Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013 – Catechism 2765 – 2772

Have you thought about the Our Father as a prayer that encompasses all that we will ever need or ask for.  Isn’t that what God would give us if we asked how to pray.  He would give us a prayer that, regardless of the situation or circumstances, no matter what we were asking for or thanking Him for, God would give us a prayer that would work in all cases.  That is what the Our Father is, that is what it accomplishes.  It is the perfect prayer for all situations.

The disciples asked how to pray and Christ didn’t say kneel, stand; He didn’t give a long reflection, He didn’t say make up your own.  He was asked how you should pray and the answer that He gave is an answer from God.  I have never thought of the Our Father as a perfect universal prayer.  I have never thought about it as the go to for any situation that you are struggling with.  I have never seen it as a prayer to pray when you are worried about this or that or trying to make a decision.  It has been the formal prayer you say in Mass, during the Rosary, what we say during retreats.  I am going to try and see it differently, try to use it more, trust God that the prayer He taught us is a prayer that covers every circumstance.  I think I have limited the Our Father.  I am going to try and set it free.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 15 

We close Maccabees with a final successful battle.  They turn to God in humility and prayer and God delivers them from their enemies.  The end result for the enemy was a little disturbing, cutting off his head, and his arm, then ripping out his tongue.  2 Maccabees was very descriptive on the deaths of enemies.  If the point was to give hope and dissuade turning from God that is the weapon they used the most.  Enemies of God meet with horrible ends.

And when you get the more detailed version of these events, where as 1 Maccabees seemed more of an overview, you get a real sense that before every battle Judas and the others took great care to pray and humble themselves.  They have a very strong faith.  They constantly bring up the past battles in which God aided Israel and go into battle supremely confident that God is with them and in control.  They seem to have no doubt that if it is God’s will for them to win, no odds are going to matter.  I think, when you hear Christ talk about faith of a mustard seed and moving mountains we mentally roll our eyes.  Judas wasn’t moving mountains, but he was saving Israel and defeating armies of larger sizes.  Maybe we need to look at the “mountains” in our lives and not roll our eyes at Christ by taking what He says literally.  Look at Maccabees as a testament to what faith in God can accomplish and pray for that faith.  Talk to God about what your “mountains” are and then ask for the faith you need to move them.  True and genuine faith in large amounts is not needed, IF it is true and genuine.  Think of it this way, if true faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, how much of our lukewarm faith will it take to move a molehill.  Truck loads of lukewarm faith, which might be what we have a lot of, probably won’t move an ant hill.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013 – Judith 5

You get a quick history of Israel in this chapter.  The general is told exactly what he asked and is given pretty good advice.  Israel’s God is a great and powerful God and if God is with them, there is nothing you are going to do that can beat them, if God is against them, you will have no problems going in.  He is told to scout and see if they are obeying God or not and then make up his mind.  But the arrogance of their men, with some right seeing as they just washed over other armies, disregards this and wants to move forward without any thought.  There is no way they can be beaten, with or without God on Israel’s side.  Have you ever ignored good advice?  I don’t want to spoil it for you, but Israel, at least in this story, is following God.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 7 - 8

When God comes down as fire to consume, it always makes me wonder.  When you think of fire, you are more likely to think of Hell than Heaven.  Yet, God uses fire a lot.  Guides Israel in the dessert, cuts off Pharaoh at the Red Sea, burning up offering and sometimes people, and tongues of fire on Pentecost.  Fire is described as purifying like gold being put in the fire as well.  Yet, fire equals pain and suffering and Christ talks about burning in Gahanna. It is just something that is used as a visual for both sides, but I think more readily related to Hell and I just wonder why.  Is it because of our picture of what Hell is, with fire and the little red devil and Heaven as cloudy and white.  If you go through Dante, Hell isn’t all fire and burning.  But, maybe we can’t imagine any worse type of suffering than being burned.  It is a horrible thought and I would imagine one of the worst ways to die.  When we want to envision Hell, we have to go as far as we can and for many, being burned with an eternal fire is about as bad as we can imagine.  We should always remember though, that God uses fire as well, to protect, to consume, and to purify.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 27, 2013 – Catechism 2759 – 2764

I wonder if there is a verse more diversly translated in the different Bible translations than this one.  Matthew 6:13.  How is it that some translations just add a whole other phrase to the end of the prayer taught be Jesus.  I don’t know if I have written about it before, but there is nothing wrong with the doxology, it is beautiful, and has been used from the very beginning in the liturgy of the Catholic Mass, but it isn’t Biblical.  It is humorous that those groups that want to use the Bible as the sole source for all we believe in choose to use a translation of the Bible that adds line from Catholic liturgy, not actual Scripture.  Somewhere along the line, some scribe added this line from the liturgy when copying the text.

This is from the end of the web page.  “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen—If any reliance is to be placed on external evidence, this doxology, we think, can hardly be considered part of the original text. It is wanting in all the most ancient manuscripts; it is wanting in the Old Latin version and in the Vulgate: the former mounting up to about the middle of the second century, and the latter being a revision of it in the fourth century by Jerome, a most reverential and conservative as well as able and impartial critic. As might be expected from this, it is passed by in silence by the earliest Latin fathers; but even the Greek commentators, when expounding this prayer, pass by the doxology. On the other hand, it is found in a majority of manuscripts, though not the oldest; it is found in all the Syriac versions, even the Peschito—dating probably as early as the second century—although this version lacks the "Amen," which the doxology, if genuine, could hardly have wanted; it is found in the Sahidic or Thebaic version made for the Christians of Upper Egypt, possibly as early as the Old Latin; and it is found in perhaps most of the later versions. On a review of the evidence, the strong probability, we think, is that it was no part of the original text.” From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, not a Catholic commentary. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 14

Nicanor is such a caricature of the everyday man.  He is given a great post if he defeats an enemy.  When he meets the enemy, he sees that he cannot win and seeks peace instead.  He sees greatness in someone and is drawn to it.  Then, someone above him tells him what he has done is wrong and he must go against what he has found to be good.  Instead of standing up for what he has found, he bends to what is above and starts on a path to destroy the good he has found.  How quickly we turn on what is good and Godly when the world tells us that it is wrong for us.  And how quickly that turn can poison us.  His turn is so sad.  We see that he knows Judas to be good and keeps him close because he understands it will improve who he is, and yet when the king calls, he forgets all of that to please the king.  We see that even if it is hard the first time, as he moves further down the path it becomes easier and he even moves beyond what the king asks.  He goes from not wanting to follow the king’s command to threatening to tear down the Temple.

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 25, 2013 – Judith 3 – 4

We see the general get terms of peace from the Western nations and yet he still goes to conquer them and devastate their lands.  We saw that the king did not want surrender, he wanted destruction.  Now this wave of destruction is coming to Judah and Jerusalem.  We see that they turn to God with humility and prayer.  It is noted that they have just returned from exile.  I don’t know how that fits, but we already have read that this is not a historically based story but a narrative about hope.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 6:12 – 6:42

This long prayer of Solomon is beautiful in its understanding that we are all sinful and we will need forgiveness.  Not just for individuals, but as a nation as well, they will need forgiveness.  And he doesn’t ask for it freely, he ask that when they sin, and then come back, to receive forgiveness.  It is shocking that Israel had David, then Solomon, built this Temple, here this prayer and ceremony, and then throw it all away almost instantly.  It is not too long after Solomon is gone that the nation is divided and being ruled by men that are not Godly.  The Temple is desecrated and other gods are worshipped.  It seems to happen so quickly.  But are we really surprised.  Have you ever gone on retreat and felt like your life has changed?  How long before you find yourself back in your old routines and way of life.  It just doesn’t take that long to fall away from God.  I don’t think we should be surprised about Israel’s early break after this anymore than we should be surprised how soon we sin ourselves after leaving Sunday Mass.  We are closer to God at Mass then Israel is here.  We enter into an even deeper Communion then than they did here.  How long before we fall.  Do we ignore our children to watch football?  Do we yell obscenities at the other drivers on the way home?  Do we gossip at coffee and donuts right after Mass?  Should we really be shocked at Israel’s fall?  We should really look in the mirror.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23, 2013 – Catechism 2746 – 2758

I just can’t get over the image of prayer as a battle between our human nature and our spiritual one.  We, usually, gain nothing physically from prayer.  We are still, quite.  Our bodies want to be active.  Our minds want what is next.  Our modern world has breed us to want the next thing right now.  Prayer is the complete opposite of that and thus the battle lines are drawn.  Never forget that it is a battle.  Maybe if we see it in that way, we would be more active against it, we would train more to succeed.  I think we see it as another thing on the checklist and don’t take it seriously.  Then, when we try, we are not prepared.  Battle is not for the faint hearted.  Battle is for the courageous.  If you think you can just mosey into a prayer life and it is going to come easy, would you think the same if you were thrown into a battle.  If you want to be good in battle, you need training, practice, your reactions need to become instinct, your weapons need to be an extension of your body, you need to have no fear, and you need to believe in what you are fighting for.  Prayer is no different.  If you don’t see prayer as a battle, you are going to fail much like the soldier that didn’t take basic training serious enough.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 13

The detail of how those that individually did wrong to God are killed is here again.  We have seen in at least a couple of instances how someone is put into exile and later dies alone.  Here, the one that is described  is, how I pictured it, taken to a tall tower and thrown off.  I couldn’t tell if it was done a lot or if just for him.  The ashes, I don’t think, were others that had died, but left from when the tower was attacked or vacated.  It doesn’t sound like it was used anymore accept for a place to throw people off in a manner of execution.  And it didn’t sound like it was the Jews that put him to death, even though it says he died in a fitting way because of what he had done to the Temple.  It seemed that he died because he was scheming among the Gentiles and trying to gain power there.  Of all of these executions, it is never the Jews that actually do the deed.  Each one has the person go off and circumstances result in them being killed and usually not mourned and not properly buried.  This book is really taking great care to show the repercussions of going against God.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013 – Judith 2

The king wants revenge on the whole world.  It is not just world domination that he wants, but revenge, seems to want to wipe out the world, fill ravines with their bodies.  I was trying to think of a figure that had that notion and I came to Hitler.  I don’t know if revenge was on his mind, but that was part of what brought him to power.  He promoted the idea that he was going to punish those that punished Germany after WWI.  Germany was in ruins after the war and Hitler brought them back to life and part of their notion was to take back what they deserved.  Wiping out everyone is also a part of Hitler’s plan, exterminating the non-German as a cleansing.  And this general Holfernes was going about the work.  City after city falls and is destroyed and it seems nothing is going to stop him.  He is basically just going along and mowing people down and fear spreads out in front.  And surrendering isn’t really an option because the king says if they surrender, just keep them until I can get there to punish them.  So, surrendering isn’t going to earn you any mercy. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 4:11 – 6:11

You can imagine the joy and celebration that was going on as they brought the Ark up to the Temple.  What caught my attention was when the Cloud came down in the Temple everything stopped.  It says that the “priest could not continue to minister because of the cloud, since the Lord’s glory filled the house of God.”  It is hard to imagine what that moment of ah must have been.  You are celebrating and joyful and singing and then a cloud fills this huge Temple and everything just stops in ah of the presence of God.  And you must know that it was not just the visual, but the presence must have had an effect on each individual person.  It was God in their presence.  That is the same God that is present at Mass or in the Adoration chapel.  We should have the same quiet ah in those places that Israel showed here when the Temple was dedicated.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19, 2013 – Catechism 2742 – 2745

Three interesting facts that seem obvious, but worth reflecting on.  It is always possible to pray.  Have we ever had a time in our lives where we didn’t think we could pray.  Was it because we thought we were so sinful it didn’t matter or because we didn’t think we knew how.  Remember it is always possible to pray and to pray at all times is what we are to aim for.

Prayer is a vital necessity.  It is like air to a Christian life.  Without it, we are not living as Christians, we cannot be.  We cannot live a life in Christ without His assistance and we cannot be assisted by Him unless we are communicating with Him and allowing Him to communicate to us.  That communication is done through prayer.  It is our connection, our life support, and will stop us dead if it is cut off.

Christian life is inseparable from prayer.  That is close to the last one, or at least how I defined the last one, but maybe we can look at it another way.  Can you claim to be living a Christian life and not praying.  Inseparable means that they must both exist for either to exist.  How many so called Christians do you know that do not have an active prayer life.  Do they have any doubts that they are living a Christian life.  I would have fallen into the category many times.  Much like the spirit and the body, faith and works, without prayer, Christian life is dead.

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 11

This enemy is at least smart enough to get away and when he is away, makes peace with Israel.  There are so many that, because of arrogance, die on the battle field I would be nice if Israel didn’t have to fight a war to get recognized, but sometimes that is what you have to do.  But, in remembering 1 Chronicles, these agreements and peace never last for long.  The Romans seem to violate these agreements about as quick as they are made.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that the king seems to change often and whoever is put in charge of Israel also changes, and the new people don’t seem to have any want to stick to what the last guy agreed to.  That is their prerogative, but it doesn’t make it very reassuring to make agreements with the country when it only stands as long as that guy is in charge.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17, 2013 – Judith 1

Looking at the introduction to Judith, it appears that this is a story, not to be taken as factual, but to offer hope and reliance in God in a most difficult situation.  We start off seeing that Nebuchadnezzar is king and asking for help.  When he gets none, he vows to conquer and destroy all those nations that did not come so support him, this includes Israel and Jerusalem.  The introduction says that this story and the characters to not fit into any known actual history, which is why it is just a narrative story to bring hope.  But having been reading Jeremiah, we understand the context of a story that takes place during this time period.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 3 – 4:10

I have written earlier about the mountain top where Isaac was to be sacrificed.  I have heard that it was the same top that Christ was crucified, Golgotha.  That appears to be incorrect as the place of the Temple is Mount Moriah, that is where Isaac was to be sacrificed.  I always thought it made a very clear connection between Isaac and Christ, the son being sacrificed.

This says that Moriah was a range of mountains, not a specific one.  So, that would keep the Christ connection in place because Christ might have died on the same mountain, or at least in the same area or range.  Here it says Mount Moriah.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15, 2013 – Catechism 2734 – 2741

Efficacious - capable of having the desired result or effect; effective as a means, measure, remedy.  So, we are talking about how our prayer can be effective and have the desired result.  Many get frustrated with prayer because they don’t feel they get what they ask for, they don’t believe they are heard.  That is obviously not the case.  God knows what you are going to ask before you do.  So, it is not about being heard, it is about our faith in being heard.  I never thought about it, but we don’t usually care if God hears our prayer of praise or thanksgiving.  We really only care about being heard when we are asking for something, petitioning God.

Our prayer can only be effective with the help of God.  Prayer united with Christ is how it is effective.  “All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in His Resurrection.”  Think about that.  Not only does God know what we need and what our prayer will be, but He has already offered our petition to God on our behalf from the Cross and through the Resurrection.  That should make us so humble when we pray and we should fully acknowledge that God knows what we are asking for.  How could we ever go to God in arrogance for our petitions.  How can God answer a petitions given in that manner.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 10

I don’t remember a situation of suicide before in the Bible.  Saul, I believe, fell on his own sword, but that was in the midst of battle, which is a bit different.  Here, we have a ruler who falls out of favor, does not like that everyone is against him, and takes poison to kill himself.

We also have Maccabeus being surrounded by these warriors from Heaven.  What that must have looked like.  And it says they were striking the enemy with thunder bolts. I would have fled if I were Timothy as well.  Although God has assisted many armies in the battles they have fought, I don’t recall a situation where actual soldiers are sent from Heaven to protect a man during battle.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13, 2013 – Jeremiah 52

This is basically repeating what has already been covered in the fall of Jerusalem.  What I noticed was the number of people exiled.  You have a vision of thousands and thousands being marched away.  But it says 3000 from Judah, 800 from Jerusalem and 700 again from Judah.  What accounts for the small number, I don’t know.  Either they didn’t want to take that many people back or that many people had been killed in the attacks and the siege.  Although there isn’t an enormous amount, you can see what God did with Jacob’s family that went into Egypt.  The same will happen to those in exile as God will provide for them as they await their time to come back home.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 1 – 2

What the Temple must have looked like when it was finished.  You picture things that were built for the Gods in the ancient world and you imagine the Sphinx or the Pyramids or the Parthenon.  The Israelites must have know of these and wanted to make the Temple greater than them.  It must have been huge in comparison to what was around it.  You would think it was bigger than the palace David built for himself.  And to get such cooperation for other kingdoms, I think, would have been unheard of.

I attached a link to a video of Fr. Barron about the violence in the Old Testament.  I thought it was very interesting.

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 11, 2013 – Catechism 2725 – 2733

You pray as you live and live as you pray and to see prayer as a battle are two images that I think are worth reflecting on.  I can see exactly where my life was when I prayed the least amount and when I prayed the most and fully understand how it affects my life.  Then why is it so hard to do it consistently?  Paragraph 2727 lays out all the obstacles pretty clearly.  When we start looking at prayer through our worldly eyes, we can quickly disregard it as unnecessary.  The battle is lost.  Prayer and its benefits can never be measured by measurements this world uses and so to the world prayer is worthless.  But, when something has a value that cannot be measured, you could also say it is priceless.  I think that is something to think about too.  The world sees prayer as worthless, we see it as priceless, or need to.

Being distracted in prayer is the easiest way to fall out of prayer.  I like how it tells us not to seek out the distractions and try to conquer them, because then we are playing into their hands, but to recognize it and offer it up to God with humility.  Trying to pray through distractions thinking we can do it on our own only shows an arrogance that dulls our prayer.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 9

You bad mouth God and say you are going to destroy His people, and He serves you justly.  A decease in which you are crippled, your skin begins to decay and you give off a foul stench along with amazing pains in his bowels.   And once again, a person dies alone and really unmourned because of their treatment of Israel.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

October 9, 2013 – Jeremiah 51:33 – 51:64

You read this and then realize that Babylon has not arisen.  There are cities that are in the same vicinity, but I don’t believe there has ever been a city called Babylon rebuilt where it used to be after its destruction.  One of Apocalypse books I read talked about the rebuilding of Babylon as a sign that the end was coming, but Jeremiah is telling them that when you go down, unlike some, you aren’t going to be coming back.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

October 8, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 29

When I was reading this, I thought of Msgr. Powell and what he said and did before we started collecting for our church’s restoration.  He pledged that he would go without pay for a year and that his pay would go into the building fund.  That type of example inspired the church to give generously to the project (not generously enough to do everything he wanted).

I also thought of Solomon hearing this and thinking (being young and immature) wait a minute, that is going to be my inheritance you are giving away.  He probably didn’t think that since he seems very Godly and seeking of wisdom and not riches, but maybe there was a little bit that was upset with losing his inheritance.  Solomon was one of the children that David had in Jerusalem and he was there 33 years, so Solomon was younger than 33.

I also thought it was interesting that David was in Jerusalem 33 years, the same age the Christ was when He died.  I don’t know if there is some significance to that, but if there are no coincidences with God, there must be some meaning to the connection.

Monday, October 07, 2013

October 7, 2013 – Catechism 2709 – 2724

“One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time; one makes time for the Lord”.  There were 3 quotes I just thought were worth thinking about.  The first is about making time for prayer.  I thought there was some quote from Mother Theresa telling those sisters under her that if they thought they were too busy for 1 hour of prayer, they needed to schedule 2.  That is how we should think about prayer.  We should make it a point to schedule it, because if we don’t, we aren’t making it a priority and we will push it off in lieu of something else.  It needs to be in our routine and we must make it a priority.  That is the only way to establish it and allow it to work and spill over into our lives.

“We let our masks fall”.  I wonder if people think they can hide their true feelings or who they really are from God.  Have you ever been praying and found yourself trying to lie to God about something, telling Him your story the way you would a parent or a boss or a friend you didn’t want to look at you differently.  Don’t you think God was there.  Don’t you know He knows what happened better than you.  Why would you try to exaggerate or downplay something in your prayers.  It is only to help yourself feel better, but it won’t work because only in being honest with God, being open and vulnerable to Him, will He be able to come in a work on you.  There is no point in trying to wear your mask with Him.  He knows you and your mask better than you do.  Take them off when you pray.

“Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of His Truth”.  I think this sounds scary.  We may say that we want to see the world that God sees, but I don’t know if we really want that.  What would it do to us, what would we think, how would we change.  I think that would be a gift that would change our lives and it is something that we probably should ask for and want, but I don’t know if I am ready for that. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

October 6, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 8

These tales are of the same battles, but what is going on before the battle is much more detailed.  We get the motivational speech of Judas to get them ready to fight the army much bigger than theirs.  They must have learned this from their father because all the brothers have this ability to lead men into bad odds and bring victory.  We also see the reliance and the prayerful reaching out to God before the battle.  They reach back and recall battles in which they were outnumbered and God helped them win.  I like how it points out, God could not only destroy all of their weapons with a mere thought, but can destroy the whole world.  Why should we fear battle when God is on our side.  We should pray to have that type of confidence in God in our lives.  He still has the power to destroy the world with a thought, His power hasn’t changed.  Whether we are walking towards Him or away from Him is the only thing that is in flux.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

October 5, 2013 – Jeremiah 51 – 51:32

If I were one of the Israelites in Egypt listening to Jeremiah prophesy about the destruction of Babylon, I would have wondered why we couldn’t have gotten that a little sooner, like when you told us not to leave Jerusalem.  Maybe we would have stayed.

Babylon is going to be punished, at least in part, on things they did against the Temple and how the treated Israel.  But they were doing God’s will in punishing Israel for their actions.  What if Babylon had simple exiled Israel and not harmed, at least severally, any of the Jews or desecrated the Temple.  Would they have escaped God’s wrath.  But part of the severity of their actions was because of the severity of Israel’s betrayal of God’s rules.  I think it looks like  Babylon gets a raw deal here.  Used by God as His instrument and then when you are done, you are punished for what you did.  Just thought that was curious. 

Friday, October 04, 2013

October 4, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 28

I didn’t realize that David had the plans for the Temple.  I wonder if he had that before or after God had told him that he wouldn’t build the Temple.  Perhaps he had drawn up the plans and discussed with Nathan, and was only told when he was about to start that he was not to build it.  It does make sense that he would have the plans because he was already getting all the supplies ready for it building so that Solomon could start right away.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

October 3, 2013 – Catechism 2697 – 2708

I think it is so true what it says about prayer.  “But we cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it”. My family went to mass and we prayed before meals, but that was the extend of our prayer.  The rosary, reading the Bible, other forms of prayer, were not a part of our lives.  Making those different types of structured prayers a consistent part of your life allows you to build that relationship with God so that other actions can become prayers.  I remember the first time I heard about a 24 hour adoration chapel, I thought the people were a bit nutty.  I personally had a Thursday middle of the night hour for 5 years and just recently stopped.  I remember seeing people hold hands during the Our Father and thinking they were odd.  Now we do it as a family.  I just didn’t grow up with those specific types of consistent prayer, so praying “at all times” was something and continues to be something I struggle with.  But I am diving into these other types, so it is becoming easier.

My best experiences of praying “out loud” have been at shared prayers on TEC’s.  It is really the first time that many feel comfortable saying a personal prayer out loud.  It is interesting seeing the different ways it can shape itself and how when that damn starts to break, it seems to break down walls in others as well.  Personal petitions, past wrong, genuine thankfulness, they all come flooding out and as a small family we help each other in laying it out there for God.  It is really one of my favorite parts of any weekend and on many retreats the tipping point for many people actually encountering Christ.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October 2, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 6

Wow, what a story of martyrdom.  I don’t know if I have ever read this story before.  Told to eat meat, Eleazar refuses and is tortured and killed.  Even more than his martyrdom is his reasoning and explanation.  People were telling him to fake it and only “act” like he was eating the pork so that he could live.  He basically said that if he did that it would cause scandal to any of the young Jews that saw him and they would think that it was ok to eat the pork in order to save your life.  He refuses and says it is better to die and be an example of obeying God than to survive and cause that scandal, even if he would never actually break God’s law.  He died not because he wasn’t willing to break God’s law, because he could get around that, but died so that no one would even think they could break the laws and to see how important obeying God was.  That is a strong argument for the power and evil of the sin of scandal and how important it is for not only what we say to be in accord with God, but how we act because people watch us and rely on what we do for their example.  What an example.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 1, 2013 – Jeremiah 50

The oracle about the demise of Babylon just made me think about the rise and fall of empires throughout history. .  This site lays out the different empires over the centuries.  Egypt, Israel, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Islamic Turks, British Empire, leading to the US World Power title.  Some of them stuck around for a long time, but they seem to get shorter and shorter the “smaller” the world gets.  There is just so much more world to control that a “world power” isn’t really practical anymore.  I think that might be one reason that we should focus more on ourselves and look less towards trying to control the rest of the world.  That, and that our morality is questionable and we should not be giving financial advice to anyone.  WE might be seeing the end of US as a world power, but it was inevitable according to history and, like I said, a world power might be a thing of the past in this day in age.