Sunday, January 22, 2017

Not of this world

I had been contemplating Romans 12: 2 for some time when I found the first seed of what it might mean.  A friend of mine was angry, not at me, just angry and ranting at me about his anger. When I replied, instead of getting loud with him, or even speaking in a normal voice, I spoke in something just above a whisper.  The first few times I did this he, obviously, didn’t hear me.  Then in the middle of a rant he did.  When he did he stopped his rant, and leaned in to try to hear what I was saying better.  At first, he would return to his loud rant, but rather quickly he slowly got softer himself.  My reaction wasn’t feeding his anger.  I was not energizing the situation, but making him diffuse, pause, and in trying to hear me he was peacefully forced to stop-pause and reflect.    

It was some time after that conversation took place that I began to understand that what I had done was a facet of what Romans 12:2 was trying to tell me.  In a very, very, very small way, that exchange was a picture of what ‘not being in the world, copying the world, or conforming to the world’ was.  (I inserted several scriptural translations there so you could get the complete picture of the fullness of what that phrase really means.)  Whatever the world is doing around me, I should probably do the opposite of that in some way. 

If you want to test this theory out run some thought experiments.  Put yourself in various dramatic situations….You are in Nazi Germany and everyone around you is turning in Jews to the state.  You are a Roman watching Christians being rounded up to go the coliseum.  You find yourself in the middle of a KKK rally where someone is being whipped for the color of their skin.  Find your own scenario and really explore the idea. 

The above scenarios are big and scary things, but they are somewhat perfect pictures that sometimes when we follow the masses the M is silent.  They are also examples of how people allow themselves to become conformed to the world and its’ customs. 

We are called, in Romans 12: 2, to allow God to transform the way we think.  Why? Well, because our thoughts become our emotions become our actions.  If we are challenging/changing our thinking in this way, then something miraculous happens:  We will learn to know God’s will for our life.  Not only will we know it, but we will live it, and that will be pleasing. 
The world has many of us convinced that the person who screams loudest wins.  That should be our first clue we should whisper.   Romans 8: 37 tells us that we are more than conquerors.  Put both scriptures together we begin to see that what the world considers to be ‘winning’ is not. 

Take a look around you right now, in these divisive times, see what the world is doing.  It is time to do different.  It is time to be different.  It is time to allow God to transform our thinking.

Just some food for thought and prayer.

Here I am, Lord, send me!
Lisa Lee Brandel, Kolbe Evangelization Commission Chair

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Through my most grievous fault

There are entire books and web paged devoted to “famous last words”.  Having lost my family, I can tell you that I carry their last words close to my heart always.  The last thing my father ever said was to me and it was, “I love you too, Pumpkin.”  My mother’s last words as she leaned on my chest and I cradled her in my arms were, “You are wonderful.”  My husband told me he was going “just around the corner.”  They were all sentiments delivered with love by people who knew their time on this earth was coming to an end.  They were important enough to them that at a time when energy and effort are a fading currency they chose to spend it in that way. 

Take a moment to think about yourself in situations other than death too.  What is it you say before being wheeled back for a surgery (even if it is minor)?  What do you say to those who see you off before you board a plane or go for a long trip?  Now that you have thought about that, let us consider the last  words spoken by Jesus on the cross.

“Forgive them father for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34

At this point, Jesus’ human body could not have been more broken.  He had been scourged (John 19:1).  Which, in Roman times, scourging meant 39 lashings with a lead tipped whip.  He had been mocked and a crown of thorns placed on his head.  He had been on the cross by this point for hours, and each time he spoke or breathed he had to push himself up with his feet (which need I remind you had a nail through them?) to do so, because part of the crucifixion process is a suffocation. The weight of the body, placement of the arms, made breathing very difficult and as the body weakened would cause organ failure.  This was the condition of Jesus as he spoke those words. 

He spoke them to the people who had cheered to have him crucified, yes. More than that though, I believe, he was crying out to the Father for all humanity throughout all time-past and future.  Because, you see, it wasn’t just the Jews and the Romans of the time who caused his death.  It was all of us, from before then to after now.  We all put him there.  Not one of us is innocent, and not one of us knows what we are doing, even today having a ‘more complete’ picture of it thanks to those who documented the scripture then. 
Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault-by what I have done and what I have failed to do.
He asked that the Father forgive us, but have we asked for forgiveness?  Have we really realized that we are the reason he hung on the cross?  Have we embraced that absolute love that those words proclaim? 

The choice is ours. Food for thought and prayer…

Here I am, Lord, send me!

 Lisa Lee Brandel, Kolbe Evangelization Commission.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Not a lack of faith, the price of love-Jesus wept

In the scripture, Jesus weeping is recorded two times.  In John 11: 35, He weeps for the passing of his friend Lazarus.  In Luke 19:41, He weeps for the fate of Jerusalem.  Now, I’m not going to say that these are the only two times he wept ever in his life-there may well have been more-but it is interesting that the scripture records these three times as they all have to do with grief.  So, let’s explore this a bit.

In John, Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus.  Even though He knows he can and will raise him.  Even though we might even assume that Lazarus has gone to Heaven. (I am assuming that because he is, from what we can tell in scripture, a close friend of Jesus-a follower.)  Even though Jesus has PERFECT FAITH in his Father. He knows the delights and peace of Heaven like no other human could.  Whether he was weeping for only the death of Lazarus, or the pain he saw in Mary and Martha, we can’t know with certainty.  What we can extrapolate is that Our Lord was moved.  He felt loss.  He was grieved and grieving. 

In Luke 19, Jesus weeps for the fate of Jerusalem.  Again, even though He knows that ultimately there will be a New Jerusalem and there will be victory-he weeps.  Why? Probably because He knew every soul in the city, the losses that would come, the pain the people would endure, the trials by fire and war waiting.  Not just a city as we think of a city in our human way, but the individual souls that inhabit that city.  He felt pain, grief, and loss, so much so that he was moved to tears. 

Isaiah (53:3) tells us that the suffering Messiah would be "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”.  And so, we see that He is very much.  We might even assume there were times when he was alone that he was moved to tears by the pain and suffering.  I don’t think we’d be wrong.  He weeps for grief of loss.  He weeps for personal rejection.  He weeps for a nation. 

Anyone who tells you that if you have perfect faith you won’t feel grief or have the need of tears is just wrong.  If we are trying to be more Christ-like, the compassion, the mission, the love we should have for our fellow man demands them.  Tears are not a lack of faith, but as we see in His perfect example-they are the price of love.

Just some food for thought and prayer…

Here I am, Lord, send ME!
 Lisa Lee Brandel, Kolbe Evangelization Chair