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Archive for April, 2011

LOVED this today from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, found at http://utmost.org/

Gracious Uncertainty

Apr 29 2011. . .it has not yet been revealed what we shall be . . . —1 John 3:2

Our natural inclination is to be so precise—trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next—that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.

Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.

 When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God—it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1), not, “Believe certain things about Me”.

Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in—but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness is such a difficult thing to offer sometimes, and yet oh, so important for our own spiritual well-being.

And what an amazing witness it is to the world … after a gunman shot several Amish girls at school, the Amish community extended forgiveness. I remember hearing a rabbi on the radio denounce their forgiveness as wrong. But he is the one who is wrong … the whole world was amazed at the Amish reaction and it was a fantastic witness to our God.

I love the story of Corrie Tenboom who was a prisoner in WWII. Later …

At one of her speaking engagements, she was reunited with a Ravenbrueck guard, a man who had played a key role in the tragic death of her sister. He asked her forgiveness for his horrible actions, and she found that her faith gave her the power to forgive.

My friend Thanese is from Malaysia and a wonderful Christian woman. She told me that most of her family is Hindu and forgiveness is not something they aspire to; they hold grudges for a very long time. She has been talking with her father about forgiving an uncle and told him, “He didn’t hurt you – you have carried this grudge all these years because of what he did to my mother and me. I have forgiven him, yet you still carry the burden!”

I thought that was amazing, and pray for her and her father.

I have loved this story for a long time and wanted to share it here. Enjoy!

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Jane Wolfe was lector for a wonderful woman’s Bible study I used to attend in Wendell, NC, called Heart to Heart. I learned so much from the women there and will forever be grateful.

I remember Jane saying one time, “Distraction and discouragement are two of the enemy’s greatest tools.”

Boy howdy. I completely believe that … how easily we become distracted by life’s busy-ness and trials. No time for prayer, for church, for quiet, for being still. “Life” intrudes, disrupts, distracts.

And discouragement? Wow, can that come in many forms. I am so easily discouraged by things that really have nothing to do with “me.” It’s really a little pathetic and I don’t understand why I’m this way, why I let others drag me down into the mud with them; why I feel so wounded by how people treat each other.

But I do.

It hurts me to sit at work and listen to a married couple snipe and belittle and blame one another.

It hurts my spirit deeply to see how Willie treats others – to see how much time he spends formatting his posts, weaving in the most ugly accusations and commentary possible and know he is hurting himself more than any other soul.

And it hurts my spirit to watch Jay, who once was so gentle and kind in every way. But the more he has grown in his U.S. belief, the less patient and gentle he has become … and the more aggressive and dismissive he’s become.

And I am the fool. I’m such a fool for continuing to read. I’m the fool for hoping it will ever change. I’m the fool for becoming so discouraged.

LORD, I need your healing touch; I need you to fill my heart with forgiveness … they know not what they do. I’m weary; I need your strength and comfort and guidance so that I may be a blessing.

Pick me up, brush me off, help me to walk with You again. Help me to dance.

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I had never heard the phrase, “Throwing down the fleece,” until I met Joyce. She explained she was referring to the story of Gideon in Judges 6 and as I have been reading it, I have to laugh about how much I can be like Gideon.

He spoke with an angel of the LORD, and completely realized (after a time) to whom he was speaking.

Yet, when he was given direction, he doubted himself. He wanted to make sure he had heard it correctly; he was cautious.

Gideon asked for a sign not once, but twice …. just to be sure.

Judges 6
And Gedeon said to God: If thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast said,    
37 I will put this fleece of wool on the floor: if there be dew on the fleece only, and it be dry on all the ground beside, I, shall know that by my hand, as thou hast said, thou wilt deliver Israel.    
38 And it was so. And rising before day wringing the fleece, he filled a vessel with the dew.    
39 And he said again to God: let not thy wrath be kindled against me if I try once more, seeking a sign in the fleece. I pray that the fleece only may be dry, and all the ground wet with dew.    
40 And God did that night as he had requested: and it was dry on the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

I have to laugh – I’m so like that! The story goes on that God strengthens Gideon even further, allowing him to overhear the enemy talk about him. So with great confidence, Gideon was able to pursue, attack and defeat the enemy.

I guess that is where I am different than Gideon … I continue to second-guess. My doubts are not about God, but boy do I second-guess myself. I know it’s good to be cautious and to “test the spirits;” but I think I border on ridiculous, being afraid of being deceived.  Maybe that is by God’s design in these days too, to protect me when there are so many false prophets, wrong teachings, deceptions.

I know in my heart the things God has shown me; yet I can still be obsessive. I’ve decided to stop posting at C-M, and I hope that soon I will stop reading there altogether. Already it’s been a struggle – when I see things posted that are so easily shown to be wrong, to be a lie, to be misleading … I just want to set the record straight and make sure others aren’t misled.

But wouldn’t you know … my NT reading today came from James and strengthened my resolve to stay away from posting.

James 3

1 Be ye not many masters, my brethren, knowing that you receive the greater judgment.
3 For if we put bits into the mouths of horses, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body.
4 Behold also ships, whereas they are great, and are driven by strong winds, yet are they turned about with a small helm, whithersoever the force of the governor willeth.
5 Even so the tongue is indeed a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how small a fire kindleth a great wood.
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is placed among our members, which defileth the whole body, and inflameth the wheel of our nativity, being set on fire by hell.
7 For every nature of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of the rest, is tamed, and hath been tamed, by the nature of man:
8 But the tongue no man can tame, an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison.
9 By it we bless God and the Father: and by it we curse men, who are made after the likeness of God.
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
11 Doth a fountain send forth, out of the same hole, sweet and bitter water?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear grapes; or the vine, figs? So neither can the salt water yield sweet.
13 Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew, by a good conversation, his work in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter zeal, and there be contentions in your hearts; glory not, and be not liars against the truth.
15 For this is not wisdom, descending from above: but earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and contention is, there is inconstancy, and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom, that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation.
18 And the fruit of justice is sown in peace, to them that make peace.

LORD, help me sow peace; help me to bridle my tongue; give me strength that even as I fast for you from food and do not grow weaker, I can fast for you from posting and become stronger and better, too.

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Easter 2011

Easter Vigil was amazing. I laughed and I wept. It began at 8:30 with a fire outside to light the new Easter candle; the church was dark through the readings of the Old Testament; the lights came up with the New Testament readings.

I love “people=watching” in any case, and at church it is wonderful. Being confirmed were a couple of young men – one very clean cut, one looked like an ex-gangster; a mother and her young daughter; a middle-aged woman; a younger lady. I always wonder what their stories are, what caused them to dedicate themselves to a year of study. One of the young guys couldn’t stop grinning … he was obviously so happy to be joining the church. It was touching when Father Secora knelt to be face-to-face to the girl as she spoke, asking to be confirmed.

We were there 2-1/2 hrs. and it seemed barely like 1 hr.

I liked the new candle stands – one larger one for the Easter candle; six smaller ones of varying heights. They were simple black wrought iron. When I made the donation I thought we were providing “seed money” or were combining the donation with other donations, but a blurb in the bulletin said, “As we celebrate Easter today, and use them for the first time, our thanks to parishioners Mark and Lori Storr for their gift of the seven wrought iron candlesticks for use in the celebration of the liturgy. God bless you and all our benefactors.”

Thanks dad and mom.

I sure miss my dad.

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Easter Candle

My reading this morning was cool; I found a picture to go with it and added it to my read-the-Bible-in-a-year site.

The Lord is the keeper of little ones

I’m looking forward to Easter vigil tonight! The Triduum is amazing; it’s been too long since I attended all three services.

One thing I am looking forward to tonight, is the use of the new candle stands. My mom sold dad’s field last fall and gifted some of the money to us kids. I made a donation to St. Cecilia and Father Secora asked how we would like it to be used, and offered some suggestions. I decided on new candle stands for the Easter candle and side candles at the altar. I’m anxious to see them, now … a piece of my dad and mom in my church. That’s kind of cool.

Psalms 114*

1 I have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer.
2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me: and in my days I will call upon him.
3 The sorrows of death have encompassed me: and the perils of hell have found me. I met with trouble and sorrow:
4 And I called upon the name of the Lord. O Lord, deliver my soul.
5 The Lord is merciful and just, and our God sheweth mercy.
6 The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was little and he delivered me.
7 Turn, O my soul, into thy rest: for the Lord hath been bountiful to thee.
8 For he hath delivered my soul from death: my eyes from tears, my feet from falling.
9I will please the Lord in the land of the living.

*This is from Psalm 116 in most Bible versions. My reading plan uses Douay-Rhimes and the numbering in Psalms is very different!

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Purgatory is one of those “Catholic things” that is quarreled over often with non-Catholics.

Personally, I understand the teaching; I understand the reasoning and the scriptures from whence it comes. I also understand why some people have a problem with it and don’t see it as a Biblical teaching.

I accept it as a church teaching; I’ve never been personally convicted one way or another. Mostly I don’t really care – either it exists or it doesn’t and whatever each of us believes doesn’t change what “is.”

I just happened to be thinking about “purgatory” on my way into mass last night and one of the readings was Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Dear Peter balks at the idea.

Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
 for he is clean all over;

Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed.

That just struck me; as believers washed by the blood of the Lamb, we are “clean all over.”

Who is to say that as we exit this world and enter the next, Jesus doesn’t wash the last residue of this world from our feet?

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