain further how this reading is speaking to me.  (I added the video Wednesday morning after hearing the song on the way to the office this morning.)

Personification:  Joy  It is amazing to me how much joy that I feel like displaying when I realize how much God did for me by sending his Son into the world to become like me.  The knowledge that I have that the devil has no power over me, because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, is awesome.  The suffering that I may suffer today will only be an opportunity to share the joy that comes from God when his grace finally removes my suffering.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to stay focused on you while I struggle through this life and display the real joy that comes from the grace of God.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

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Suffer quietly, but not in vain…and know that you are not alone!

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Created with images found in Wikipedia. All of...

"Cloud of witnesses"

Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us 2 and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.  (Hebrews 12:1-2,4)

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9 She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”  (Mark 28-29,34)

Observation:  It is my understanding that the author of Hebrews was trying to encourage his audience with the words that we read in the first reading, and it certainly had that effect on this reader this morning.  I realize that no matter how difficult the struggle is with my sinfulness and pain, it is not even close to the point of shedding blood for my faith, so I can certainly persevere through it as long as I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.  In the gospel reading for today’s Mass, there are two miracles performed by the power of God.  One is passive and the other is by the active will of God directed from his Son.  I focused on the passive today, because it reveals to me that I need only seek out the power of God and it shall come to me according to his will, even if I do not have an active representative of Christ praying for his will to be done in my life.  If, however, I were at the point of death, I would hope that I could count on the active participation of his disciples to bring me back to life, as I would hope that I am available to pray for someone in need as well.

Personification:  Faithfulness  I am choosing to focus on faithfulness today because I feel like it is only with the fruit of faithfulness displayed in my life that I can keep myself away from sin.  Of course, it is by the power and grace that comes from God and not any superhuman strength that I have on my own, but I also know that the power to persevere is but a prayer away at any point that I may be struggling with my human nature.

Prayer:  Lord, send down your holy Spirit to cover me and keep me away from all temptation today and for the rest of my life.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

I need to be not only justified by faith, but know that hope is realized through it as well…

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This face needs hope...

Gift:  Piety (Reverence)– With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  1 Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence 2 of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1)

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.  (Luke 1:68)  This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:  to set us free from the bonds of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.  (Luke 1 :73-75)

Observation: The first reading for today begins a few pages of scripture that are explained in the footnotes as ranking among the most eloquent and lofty to be found in the bible.  For me, it is the realization that it is not just justification that comes from faith, but also hope that comes from it.   The evidence or proof of faith, although not always present in my life, is definitely present in the history of God’s chosen people.

Personification:  Joy  I chose an easy fruit to display today.  Since we are headed to a Christian Music Concert in Portland today, it should be like taking candy from a baby to try to display the fruit of joy today.  Maybe, it would make more sense for me to use this exercise to recognize the fruit that I will be displaying, and not try to focus on something that could be difficult.  I will see what happens with my next post, and decide then.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to display the fruit of joy today that comes from the knowledge that through faith there is hope in a future with you.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.