Mar 17, 2011

St. Patrick: Revivalist

Patrick was a young Welsh or Scottish bishop's son, born around 385 AD. He was a happy, normal, nominally religious young man - until he was kidnapped by pirates that is.
He was sold into slavery to a man who lived in Ireland to tend his sheep and pigs.

The Druids ruled Ireland in that day and a darker period in that land's history has never been seen since. They covered then land with unspeakable horror including human sacrifice to bloodthirsty gods thereby earning that region the name of "The Dark Isle". They reveled in evil, in horror, in death, in the the occult, in anything void of light or goodness.

As it was a well known fact that no outsider who entered "The Dark Isle" ever returned, Patrick's family gave him up for dead.

Patrick himself lived in constant fear of his life. Often existing on the swill he fed to the swine in his care he prayed against hope that someday he might escape. He said of this time, "The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. Every breath in was a prayer, every breath out was a prayer."

Then he had a dream - a dream that showed him a path of escape. He took it, by the grace of God, and in time was miraculously reunited with his family.

That's not the end of the story, though.

One night back at home he had another dream. In his dream he saw a man, an Irish man, come towards him bearing a letter. The man read from the letter a plea from the people of Ireland that said, "Please, return to us, Man of God. Now that you are gone we have no hope. We beg you, come walk among us once more and teach us the ways of God."

With the cry of the people who had once enslaved him ringing in his ears, Patrick began to study the Bible. He spent several years preparing, determined to fulfill the call he so firmly believed was of God.  He counted the cost of his mission.  In time he did go, he did preach.

He stood alone against the powers of darkness, knowing the God who created light walked with him. He fought the occult powers of the Druids through great and constant prayer. They tried to kill him, tried to poison him, tried to steal the few followers that listened to his preaching, tried to divide the church that he established. Through it all he preached a Gospel of resurrection life and the light of Christ in the darkest of places. His flame of faith caught. First a few, then another, then yet another until it became a forest-fire of revival sweeping across the Emerald Isle. He went to save a people, and he was successful!

So successful, in fact, that in his lifetime the reputation of Ireland changed so drastically that it came to be known to the rest of the world as the "Isle of Light". From his solitary ministry came preachers, teachers, evangelists, missionaries...and a message that has lasted so long after his death.

In this day of partying, fun, and wearing green, don't forget the message of the man that we honor: The message of the light that shines in the darkness when the darkness cannot comprehend it.


I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through the belief in the threeness
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim
In obedience of angels
In the service of archangels
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward
In prayers of patriarchs
In predictions of prophets
In preaching of apostles
In deeds of righteous men

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven
Light of sun
Radiance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me
God's might to uphold me
God's wisdom to guide me
God's eye to look before me
God's ear to hear me
God's Word to speak for me
God's hand to guard me
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me
God's host to save me
From snares of demons
From temptations of vices
From everyone who shall wish me ill
Afar and a'near
Alone and in multitude

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul
Against incantations of false prophets
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics
Against craft of idolatry
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning
Against drowning, against wounding
So that there may come to me abundance of reward

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation

Mar 1, 2011

Soul Restored

Psalm 23:3 "...He restores my soul."

The whole of chapter 23 is incredible, but that single phrase amazes me in it's beauty and comfort.

Your soul is made up of your mind, your will, and your emotions. It is your soul that the enemy directs his attacks at, for if he can get you to surrender your mind or your will or your emotions to him, the rest will follow easily.

Our mind is under constant attack from Satan is the thought-caster. He is always attempting to captivate our mind and attention with worldly distractions until the treasures of the Kingdom begin to look dry and bland by comparison. Perhaps your mind is confused with the voices of the world or other relationships always calling and pleading for you to turn aside in your pursuit of God. Perhaps the busyness of the day has dulled your thirst for God's presence. Perhaps He has become lower priority because the demands of responsibility have grown too large to handle. Or maybe the depthless glitter of the things the world calls success have blinded you and made you forget, for a time, that the pure in heart will see God.

Our wills are prone to wander to pleasure and indulgence. They are also frail and tend to be driven by the strongest winds or loudest fears. Maybe today you have grown discouraged by our failure, or you have forgotten the promises of God because they have delayed so long. Perhaps doubt has crept in unbidden and you can't find the courage anymore to trust and obey. Have there been a multitude of barriers and trials in your daily journey that tire you so you no longer want to will to follow Christ?

Our emotions are susceptible, too. Other loves pull us to worship a desirable image. Our own hearts lean away toward a desire for relationships that we see in the world. Unforgiveness can grow up like a poisonous weed, choking out godly love, and offenses cause our hearts to harden so we feel no kindly emotion towards others. Breaches of relationships caused by another's wrong attitudes can wound our emotions. And relational turmoil can steal from my time and passion for doing God's will.

In a single day we can face all these attacks and more. They can seem to be strangling the life from us. At times, in the heat of the battle, we can tend to wonder why God allows them.
Allow them, He does, for the same reason a coach allows an athlete to run until he feels he can run no more, to be tested to the limits of endurance, to be strong when every muscles cries out for rest.  It is because God is, in this process, making us strong enough to win.  He has promised that the overcomer will receive a crown, so he teaches us, in our daily journey, to overcome. Sometimes we grow, we learn, and we win the fight. Sometimes we get disheartened and we lose a battle we should have we limp back to the cross, weary, worn, knowing we have great need of mercy.

And then...when we feel as though we are to weak to go on, when we feel the sting of failure, when our view of people, life, our future, has been jaded and damaged, He comes. He lifts us up as a shepherd does His little lamb, and He makes us as good as new.  He receives us back as a soldier from the fight is received home to a father's embrace and to healing.  He hides us in His pavilion (Psalm 91), and He brings back everything that has been lost. He "restores the years that the locust has destroyed," it says in Joel 2:25, and He gives us another chance to fight and to WIN.

Christ is the Lover of your soul. There is not a care that escapes His notice, a tear that He does not gather, a disappointment that He does not sympathize with, or a battle that He does not guard you in.

He brings peace that passes all understanding, and soothes your inflamed mind.  He gives us His Word that pierces like a sword through turmoil and confusion and realigns our priorities.
He restores the will to obey. He reminds us of eternal reward, so we can fight on valiantly. His Holy Spirit "cheers and guides." He gives "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."
He heals your heart. He gives hope for restored relationships, and courage to face those yet unrestored. He gives wisdom to those who seek it, and pours out His love in great floods over every relationship. The strength He offers is a bottomless well we can tap. His love is an eternal fountain. His mercy He gives freely to us, so we may lavish it on others just as freely.

He makes it so that we can wake up tomorrow with all the joy, the hope and the expectancy of a little child with a lifetime of bright opportunities ahead. He makes us a new creation once again. Then He sits back and looks at His new creation and says with a smile, "It is good."

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)