Saints Preserve Us (Or Elves)

saints

A great-grandmother in Brazil has been accidentally praying every day for years to a figure of Elrond, an elf from “The Lord of the Rings” after mistaking it for a figurine of Saint Anthony of Padua. Her relative made the discovery after taking a look at the figurine, and realizing something wasn’t quite right. Following a hunch, they searched online for the figure – and found one exactly identical to the great-grandmother’s. However, there was only one problem – the figure wasn’t listed under ‘Saint Anthony’, it was in fact listed under “Elrond.”

Oops.

While Anthony is the patron saint for the recovery of lost things it’s unclear what Elrond is assigned to cover – maybe the recovery of lost rings, lost wizards or lost hobbits?

What’s One Year?

2017

What’s one year?
12 Months
52 weeks
365 days
8,760 hours
525,600 minutes
31,536,000 seconds…
To be shaped by the Potter’s hand,
Strengthened by His Word,
Enlightened by the Spirit,
Nourished by grace, Forgiven by his mercy,
Conformed to his image,
More ordinary wonders, unexpected blessings & divine “suddenlies,”
Showing his love,
Closer to his Coming,
Nearer to Glory.

The Wonder of the Incarnation

nativity

What does it mean that he (Jesus) “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary”?

That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that he might also become David’s true descendant, like his brothers and sisters in every way except for sin.

Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 35

An Advent Poem

annunciation-to-joseph-129

In the darkest night, in the deepest pain, when all seems lost, no hope is found,

God is with us, Emmanuel.

Eternal light, shines forth bright, scatters the darkness around our hearts;

Fills with peace, the space within, his love reaches where none else may.

In midnight field, in nighttime fear, his presence guards our way; 

Not alone, not alone, joined with thousands unseen, joyful song rise again.

In the darkest night, in the deepest pain, when all seems lost, no hope is found,

God is with us, Emmanuel.

The Haven of Hope

superior-winter

“My unchangeableness is the rock of your rest. When all the world is like the troubled ocean round about you, here you may fix and settle; I am your resting-place.”

(Mal. 3.6; Psa 62.6-7; 92.15; Jer. l.6; 2 Chron. 14:11)
FROM JOSEPH ALLEINE’S  “SAINT’S POCKET BOOK”

Adieu 2015

2015

The calendar reads January 1. The first day of a new year. 365 possibilities – of the uncharted, the unknown, await ahead. The cynic in me says what has been will always be, the endless repeat of yesterday, the merry go round of the past.

It is true, our days follow the same routine of sunset & sunrise and the necessary work of my life. But within the familiar framework of creation’s routine and the progression of ordinary time is where the moment of surprise awaits, of the unexpected breaking in of the divine plan, when an eternal perspective is glimpsed.

The chronic worrier in me says the next 365 days include unexpected twists and turns, enough “what ifs” to feed a whole army of anxieties. However, I look back at the 365 days of faithfulness of my heavenly Father and know that he will not change his ways, his nature or his promises that have been my help and support. I know he is sufficient for the 365 days to come.  And his ways are never boring.

As Time Goes by…

Infinity time. Digital generated

“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast; before the sons of the new creation time crouches and purrs and licks their hands. The foe of the old human race becomes the friend of the new, and the stars in their courses fight for the man God delights to honor. This we may learn from the divine infinitude.”
― A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

Exsurge Domine!

Train-Wreck

So eventually it has come to this. Over the last 30 years I have watched the our cultural meltdown concerning human sexuality metastasize from Hugh Hefner and girly mags in brown paper wrappers to “don’t ask, don’t tell” to a rainbow illumined White House, from denominational task force arguments about Bible texts to the Federal redefinition of marriage by judicial decree. Many times I was told by church leaders and other pastors not to cause waves, counseled that it was not a pertinent issue but a dead end distraction, to ignore things and “do mission” instead. I rarely listened to that counsel and did my best to be faithful to the truth but did finally grow weary at congregations that did not want to wrestle with tough moral issues, didn’t want to rock the boat, or instead wanted to fight and fume over pipe organs and chorus music yet still expected God to increase their coffers and people fill their pews. It was the counsel of avoidance – if we just ignore this or pretend it doesn’t matter it will go away. It was the counsel of cowardice – and how has that strategy worked?  The churches and denominations, such as the Episcopal Church in which I was raised, that have capitulated to the culture tsunami of sexual confusion have shrunken and declined. Those more evangelical who have soft-pedaled or censored the truth of God’s wrath against immorality, sexual or otherwise & the requirements of holiness in the name of relevance and market share will now see how lasting the shaky one way bridge of cultural engagement they were trying to build will last.

But now the gloves are off and the make-nice façade of “dialogue” has been exposed as a stalling tactic for the end run it concealed. Pastors, churches, leaders and believers will have to make known where they stand since neutrality is no longer possible. The previous implicit social contract between the culture, the state and “churchianity” of “God & Country” that dates back to colonial days has been dangling by a thread for decades with the hope that “our guys” in office would get us back to the way it was. Forget it. Believers have known for a long time that they can no longer assume or hope that the culture or the state will support their values or beliefs. This will be good for the church. This will be good for God’s people. Now the Gospel, can be demonstrated and revealed not as 10 steps to self-improvement or life balance enhancement within the expectations of upper middle class prosperity but God’s liberating power to transform people created in God’s image from sin’s destructive and damning power. It is also an opportunity for God’s people to shine in our culture’s Stygian morass and to rebuild the shattered lives that will result from the inevitable pile-up that’s coming.

And it is coming. Beyond the dismay so many believers feel is the purpose of God in demonstrating his wrath in action – by removing his restraining grace and abandoning people (giving them up as Romans 1 puts it 3 times) to the warped desires of their hearts. However, there is a future court date set with a Judge of supreme authority (2 Timothy 4:1) who will weigh the nations in the balance – including those nation’s leaders, presidents and jurists.

As always…

  • It is necessary to pray for elected leaders
  • It is necessary to pray for pastors & spiritual leaders
  • It is necessary to pray for churches & ordinary believers who will have to make crucial decisions
  • It is necessary to pray that the Gospel will be boldly proclaimed.
  • It is time to call out to the Triune God to arise and employ us for his purpose so that we can see “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15

 

But for How Long?

040209-1423-worldconseq1.jpg

“At times our Lord, as judge among the nations, arises to visit the sins of a people upon them. Patience makes room for justice, and Providence determines that guilty nations shall be scourged: at such times they are blessed indeed who can cause the King to stand still. This wicked country of ours has often escaped through the prayers of the saints. No man can read our history without perceiving that among guilty nations we hold a sorrowful place; for we have had more light than any other people, and have sinned against it full often. This erring nation had been scourged to destruction if it had not been that the intercessions of Gods people have caused the Judge of all the earth to stand still. Jesus now rules all nations as Lord of Providence, and metes out justice and judgment among them, but a plea for mercy brings a decree of forbearance, and sinful nations are permitted still to stand within the bounds of grace.”

Charles Spurgeon

“A Future Not Our Own”

earthlights

(The Long View –Archbishop Oscar Romero)

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.