How are you doing spiritually?

The following questionnaire is designed as a self-assessment test of your spiritual health. Complete the questionnaire truthfully and it will act as a good gauge of how your spiritual life is progressing.

1. Are you happy with what you are becoming?
Have you ever come across a bitter old man? Well, he did not become like that overnight. What type of person are you becoming? Are you holding onto all the hurt and nastiness you meet along your journey in life or do you keep your heart pure? The choices we make determine the person we become. God has given you the grace to do the right thing. Are you doing it?

2. A religious person attends church regularly but never allows the teachings of the church to affect his or her life?

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Meditation for today...

The fourth word Jesus spoke from the cross was the worst. It revealed how utterly alone Jesus was in his death struggle with Satan.

This battle was fought not with swords or spears, light sabers or lightning bolts, energy blasts or physical strength. The battleground was in the mind of Christ himself, where he fought Satan’s temptations alone and physically exhausted. He had been abandoned by his disciples (save one), condemned by the religious leaders of his own people, and condemned by the Roman government that was supposed to dispense justice.

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Wonderful Trust

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in Me." ~ John 14:1

     Prayer does not stand alone.  It lives in the fellowship with other Christian duties. 

Prayer is firmly joined to faith.  Faith gives it color and tone, and secures its results.

      Trust is faith accomplished.  Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we are aware. 

 it is the feeling of the soul...the spiritual sight, hearing and taste.

      All these have to do with trust.  How bright, distinct, conscious, powerful, 

and scriptural such a trust is!

      Dear God, I put my trust in You all day long.  Amen.

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WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY? and WHY DO CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE IT?

Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 40 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.

Have you ever noticed how once a year, usually in February or March, there are a lot of people walking around with an ash cross on their foreheads? You probably knew it had something to do with Lent, but you weren’t sure why the ash cross was significant.

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Why Do We Find It So Hard to Forgive?

One reason we resist forgiving is that we don't really understand what forgiveness is or how it works. We think we do, but we don't.

Most of us assume that if we forgive our offenders, they are let off the hook — scot-free — and get to go about their merry ways while we unfairly suffer from their actions. We also may think that we have to be friendly with them again, or go back to the old relationship. While God commands us to forgive others, he never told us to keep trusting those who violated our trust or even to like being around those who hurt us.

The first step to understanding forgiveness is learning what it is and isn't. The next step is giving yourself permission to forgive and forget, letting go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries.

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What does Shrove mean?

What does Shrove mean?

'Shriving' is a ritual that Christians used to go through in the past where they confess their sins and receives absolution for them.

The absolution frees the person from the guilt and pain that their sins have been causing them.

According to This Is Church, "in the Catholic or Orthodox context, the absolution is pronounced by a priest.

"This tradition is very old. Over 1000 years ago a monk wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes: 'In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him.'"

Traditionally many different types of food would be given up - meat, fish, eggs and milky food - so they were all cooked up so they wouldn't be wasted.

Flour was added in to the mix, and pancakes were born.

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses

We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. (Hebrews 12:1)

Look into the sky on a summer day, and you will likely see a group of clouds sweeping across the sky. It’s so beautiful that it’s hard not to think of heaven. But how often do these clouds remind you of the people who live in heaven? How often do you think of the heroes of our faith as a great “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1)?

In the Old Testament, clouds are often associated with God’s presence among his people. Think of the Israelites as they fled Egypt and headed for the desert. They didn’t know where to go. Sure, God had brought them out of Egypt, but what now? Was he still with them? But then a great pillar of cloud appeared to lead them on their journey. It was a constant sign to them that God was still with them, looking over them and guiding them.

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Blind Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. Hebrews 11 : 1-2

Blind greens. You likely hate them, especially if you have never played a course before. You have to select your distance and trust that if you hit your shot well, it will land on the green. This is faith, the strength of “the ancients,” as the author of Hebrews called them (Hebrews 11:2 NIV). With no visible promise, and sometimes no spoken one, these people acted in faith that God had their well-being in mind. They acted with certainty that their obedient actions would be rewarded. They believed that God knew better than they.

We have two choices when we read of faith such as this. We may dismiss it, telling ourselves that these people were exceptional, and their faith was never really meant to be an example. Or we can “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and . . . run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).

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Who Is the Holy Spirit and What is His Role in the Christian Life?

 As we move through Epiphany and into Lent we will hear a great deal about the Holy Spirit. Who is He to you?

“Is he like Casper the Ghost?” my son naively asked about the Holy Spirit. In his attempt to understand the third person of the Trinity he related Him to the closest thing he could think of: a translucent, flying, and friendly apparition.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, many adults may find themselves grappling to understand who he is as well. I have heard Him referred to as an “it” or simply not referred to at all. He is sometimes the forgotten or easily dismissible member of the Godhead, but this should not be the case. His role in the life of a believer is vital and necessary.

Here is what the Bible tells us about the Holy Spirit and His Role in the Christian Life:

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The Mousetrap

A mouse looked through the crack
in the wall to see the farmer and
his wife open a package.

‘What food might this contain?'
The mouse wondered.

He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning:
‘There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!'


The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said,

‘Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you,
but it is of no consequence to me.  I cannot be bothered by it.'

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Teach Me To Pray

Last Sunday I said, “If you don’t feel God is answering your prayers, change the way you pray.  Below find a little help in developing your prayer life.  This is important as we begin this new year. I will have more on this as we move forward. (The below notes are from another source, not my own)

"Lord, Teach us to pray." Did the disciple who made that request have any clue about the intimacy of asking someone how he prays? Our prayer exposes the heart of our relationship with God: who we think God is and how we stand in God's presence.

Listen to Joan of Arc who, when her interrogators demanded that she tell them how she prayed, said, "Most sweet God, in honor of your holy passion, I beg you, because you love me, to reveal to me how I must respond to these churchmen."

That gave witness to her faith and hinted that she saw herself as obedient but was not so sure about the opposition.

Thomas Merton teaches us to approach God with humility and trust: "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. ... I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost ... I will not fear ... you will never leave me to face my perils alone."

We also have St. Ignatius' Suscipe: "Take, Lord, receive all my liberty ... Give me your love and your grace, that's enough for me." And that's a centuries-old version of Reinhold Niebuhr's "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Each of these prayers somehow echoes the Lord's Prayer.

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Celebrate Epiphany

January 6, which is 12 days after Christmas in the Gregorian calendar, marks not only the end of the Christmas holidays but also the start of the Carnival season, which climaxes with Mardi Gras. In some European countries, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, children dress as the three kings and visit houses. In their roles as the kings, or wise men, they sing about the Jesus’ birth and pay homage to the “king of kings”. They are rewarded with praise and cookies.

Dia de los Reyes Magos is the Latin American celebration of Epiphany. In many Latin American countries, it is the three wise men and not Santa Claus who bring gifts for children. Children write letters to the wise men telling them how good they were and what gifts they want. In France Le Jour des Rois (the Day of Kings), sometimes called the Fête des Rois, is celebrated with parties for children and adults. The galette des rois, or “cake of kings”, highlights these celebrations. This cake is round and flat, cut into the pantry, covered with a white napkin and carried into a dining room.

Children in Spain fill their shoes with straw or grain for the three kings’ horses to eat and place them on balconies or by the front door on Epiphany Eve. The next day they find cookies, sweets or gifts in their place. The “three kings” make an entry in many cities in Spain on Epiphany Eve, accompanied by military bands and drummers in medieval dress.

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The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth

We are in the season of miracles…

At Christmastime, men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a miracle—not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit, prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshiped there and built it beautifully. Now the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood. But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down church. They felt that with paint, hammer, and faith, they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

But late in December, a severe storm whipped through the river valley, and the worst blow fell on the little church—a huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they couldn’t hide the ragged hole. The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, “Thy will be done!”

The joyful purpose of the storm that had knocked a hole in the wall of the church was now quite clear.

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Luke's Mary

Luke’s Mary

Mary was a prophet. A prophet is a human being who is given a message from God to deliver to a person or group of people. Sometimes that message is about the present. Sometimes that message is about the future. Usually that message is God’s commentary and assessment of what the person or people being addressed are doing, but sometimes it’s just a good word or an encouragement.

Mary was a prophet. When prophets speak their message, they don’t really understand the significance of what they are saying. They may know what the words mean, and they may have a sense of what those words have to do with what’s happening right around them, but they can’t really understand the full impact of the message they are delivering. Messages from God are so full of possibility: they are more like living beings than mere words. A prophet is like a mother giving birth to a child. She cannot know the impact that child will have, but she knows the child deeply as it is, in the moment, at its birth.

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PRAYER. PRAYER IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL RESOURCES GOD HAS GIVEN US.

James 5:13-5:20 

PRAYER. PRAYER IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL RESOURCES GOD HAS GIVEN US. It can change lives, bringing healing and health, comfort, hope and peace.

It was a sense of being in the center of God’s will that gave Luther his great boldness in prayer. In 1540 Luther’s great friend and assistant, Frederick Myconius, become sick and was expected to die within a short time. On his bed he wrote a loving farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand. Luther received the letter and instantly sent back a reply: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.” The words are almost shocking to us, as we live in a more sensitive and cautious day, but they are certainly from God. For although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when Luther’s letter came, in short time he revived. He recovered completely, and he lived six more years to survive Luther himself by two months.

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What is Faith?

The first Sunday of Advent we lite the candle of faith.  But you may be wondering, “What is Faith?”

The writer of Hebrews gives us the biblical definition of faith by stating in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Also, faith is a preresiquite for hope and love, “Now these three remain-faith, hope, and love… (1 Corinthians 13:13). So in a sense, faith is belief in something and a requirement to possess other things. 

So, what must one believe in order to have biblical faith?

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What is Advent?

For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.

The History of Advent  

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We are all Pilgrims

My first service with you was August 26th.  Listening to God, I felt a deep calling to this place before I was asked, This St. Luke’s.  I have been deep in prayer for God to reveal to me the direction He would like St. Luke’s to journey on.  I think part of the journey is within as Christ Followers…Grant that as strangers and pilgrims we may at the last rejoice with all the faithful in your heavenly city; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From “Pilgrim Without Boundaries” by Ravi Ravindra...

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The Gift of God that is In You

2 Timothy 1:3-12

“Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you,” wrote Saint Paul to his beloved co-worker, Timothy. In each of us God has placed a gift. But, like coals burning under the ashes, sometimes God’s gift remains hidden. The challenge is to reveal it.

By praying, we can begin to discern the gift God has placed in us. In the silence of our heart, we discover that all God asks us is to welcome the gift of his love.

But it is also true that others can awaken the gift of God in us. When we look at ourselves, it can happen that we only see what we lack. That leads to discouragement. When someone looks at us with trust, it can transform us. That is how Timothy discovered his vocation. He was young (1 Tim 4:12) and rather timid (2 Tim 1:8) when he began to work with Paul. In spite of that, because of Paul’s trust in him, Timothy was able to go further than he could imagine. He went so far that he became a real support for Paul when he was in prison (2 Tim 1:4-5).

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Sharing the Gifts that God has Given You

Dear Christ Followers,

     We stand at the edge of opportunities to share our gifts with those in need and those beyond the walls of St. Luke’s.  Many of our programs like Sunday School for Children and for young adults, music, and outreach, that were designed to promote the Christian life here at St. Luke’s have been eliminated for lack of funds.  Your gifts, of time, talent, and treasure, are needed to continue the stewardship and legacy here at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.  Your participation is invaluable.  Your participation defines who we are as “The Church,”…as a community of faith.

     In the months ahead, you will hear me talk about Paul’s Letter to the Romans, in which he said, we have all been given gifts by God.  He tells us that we are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices to God.”  The word sacrifice indicates total commitment.  There are no half measures with a sacrifice.  If there were, then it would no longer be a sacrifice.  When Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins, it was a total commitment.  So when Paul talks about a living sacrifice, he means that our whole lives should demonstrate the same kind of commitment that God has to us.

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