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The Heavenly Atmosphere

Posted by saintisaac on January 21, 2015 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

A man who has within him the Kingdom of Heaven radiates holy thoughts, Divine thoughts.  The Kingdom of God creates within us an atmosphere of heaven, as opposed to the atmosphere of hell that is radiated by a person when hades abides in his heart.  The role of Christians in the world is to filter that atmosphere on earth and expand the atmosphere of the Kingdom of God. 

--++Archbishop P. Gregory Schell

Growths and Rats! Thoughts on 1 Samuel 6:1-16

Posted by saintisaac on June 21, 2011 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Have you downloaded your copy of the free daily scripture reading plan we provide each month to empower and support you on your spiritual journey. I encourage you to make scripture reading/study a part of your daily routine and watch as the Holy Spirit begins to speak to you through the dynamic tool that is the Bible! Someone once asked, "Which bible is the best for me, King James, New International Version, etc." I once heard a minister answer this question excellently, "The one you can understand." There is a Psalm reading, Old Testament, New Testament & Gospel reading waiting for you today so dig in!

 

Last night, my family took on the messy craft of making pinatas. If you're family hasn't tried this yet, there quite simple! Here's the key to this easy craft.

1) Cut newspaper into long strips.

2) In a bowl, combine two cups of flour with three cups of water.

3) Blow up a balloon, tie off.

4) Dip newspaper strips into the flour mixture and place on balloon.

5) Allow to dry overnight. Once dry, pop the balloon, paint, color, etc.

 

My oldest son, myself and my wife Katy, dove into to project blowing balloons, hands messy, you get the picture. But my youngest son, was scared to touch the flour/water mixture. He didn't want to get his hands dirty. We finally decided on the routine of me dipping the newspaper strips and him placing them on the balloon, but he had to wash hands after every piece! I decided to finish his balloon and give him a break.

 

After reflecting again this morning about my son's hesitancy to get dirty, I made my way to the readings for today and found a very rich and meaningful story in 1 Samuel about the Philistine’s and their messy situation. Quick, grab a bible and turn with me...1 Samuel 6:1-16.

A brief bit of history, the Philistine’s had captured the Ark of God. In those days, God didn't dwell in the hearts of men, rather, in a very elaborate box called an Ark. The Ark carried with it God's presence and therefore His power. After a fierce battle in Chapter 4, the Israelites (God's chosen people) were defeated, and the Philistines captured the Ark of God. Upon hearing that the Ark had been lost, Israel's leader Eli, 1 Samuel 5 v. 18 "fell backward off his chair. He fell beside the gate, broke his neck, and died, because he was old and fat. He had led Israel for forty years."

 

Thinking they had finally snatched the key to ultimate power, the Philistines had another thing coming. Have you ever met someone who only wanted God because of what He could do for them? This is a dangerous state to be in because 'Holy things are meant for Holy people!" When Holy things fall into the hands of unholy people, things get very interesting, very quickly! Stop reading my words now and read 1 Samuel 6:1-16.

We now know the Ark had been with the Philistines just 7 months and they were trying to figure out how to get this thing back to the place or people, from whence, it came. It seems the thing they thought would make them indestructible had began to destroy them from the inside out. Note: Chapter 5 also has a great recount of how the God was proven superior to the Philistine God, Dagon.

Great fear had befallen the Philistine people. We see back in Chapter 5, v. 6 “The Lord was hard on the people of Ashdod and their neighbors. He caused them to suffer and gave them growths on their skin.” My guess is these weren’t a few moles or large pimples; they were ‘great growths,’ deformities. We see in Chapter 6 that there had also been a great rat infestation. The Philistines sought the counsel of their priests and magicians and decided to send the Ark back with a ‘penalty offering.’ Even the Philistines new they must pay a price for the wrong they had done! They must offer a sacrifice to make it right!

They formed golden growths and rats to send along with the Ark back to the Israelites. So they loaded the Ark down with the penalty offering, placed it between two cows and pointed it straight toward Beth Shemesh, the town that served as the destination in Israel’s own land (v. 9).

V. 12 says, “They (the cows) stayed on the road, mooing all the way,” (the cows must have known too, this wasn’t your average freight they were carrying).

The presence of God turned out to be a burden and messy situation for the Philistine’s, but was a tremendous blessing for the Israelites. V. 13 “Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley. When they looked up and saw the Ark of the Lord, they were very happy.”

What can we draw from this passage?

1) The unrepentant heart will be tempted to try “God,” to remedy problems and struggles in life, but in the end, His presence will be a great burden and hinderance. Great conviction and pain will come to the person who wants God to be an object of power for them.

2) Many only turn to God in times of need and struggle, when it is convenient for them. Friend, God is no commodity; we can’t pick and choose when we want Him. We must surrender to Him totally and completely in good times and bad! He is a person with which, we have a relationship with, not an object of power.

3) God’s chosen are always made happy by Him. The Philistines represent the unredeemed souls in the earth. Israel, represents His Church, His Bride! The light and pearl of His eye. Have you realized you are one of His chosen people?

Benedict's 12 Degrees of Humility: Step 1

Posted by saintisaac on June 15, 2011 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Greetings!

This morning, I am pleased to settle back into my office here at the Peoples Cathedral after many months of serving as a teacher in I AM Academy at our other facility about 2 miles away.  School ended last Friday (6/10) making this the first week I am able to completly focus on all things pastoral!  What a blessing it was to work with the students, my group was 8th - 12th graders.  We made great headway in the areas of reading and writing, etc. but it sure is good to be back in the saddle here at the Cathedral.   

This morning, after a great conversation with an old friend, Father Paul Worhola - priest of Church of the Resurrection near 43rd and Xavier Street in Denver, my mind & heart were drawn to the topic of humility.  More specifically to a portion of the wonderful text by Joan Chittister O.S.B. "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily."  The Daily is of course rooted in the Benedictine Rule, a guide written by Saint Benedict for those pursuing or who find themselves living Monastic lives.  While many of you reading may not consider yourselves monastic in your spiritual practice, I believe there are many nuggets in this text for us normal folks attempting the messy work that can be practicing Christianity in the real world. 

Benedict identifies 12 degrees of humility.  I will not exhaust you with all 12 in this writing, but I do want to spend a few moments reflecting with you on the first step, "The presence of God demands total response."  God is reality!  While many may try to drown His voice out with noise or use gadgets or technology to distract themselves, sooner or later, we will all be forced to reconcile how completely and totally real God is.  Over time, the still small voice of God turns into the loudest voice in our lives.  Dealing with Him will go from being optional, to a necessity.  Humility, is rooted first in our willingness to acknowledge our Creator. 

Oh, how small we become when our eyes turn to heaven and we gaze HIM!  A lifetime of thought only warrants a believer to measure a tiny piece of His greatness.   

"One day the Teacher said, "It is so much easier to travel than to stop." 

"Why?" the disciples demanded to know.

"Because," the Teacher said, "as long as you travel to a goal you can hold on to a dream.  When you stop, you must face reality."

"But how shall we ever change if we have no goals or dreams?" the disciples asked. 

"Change that is real is change that is not willed.  Face reality and unwilled change will happen."

Humility is reality to the full.  Are we willing to be completely immersed in this present moment?  To take our eyes off of where we were yesterday or another memory that we can seem to move past...to slow down our anticipation of tomorrow or that bill that is coming due.  Bury yourself in the NOW!  Open your eyes right now and look around, what are the physical objects around you?  Who are the people coming across your path.  Embrace reality and therefore embrace humility. 

May the Holy Spirit continue to lead you and guide you into all truth, Amen!     

The Jesus Prayer

Posted by saintisaac on April 12, 2010 at 4:07 PM Comments comments (0)

A few thoughts on the prayer of Jesus which is simply stated:

 

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!" 

 

Accounts tell us the prayer likely finds roots in the Eygptian desert which was settled in the 5th century by monastic Desert Fathers. 

 

The prayer becomes a point of reflection for us as earlier this year, the ++Archbishop began leading corporate declarations of it.  These declarations began in our Friday morning prayer time and continued through Holy Week 2010. 

 

With strong pentecostal roots, I know what it means to be a part of a fiery prayer meeting.  You know what I mean by fiery?  Hair standing on end, loud, prophetic declarations, smearing of oil, speaking in tongues and so on.

 

Still, I have yet to have been a part of a more fiery prayer meeting than the ones we have had recently where the silence is only pentrated by an acknowledgment of our Lord as the Christ and the Son of God, followed by the cry of repentance.   

 

Our collective voices uttering these simple words as a community have echoed through my heart and mind long after the praying of them together at the Altar.  True prayer has less to do with the volume of our voice, the excellence of our speech and the amount of action happening around us and more to do with the sincerity and purity of our hearts.  

 

I'm sure a child's few words of quiet prayer causes far more chaos in the heavenlies than hours of excellent prayer prayed by a master of religion!  Oh, that our prayers would be like that of a child;  simple and trusting!  The Jesus prayer, prayed in sequence will lead one to both simplicity and trust.   

 

 

Jesus Under Fire pt. 2

Posted by saintisaac on February 14, 2010 at 1:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Continuing our dialogue about the Good Samartian... 

 

The driving force of our actions as Christians should never be to earn eternal life. Our service and love to others should always stem from the complete and total work of love accomplished on the cross of Calvary. Through the cross, Christ demonstrated in action, his love for us. He did not pass by, He did not ignore our struggle, He stopped! He saw us…took pity on us…and laid down his life that we might live.

2 Cor 5:14

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died."

In our own strength, we will never accomplish the feats required to inherit eternal life. But as we acknowledge our shortcomings and yield to Christ’s love flowing through us, we will be empowered to see those in need and to take pity. For we are that man in Luke 10:30, who fell into the hands of robbers, we have been left for dead. Thank God for a Savior who didn’t leave us that way.

In Luke 10 v. 34, we see the length that the Good Samaritan was willing to go to ensure the half-dead man was taken care of. “He went to him, bandaged his wounds, poured oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.” He also paid for the man’s stay at the inn and promised that if more money were needed, he (the Samaritan) would be good for it.

What a picture of love for another. My mind is drawn to how our Savior continues to bandage wounds, pour oil and wine. He places individuals on his donkey and takes them to His inn, the Church! All of this at no cost to the recipient.

 

What paralyzes many Christians from acting when they observe a social injustice or other situation that requires intervention? 

 

What can you do to make a difference in the life of one other person?

 

Share a random act of kindness that has been done for you or that you have done for someone else.   

Jesus Under Fire! Pt. 1

Posted by saintisaac on February 12, 2010 at 10:28 AM Comments comments (1)

In the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus coming under fire from an expert in the law, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

 

 

Jesus points back and says, "what is written in the law?"

 

 

The response by the scholar is exactly right! He knew precisely what the requirements are to ensure an eternal reward. It boils down to two simple points:

 

 

1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

2) Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

 

Quoting these points was easy enough for the law expert but Jesus deals a striking blow when he instructs the master to "Do this..." "Hold on a moment Jesus, you expect us to do these things?" the man must have thought.  Jesus quickly moved the discussion from one of belief with the mind to one of belief with the mind, then demonstrated through action! 

 

 

The story that follows is that of the good samaritan. Long story short, (great reading in Luke 10:30-37). A man falls into the hands of robbers (plug in your own terrible situation) and is left half dead. Have you ever felt half dead, physically - spiritually, emotionally, psychologically? A priest passes the half-dead man, possibly very busy with religious routine, maybe he was on his way to a counseling appointment with a church member or to an important council meeting, etc.

 

The Levite passes by 'on the other side of the road' maybe not feeling obligated to rescue or minister to those kind of people. But along comes a good samaritan who v. 33 'comes where the man was, saw him and took pity on him.'  I would challenge the greatest gift given by the samartian was the gift of 'seeing' the man's need.  His eyes were opened to the man's pain.  However, seeing without the next step is useless. The scripture tells us that after seeing, v. 33 'took pity on him.' Taking pity is more than seeing someone else and saying 'you poor thing, we’ll keep you in our prayers.'

 

 

Taking pity is feeling a sense of hurt for another person. Hurt that becomes so strong that it drives us to make a difference in his/her life.  It forces us to ACT!  Pity is a willingness to share in the suffering of another to the point of becoming directly involved in his/her situation. 

 

This samaritan, saw...took pity...then acted! This was Jesus' point. Action is required for a follower of Christ when it comes to being qualified for eternal life. Now, our salvation isn't won through action, for it is a free gift from God lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9).

 

Stay tuned as I will continue to blog about this, feel free to join in the dialogue by replying to this post. 

Joseph

Posted by saintisaac on January 25, 2010 at 2:58 PM Comments comments (1)

One of the great stories of recovery in the Old Testament is found in the latter part of the book of Genesis and it is the account of Joseph.  Joseph is first mentioned in chapter 30 v. 24, but the story really gets juicy in chapter 37 when Joseph begins to dream.  Isn't it interesting how dreams, visions, hopes, really can throw a curve ball in our lives.  This was the case for Joseph! 

 

"Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more," Gen. 37:5. 

 

The brother's hatred would ultimately lead to an attack on Joseph's life and him being left for dead, sold into slavery to the Egyptians and eventually gaining rulership over all of Egypt.  Novels could and have been written on each piece of the story (I challenge you to read the story, it's better than any novel you'll find today), but my entry today is spurred by the compassion that is developed and maintained in Joseph's life. 

 

Despite struggle, pain and great peril, the scripture says several times that "the Lord was with Joseph" Gen. 39:21.  What a wonderful thing to have written about you, that God is with you.  Of all compliments, this might be the highest one could pay.  God was with Joseph and Joseph was, by his actions, with God.  He knew God had his back.  He found himself in prison, God had his back.  He was falsely accussed of inappropriate contact with the master's wife, God had his back!  Joseph often leaned on God and the tougher things got, the more he leaned -- God never let him fall! 

 

Joseph's never judged his circumstances, he always seemed to measure God first and compared to God, his circumstances looked pretty tiny.  Closeness to God was Joseph's springwell of forgiveness. 

 

His brothers, who had initally wronged him, eventually returned to Egypt seeking food during the drought (Joseph's closeness with God was the single reason Egypt was prepared to provide during a drought).  How would Joseph respond to his brothers who had all but left him for dead, eventually selling him into slavery?  Was he wrathful, hateful or a punisher? 

 

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come close to me.'  When they had done so, he said, 'I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt'...God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God."  Genesis 45:4-5, 8.   

 

What compassion!  Joseph found great purpose in great peril.  Think of someone today who has wronged you.  Maybe their offense was so great, it almost cost you your life.  Bring them close to you, forgive them and inform them that there was great purpose in the peril.

 

Blessings!   

 

 

Waters! Reflections from the Bayou!

Posted by saintisaac on January 10, 2010 at 9:13 PM Comments comments (4)

Greetings from the deep south as Dc. Dustin and I are on a pastoral trip in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  We can confirm there is high quality H20 in this part of the country.  Our room is quaint and quiet, every sound stands out and we understand why Jesus sent them out two by two!  There is a brisk bite to the air, bite that is intensified by high humidity.  

 

Just outside our room is a small lake.  This morning on a short walk, I noticed a reflected sunrise in the waters that fill the lakebed.  How powerful a reflection can be.  In many ways, a reflection can appear to enhance the original beauty of that which is being reflected. 

 

Today's reflection is the WATERS!  In today's scriptures, we notice the next candidate for baptism in John the Great Baptizer's line is the Savior.  Jesus...baptized?  Isn't He perfect and isn't baptism reserved for completely imperfect people?  Oh, what a picture -- Jesus adjusting to the cool water preparing to be dipped.  John's reservations are justified, "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" Matthew 3:14. 

 

In his book The Inner Kingdom, Bishop Kallistos Ware offers a beautiful answer using simple picture language to the question, why baptize the Savior, "We are dirty, at Baptism we go down into clean water and we come out cleansed.  At our Baptism, then, we are sanctified by the waters.  But Christ is clean; at His Baptism He goes down into the dirty water and Himself cleanses the waters, making them pure.  He imparts holiness to the waters, and so by extension to the entire material creation."    

 

It is through Baptism that a believer becomes a reflecting pool.  More beautiful than a sunrise or sunset, the Savior becomes the original image that others inevitably see.  As we keep our eyes on Him, He is made known through us.  Amen! 

 

Be strengthened in Him today!   

Looking Ahead...2010!

Posted by saintisaac on December 29, 2009 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (4)

 

Post-Christmas Greetings to All --

 

++Archbishop P. Gregory Schell challenged the congregation this past Sunday to set a resolution for our spiritual man!  Many in America will set goals to lose weight, start a work out routine, quit smoking, etc.  All of these are viable efforts, but what will our spiritual resolutions be?  The striking part of the message, The Enlightened Mind (link available on homepage), for me was the idea that true change happens from the inside out.  Two questions to ponder:

 

What spiritual routine are you not practicing now that you are willing to committing to practice in 2010 (accountability available - free of charge - for these by contacting the pastoral office)?

 

 

What makes a person 'lovable'?  List specific qualities you look for... 

 

Joy

Posted by saintisaac on December 14, 2009 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (3)

As we continue on our journey of Advent 2009, we shift our attention to this week's theme -- JOY!  I challenge every person who reads this to blog below about a time in your life when you experienced true and authentic joy!  The richness of our stories will be great gifts to all who read, so take a moment and share! 

 

Blessings!


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