Miracle Challenge

September 23rd, 2018 Posted in writing | No Comments »

One day a deaf man with a speech impediment had his dream come true. He met Jesus, who cured his deafness and made him able to speak plainly. (Mark 7)

But the miracle left the man with challenges. First of all, though he could now hear clearly, he needed to learn the meaning of the words he had never heard before. He was like someone coming to a country whose language he didn’t know. He might even have heard someone calling his name but at first not know they were talking to him.

Then, when it came to speaking, if his speech had been garbled and hard to understand, he now had to learn how to use his lips, tongue, teeth, and breathing so that his words would be meaningful to others and not come across simply as random noises. That task would certainly take some effort.

And one other challenge faced him —- a challenge that we all have to deal with, namely, how to judge between words and messages that are worth hearing or speaking and those which are not. For not everything that is said deserves a hearing, while some of the things we may want to say are better left unsaid. In that regard, perhaps one simple rule is to listen to and say the things that build people up and give hope, but not those that tear down and demoralize. And by hearing and speaking loving, hopeful words we are actually hearing and echoing God’s own words.

God’s Work

September 3rd, 2018 Posted in writing | No Comments »

The Bible says that God created the world and all that’s in it. Then, when creation was almost done, God made Adam and Eve with his own hands, forming Adam from earth and Eve from Adam’s rib.

But God’s creation is not a once-and-done affair. God still continues to create the world and its creatures, constantly giving them existence, sensation, life and, in the case of human beings, minds and souls capable of thinking, choosing and loving. He also inspires them to do new things and imagine new possibilities as they tend to the creation he has asked them to care for and develop. In a real sense, human beings can become co-creators, working with God and and God working through them.

Beyond the work of creation, though, lies the second great work of God, namely, the work of redemption and reconciliation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and failed to live in harmony with him, God determined that there would be a new creation, with a new Adam (Jesus) giving rise to a new humanity. Through Jesus’ preaching, teaching, forgiving sins and laying down his life for us, God has reconciled and continues each day to reconcile the world to himself.

And God invites human beings, his disciples and friends, to show by their words, actions and witness that redemption and reconciliation have come and are meant to take a greater and greater hold throughout the world and throughout history, to be completely finished when Jesus abolishes death and hands over his Kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).

To create and to redeem are great works of God and, out of love for us, God invites us to join him in these two amazing labors of love. Who could refuse such an invitation?

Desires Human and Divine

August 17th, 2018 Posted in writing | No Comments »

Our human desires can be out of control sometimes or directed to the wrong things. They can get us into troublewhen our wants become demands which we expect God or life or other people to fulfill.

But desires can also be good and noble. For instance, Jesustaught us to desire that the Kingdom of Heaven would come, to ask for our daily breadand prayto be kept safe from temptation. And Jesus himself expressed to the Father the desire that his disciples would be with him wherever he was.

We may think that, since God is supposed to be perfect and need nothing, God would himself have no desires.  But the truth is God has many desires (call them dreams or longings if you like) and gives voice to them in many ways.

Think of the 10 Commandments, for instance, as one way in which God says what he desires for us in our relationships with him, with the truth and with each other. The Beatitudes spoken by Jesus do the same thing. And we shouldn’t forget the times when Jesus expressed his wish that people have confidence in him and trust him with their own desires for themselves and others. Yes, God definitely has desires.

I think the sign that we are getting closer to the Kingdom of God, and it is getting closer to us, is when we discover that our desires are coming to resemble God’s more and more as time goes by. That, after all, is what we are made for and what God longs for, as well.

In the Comment section below, feel free to share what desires have led you in a good direction, and howyou tell the difference betweendesires that are good and holy and those which are not.  

Bearing the Cross

February 7th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized, writing | No Comments »

Jesus says that if we wish to be his disciples we should be willing to take up our cross each day (Luke 9: 23). Many people understand this as meaning that there are some sufferings which we can’t eliminate and, if that is the case, then we need to accept them as the crosses life has given us to bear.

But the the context in which Jesus spoke was about discipleship, so I think Jesus was referring to the cross that comes as a necessary part of being a disciple. That cross comes in the form of the opposition of this world when we try to love and forgive others, comfort those who need comfort, stand up against injustice and declare God’s love towards everyone, especially those who are pushed aside and pushed down.

Jesus himself preached and practiced these things and, in so doing, brought on himself the scorn and hatred of the religious leaders of his day, which resulted in his literally carrying his cross to crucifixion and death. So we who try to be his followers should expect to endure some suffering, for the simple fact is that being a disciple does entail bearing our cross. But Jesus promises to be with us and help us carry our cross. And when the time for bearing crosses has come to an end, we will share in the reward that God the Father prepared for Jesus and which awaits those who follow him.

Preparing Advent

November 17th, 2017 Posted in writing | No Comments »

As the stores and malls blare out Christmas songs, Santa sits enthroned just off the food court amid giant stars and candy canes. With all that and more, is it any wonder that many of us forget there are four weeks of Advent before Christmas itself arrives?

In those four weeks before Christmas, Christians can ask, “What am I (what are we) waiting for?”  Where could we use a little more Jesus?  Where could we use a lot more Jesus? Where could we use more faith, more hope, more love, more patience? If we can identify what we are waiting for, we have a better chance of receiving it and appreciating it.

But the question “What am I (what are we) waiting for?” can also prod us to get active. It’s like saying, “Get a move on. Clear away the obstacles to the things you want. Make room for them in your decisions and attitudes. Stop sitting back, waiting for them to drop into your lap on December 25. Go ahead! What are you waiting for anyway?”

Before Advent begins, let’s think about which understanding fits us better this year, so that when Advent does begin in a couple of weeks we will have consciously prepared for it and, at the same time, for the Christmas season following.