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Posts Tagged ‘Mother Teresa’

Of course, this “war in heaven” is raged all the time. Despite the various views of Bible scholars, both Old Testament and New, I cannot eschew my commitment to timelessness to all things heavenly and Godly. And how do I know this? Just look around.

Revelation 12:7-8, 9b
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. . . He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

If the effects of this war in heaven is the hurling of evil forces to earth, then we have had no respite from it. Throughout the ages, earth and human have experienced nothing but travail, fighting against one another for one stupid reason after another.

We have always longed for things we could not have. This is the mark of evil.

“They [Michael and his angels] triumphed over him [the dragon and his angels]
by the blood of the Lamb [the Christ]
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death. [Revelation 12:11]

This is the life of paradox: taking the “strength and power” of the Christ, the lamb, the peace that passes understanding, and doing battle against evil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Oh, if I could just get this in my head and heart and mind and not struggle so much with traditional strength, with my own determination, and my own flappings.

Gandhi got it. Martin Luther King got it. Mother Teresa got it. What about you and me?

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God's Light by Max Ash

God is light [I John 1:5]; God is love [I John 4:8]. And I am offered a chance to live my life in the circle of both: light and love. I ask for God’s indwelling and both are available to me. So, why do I continue to shutter the light and edit the love? Why do I “kick against the goads?”

Ephesians 5:8-10
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

This is the prayer that Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity would recite each day (by John Henry Cardinal Newman)

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me
that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me,
but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, O Jesus will be all from You;

none of it will be mine;
it will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best,
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching,
not by words but by my example,
by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.
Amen.

It’s a process, that’s why. It’s a daily prayer, a daily unveiling, an awareness, a practice.

I’m thinking this is more difficult alone than in a group. The whole point of fellowship with other light-minded people is to help keep the light shining, to fan the flame, to encourage the embers, to light the darkness.

“Kindle in me the fire of your love . . . ”

(FD5)

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Now that would be true freedom: to partake so fully of the work of the cross and thereby be dead to the wiles of the world, as in the profane and avaricious, covetous and greedy. But I get sucked in all the time. Why else would I continue to live beyond my means?

Galatians 6:14
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

We have three dogs in our household and our oldest (and smallest) dog has suffered the most from the acquisition of the other two, both in the same year, both only a year old and full of energy. He knows he is supposed to be the alpha dog, but he hasn’t figured out how to make it so. Mostly, he tries to prevent the other dogs from eating at mealtimes. His other tactic is to hoard the chewies and toys. It’s not that he necessarily wants them to eat or for play, but he believes it’s his right to have them all.

Am I any different? So often, I simply want what others have. It looks so appealing on them: the nice car, the designer clothes, the perfect hair, the manicures and pedicures, the successful honor students, the cohorts of friends, the dinners, the barbecues, the season tickets, and so on.

I mean, I can appreciate the amazing things that people like Mother Teresa have accomplished, but come on, own nothing? Eat the same as the poor (which means not eating regularly)? Wear the same “drapey” thing every day? What about having my teeth cleaned twice a year? And my eye doctor visit or my gyno exam? What about learning how to cook a gourmet meal? And how would I get my skin tags and moles removed?

It’s an amazing thing, the cross. That work, the ultimate sacrifice, made it possible for me to have relationship with God, creator of the universe. It also avails me to be set free from the web of “gotta have it.” But I haven’t appropriated that aspect of the cross at all. I have accepted the primary benefit but shrug off the other half of the equation. It’s when I step into this realm that I’m pretty sure, I can serve others freely.

I don’t serve others because it’s still, despite everything, it’s all about me. God forgive me. Give me courage to let go of the threads that I am holding (and not that hold me) in this worldly web. Christ died for me so that I could die to the “world” as we have come to know it. There is another world outside this one, that kingdom world, that is calling me.

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No, I have not faced despair to the point of facing death. My life is blessed. What are my struggles compared to walking streets where a car bomb could go off at any moment or looking into the eyes of my starving children each day or living in a tent city or carrying water for miles in plastic water jugs?

II Corinthians 1:8b-9
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

I understand the theory of trusting God in the face of despair. I understand that God is present for the poorest of the poor, for the loneliest of the lonely, the widows and orphans, the lost. But I have only witnessed these lives from afar. Even when I went to Africa, I was in a cocoon of safety.

In Namibia, I spent one afternoon at the Mafuta village where our church-sponsored children’s home was providing a lunch to the local school children. And I was touched by their need, their struggle. And yet, these were better off than many. They were being fed while many others elsewhere are not.

Would I have the courage to trust in God in the face of true despair? Would I be able to hold fast to my faith?

It is the reason I am still in awe of Mother Teresa when she served in Calcutta. She faced the despair of others every day. But she was able to sustain herself in Christ. Only her faith in God allowed her to rise each day and touch the dead and dying. To be the hands of love. She could not bring hope, even. Just tenderness and love in the face of despair.

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It’s the “hippy” chapter: love, love, love. And yet, with all this talk of love being the most excellent way, greater than anything else, greater than faith or knowledge, it’s still missing in most of our lives.

I Corinthians 12:31b, 13:2b
And now I will show you the most excellent way . . . if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

A friend gave me Mother Teresa’s book, “In My Own Words,” which has a heavy emphasis on the love theme. Mother Teresa got it. She lived it. She taught it. And most people admired her for it but couldn’t live like her; they were amazed by her selflessness and her ability to reach out to the poorest of the poor, to actually love the unlovable. But isn’t that what Christ asks from each of us?

What would it take to become a person of love. . . to be known primarily for love?

I am still a product of my culture and my generation. We started the “me” generation and we’ve passed it to our kids. We don’t love because that exercise requires greater concern for the “other” than for self. That’s really the only hindrance.

I’d like to make this more complicated than it is and come up with all kinds of valid justifications for not loving, but there aren’t any, not really.

I get in the way. I am my own stumbling block.

My proposal for myself today: Just ask, “Is this loving? Am I speaking out of love? Am I responding to the “sacred center” of the other? Can I be generous in love?”

I want to be more conscious today. I want to be mindful. My habits, those automatic reactions, are not loving. To change, I must wake up. Look. Really look and sense. Ah! It’s prayer.

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Acts 17:4, 12
Some of the Jews were persuaded [in Thessalonica] and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women… Many of the Jews believed [in Berea], as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

I don’t really know much about ancient Greece except that men viewed women in much the same way as women were viewed in Israel and other ancient cultures. Generally, women were relegated to the home and were not encouraged to participate in politics or other “manly” pursuits. And yet, there seemed to be a group of women who broke this mold and managed to become “prominent” or influential all the same. I think most people assume these women were wealthy or connected to free-thinking fathers or husbands who encouraged their independence and abilities.

These were women of power.

And so, when Paul specifically notes that these “prominent women” became believers, this was important. Their faith and leadership would make a difference. Their stand for the Christ would bring others to the faith.

Women have changed the face of our world many times. In recent years, the women’s movement gave rise to prominent women in a variety of fields and interests. [See Women’s Hall of Fame for a short list of just American women who had made a mark.]

Who are the prominent women of faith today (in my own lifetime)? Who is really using her influence and placement to further the message of Christ? I’d really like to start building a list. Can you help? Do these qualify? What makes a woman influential? What makes a woman prominent?

Phyllis Tickle, Mother Teresa, Joyce Meyer, Pearl S. Buck, Joni Eareckson Tada, Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Sandi Patty?

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Acts 5:38-39
“Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men [the apostles] alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” [Gamaliel speaking]

There are really two messages here. One is for the believers, to trust that projects and plans, if truly within the will and anointing of our God, will remain. They will survive and even thrive. But if not, then it’s important to let go. There are plenty of good things to do. There are plenty of ideas. Move on.

Years ago, I had developed two shows that I toured to churches and para-church organizations. They were a labor of love but somehow, not of the right time. In that era, churches were not set up well for theatrical performances. Both of my pieces had to be adapted constantly in order to make them work in a traditional sanctuary setting. Just the idea of having theater lights was foreign to most church goers or to ask that everything be stripped from the altar area. Those who saw the shows, were moved by them, but it was an uphill battle to find churches willing to open their doors. In today’s more modern settings, my shows would have fit in perfectly. It was simply not the right fit and in the end, I retired them.

When I let go, it was hard. I felt I had failed and totally missed God. But, now, in hindsight, I think they achieved what they were meant to achieve. I learned so much from that process and my immersion in the scriptures during the research and preparation time has served me continually.

The second message of this story about Gamaliel and the Sanhedrin is critical for everyone. An anointed person or group cannot be stopped by “human” pressures or verbal attacks. An authentic faith and presence of God in a life is a bulwark and will prevail. Faith of this magnitude sustained people like Mother Teresa among India’s poor, Elie Wiesel in the concentration camps, Hudson Taylor in China, David Livingstone in Africa, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Billy Graham in the U.S., to name a few.

But this is also true for well-meaning Christians who try to silence the voices of others in the name of “protecting” the faith. The Sanhedrin also felt they were protecting Israel from heresy.

Currently, there is a movement rising up called Emergent Worship and post-modern thought … some are flaying against these trends. Most of the people who are involved with these movements are under the age of 45… they are of a generation that needs and wants to ask questions, to have their faith be an intrinsic part of their culture and their lives. Personally, I think it’s a good thing. This same kind of ground swell happened when the charismatics and Pentecostals started up 20 and 30 years ago in the face of great consternation. And yet, those movements have been integrated into many churches and church traditions.

My message is simple: be wise and remember Gamaliel’s advice: “…if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

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