Tag Archives: God

Protection

protectionOn Dec. 24 last year, on the way to Iowa for Christmas in the snow, the car in front of me started spinning out, causing me to start spinning out. I ended up facing the opposite direction of traffic on Interstate 270 in St. Louis.

But I did not hit a single car and I was able to turn the car around and pull off to the side of the road unhurt.

After pulling myself together, my only thought was that God was protecting me.

There are moments in our lives when we wonder if God is watching over us, but in that moment I knew for certain that he was. There is really no other explanation for how I (and my car) escaped that situation unscathed.

The words of Psalm 20:1 were fulfilled in my life that day:

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

Now I find myself much more grateful for safe travels and much more aware of the small blessings God grants to us every day out of his sheer mercy and love for us. He is always looking out for us and I found that out firsthand. Thank God today for all the ways that he protects you!

Accompaniment

accompanimentOur sister company, Twenty-Third Publications, came out with a publication recently called The Art of Accompaniment, a term expressed by Pope Francis in The Joy of the Gospel. Here is the link to the booklet:

http://www.twentythirdpublications.com/artofacniesc.html

By the term “the art of accompaniment,” Pope Francis is referring to the call of the Church to walk with people in compassion and love in whatever circumstances of life they are given.

The concept of the art of accompaniment can be applied to our journeying with younger generations through their milestones of faith as well (baptism, First Communion, confirmation). Our presence at these events and our encouragement of them in their faith can go a long way in keeping them grounded and confident in their relationship with Christ.

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Repurposing

coffee table crateThere is a lot of interest and energy lately around the concept of repurposing. I confess that I watch a lot of home improvement shows and they are always repurposing old crates into rustic coffee tables or making bookshelves out of old school lockers, and things like that. In the art world, there are many artists who create interesting art pieces from old-fashioned kitchen utensils, tins, banks and toys found at flea markets or antique stores.

The concept of repurposing came to my mind recently when read again the story in Scripture of the conversion of St. Paul. Here was a man  was zealous in his persecution of Christians. But God repurposed this man’s zealousness to promote the Christian message instead. The story of the repurposing of Saul to Paul makes us realize that God can do dramatic things with what is put before him. Like a craftsperson at a workbench with various pieces laid out, God can create something beautiful and unexpected from the most random of things.

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Hidden with Christ

hidden Jesus faceIn the article “Grace Alone” in the September 2017 issue of Living Lutheran, theology professor John F. Hoffmeyer pointed readers to Colossians 3:3: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” “We can be assured that, in Christ, God refuses to live without us,” Hoffmeyer says. “Our lives are bound to Christ’s life—regardless. God regards us with the same unbounded love with which God regards Jesus” (Living Lutheran, September 2017, p. 45).

Something in those precious words clicked with me in a profound way, like with Martin Luther in his Tower Experience after reading Romans 1:17. Like Luther before me, I felt reborn in my faith.

It struck me that when God sees me, he doesn’t see just me, he sees Christ first, and then me, hidden with him. The concept of being hidden with Christ is compelling to me. I am part of him now because of his death and resurrection for me. I am forgiven, free and forever loved. I am embedded within him. No longer is my face the face people see first. It is now the face of Christ. And my life is behind that face of Christ.

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Saying No to Naturalism

fearfully madeNaturalism is a system of thought and action which denies the existence of God and instead believes everything happens according to scientifically explainable laws of nature. In this construct, then, human life exists only because of a process of evolution and its value is only determined by its usefulness.

We as Christians must reject naturalism because we know from Scripture that human life is designed by God and that humanity is very valuable to him. This is not to say we reject science; it is simply to say that God has ordained the laws of nature and they are under his purview.

Consider these verses from Scripture:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26).

This verse reminds us that humans are different from animals and have a special place in God’s creation.

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A Ritual of Thanks

thanks ritual

One of our our most pervasive rituals of thanks is gathering for a feast with family and friends.

When we were little and someone gave us something or complimented us, our parents prompted us with, “Now what do you say?” We would dutifully say thank you (perhaps rather meekly and/or begrudgingly) and run away.

As adults, we often continue to need prompting from our heavenly Father to say thank you. As the Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Scripture itself is encouraging us to develop a ritual of thanks in our lives. We are called to make thanksgiving a regular part of our every activity.

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Instant Gratification

shutterstock_577059676blogMore so than ever, we have a desire in our culture for instant gratification. Microwave ovens, the internet, remote control devices and electric garage door openers are just a few things that speak to our desire for instant gratification. We want what we want right now.

But ironically, with all these modern conveniences that are designed to save us time in theory, they have instead led to a more hectic lifestyle.

Geoffrey Godbey, a professor of leisure studies at Pennsylvania State University, states, “We want everything fast—fast food, eyeglasses in an hour … Internally, we are rushed.”

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Greater Than or Less Than

greater thanWe all remember those “greater than” or “less than” symbols we used in math class: 1 < 3, 5 > 4, etc. It’s a principle we can apply to our Christian lives as well. On 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis during their Moment in the Word on June 9, 2017, they pointed to the following verse:

He must become greater; I must become less. —John 3:30

Spoken by John the Baptist, these words remind us that we must always allow Christ to be greater than ourselves. We must recognize that we are always less than him. In everything we do, we must apply the “greater than/less less” equation to it.

Is this activity making God greater or making me greater?

Is this approach to something making God less than ourselves?

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Hedonism and the Church

pizzaHedonism is a system of ethics in which pleasure is the sole goal of life. The motto of the hedonist is: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” As much as we would not like to admit it, much of the motivation for things we spend time doing in our American culture is rooted in hedonism. So many spend their days seeking to find pleasure for themselves. The problem, of course, with a hedonistic lifestyle is that other areas suffer as a result: commitments to family, work and the Church fall by the wayside many times when personal pleasure is your sole focus.

What can the Church do in regards to the prevalence of hedonism in our society? Guiding people to the greater good beyond personal indulgence is one of the most important qualities that the Church can provide. Christ himself spoke about overindulgence of selfish desires when he said: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” which hedonism essentially is (Luke 12:15).

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Functional Atheism

functional atheistFunctional atheism is a term that is being used in theological circles that refers to the practice of those who profess to believe in Christ, but behave as if he does not exist.

One problem with this practice, of course, is that it does not acknowledge the very real impact that Christ has on our everyday lives.

The other problem is that it perpetuates the falsehood that we are in control of our lives and we can do what we want apart from Christ and our beliefs.

I am reminded of the verse,

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. —Psalm 115:1

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