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Archive for March, 2013

Living and Praying through Jesus’ Passion

Jesus Condemned

Jesus Condemned

My dear fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

The last week of Lent is the most highlighted period in our annual Christian devotions – – as it  justly should be, mainly because in this period  we are led to focus on the last climactic, episode in the Life of our Lord and Savior, Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Anointed Messiah), the Son of the Living God. It is highlighted in our devotions so that in  our prayers and meditations we may put ourselves in Jesus’ place and, thus immerse ourselves in the humiliation, pain, and suffering He endured for our sakes, so that our souls are opened to an inner appreciation of the Father’s infinite love for all of us and for each of us, personally.

During this tragic and yet monumental time-line, which we call the “Passion of Christ”,  the Love of God for humanity was demonstrated in such a tragic yet undeniable, observable, and historical manner that no amount of denial by any religious or secular authority can surmount it! It encompasses Jesus’ triumphant return return to Jerusalem, and His ensuing arrest, trial  passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection, and is, in essence, the period where we see the all-ecompassing magnificence of the Love of the Father, manifested through the self-sacrifice of His Son, who as the image of the Father,  gave himself totally, body soul and spirit to become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all humanity from the very beginning of the race until the end of this age. It is culminated  by the last words of Jesus to the Father as He hung on the cross …

It is finished!

It is finished!

“It is Finished!” (John 19:30)

and

“Into Your Hands I commit my Spirit”. (Luke 23:46)

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“Finished”, in the sense, that the work of redemption for which He was sent was complete and He relinquishes even His Spirit into the hands of the Father.

Here, by the enthronement of our King on the Cross, the Good News of The Kingdom and the basis for our Salvation is clearly established – The Good News, that, through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, the Father has reconciled all of humanity to Himself holding nothing against them, so that out of untarnished and pure gratitude and love we may, through Faith, freely turn to Him and receive the reconciliation with  the Father that He offers – eternal life in Him. And, what is theologically shocking, is that we receive this free gift of eternal life without any effort on our part through merely believing in in His Son and, in faith, accepting Him for who He is- The Son of the Living God and our personal Lord and Savior!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”   (John 3: 16-17)

Here, in this last week of Lent, we memorialize Jesus and His sacrifice for us through our devotions and prayers as He accomplishes the will of the Father so completely that there is no doubt in His Promise to us, when he said,

“I am the Way , The Truth, and The Life. No man Comes to the Father but by Me!” (John 14:6)

“The Way” being the way into the Tabernacle through sacrifice and water, “The Truth” being the Lampstand and the Bread upon entering the Holy place in the Tabernacle and “The Life”, being the Life of God which was On the Mercy Seat over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Of Holies. Because of His Death and resurrection He, of course has become the author of the New Covenant which brings us from death into eternal life.

Living and Praying the Passion
In order  to permit the Holy Spirit to work through us this Lent and deepen our relationship to Jesus, I propose that we focus on the “Way of the Cross”  or what we Catholics term, “the Stations of the Cross”.  I want all of you to know that this devotion is not only practiced by Catholics but also by Anglican and Orthodox Churches as well as some protestant and evangelical churches.  Of course, because of differing theological issues, there are some differences but the intent of the devotions is the same: to live out the Passion of Christ in a group prayer that will draw us closer to Jesus by meditating on the events and circumstances of His passion.

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(Note: In order to inform all who are interested I am including summary of the “Station”  taken from the the Wikipedia post on thus subject. You will see from this post just how ecumenical this devotion is becoming.  After the summary from Wikipedia I am providing  links to both Catholic and Protestant versions of this devotions for your prayer and discernment.)

Be Reconciled to God!
In conclusion, brothers and sisters, let me be very clear about the intent of drawing your attention to the Passion of Christ.  I am doing this not to bring guilt upon you but to gain your release from  all the self-guilt that you are bearing. For by comprehending the price that was paid by Jesus for all of our sins we are brought to faith in how Father God HAS RECONCILED us to Himself through the death of His Son.  It is only now up to us, out of gratitude, to receive, in Faith, this eternal reconciliation that is freely available to us in and through Christ Jesus! A reconciliation that is effected when we accept Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior!
This is the GOOD  NEWS that St. Paul so eloquently proclaimed and which I now quote to you:

. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.’  (2 Cor. 5:17-21; 6:1-2)

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.‘Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.’ (Col. 1-21-23)

May the Holy Spirit be with you and enlighten you in your prayers and meditation so that you may receive, in Faith, the full blessings of  His PEACE that comes with the free gift of eternal reconciliation with the Father!

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Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus, “Shalom Eleichem” …. Bartimeaus

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The Stations of the Cross

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Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way) is a series of artistic representations, very often sculptural, depicting Christ Carrying the Cross to his crucifixion in the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus before he died, and the devotions using that series to commemorate the Passion, often moving physically around a set of stations. The vast majority of Roman Catholic churches now contain such a series, typically placed at intervals along the side walls of the nave; in most churches these are small plaques with reliefs or paintings, simpler than most of the examples shown here. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is commonly observed in Lutheranism,[1][2] and amongst the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.

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History

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The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem. A desire to reproduce the holy places in other lands seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date. At the monastery of Santo Stefano at Bologna a group of connected chapels was constructed as early as the 5th century, by St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, which was intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem, and in consequence, this monastery became familiarly known as “Hierusalem.” These may perhaps be regarded as the germ from which the Stations afterwards developed, though it is tolerably certain that nothing that we have before about the 15th century can strictly be called a Way of the Cross in the modern sense. Although several travelers who visited the Holy Land during the twelfth, thirteenth, and 14th centuries (e.g. Riccoldo da Monte di Croce, Burchard of Mount Sion, James of Verona),[3] mention a “Via Sacra,” i.e., a settled route along which pilgrims were conducted, there is nothing in their accounts to identify this with the Way of the Cross, as we understand it.[citation needed] The devotion of the Via Dolorosa, for which there have been a number of variant routes in Jerusalem, was probably developed by the Franciscans after they were granted administration of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem in 1342.

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The earliest use of the word “stations,” as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in the mid-15th century, and described pilgrims following the footsteps of Christ to the cross. In 1521 a book called Geystlich Strass was printed with illustrations of the stations in the Holy Land.[3]

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During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land. The number of stations varied between seven and thirty; seven was common. These were usually placed, often in small buildings, along the approach to a church, as in a set of 1490 by Adam Kraft, leading to the Johanneskirche in Nuremberg.[4] A number of rural examples were established as attractions in their own right, usually on attractive wooded hills. These include the Sacro Monte di Domodossola (1657) and Sacro Monte di Belmonte (1712), and form part of the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy World Heritage Site, together with other examples on different devotional themes. In these the sculptures are often approaching life-size and very elaborate. In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.[5]

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Spiritual significance

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The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, and is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.[6]
In his encyclical letter, Miserentissimus Redemptor, on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as “some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury” with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.[7] Pope John Paul II referred to Acts of Reparation as the “unceasing effort to stand beside the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified”.[8]
The Stations  (Traditional form)

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The early set of seven scenes was usually numbers 2,3,4,6,7, and 14 from the list below.[9] The standard set from the 17th to 20th centuries has consisted of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the following scenes:
1.    Jesus is condemned to death
2.    Jesus carries his cross
3.    Jesus falls the first time
4.    Jesus meets his mother
5.    Simon or Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross
6.    Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7.    Jesus falls the second time
8.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9.    Jesus falls the third time
10.    Jesus’ clothes are taken away
11.    Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12.    Jesus dies on the cross
13.    Jesus is taken down from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Although not traditionally part of the Stations, the Resurrection of Jesus is sometimes included as a fifteenth station.[10][11]

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Scriptural Way of the Cross

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Main article: Scriptural Way of the Cross
Out of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, only eight have clear scriptural foundation. Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are not specifically attested to in the gospels (in particular, no evidence exists of station 6 ever being known before medieval times) and Station 13 (representing Jesus’s body being taken down off the cross and laid in the arms of His mother Mary) seems to embellish the gospels’ record, which states that Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down from the cross and buried him. To provide a version of this devotion more closely aligned with the biblical accounts, Pope John Paul II introduced a new form of devotion, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that form many times but not exclusively at the Colosseum in Rome.[12][13] In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved this set of stations for meditation and public celebration: They follow this sequence:
1.    Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
2.    Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
3.    Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
4.    Jesus is denied by Peter,
5.    Jesus is judged by Pilate,
6.    Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
7.    Jesus takes up his cross,
8.    Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross,
9.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
10.    Jesus is crucified,
11.    Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief,
12.    Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
13.    Jesus dies on the cross,
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.

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Modern Usage

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The devotion may be conducted personally by the faithful, making their way from one station to another and saying the prayers, or by having an officiating celebrant move from cross to cross while the faithful make the responses. The stations themselves must consist of, at the very least, fourteen wooden crosses, pictures alone do not suffice, and they must be blessed by someone with the authority to erect stations.[14][dubious – discuss]

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In the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II led an annual public prayer of the Stations of the Cross at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday. Originally, the Pope himself carried the cross from station to station, but in his last years when age and infirmity limited his strength, John Paul presided over the celebration from a stage on the Palatine Hill, while others carried the cross. Just days prior to his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II observed the Stations of the Cross from his private chapel. Each year a different person is invited to write the meditation texts for the Stations. Past composers of the Papal Stations include several non-Catholics. The Pope himself wrote the texts for the Great Jubilee in 2000 and used the traditional Stations.
Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross, Good Friday procession 2011 at Ulm, Germany.

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The celebration of the Stations of the Cross is especially common on the Fridays of Lent, especially Good Friday. Community celebrations are usually accompanied by various songs and prayers. Particularly common as musical accompaniment is the Stabat Mater. At the end of each station the Adoramus Te is sometimes sung. The Alleluia is also sung, except during Lent.

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He Is Risen!

He Is Risen!

Structurally, Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, follows the Stations of the Cross.[15] The fourteenth and last station, the Burial, is not prominently depicted (compared to the other thirteen) but it is implied since the last shot before credit titles is Jesus resurrected and about to leave the tomb.

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References
1.    ^ http://www.trinitycamphill.org/Way%20of%20the%20Cross/Introduction.htm
2.    ^ http://pastorzip.blogspot.com/2007/04/stations-of-cross.html
3.    ^ a b THURSTON, Herbert: The Stations of the Cross
4.    ^ Schiller, Gertrud, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, p. 82, 1972 (English trans from German), Lund        Humphries, London, ISBN 0-85331-324-5
5.    ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907)s.v. “The Way of the Cross.”
6.    ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X
7.    ^ Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI
8.    ^ Pope John Paul II, Letter to Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, for the 50th anniversary of the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face, 27 September 2000 (Vatican archives)
9.    ^ Schiller, 82
10.    ^ “The Official Web Site for the Archdiocese of Detroit”. http://www.aodonline.org/aodonline-sqlimages/stationsofthecross/stations.pdf. Retrieved 2012-02-13. “In some contemporary Stations of the Cross, a fifteenth station has been added to commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord.”
11.    ^ “Fr. William Saunders”. http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/STCROSS.HTM. Retrieved 2009-04-04. “Because of the intrinsic relationship between the passion and death of our Lord with His resurrection, several of the devotional booklets now include a 15th station, which commemorates the Resurrection.”
12.    ^ Joseph M Champlin, The Stations of the Cross With Pope John Paul II Liguori Publications, 1994, ISBN 0-89243-679-4
13.    ^ Pope John Paul II, Meditation and Prayers for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum, Good Friday, 2000
14.    ^ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15569a.htm
15.    ^ Review, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2004
16.    ^ McBrien, Richard P.; Harold W. Attridge (1995). The HarperCollins encyclopedia of Catholicism. p. 1222. ISBN 978-0-06-065338-5.
17.    ^ Cavanagh, David (February 1997), “ChangesFiftyBowie”, Q magazine: 52–59
18.    ^ Falcon Valley Music Ed., Stefano Vagnini, Via Crucis, Rome, Italy, 2002
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. Related Links to the Stations of the Cross (Catholic)

<>Stations of the Cross (Mother Angelica Version) 

<>Stations of the Cross ( Passionist version)

Related Links to the Stations of the Cross (Protestant)

<>Stations of the Cross ( Dennis Bratcher Version)

<>Stations of the Cross (Joyful Way Version)

<> Here are some related Links that you may also find helpful for Lent:

Prodigals Amongst us

Be Reconciled with God

Rend your Hearts – Not Your Garments

The Crucified Life

The Cost Of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

Discerning The Lord’s Call

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Receiving The Holy Spirit

Growing in The Spirit

Jesus the Source of Living water and Us

Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

<>Vienes Santo PPS Download  (in Spanish):

Viernes Santo (Sp.) Good Friday.pps   — 1.8 meg

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Spiritual Growth and the Wilderness Experience

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness  to be tempted by the devil.”  (Matt. 3:16-17, 4:1))

Wilderness Strip

My dear fellow pilgrims and brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we participate in the Lenten devotions this year it would be well for us, to keep in mind that one of the objectives of the Lenten tradition is to assist us in cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He works in us to conform us more and more to the image of Christ (Rom: 8:29).  The process of conforming us to Jesus is a transformation that begins with our conversion and also involves being led by the Holy Spirit into a “wilderness” or “desert Place” where the Almighty may interact with us and begin to enact the changes He wants in us.

Why we should expect a “widerness” experience

Since we Christians are being modeled after Jesus, by implication, we also may be led by the Spirit into a “wilderness experience”. This term “wilderness” is used metaphorically to represent a crucial situation in life, that the Father uses with those He loves the most to bring them to a place where they have to be totally dependent and focused on His Person in order to survive – an initially forced intimacy –  so that he may reveal His Face towards them without the distractions of the flesh and the world in which we are all embedded..

Regarding Israel whom the Father loves, but who, at the time of this prophecy, has betrayed Him by continuing to follow their Baals, He says “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hos.2:14)

Jesus, who was without sin, but was identified with us through His baptism, was led into the wilderness to prepare him for His role as the sacrificial lamb of God. And it is probably no coincidence that Jesus, at His Transfiguration, shares His experience with Moses and Elijah (Matt.17:1-3), who also had their own “wilderness” experiences in being prepared for their callings through  a season of intimacy with the Father.

So, it may be, for those of us in the midst of some traumatic situation in our lives, that the Lord may use this Lenten Season to approach you, in the desolation you are experiencing, to Present His Face towards you, In  Christ, and draw you into His intimate embrace, bringing you the consolation and renewal of spirit you have been seeking in Him. For remember that in baptism we not only are united with  Christ in His Passion and death but also joined with Him in the newness of His Resurrected Life (cf., Rom.6:3-11)! Our primary purpose and destiny is to be conformed to Christ in all things so that He may bring forth fruit through us to the Glory of the Father!

For all of us, this “conformance to Christ” is a discrete ongoing process in our spirits that requires our cooperation with the Spirit in order for the transformation to take effect. We have to open the door to our hearts in order for Him to enter in; that is why it is so important that we go beyond the mere superficiality of the events of the Lenten tradition and truly ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to His Word during this period so we can hear His voice in us. Lent provides the opportunity to be led of the Spirit into a deeper attitude of cooperation and willingness by to dying to self and permitting ourselves to be yoked to Christ so that He may move in us and through us to cleanse us and prepare us to fulfill the Father’s purpose for our lives.

Jesus tempted ...

Jesus tempted …

If we make a decision to fully cooperate with the Holy Spirit during Lent, then the Spirit may guide us, like Jesus, into a “spiritual wilderness” where He assists us in separating ourselves from the world and its influences and, so that we may focus on His Word and the changes the Lord wishes to work in our innermost selves based on His Word. In this way the Character of Christ and His Virtues will begin to come to the surface in our lives to bring forth fruit for His Glory. All this is accomplished, in Faith, by the Spirit of Christ that is in us and NOT by our own zeal or outward effort in the performance of pietistic works.  For, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus that to participate in His Ministry one must be born again of the Spirit because “… the flesh cannot beget that which is spiritual, only the Spirit of God can beget that which is spiritual” (cf., John 3:6).

My First “Wilderness Experience”

What I am about to share with your is based my own experience with a “wilderness” experience and not from mere speculation or my own interpretation of the scriptures regarding this matter.  This experience led to my own conversion and my entry on the path to discipleship.

Of course I have had other types of wilderness experiences thereafter but this was the first one that I recognized afterward, that  was truly something the Lord permitted in my life to bring me to conversion and deliver me from my own egocentric and self-centered  flesh.

Here is my story –

As a young Christian man, married to the love of my life, a wonderful Christian lady, and with two lovely children, the Lord was opening for me an exciting set of doors to a wonderful career as an aerospace engineer. However, I was so enthused by the career I was entering into that I began to lose my spiritual balance. I was so totally controlled by my ambitions, my place at work, my on-going studies in science, engineering and astronautics, that I was completely neglecting my wife and my family. But more significantly I was neglecting my relationship to God. I had made my career and profession my god without my realizing my error and the spiritual darkness into which I was entering!

Now, at this point, outwardly, I was a baptized, compliant, practicing catholic; but inwardly, I was spiritually dead.  I was dead because all the religiously motivated actions that I took in my life, to that point, were done out of mere cultural habit, tradition and training – not from my heart, with faith. I did not have a personal relationship with Christ, so my religious performance was merely the “fig leaf” I used to keep my conscience from continuing to accuse me. I was in fact, in a “wilderness”, dying of spiritual thirst, but did not know it, because the world system had inured me from that awareness and blinded me to the Word of God and the reality of the spiritual life in Christ. Yes, I was a believer in Christ, intellectually, but I did not “know” Christ in my heart!

I did not even know what it meant to have a “personal relationship” to Christ and experience His Living Water flowing through me. Likewise, because, I was spiritually dead, I also did not know that I was depriving myself of the “Living Water” that would bring me to life and thus was taking no action to remedy the situation! It may surprise you, but during this period I observed may “Lents” with my family yet not one of these observances awakened me to my desperate condition. Not because of the pietistic devotions themselves, but because my own spiritual blindness and lack of faith in God’s Word kept me from the redeeming work of Christ that needed to take place in me.

It was God, in response to my wife’s prayers that came to my rescue – oddly enough, by permitting me to come down with “walking” pneumonia, right after Easter!  This illness stopped me cold in my tracks. I was treated and assigned by my doctor to medications and total bed rest at home for at least two weeks. It was during this time of forced quiet and desperation (my wilderness) that the Holy Spirit worked in me to bring me to an awareness of my spiritual deprivation. He did this by working through my wife who, at the time was going through a spiritual renewal herself. As she ministered to me in my bedroom she brought in scriptural pamphlets and teachings on “the New Pentecost” from sessions she was attending given by a charismatic priest of our catholic tradition.

As I read through these materials, the Holy Spirit began opening my heart to the Word of God – so much so that I asked my wife to bring me an old Bible that was given to me at high school graduation and which I had hardly ever opened. My initial motive for reading the Bible was to verify the statements made in the pamphlets that God was working anew in His church and bring the faithful to a New Pentecost experience where one was made alive in Christ to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the ensuing powers bestowed on the believers! I continued to read the Word, but now with a new enthusiasm and resolve to open my heart to Jesus and drink of the Living Waters that He offers to all who come to Him to satisfy their thirst!

After my recovery, and before I stated back to work, my wife invited me to a weekend retreat being offered by this same priest I just mentioned. The Word of God preached by this priest during the retreat reached the depths of my heart in such a way, that at the end of the retreat I repented of my waywardness and my sins, inviting Jesus into my heart. I then asked to be baptized in the Holy Spirit at a meeting that was to be held later that month, on the Feast ofd Pentecost! By the Grace of God, and only by His Grace, I advanced spiritually, into the arms of my Savior and was consoled by the Spirit of Grace in my heart! Praised be His Holy Name!

As the Lord worked His transformation in me my worship experience continued to deepen. In the beginning, after I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I experienced a totally heavenly worship at a mass conducted after a spiritual retreat. I literally thought I was before the throne of God, I experienced a sense of communion with the Lord that I had never experienced before, a communion that extended to all who were present in the church as well. Now I began to truly understand that the ideal for the fullness of worship is in a corporate setting. Where we believers as the “Body of Christ” in communion with Him are, in fact, also participating in His Priesthood at His ultimate act of worship as He offers Himself to the Father in compliance with His Merciful will for the salvation and redemption of humankind!

Later the worship experience spilled over even beyond my participation at Mass to a personal worship time with Him. I noticed this happening during the daily events in my life. For instance, I sometimes would enter into worship as I was driving to work and I would have to stop until I the experience passed and I was able to drive again. Nowadays, I find myself going into worship during my evening prayer times and when I am exercising in the Gym. Thus is the Glory of the Lord manifested in us!

Like the man born blind who received his sight at from the healing hand of Jesus, and having been given new life in Him, I now wish to tell others (whatever their religious upbringing or lack thereof) who are still seeking, about the renewed spirituality that comes with knowing Jesus personally and the more vibrant worship and prayer life that abounds when you put aside your inhibitions and yield your self to the Spirit of the Living God and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

To Jesus, our Blessed Savior, be Glory and Honor and Praise forever and ever! Amen!

Can This Happen to Everyone?

Approach the Throne as a Child

Jesus receives all who come to Him …

Such experiences are common amongst the Charismatic Renewal – and some are even more dramatic than my own. If this happened to me, an average person with many faults, it can happen to every Christian because God is not a discriminator of persons and the whole reason He sent His Son to die for all Humanity was to bring all of us to this point – to draw us to Himself and fill us with His Spirit so we can be His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world!

However, I need to add, that you MUST NEVER focus in on the experience itself. Your desire to be right with God and enter into a relationship with Him through Faith in Jesus, His Son, who died for our sins and was resurrected unto Life for us MUST BE the ONLY REASON you turn to Him and NOT for any emotions or consolation you might or might not receive!

I also need to tell you that the Lord may lead us into such wilderness experiences for many other reasons than our conversion. These type of experiences usually occur at each stage of our spiritual growth and are used by God to draw us out of one stage to another, when we have become too comfortable with the stage we are currently at. When we get into a spiritual rut the Lord sometimes uses such experiences to test our faith and pull us out of the spiritually inactive state in which we find ourselves stranded and move us to where He wants us to be, Not where we want to be!

The Lenten observance is tailored around the Life and Passion of Jesus exactly for us to yield ourselves to His Spirit and, through His guidance, discern our progress in being conformed to the image of Christ in us. It also gives us the opportunity to perform, without guilt, the self-assessment needed to determine if we are in a spiritual rut and cry out to the Lord for His help in moving forward in our spiritual journey. Praised Be His Holy name! I say, “without guilt” because “… there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1); all we are doing is bringing all of our sinful baggage to the foot of the Cross, where the price was paid for all of our sins!

This Lent, If you really want to move forward spiritually to be more like Jesus, just yield yourself to the Holy Spirit, asking for His guidance while keeping in mind this admonition from the Apostle Paul about the need to die to self and become a servant through hearing His Voice and Obeying it!!

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!”  (Phil.2:5-8)

May the Lord strengthen you in your walk with Him! 

Baruch Ha Shem, Blessed Be The Name!

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

<> Here is a Worship Music Video that will open up your spirit …

<> Here are some related Links that you may also find helpful for Lent:

Prodigals Amongst us

Be Reconciled with God

Rend your Hearts – Not Your Garments

The Crucified Life

The Cost Of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

Discerning The Lord’s Call

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Receiving The Holy Spirit

Growing in The Spirit

Jesus the Source of Living water and Us

Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

<>Viernes Santo PPS Download  (in Spanish):

Viernes Santo (Sp.) Good Friday.pps   — 1.8 meg

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