Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

WHAT GIANTS ARE YOU BATTLING THESE DAYS? Young David didn’t just defeat Goliath, he disclosed Goliath’s false power and those who had mistakenly put more faith in the giant than they did in God! In part two of Conquering Giants, David’s strengths are lifted-up: superior imagination and superior faith.

How are we in the church using our imagination and the conviction of our faith to bring down the giants in our world and in our lives?

– RMG

Conquering Giants – Part Two: Sticks and Stones

Missed Part One? Click here to watch: The Bigger They Are

Advertisements

Clarissa Pinkola Estes offers us this eloquent and powerful charge – amazing sustenance for the good work to which we are called. 

Protest BW“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people. You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

If tyranny is to come in North America, it will come cozily and on cat’s feet. It will come with the denial of the rights of the unborn and of the aged, the denial of the rights of the mentally retarded, the insane, and the economically less-privileged. In fact, it will come with the denial of rights to all those who cannot defend themselves. It will come in the name of the cost-benefit analysis of human life.

– George Parkin Grant, Canadian Philosopher

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.”
– G.K. Chesterton

Connect with CreationBy R. Mark Giuliano
The Old Stone Church, Cleveland
Adapted from a piece I wrote for Singing a Song of Faith (Toronto:UCPH, 2007) while living in Savannah, Georgia.

Of all the places to be pecking out thoughts on Lent and the natural world! As I reflect on the gift of creation this evening, my unfortunate location dawns on me: I’m stuck in my basement office at the Savannah College of Art and Design.  The musty room is windowless and poorly cooled with minimal puffs of conditioned air which feel much like my dog’s steamy breath panting in my ear.  My nicely pressed shirt looks like a damp rag and probably smells only slightly better.  No wonder they wear sear-sucker in the South.
(more…)

Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi had a star as their guiding light. What’s yours? 

Star of WonderIt’s a snowy Thursday morning and I’m still in my jammies. I’m working on a sermon about grace. This Sunday, the first one of the New Year, is Epiphany Sunday. It seems to me that if we can have just one guiding principle to follow this year, just as the Magi of yore had a star to follow as their guiding light, grace might just be a good one . . .

Grace is more than we deserve, greater than we can imagine and all that we need, says Max Lucado and others. It is God’s unconditional mercy expressed through the love, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it changes everything: how we look out our own lives and how we look at others.

By faith, when we embrace God’s grace we are enabled to live with courage in the face of fear, hope in times of discouragement, peace-making in times of conflict, freedom in a world of boundaries, unabashed love for others when so many hearts are hardened. Well, you get the idea; grace turns the world upside down!

A Double Double?
The wonderful thing about grace is that it has a double whammy impact on our lives. First, God’s grace deliver’s unconditional salvation through Christ. Secondly, God’s grace continues to sanctify us, make us holy, throughout our lifetime. If I were in Canada, we might call this a “double, double.”

A longtime ago, the big-daddy of the reformation, John Calvin, called it double grace:

“Christ was given to us by God’s generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ’s spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.” – John Calvin, Institutes III

Isn’t that just like grace? Two for the price of one – both salvation and sanctification, and the first one is free!

How has grace impacted your life?

As I continue doing my prayerful, careful work on grace in preparation for Sunday’s sermon, I’d love to hear from you about some of the ways grace has impacted in your life. Please feel free to comment! The fact that I am still in my jammies, sitting by the fire on this snowy Thursday morning, exploring God’s love for the world sure seems a lot like grace to me.

Grace and Peace!
R. Mark Giuliano
The Old Stone Church, Cleveland

Hope is a Light!

What a joy it was to share this message of Christmas hope from the heart of Greater Cleveland on Christmas Eve 2013. Don’t leave the baby Jesus in the manger this year; let God’s light shine through all your thoughts, words and actions. God bless you all!

–  R. Mark Giuliano, The Old Stone Church