Friday, October 23, 2015

Now is the Time to Cultivate Your Heart!

There are a lot of people right now going through tough times. Maybe you are one of them and it seems that there is one trial in your life after another and you will never catch a break. Maybe it feels like you are in a washing machine that is constantly on spin cycle and you are being stretched and wrung out to the max. Be encouraged that the Lord has a plan and is in control! What you are going through is not in vain! He is trying to get you to the point where you can stand and have faith even in the midst of adversity.

I believe the Lord has shown me there are dark times coming.The good news is however that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more! During such times, the Lord plans to pour out his Holy Spirit in an unprecedented way. Now is the time for his people to cultivate their heart so they can receive as much of the fire of God's love as they can possibly handle. His love and the power of his Spirit is what is going to sustain and propel people forward when darkness blankets the earth. It is his love and the power of His Spirit that will help us to stand and share the Gospel. You were born for such a time as this!

How do we cultivate our heart? Through prayer, fasting, penance and service to one another. We are called to be in the world but not of it. Worldly attachments can distract us from intimacy with the Lord and our destiny. The more we are able to let go attachments and surrender, the more the Lord will be able to pour His love into our hearts and transform us into His image. Only then will we be able to become more authentically who we were meant to be and fulfill our destinies!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Be Happy! Don't Sit In the Seat Of Scoffers!

It has been a little while since I have blogged. I have been doing a lot of ministry lately and felt the need to retreat to make sure I am remaining centered in Christ. I think that is always a good thing for us to do. There should be an ebb and flow in the spiritual life; time spent alone with the Lord in silence and times of being active in service to others. There needs to be a balance between being and doing, otherwise one risks the temptation of becoming puffed up, prideful and losing one's way themselves.

In retreating, one Psalm from scripture I have felt led to reflect on is Psalm 1. I have always been a little baffled by Psalm 1. It seemed a little Pharisaical to me and like putting oneself up on a pedestal. It says we shouldn't sit in the seat of scoffers but Jesus sat with sinners. I knew I must not have the right understanding if I saw it that way. After all, God's Word is true so I began to seek understanding. 

After much reflection and reading it daily, through the  Holy Spirit's help, I think I am understanding it better. 

Psalm 1:1-3 says, 
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
I believe there is a difference between someone who is wicked and a scoffer and someone who is struggling with sin. The definition of a scoffer is someone who mocks, jeers, doubts and speaks derisively which means to express contempt and ridicule. The definition of wicked is - immoral, iniquitous, corrupt, vile, nasty, and capable of harming someone. I have witnessed this with non-believers and ironically people who call themselves Christian. The "Christian" scoffers can be the worst scoffers of all! They go to church every Sunday but they won't let go of their pride and let Christ's love into their heart. They often don't believe in prayer or that God is alive and still works miracles today. They also scoff at the suggestion of it and when they hear stories of God's intervention in the lives of his people they roll their eyes and sneer (2 Timothy 3:5).

The most prevalent scoffing I have encountered among Christians and non-Christians has been in regards to Tom and I being open to life in our marriage and also being pro-life. This seems to be pretty typical in our society today as people can not see beyond the temporal and material world.

Psalm 1 says we will be happy if we do not follow the advice of the wicked, take the same path of sinners, or even sit in the seat of scoffers. The first two suggestions are self explanatory even though it is not always easy to reject the advice of the world and the same path that everyone else is taking. I have always wondered however what it means to sit in the seat of scoffers. I believe one way we do this is by getting into heated discussions with scoffers. You often see this being done on social media. Occasionally it may be necessary to speak the truth in these situations for the sake of others who may be listening and observing, but for the most part, it is useless to get into debates with these people because they are not interested in the truth. Their hearts are prideful and they are not open to any other opinion other than their own. They are also not open to change. They just want to mock, jeer, show contempt and sow doubt and discord. Taking the time to get into a debate with such persons will only distract, sow division and rob us of joy and peace. Also, we risk becoming what we hate and becoming a scoffer ourselves.

We are called to meditate on God's law day and night. The most important law that also sums up all the other laws is to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor as ourselves. It is hard to do that and distracting if instead we are trying to prove our cause and get into arguments with scoffers and wicked people.

When Jesus was confronted with such people, he usually turned the tables by asking them a question (Mark 12:16), or he chose to be silent (Matthew 26:63) but he did not get into back and forth heated arguments. He knew who he was and he was confident in that. He didn't need people to follow him, believe in him or understand him. He kept his eyes on his Father and the mission his Father had for him.

Yes, Jesus did sit with sinners however. He sat with those who were broken, dejected and struggling with sin. Often because of their struggles they were able to recognize their need for a savior. They were humble and open to God in their lives. They realized they were sinners. Because they recognized their need for him, they were open to the truth and Jesus was able to transform them from sinners into saints! 

If we avoid negative discourse with the wicked and scoffers, stay focused on the Lord and drink in the stream of his goodness, like Psalm 1 talks about, eventually we will bear great fruit in our lives. The fruit of love, joy, peace patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control will then be evident to others. If people are going to be attracted to Christ through us and His truth, it will be only then! If you are looking for a good modern day example, I would say Pope Francis is a pretty good one!