Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Christian Hearts, in Love United

Christian hearts, in love united,
Seek alone in Jesus rest;
Has He not your love excited?
Then let love inspire each breast;
Members on our Head depending
Lights reflecting Him, our Sun,
Brethren His commands attending,
We in Him, our Lord, are one.

Come, then, come, O flock of Jesus,
Covenant with Him anew;
Unto Him Who conquered for us,
Pledge we love and service true;
And should our love’s union holy
Firmly linked no more remain,
Wait ye at His footstool lowly,
Till He draw it close again.

Grant, Lord, that with Thy direction,
“Love each other,” we comply,
Aiming with unfeigned affection
Thy love to exemplify;
Let our mutual love be glowing,
Thus will all men plainly see,
That we, as on one stem growing,
Living branches are in Thee.

O that such may be our union,
As Thine with the Father is,
And not one of our communion
E’er forsake the path of bliss;
May our light ’fore men with brightness,
From Thy light reflected, shine;
Thus the world will bear us witness,
That we, Lord, are truly Thine.

Words: Nicholaus L. von Zinzendorf, "Die letzt­en Re­den un­sers Herrn und Hey­land­es Je­su Christi vor sein­em Creutz­es-Tode"

"Let love be without pretense. Hate what is evil, hold to what is good." ~Romans 12:9

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." ~John 13:34-35

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Canticle of the Creatures

"Most High, all powerful, good Lord God, Thine are the praises, the glory, the honour, and every blessing, To Thee alone, most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom Thou givest us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour; and bears a likeness of Thee, Most High One.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven Thou hast formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through which Thou givest sustenance to Thy creatures.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom Thou lightest the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be Thee, My Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be Thee, My Lord, through those who give pardon for the sake of Thy love, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are they who endure in peace, for by Thee, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through our Sister Death, from whom no living man can escape. Woe only to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Thy most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks And serve Him with great humility. "

~St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, December 26, 2008

Such and Such

"Discovering spirituality is like discovering you are in a boat. Mysticism is like pushing off from the dock. Since many leave safe mooring and perish in the waves, this is not to be done in a cavalier fashion - even though it can be exciting to push off into the deep.

The issue is not of whether we should push off, for Christians must do so as well if they intend to get anywhere (and that is what boats are for), but rather of where you are going...The Christian casts off from this world as well, but with clear intent to where he is headed, with the best of maps, circumspectly, deliberately.

The Christian Mystic arrives, against all dangers and odds. Thus we launch out with fear and trembling, but trust that He who commanded us to do so can calm the waves, and see us through to His real, safe port."

~C.S. Lewis

I found this slightly beautiful. It is a journey...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Psalms...pterodactyl...pneumonia...so many p's, and not a one to be heard.

"Let us recall before our eyes the evils which we have done, and ponder how great is that goodness of God by which we are tolerated. Let us mark what are the bowels of His loving-kindness, that He does not merely pardon our faults, but promises the kingdom of heaven to penitents even after their faults."

From Homily 18 on the Gospels given by St. Gregory the Great.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Sideways 8

So...today I went to the Wake County Public Library book sale with two friends of mine. Might I just say that it had to be one of the most beautiful things that I had ever seen. It was held inside of an old K-Mart. This immense room was filled end to end with over 300 000 books. Joy in the purest form. I walked away with one book thus far, but the prices go down this weekend so I may very well return for more. The following excerpt is from the book "My Catholic Faith" by Louis LaRavoire Morrow. The book is rather dated but I liked the way it presented some of the finer theological tenets of Catholicism. The following is from the section on God as the Supreme Being, which is the first article of the Apostles Creed.


God cannot be better, more holy, or more perfect that He already is. He is the acme of perfection. the uncreated, the Infinite.

"Heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee." ~ 3 Kings 8:27

So perfect is God that He is infinitely incomprehensible, incapable of being completely understood. Reason can verify the revelation that God made of Himself. But when we make our reason or our emotions the final authority, we make ourselves our own god, and shut the road to the supernatural, the Infinite.

God alone can bridge the chasm that yawns between the finite and the infinite. When we take advantage of His grace to seek Him in loving trust, He holds out His hand, a Father calling to children, to cross the chasm safely to Him. "

Too many times I see people that are trying their hardest to force God into their own flawed human perception of what the supreme being should be. Whether he is an old, robed man with a long beard as he is depicted in the aforementioned book, or as a playful creature which follows his whims and plays checkers with the angels. Anything that we can perceive of God or name him limits Him to our human views. To put it as accurately as possible, God = God. He is, always has been and ever shall be God. To compromise what He truly is and compress Him to our own notions is blasphemy. It is a HUGE disservice to the glory that He is. And yet people do it all the time. Rather that accept that "He is" and humble YOURSELF in worship to Him, people swimming in their own pride are content to humble God to what they "think" or "feel" He should be...just to settle their own pride and insecurities. We need to take a look at who needs to be humbled. You or God? Just in case you weren't listening...it's you and I. We live in such an arrogant generation. One plagued with the thought that we are amazing and can do anything on our own. And we are content to do anything to foster those feelings. Even if it means watering down God so much that we create our own god. Notice the lower case. We warp the true nature of God so much that what we worship is no longer the true Father, the all powerful, the ever-living God.

P.S. It totally just hit me that the verse came from the book of 3rd Kings. Not everybody has that...oops. Hope that doesn't ruin this message for you! I promise...the deuterocanonical books aren't half as scary as you think.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Nature of God is God

"The Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church believes and professes that there is one living and true God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, omnipotent, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will and in all perfection Who, being One, singular, absolutely simple and unchangeable spiritual substance, is to be regarded as distinct really and in essence from the world most blessed in and from Himself, and unspeakably elevated above all things that exist, or can be conceived, except Himself."

After listening to a heated debate between two friends about the Nature of God (...yeah...good luck with that one!) I found this and thought it was pretty cool.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fear Itself

"A song of ascents. Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;

Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?

But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.

I wait with longing for the LORD, my soul waits for his word.

My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak,

let Israel look for the LORD, For with the LORD is kindness, with him is full redemption,

And God will redeem Israel from all their sins."
~Psalm 130 NAB

What does it mean to fear the Lord? As with any theological topic of discussion, you have two poles. In this case, you have one which teaches that fearing the Lord God is being afraid of Him. Much like a child is afraid of a monster, or I am terrified of spiders! And there is the other pole, one which teaches that fearing the Lord is simply revering him. I feel like there has to be a delicate balance of the two. To be terrified is too much. With spiders, I can't even flip through a book with pictures of them. How would that work with God? What if we were too scared to flip through the Bible? And with simply reverence. How is that reverence carried out? What we need to do is acknowledge that he is the Most High.

- We must first acknowledge that He has a plan for our lives.

"But he had decided, and who can say him nay? What he desires, that he does. For he will carry out what is appointed for me; and many such things may yet be in his mind.” ~Job 23:13-14 NAB

God is sovereign. That's it, He is the God Most High. That truth was the foundation for most of John Calvin's theology. That God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants. That's where he founded his beliefs about predestination. But, predestination aside, there are many times when we have to let go of what we think is supposed to happen...or what we want to happen and sit. We need to be still and know that He is God. Part of knowing that he is God is knowing that He has a plan, and that it is also impossible for us to completely know what His plan is. Part of fearing God is knowing what He is, and what we are. Knowing our place in the cosmic structure.

- What comes with acknowledging that He is God and that we need Him is our need for forgiveness.

We all know that we are sinful beings. Romans 3:23 NAB says that “For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” And we also know that there is no way for us to enter heaven unless we are cleansed. When we begin living for God, He calls our sins to mind. A life in Christ requires repentance, to turn away from your old sinful life and try to live for God. Now, God knows that we can't live without sinning, so he offers this wonderful gift known as forgiveness. The bit from above, “If you, oh Lord, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?”. This is a variation on the Romans verse which says that no one can stand up before the Lord as sinless. The passage goes on to say, “But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.” This translation actually uses the word revered rather that feared, but the point is the same. It again shows that we are men and He is the sovereign God. We need Him to forgive our sins. The only way to receive forgiveness is to ask for it. Again asserting the fact that we are human. We must humble ourselves and ask for be cleaned. Another way of revering Him.
Now, whether you confess your sins in personal prayer or to another Christian the attitude should be the same. Not one of terror, confession to avoid being stuck down, but rather, one of humility. The forgiveness He offers in an act of His great love for us. He wants us to spend eternity with Him, so he offers His forgiveness for us. We should take it with open arms, knowing that we do not deserve such a gift, but that we require it to mend our imperfections. Confess with a joyous, yet humble heart. Show genuine contrition and He shall forgive you. Also, try very hard to avoid sin. That is important. Never be afraid to approach God. Rather, know that he is God and that He is sovereign. Never think for one minute that you can do anything without Him. Always depend on Him and confess to Him. That is how you fear Him. Know that you need Him.

"The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." ~Proverbs 9:10 NAB

"And to man he said: Behold, the fear of the LORD is wisdom; and avoiding evil is understanding." ~Job 28:28 NAB