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Archive for August, 2008

There is a tendency in the church to see a need and to believe that the quickest and best answer is to formalize a program to address the need. We act like spiritual entrepreneurs, working harder and sweating more for the sake of adding more options to the menu so everyone can find something they like, a morsel that strikes them as good. Or worse, we become Pelagian in our administration of things, believing that we can somehow have what it takes to do God’s job for him.

To point to The Shorter Catechism – the chief end of man is to worship God and enjoy him forever. Our chief end is to be worshipers of God with our life and ministry flowing from that. The greatest need is our need for God. Spiritual poverty is our greatest wealth.

Rather than being religious programmers, addressing needs with our own skills and abilities and efforts, we need to be patient. We need to realize that any ministry that happens is not ours but Christ’s. He is indeed our mediator. He is the over-shepherd of the flock…we the under-shepherds. The more dependence we have on Him, the deeper our gratitude will be and the worship that pours from our lives will be true and of the Spirit.

Let me become more deeply dependent on you. More grateful for the blessings you pour into my life. More worshipful in seeing your worthiness of my praise and my adoration.

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Freedom

I was listening to James Houston this morning in a lecture series he gave at Regent College a number of years ago. God has given this man such wisdom and I love listening to him talk.

A few things that stood out for me:

Freedom: He made a profound statement that in our individualized, autonomous lives, we believe freedom is having the ability to choose to do things we like to do. He says this is not freedom at all but bondage to the self. There is no worse bondage than being in bondage to the self. He likens this to the essence of what Hell is which reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ description of Hell as a place where people have locked themselves in their homes and live isolated from others and left totally and completely alone with themselves.

As I pondered this, I thought about my role in the lives of parishioners. My task is not to nurture narcissism which is like tightening the fetters that bind a person to themselves. My call is to point people to the one who will save them from their hells, who will unloose the bonds to themselves.

Dr. Houston goes on to talk about prison. He says we often only learn true freedom – which is relationship and worship of the Three Person God – from within a prisons. Prisons have a way of revealing in paradox the reality that our lives belong to the one who gave them to us. We are free to live not as individuals but as persons who depend on God – in whom we live and move and have our being.

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From Fr. E

There are two things to consider about your inner life:

  • Sin – It wrecks us. It separates us from God. If we don’t combat it actively, we will be weakened and unable to resist temptation. Pray for the honesty and courage to identify sin in our lives – even the small stuff.
  • Busy-ness – Your identity is not rooted in what we do. We cannot always do what we do. What then if how our identity is in what we do? You must have the strength to say, “No.” Don’t forget to care for yourself and tend to your soul.

There is a correlation between the quality of our life and our ability to hear God. If your life is a shambled mess of noisiness, you won’t hear even if you’re yelled at.

What most people call relationships are actually associations. The Church is the fullness of Christ. It is not a business. It is not optional. We should be there as if our lives depend on it. Because they do.

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