Archive for May, 2010

Reasons to Boast

Monday, May 31st, 2010

This weekend we’re celebrating the Most Holy Trinity.  This week Paul tells the Romans that we have reasons to boast.  Boasting is good when our pride is the result of our faith in God.

God the Father sent us his son Jesus to show us how to live and how to love.  He showed us that we love each other when we serve each other.  Jesus showed us that through the power of faith, people were healed on a daily basis. Through faith, Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  We learn over and over again about the healing power of faith.

 After Jesus spent time on earth loving us and before he went to heaven, he told us that he would never leave us alone  and that his Father would send an advocate to be with us always – the Holy Spirit.  God is with us every day through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our role is to invite God into every aspect of our lives.

In Paul’s Letter to the Romans (5:1-5), he talks about God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. As usual, Paul is logical and upbeat as he tells us that we always have reasons to boast (to take pride in or be enhanced by the possession of) – in good times and in times of suffering or pain.

Paul reminds us that our faith leads us to peace with God through Jesus. This same faith gives us access to the gift of grace that is with us always. As Christians, our grace allows us to boast in hope of the glory of God.  We are enhanced by the possession of our faith, hope, love and trust in God.

Paul tells us to not only boast in hope, but to also boast of our afflictions.  Really? Why? 

 We know that we’re enhanced because we’re confident that:

  • Our afflictions produce endurance
  • Endurance builds and creates our character
  • Proven character sustains our hope
  • Hope does not disappoint

Why does hope not disappoint?  Because God’s love has filled our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit who is with us always.

With each cell of our being filled with God’s love, there is no room for hatred, anxiety or fear.

Through prayer and conversation with God, we’re able to continually replenish and rejuvenate our faith.  Our communion with God provides us with a never ending supply of love and hope to sustain us  through every obstacle that is placed before us.

There is no problem that it so large that it can’t be solved by God as the result of our  faith.

Christians really do have reasons to boast!

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Receiving and Sharing the gift of the Holy Spirit

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Pentecost Sunday marks the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. It also marks the birth of the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Living in the year 2010, it takes grace  to live as a person of faith well over 2000 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Thankfully, when Jesus left earth to go back to live with his Father in heaven, he promised his disciples that his Father would send us ‘The Advocate’  – the Holy Spirit.   Jesus said that the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” 

Maybe it makes sense to fully embrace the Holy Spirit and  call upon this power on a daily basis?

How’s that for a gift! We have God the Father in Heaven along with his son Jesus, we have the words of God as spoken by Jesus to comfort us each and every day AND we have the power of the Holy Spirit to assist us every second of our life on earth.  By calling upon and engaging the Holy Spirit we’re promised that we will never be alone.

Once the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were capable of speaking in tongues and enabled to proclaim the Good News. Regardless of what language the people around them spoke, they were able to understand God’s message as proclaimed by the apostles.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I are able to proclaim this universal message to all too.

We’ve been called to live the commandments and the first and  greatest commandment is that we love one another. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do this every day.

What do you do when something great or exciting happens to you during the week?  Most of us are more than happy to tell everyone about whatever it was. “I got the job!.” “My daughter got into her college of choice!” “My friend has completely recovered from cancer!”

 Christians should be filled with the highest sense of Good News at all times. Why?

  • God sent his son Jesus to tell us first hand of his love for us.
  • Jesus spent time walking the earth and God’s Words spoken through Jesus have been written down for us to learn and use to live our lives in faith, hope and love.
  • We have testimony from those who saw him after his resurrection and believe that Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God’s Spirit.
  • Jesus told his disciples that he’d never leave us alone and that his Father was going to send us the Holy Spirit.
  • “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”  You and I will be resurrected upon the death of our earthly bodies too and live forever with Jesus in heaven! How’s is that for the ultimate long-term goal?

If you and I believe these things, what do we have to be anxious about?  Nothing!

We are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and have confidence in our heavenly future.

We’re filled with the peace and love of Jesus so it’s easy for us to share those gifts with others.

The Holy Spirit is with us always and Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

To say that we’re fortunate  for having  received and embraced this gift is a huge understatement.  We’ve been commissioned by Jesus to share this gift with others. 

 Have fun sharing!

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John 14: 23-20

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

This week’s Gospel is from John 14: 23-20. Please pick-up your Bible and read every single word if you could use a little dose of hope and peace.

“Whoever loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him”, is how Jesus opens these words of advice to his apostles.  This seems to be pretty straight-forward to me.  If Jesus were talking with us today he might say, “Dude, If you really do love me,  isn’t it reasonable for me to ask you to learn what I’ve shared with you and make it a part of your life?”

Have you given thought to what “keep my word” means?  In order for us to keep Jesus’ words, we must know them.  Repetition is the best way that I’ve learned to assimilate any information, especially the words of Jesus.

You probably wouldn’t have to think too hard if I asked you to come-up with a favorite phrase or two uttered by your Mom or Dad.  Why?  Because their words were repeated over the course of your childhood and imprinted into the recesses of your mind. I’m sure that this is what Jesus is asking of us.

The difference here is that we have to seek Jesus’ word because it’s very unlikely that anyone around you is sharing them with you enough for them to become learned. Daily or frequent reading of Jesus’ Father’s words will allow them to become as much a part of us as the words of our parents.  Jesus’ words however are all constructive and filled with promises of internal peace and eternal life.

From psychology, we know that we become like what we think about.  If we’ve assimilated Jesus’ words into our minds, you know who we’re going to become like.

Jesus continues by saying, ‘and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

We’re told in scripture that our body is the temple in which Christ resides.  Have you invited God the Father and Jesus to come and live with you in your temple? If Jesus was living within your mind, heart and soul, how much room would there be for fear, anxiety and doubt?  None. That’s exactly the point! Fear, anxiety, doubt and despair are currently residing in the space where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are supposed to be dwelling.  It’s time for some new tenants.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you”, is found a few sentences later. It sounds to me like you and I have been given the gift of peace.  Have you received this gift? Have you opened it?  Are you resting on this gift like it’s a soft, cushy pillow? Have you allowed the peace of Christ to penetrate every part of your being and bring each cell of your temple to the light and life of Christ?

This gift has been freely offered to all who wish to receive it. “Whoever loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him.”

Keep the words of Jesus in your mind.  When they’re in you’re mind, they are second nature to you.  Peace and love are the result of inviting the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to dwell in your temple.

Make the invitation today.

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John (13:31-33a, 34-35)

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

The three words or phrases that most resonated with me in this reading are My children,  glory and love.  I’m always amazed when speakers or teachers have the ability to say so few words which carry so much meaning. Jesus was the master of saying a lot with very few words.

In this short passage, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and he addresses them as, “My  children.”  I can only imagine the loving tone of his voice as he’s speaking to the followers he loves so much in the way that a parent speaks to a child the he or she cares so much about.

When my dad used to have something of great importance to tell me when he was speaking to me alone, he’d begin his very important fatherly words of guidance and wisdom with,  “My son.”  When he used those words, I knew how much he loved me and how special I was in his eyes. That may be why I can hear Jesus saying, “My children”, in such a loving way.

Perhaps that’s why in the Last Supper picture all of the apostles are intently leaning-in toward Jesus as he’s about to give them a new commandment? Can you imagine how they felt at that point?  At this meal, Judas has just been identified as Jesus’ betrayer, Jesus lets them know that his time remaining with them is limited and on top of that, he has a new commandment to share with them.  They might have been thinking something like, “I gave up all that I had to follow this guy, now he’s leaving me and he wants me to learn another new commandment!”  They must’ve felt frightened and overwhelmed.

Those of us who have lost a parent or tremendous mentor know this deep feeling of loss.

Jesus, in what appears to be his always brief style says, “l give you a new commandment: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If we think that Jesus is asking a lot  of us today when he tells us to “love one another”, can you imagine how the apostles felt during those very unloving and violent times? They probably were thinking, “Jesus isn’t just asking us to love. He’s asking us to love others as much as he’s loved us.  How can I do that?” With faith in Jesus and with the power of the Holy Spirit, each of us has the ability to love each other in the same way that Jesus loves us.

The other thought that I had was in regard to Jesus’ comment saying that people will know you are my disciples because of your love for one another.  Within my community, the banks are phenomenal citizens in their donation of time and financial support of the non-profits.  I was at an event this week and you could tell how many great citizens from the banks were present because of their lapel pins.

Bankers let everyone know which bank they represent with their shiny, gold lapel pins.  The pins are outwardly visible signs to the world that you’re an employee of this special bank. As Christians, we’re asked to live every day of our lives without the lapel pin, but with a love for people that is visible to everyone.  We can show our Jesus-like love in many ways: with our sensitivity, our willingness to listen, our self-less offer to serve others, with our forgiveness and in our love of God. We’re asked to show that we’re disciples of Christ with our actions, not with jewelry.

The third concept in this Gospel of John that stood out to me is glory.  When we truly love one another in the way that Jesus loved his disciples and loves us, we’re glorifying him.  We bring glory to Jesus when we love others.

Love is the visible sign that Christians bring to the world with their actions.

In what new ways can you bring glory to Jesus and improve the world this week with your unique love?

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