They Worshipped Him, Even Though They Doubted

The text of Matthew’s great commissioning is a bit perplexing (Mt 28:16-20). Leading up to these verses, we heard about the women going to the tomb, encountering Jesus, and being sent to tell the disciples to go to Galilee.  The disciples go and find Jesus, yet Matthew tells us, “when they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted.”  

Why did they doubt? Matthew offers no explanation.  What we do know is that they just spent a few days traveling from Jerusalem to Galilee.  Can you imagine the discussions they had on that journey?  Jesus, alive?  What did it mean? Were the women hallucinating? Dreaming?  On Drugs? Maybe they all walked in silence, afraid to ponder what it meant. 

Keep in mind that Jesus told them at least three times during his active ministry that he would die and rise again.  Still, it must have been mind-boggling to climb that mountain and see standing there the one whom they had seen brutally put to death; to see the one whom they had laid in the tomb. 

Even more baffling is when Jesus, despite knowing their doubts, tells them: Go. Make disciples. Teach. Baptize. He knows of their doubts, and he sends them anyway. 

Jesus longs to send you on a similar mission. In fact, he created you with a unique mix of natural talents and charisms, and placed you in your current place and time.  He longs to use your unique personality to draw others into the Kingdom of God.  He wants you – the imperfect and the ill-equipped. He doesn’t care if you doubt. He doesn’t care if you have flaws.  He wants you!  Of course he wants to keep working on your doubts, fears, and imperfections.  He wants to be your all, and he wants to use you to show others how to let him be their all.  The question is – will you go? Will you teach? Will you lead others, to the best of your ability and with the help of the Holy Spirit? Will you answer his call? 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit talking to him about your doubts and fears. Talk to him about your weaknesses, and any excuse you might make to avoid being sent on mission.  Ask him to show you his glory by using all of these weaknesses for the salvation of souls.  When you see his glory, call into check any pride you might feel, and give Jesus the praise that is his due.  

In Him,


Feed My Sheep

I have often pondered what more I could do to follow this commandment to feed sheep, and all of the other commands that seem to go to people’s need for physical food, clothing, and shelter.  This morning, it occurred to me that there are many types of hunger, nakedness, and the like.  Not all of them are physical needs. 

In fact, at least once a month, my position as an administrator of an intercessory prayer ministry, allows me to see a deep hunger in people, a hunger for prayer and encounter with the body of Christ.  I see a hunger for truth, and people starving for the Word.  Our entire society is terribly malnourished.  

My perception comes from standing outside the sanctuary after our prayer team events, and hearing what people have to say.  I’ve heard stories about changed lives, about people finding peace as a result of people praying with them, and about people being healed of emotional, mental, and physical ailments.  In addition, as I’ve tried to start praying with people in need, I have seen them go from stress to peace. I have seen people being bolstered by Christ within me. Members of my prayer team report similar things. 

In fact, last night, a friend was telling me how God called him to go to another friend’s house right then to pray with the friend. He didn’t go for a few days, and only after God asked him to go about three times. When he went, he found out this person had been contemplating suicide. With depression, one never knows what will happen, but thanks to my friend’s willingness to follow the Spirit’s lead, this person has a deeper understanding of God’s love for him. Through my friend, this person has had a potentially life changing encounter with Christ’s body, which is Christ himself. 

I’ll be the first to admit that offering to pray with someone is difficult. Our pride and/or insecurity can get in the way.  It takes practice to pray from the heart in the moment. It takes practice to speak up and ask if someone wants prayer.  It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit, who works through the members of the Body of Christ is with us. This same Spirit has comforted numberless martyrs and given heroic courage to a number of Saints.  He longs to do the same through us. 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking for the courage to be open to situations where he wants to minister through you.  Ask him to remind you to ask him into situations where you think someone might be hungry for prayer.  Ask him to use you at least once today to bring Christ to someone in need. Ask him to help you make this a daily request. Spend some time being grateful for all of those who have taken the time to pray with you, and for all of the unknown intercessors whom he has asked to pray for you. 

In Him, 


What is Evil In Your Sight I Have Done

I think I previously shared that I struggle with the need for a savior.  It isn’t that I don’t believe, but the truth has not fully penetrated my heart. I have yet to allow this truth to bring me to greater contrition, which is an essential part of the Christian journey.  

I suppose another way of saying this is that a part of me buys into the societal view of good and evil, and this is at odds with Scripture.  You may not agree with my description of the societal view, but maybe we can agree that it is at least in the ball park. Society tells us that we are individuals, and we have great latitude in choosing to do what we want, when we want.  Society seems to be changing from a shared moral code to this idea that if it makes me feel good, what is the harm? There is this sense that we get to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, within the limits of human law. There seems to be this belief that one cannot judge someone else’s moral code, but that seems impossible to me. 

Truth tells us that God created the world. He knows how he made us and what is good for us.  He is not arbitrary in the moral order he created. It is for our own good. It is for our physical and mental health, and it puts us into proper relationship with him, our creator. Experience tells me that I’m not any happier when I choose to overindulge in food or entertainment.  Experience tells me that I’m only content for a short period of time when I put myself before others, and then I normally feel bad.  Experience tells me that the more I choose God’s law, the more at peace I am. However, there was a point in the beginning when the interior voice was loud in its rationalizing and complaining, and that was not peaceful.  That still happens, but I’m finding myself returning to peace sooner when I surrender to him and his ways. I choose the word surrender because there is a freedom in surrender. Surrender brings peace and joy.  Acceptance, especially grudging acceptance, does neither of these. 

Experience also tells me that I cannot fully comply with God’s moral code without grace.  No amount of self-discipline or pitting virtue against vice can change the fact that I am weak.  I need Jesus.  I need to rely on him to get me through my struggles with right living. I need his mercy when I fall short.  Encounters with mercy might make some feel guilty, but it makes me feel loved.  In fact, yesterday, I broke my commitment to fast from games during Holy Week, and I binged for about an hour.  I kept asking for the grace to break free, and I kept hearing, “Debra, I love you anyway.”  This should not suggest to the reader that it was ok to play games. I made a commitment.  This should be understood as God telling me, “I know you are weak, we are working on it.  Keep turning to me. Keep doing your spiritual practices. Continue letting me be your strength in weakness.  Do not despair.  Trust in me. Trust in my love and goodness. Let me be the bridge to your perfection.” What he said was – “you are in need of a savior. I get it. That is why I came.”  

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit considering your own understanding of sin and the evil it brings into the world.  Ask him if you need any help piercing your own heart; your own acceptance of why Jesus had to come and die for us.  Spend some time during this Holy Week walking the way of the Cross with Jesus. Do not leave him in the Garden alone. Don’t leave him to carry his cross alone.  Ask him to pierce your own heart with truth, as needed.  Endeavor to go deeper in self-knowledge, and then, on Easter, let us all celebrate that while still sinners, Jesus chose to die for us.  That is how much he loves us. However, without self-knowledge, we can never reach the depths of this truth. 

In Him,


Untie Him and Let Him Go

This past Monday, my Bible Study group examined the resurrection of Lazarus.  Jn 11:3-45.  In preparing to lead the study, I read a few commentaries, including one that compared the resurrections of Jesus and Lazarus.  One of the factors that struck me was – Jesus came out of the tomb unbound, but Lazarus had to be untied.  

By baptism, we died and rose with Christ.  In theory, we are free. However, we do not always operate from a place of freedom. There are many reasons for this, and all of them can be summarized as follows: Christians are weak and in need of assistance.  

What does this assistance look like? I would describe it as a large dove, a flame of fire, a movement like a breath or wind (the literal meaning of spirit in its root language).  In Ezekiel 36:27, God tells us that he will place his spirit within us to help us live by the law.  This prophecy is fulfilled by our baptism. We have everything we need to live free.  How do we do this? Let’s look at what God tells Paul when he prays that God free him from the pain caused by a thorn in his side: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Co 12:9. 

God’s grace is the key to living an untied life.  How does this work? I don’t profess to have all the answers. I will share that a few years ago the above verse from 2 Corinthians started echoing in my mind – strength in weakness.  I felt a gentle nudge, and I started throwing myself on God’s strength when faced with temptation. I saw some success in avoiding sin.  However, like the ancient Israelites wandering in the desert, I fail to perfectly rely on him even though he has shown me many great works.  Thankfully, the ancient Israelites also show me that the spiritual life is a journey.   Journeys take a lot of time and effort. There are many ups and downs along the way.  Still, when we place our spiritual lives in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and try to cooperate with him, we will find ourselves living an ever freer life in Him, with Him, and through Him. 

In closing, I also wanted to point out that people in the crowd untied Lazarus.  We are the body of Christ.  We have the ability to be the answer to the prayers of others who want to be set free.  Pray with and for people.  Let them be the answer to your own desires for freedom by letting them pray with and for you.  

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering the areas of your life where you need to be set free.  We don’t always want to see the truth of our sinful nature, so be sure to enter this prayer with an openness to truth because self-knowlege is a key component of the spiritual life. He might use words, images, or memories to show you what you need to see. Ask for the courage to stand in truth. Ask him to untie you from all that binds you. Then, spend some time thanking him for loving you even though you are still a sinner.  

In Him,


We Love Him Because He First Loved Us

Sometimes I look around and wonder if people are doing religion because it’s the right thing to do or is a practice handed down by parents or other loved ones. Maybe some people are motivated because they don’t want to go to hell.  I imagine the actual reasons for being religious are at least some of these things, but hopefully, also, love. When we read scripture what we find is a God who is revealing himself as love.  He reveals himself as one who is incredibly generous, loving, and he is calling us to be in right relationship with him. Let me tell you a story about my morning to see if I can better explain what I mean.

This morning, I woke late. I wasn’t feeling all that great, and I was tired because I stayed up late watching TV. The 5:45 AM alarm was something I wanted to ignore.  I got up and made it to Morning Prayer and Mass, but I was in a mood.  However, about half way through Mass, an image from the Song of Songs came to mind, an image of the lover chasing after the beloved.  All of the grumpy thoughts that had gone through my head all morning became humorous as I realized how selfish they were; as I realized how much God loves me despite my occasional pettiness. 

After communion, I sat and basked in His love. I felt my pettiness and grumpiness fade away.  I started to feel joyous as I allowed those feelings to die.  I’m still tired and not feeling all that great, but by allowing his love to smother the selfishness, I found joy.  By dying to my selfish and petty attitude I found myself overflowing with his love.  Then, at breakfast, I hope I was able to pass on some of that love to the people with whom I came in contact.  God is love, and when we encounter him who is love, we, too, have the potential of becoming love as he is love. When we encounter his love, we love him in return. 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering the place of love in your religious and spiritual practices and beliefs. How does it motivate you to practice acts of love of God and neighbor? How does it feed your day to day life?  Spend some time imagining yourself in his presence and basking in his love.  Feel free to show him your faults, all the things you typically hide within, and feel his love for you despite your flaws.  Keep in mind that this is not an invitation to validate that it is ok to stay where you are, but an invitation to let love lead you from where you are to the fullness of life.  

In Him,


Be Holy As I am Holy

Have you ever pondered the definition of holiness? Of what it means to be holy as God is holy?   I just finished skimming two definitions from a couple of Bible Dictionaries, and I must say, I am still at a loss. Then, I stumbled across a quote from Elizabeth of the Trinity:

“Be holy for I am holy! It seems to me that this is the very same wish expressed on the day of creation when God said: “Let us make man in Our image and likeness.” It is always the desire of the creator to identify and associate His creature with Himself!”

There are those who say that humans maintained their image of God after the fall, but lost the likeness. There are a few different interpretations of this, but I’ll share my favorite one.  I found it when I was trying to understand what Jesus meant in Mark 10:18 where he said, “only God is good.”  What I found was this understanding – God is good (image) and does good (likeness). Humans are good, but don’t always do good.  Using this as a point of reference, one way of understanding our call to holiness is our call to be Christ-like.  

On the one hand, that is depressing. I’m no longer young, and I see that all of my attempts to do so have failed. There is something within me that keeps me from doing good in all instances.  In fact, I’m not even to a point of wanting to good in all instances, although I can say I want to want to do good in all instances.  

I recently heard a presentation on free choice according to Thomas Aquinas. The discussion explained the operation of the intellect and the will.  The intellect determines what is good. The will desires the good and delights when it obtains the good.  As I pondered what I heard, I came to think that a human’s judgment is flawed either in regards to what it thinks is good and/or in how it prioritizes goods. In other words, created goods in some instances take priority over the greatest good, which is God.  

From here, I pondered how one might retrain the intellect and the will so that God might move to the top of the list.  I think the first part of the answer involves the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier. It is his job to make us holy. At the same time, we have a part to play.  Our part involves doing what Jesus demanded of all of his disciples – die to self and carry crosses.  Mark 8:34.  The more we do so, the more detached we become from lesser goods.  Maybe this detachment allows us to choose the greater good. Interestingly enough, this is also a practice that allows the Holy Spirit more room to work within us. 

I will close with a final thought.  If the will’s job is to delight in the goods when obtained, then maybe we should spend time delighting when we choose correctly.  It is easy to delight in our favorite foods and in obtaining some wonderful gadget from Amazon, but do we take the time to delight in choosing God and his way? Maybe if we did, we would be more open to choosing the greatest good.

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own understanding of holiness. Ask him what you can do to become more like our God who made us in his image and likeness. Spend some time delighting in his presence and in his desire to make you holy.  

In Him,


Ask and Receive

In Matthew 7:7, Jesus tells us to ask and receive.  I have always read that verse as, “ask, and you will receive that which was requested.”  When this verse is read in conjunction with the rest of the passage (vs 7-12), one sees that what is received is that which is best for the situation, be it for the person requesting or the person on whose behalf the request is being made.  This makes much more sense.  

When we realize that our life isn’t about making our current lives perfect, but about being united to God in his perfection for eternity, we can start to see that if one asks for something that slows down or detracts from the end goal, then God is going to give that which aids one more on one’s journey to union.  

In addition, God’s answer to our prayer will always bring glory to his name. This glory may be about drawing someone to deeper contrition, humility, trust, love, or other spiritual fruit.  For example, I recently prayed with a friend who has Alzheimers.   I asked God to heal the illness, and, if for some reason, that was not God’s will, that God’s glory be shown.  While God has not chosen to heal the illness, I started to see what impact my friend was having on me, despite the illness.  I was growing in trust, love, patience, and humility. In other words, I better saw God’s glory.   I can only surmise that others are having similar experiences in their encounters with God.  

I still have hope that God may choose to heal my friend, but only if and when such healing is important for the salvation of souls in our time.  Until then, my friend continues to be open to God’s will, and he lives with a substantial amount of trust and peace.   

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own prayer requests. How did you take it when you didn’t receive what you wanted?  Ask him to show you how God’s glory is being revealed through the situation. Ask him to use the situation to increase your faith, hope, and love. 

In Him,


Living for Eternity

There are a variety of opinions on what Heaven will be like, but there is only one that makes sense to me. It is rooted in Trinitarian theology.  

1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love.  God is agape.  When we look at the totality of the Bible, we learn a thing about this Greek word, agape.  I think one of the best definitions of this word is found in Phil 2:7 where Paul tells us that Jesus emptied himself.  Agape is self-giving love.  This is the basis for one of the most beautiful expressions of the three persons of the Trinity, which can be summarized like this:

“The Father pours out everything of himself, except his being Father, and the Son receives it. The Son responds with an equally free and total gift of himself, and the fruit of that mutual love is the Holy Spirit.” Heschmeyer, Joe. Who Am I, Lord? Finding your Identity in Christ

Again, Scripture tells us that we are a part of the body of Christ. We are called to be a part of this emptying out and receiving.  In fact, in Galatians 2:19-21 Paul tells us that he died. He lives no longer Paul, but Christ in him.  Paul, too, emptied himself, and in return, he received Christ. 

Another key to understanding this view of Heaven can be found in Jesus’ instructions for disciples. As disciples we are required to die to self and to carry our crosses. Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23.  What happens when we do so? We become self-giving love. We participate more and more fully in this outpouring of love between the persons of the Trinity as we find ourselves more and more united to the body of Christ. 

If what I have stated here is true, and Heaven is about participating in this sharing of self with the divine, then Heaven begins now. It begins with learning to live no longer, I, but Christ in me. 

May we all begin to learn to live for eternity by giving of ourselves so as to receive all that God longs to give us, and what he longs to give us is himself. 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking him to show you where he is working in your life to draw you into this love exchange between the persons of the Trinity; how he is working to integrate you more fully into Christ’s body.  Ask him to help you surrender to his work. In fact, make sure you give him permission to work for he will not override your free will.  Close your prayer with thanksgiving for all God has done for you. 

In Him,



There are many who talk about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as atonement for sins.  If one turns to the theologians to see what this means, there are many different theories of atonement.  These include the idea of ransoming a captive from slavery and sacrifice. 

However, did you know that the word is literally at-one-ment, not a-tone-ment?  Pondering this became even more interesting, at least to me, when I was reminded that the suffix “ment” is added to a verb as a way of expressing the means or result of the verb.  At One is not a verb, so – how does this work? When we dig further, we see that at-one is English for the Latin verb meaning – to unite.  Thus, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection reunited humans to God.  

I doubt I am telling most of you something you did not already know, but sometimes different words can help us go deeper into the mystery of Jesus.  Thus, as I pondered this line of reasoning, I started to see that Jesus is the completion of the verb – to unite.  In other words: 

The reality of Jesus is that I have been at-oned with God.  

The problem is, I do not live at-one with God.  This is despite the fact that in Jesus, I have received everything I need to live rightly. 2 Pet 1:3. To understand this more fully, we can look at an ancient mystic who tells us that: “[n]o one who is in love with himself is capable of loving God. The man who loves God is the one who mortifies his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love.” – Diadochus, 5th Century mystic.  This understanding is rooted in Mk 8:34 where Jesus tells us that a disciple must carry his or her cross and die to self. When we follow this directive, we increase our capacity to love God and to receive his love. In so doing, we live more and more fully the life of the at-oned; as one united to God who is love. 1 Jn 4:16.

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own at-oned-ness with God. Ask him to help you see your reality as one who has been at-oned, and to help you surrender all that keeps you from living such status in the here and now. May we all learn to more and more fully live out our identity as one who has been at-oned with God. 

In Him,


Heaven is [Imperfectly] Now

Elizabeth of the Trinity tells us that Heaven is where God is, and God dwells within us.  However, it seems many people are sitting around waiting to die to start living.  If so, then maybe some thoughts on how to live Heaven now is merited.  

First, what is Heaven? It is a place of peace. How can we have peace in our uncertain world?  Conceptually, it isn’t hard to attain because Biblical peace has to do with right relationship with God.  Right relationship with God requires conversion and a life lived with a belief in Jesus and all he taught.  I said this is conceptually not too hard because conversion is difficult, and so, too, is maintaining peace in a world that always seems to be attacking our sense of peace.   

However, when one trusts that God only allows bad things to happen so that he can bring about right relationship and conversion, maybe finding peace in this world seems somewhat more achievable. One of my favorite spiritual authors says God has an art of bringing good out of evil. Maybe one way to live Heaven now is in humbly accepting the crosses that come our way by saying something like, “God, I look forward to seeing what masterpiece you will paint with this hurt and pain.  I look forward to seeing how you perfect my faith, hope, and love through these trials.” 

Of course, this doesn’t mean we cannot pray that God take evil out of our lives. Jesus, while in the Garden, prayed that the cross be taken from him.  When the Father, whose ways are beyond us, chose not to remove the cross, the world was redeemed.  If spirituality is about following Jesus, then there is nothing wrong with praying for crosses to be removed.  We just need to remember that if he doesn’t, then it has a purpose in bringing us closer to him. 

Second, living in Heaven is living in union with God who is love. When we look at the person of Jesus to see what this love looks like, we see a love that is not only self-giving, but selfless.  How can we be in union with God if we have not worked to shed our own selfishness and pride?  In addition to accepting the crosses that come our way, we can also make choices in how we live our day to day lives that help us die to self. We can become, in him, selfless people who live a life of self-giving love in the world today. 

No, living Heaven now by cultivating peace and perfecting charity is not an easy task. It is something that most, if not all of us, will fight to do for our entire lives.  Regardless, this is the path for those who believe in Jesus. This is living according to his teaching because discipleship mandates this path of dying to self and carrying crosses.  Mk 8:34.

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing your own view of Heaven. Ask him how you can live more fully, even if imperfectly, in Heaven in this space and time. Ask him how you can live a peaceful life amid all of the distractions in this world, and how you can better keep your eyes on the long-term goal of perfect perfection through all the challenges and blessings that fill your life. Ask him to either remove your crosses or to be your Simon, as is necessary for your own perfection.  Ask him to be your strength in weakness as you learn to better cooperate with grace in this process of becoming one with Him. 

In Him,