What Makes You Happy

Hello friends,

All I have to say today is listen to this.  It’s a series of sermons from Andy Stanley called “What Makes Us Happy.”

northpoint

Yesterday I sat and watched re runs of Project Runway all day with the thought “I don’t want to pray, I just want to be relax.  I just want to do what I want and right now I don’t want to pray.”

I keep telling myself that I should fast from alcohol and pray to have a baby.  Then I tell myself “can’t I have fun?”

I keep telling myself that I should go to Mass each day (it’s less than 1/2 mile to the church) but sleeping that extra 10 minutes is much more appealing.  Shouldn’t I do what’s going to make me happy?  Sleep makes me happy.

I have the idea right now that religious is boring, that prayer is boring, that being a saint means not being happy.  Whether you’re like me or not you should give this a listen.  Happiness isn’t in what we do or what we have, it’s in who we know.

the Throne of the Cross

-We should glory in the Cross of our Lord

Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!  Today we look to the Cross and recognize the power of the love that is revealed through Christ’s sacrifice and the healing mercy of this act.

In the reading’s for Mass today we hear about the Israelites complaining that they are unsatisfied with the food they have to eat: “why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?  We are disgusted with this wretched food.”  God doesn’t like their complaining so He sends serpents to where they are and those who were bitten die.  But Moses repents for the people and asks that the Lord take the serpents from among them.  God commands Moses to make a saraph (serpent) and mount it on a staff.  All who were bitten and looked at the staff were healed.

Just as God gave Moses the staff of a serpent for those dying to look at, God gave us Jesus on the Cross so that we might look at and be healed from our ailments and cured from death.  That is the power of the Cross.  One look can bring salvation.  He took what was the look of death and using the very same symbol (a snake, a cross) and turned it into life.

The cross depicts death.  Jesus did die on the cross alongside two thieves.  It was a cruel and embarrassing punishment.  Yet we know the victory His Cross obtained for us – the victory of life over death and freedom from sin.  So though we may have been bitten and poisoned by different sins in our lives we can look to the Cross and see our salvation, life and resurrection.  “Through Him we are saved and delivered.”

I’ve had my share of snake bites in this life.  As I remember them, yes, there’s pain and sorrow but mostly I remember the mercy of the Lord and the healing He gave to me.  His Cross didn’t end in death and neither do our sins; if we choose to accept His love and mercy there can be new life.

This is why we glory in the Cross, this is why we exalt it and admire it because it won for us new life with God forever.

Awesome God

We talked about fear of the Lord at youth group a few weeks back and it is sticking on my heart with super glue.  I can’t get away from what this means.  Not a fear of punishment or a fear of an evil tyrant but a fear caused by awe and wonder at the holiness of God.  Like most things in our faith it’s both simple and complex.

Ralph Martin, an author, speaker, professor and leader of Renewal Ministries, writes in his book The Fulfillment of All Desire:  A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints that “the biblical fear of the Lord is an intelligent fear, based on a deep perception of the holiness and majesty of God….While the fear of the Lord is simply the beginning of wisdom, and the end of wisdom is love (1 John 4:17), one doesn’t jump into love without a deep and ongoing experience of biblical, Spirit-inspired fear….Fear of the Lord is a gift of God; it is not opposed to love, but prepares for it.  Fear of the Lord and love of the Lord go together” (p 55, emphasis added).

Like I said, both simple and complex.

In trying to wrap my head around this I have learned that fear of the Lord is an experience and encounter with the Almighty, Creative, Awesome God.  This encounter with God saturates us in grace and moves us to act in love.  I am reminded of the beloved in the Song of Songs: “I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh” (5:5).  This awe inspired love sits over me like the liquid oil of anointment as I come to meet the Lord.  It is sacred and to be honored.  God does not want us to be afraid of Him but just as we might stand in awe of a beautiful painting or sculpture and admire the work of the artist, or just as we grow in excitement and anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit, how much more so should we be in awe of God and grow in anticipation of His visit to us.

Fear of the Lord and love of the Lord go together.  When we see God for who He is we are moved to love and honor Him as King and Ruler over all.  And we fall on our knees in humble service because of His majesty and magnificence.

The fear of the Lord is glory and exaltation,and

It’s OK if you aren’t ready to jump into love of the Lord.  Take time today to contemplate his holiness and majesty.  How can you grow in fear of the Lord today?  How can you honor the Lord God today?

with love,

Kiera

Do Everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus

-Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything

I found two things remarkable in today’s readings:

“Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
– Colossians 3:17

“Let everything that breaths praise the Lord!”
– Psalm 150:6

All I have to say is that this cannot be down without the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I ask myself “how is this done? do everything in the name of the Lord…everything?” It sounds lofty and great, sure God I give you everything, I’ll do everything in the name of your Son.  But really everything?  Like taking out the trash and watching Project Runway and finding the right dog to adopt?

There is a word in Greek that is used to describe the actions of the Holy Spirit: dunamis.  You’ve probably already guessed that this is linked to English words like dynamite or dynamic.  The Holy Spirit can work in incredibly powerful ways in our lives and the action is like dynamite – explosive.  I read today’s readings with a desire for a greater influence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Dynamite results in an explosion and an explosion leaves a cloud or haze.  If we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives he will come like fire and explode in our hearts and he will leave his mark in the form of a cloud of grace and glory that will cover all we do and say.  It will change our perspective and our point of view.  It will saturate us in grace and love.  That same Spirit will breath new life into us and into our situation and praise and blessing will follow it.  This will effect everything we do, everything we are and it will make us more like Christ.  And then we can do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus with praise and adoration on our lips.

Harmony

Hello again my friends!  I’m sorry that it’s been so long.  We moved about a week and half ago and have been busy settling into our new home.  As exciting as it is to be in a new home that is all our own this last week has been chaos.  The daily visits from handymen, plumbers, painters and maids have left me anxious for a quiet put together home where I can sit and rest and not constantly wonder “who’s at the door this time?”

This week has been filled with boxes and piles of clothes and unwelcome friends (mice and spiders!); it’s been busy and chaotic and my heart has reflected my space – unsettled.

If I’m sure of anything today it’s that my interior space reflects my exterior space.  I need things to have a purpose and a place – old boxes, books without shelves, and clothes still in suitcases is not OK.  It seems for every problem solved another one arises. We got a brand new kitchen but the oven doesn’t work.  The plumber came to unclog the tub drain which resulted in another plumber needing to come this weekend.  But I’m not here to complain.

I’m here to say that though there has to be a certain detachment from material things in the life of any Christian, it’s also beautiful to see how order in our material and exterior lives leads to order in our interior and spiritual lives.

I know that when my spirit is tired and aching for hope or love or a prayer answered that it’s no coincidence that my room gets a little messy.  I know too that when my prayer is consoling and I feel alive that sitting on a cozy chair in a clean room is that much sweeter.  I’m not saying that if your house is a mess or that if you hate doing the dishes that you’re pushing yourself away from God.  I’m saying that in order for me to have clear and fruitful prayer or formation at home than I need an ordered space, and I don’t think it’s because of OCD.

It says in Genesis that “when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void” (Gen 1:1-2).  A formless void?  Like a black hole or something?  I don’t know, my brother is the physicist.  But here we have God creating the earth from this void.  He put order to the disorder.  He gave purpose to the random and meaning where there was chaos.  The result of God’s creation was a garden, beautiful and abundant and everything and everyone in it lived in harmony with Him.  Sin threw us back into that void – there was a gap between God and man and man was filled with confusion and despair and darkness.

But the story doesn’t stop there.

It continues in the hundreds and hundreds of years of God promising His people a Messiah, a Savior, and then finally delivering them one – Jesus, the Son of the Living God.  Jesus put the world back in order by offering freedom from sin and death and a way for us to live in harmony with God and His creation once again.

God desires that there be order in our lives because order leads to freedom and freedom leads to life everlasting with the one who created us.  So as silly as it may sound, my desire to live in a home without the chaos of renovations and trying to make things fit is a proof that I belong to the Creator (because I am like Him) and a proof that my heart can find rest and peace in Christ (because He fills the void and the gap and provides order to what is broken or disordered).

The apartment is getting cleaner each day and we are down to only a few boxes of DVDs and knick knacks waiting for a shelf to call home.  It’s refreshing to sit and take a break because the work is nearly done.

I pray that God may bring order to your life in whatever way you need it today.  It’s not just a physical order He wants to bring but a spiritual one.  He wants you to know Him first and to let everything else fall into place after that.  He wants whatever part of you that feels broken or empty to be filled with His love and mercy (He is Love and Mercy).  May God grant you peace today and always.

with love,

Kiera