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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Becoming a Polished Arrow in the Hand of the Lord


I just heard a talk by Jeff Cavins called “ Polished Arrow: The Process of Conforming Your Life to Christ” and this is available on CD or DVD. I have these linked below. This is an hour long Bible Study on how to be useful to the Lord.


He draws on the imagery of being an arrow in the hand of an archer. We are that arrow and the Lord is the Archer.  Jeff Cavins goes through 10 steps that I will go through in brief, but if you have a Bible Study and you are looking for that next talk, this one is fantastic. 

Where does it talk about that imagery of being an arrow?


 Isaiah 49:2-3   And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me, And He has also made Me a select arrow; He has hidden Me in His quiver.   And He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show My glory.”


If we continue reading we see that this man who is Christ then goes on to gather the tribes back together. When Jesus lives in us, we continue his mission of gathering people to him, but we must prepare ourselves.

What is step one in the process of becoming that arrow in the hand of the Lord?


Step one is that we begin with a branch, with leaves and other branches coming off of it. That branch is us. We collect all sorts of branches of sin and selfishness in our lives, but our destiny is to be an arrow. We have a desire to serve God, but we aren’t prepared. You can imagine a branch saying to a warrior in the middle of a battle, “use me, I want to fight.”  The warrior must first prepare us to be used.
                      

Take, for example, Moses or Joseph in the Old Testament or Peter and Paul in the New Testament. All of these men had to go through a process before they were quiver ready.  A quiver is where an archer puts his arrows. You can’t stick a branch with leaves on it in a quiver.


Step two turns from desiring to be used by the Lord to waiting patiently for His good time. During this entire process, we must only really do one thing, and that is seek Him and His will.

Matthew 6:33   "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.


For step three, we need to get these extra branches off and choose where the arrow head is going to go.  All of these extra branches are our obvious sins, adultery, drugs, alcohol, missing Mass.  These major sins that stick out need to be cut away first.

St. Paul describes this cutting away as being moved from one degree of glory to another degree.


2 Corinthians 3:18    But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

St. Paul also says that we were created to be made in Christ’s image.

Romans 8:29    For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…


Jesus is that perfect arrow in the hand of the Lord to gather people back to Him.  If we want to participate in this role, which we are all called to do, we need to make our lives, our arrows, look like Jesus’.

1 Peter 2:9-11    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;   for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.   Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.


This war that St. Peter is talking about is within ourselves. Cut away those things in your life that have no place in heaven.


Now that we have cut away the big things, it is time to cut away small things in step four. Once those big branches are gone we can see that we have made some great progress, but we still have knots and bumps that need to be cut away.


Romans 6:11-12    Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.   Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.

It is only in Christ that we can be what we were made for.


Step five is getting out the sand paper to sand down the branch even more.


2 Corinthians 12:20    For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;


At this point in the recording Jeff pauses after each one of these sins, and you can hear him using sand paper on a branch in his hand. It is powerful because it is at this point you really need to look inward to those hidden sins that aren’t obvious to the world but keep popping up in your mind.


Jeff Cavins gives a great insight here. He says that the word sin in Hebrew is Chet and it means to miss the mark, it is an archery term. Now I knew this, but I always wondered what the word was to Hit the mark. And sure enough he gives it. It is the word - yarah – and it means to hit the target, but a word that is related to - yarah- is Torah which is the Hebrew word for law or instruction.  Well this goes right with the New Testament. The opposite of sin is faithfulness to God’s law.


In step six we add the feathers, and they are used to stabilize the flight of the arrow.  Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to guide us on our flight to God.

In step seven you put a cresting on the arrow. This is a mark that shows who the arrow belongs to. Are our lives and speech obvious that we belong to Christ?

It is in step eight that a notch is made so that the arrow can be placed on the string of the bow. It is here that the arrow is tried and that is how the archer will know how it actually is, by testing it.


If it is too stiff, it will veer off to the left and if it is too flexible it will veer off to the right. We can be the same in our spiritual life, if we are too ridged we can have a type of Ugly Catholicism and if we are too flexible we can end up denying parts of the faith. We need to be right behind the head of the arrow, Christ.

We can ruin a good arrow if we don’t rest in the quiver of the Lord. In step nine, we think about how we spend our free time? Is it time in prayer with Jesus or television?  

Finally, step ten asks how effective do you want to be?

The most important thing about a good arrow is finding if it is able to withstand the power transferred to it from the bow. The Holy Spirit gives us power to fulfill this mission, but we must prepare ourselves and make ourselves available for use.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our Vocation as Priest, Prophet, and King

Today talk about the Big Picture of our Catholic faith; Why Did God make us?
That question – Why did God make us, is so basic, so fundamental. I think that sometimes we need to take a step backward and view our situation as a whole. Sometimes we kind of get lost in the details of everyday we have forgotten why we were in the details to begin with, so hopefully this will be a refresher.


I bet a lot of our listeners recited that along with us. I am also thinking that this question and answer is kind of a key to the entirety of our faith.

The question is again  Q. Why did God make you? A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

Know, love, serve God. The first thing that we have to do is know God. We can’t serve or love him without first knowing him. You can’t love what you don’t know and you can’t serve God without first knowing how he wants to be served. This, knowing our faith, has been under attack since the 1960’s when some people began being discouraged from memorizing the faith. We have to get back into that.

Now that we know God, now we can serve him, now we can love him.

These three; know, love, and serve correspond to the different parts of the catechism.

The catechism in its parts tells us what to know about God. The part on the creed tells us what to know about God. It tells us the story of how God saved us from sin to bring us to new life. We are told to love God. How am I to love God? The commandments tell me how to love God and the creatures called humans who are made in his image and likeness. The creed tells me how to know God, the commandments how to love God. The part in the catechism on sacraments and prayer tell me how to serve God. How does he want to be worshipped? He told us how when Jesus gave us the seven sacraments and the Lord’s prayer.

So the catechism itself in its parts tell us how to know, love, and serve God; Through the Creed, commandments, and the sacraments and prayer.

Amen, but because we are fallen and sinful, God had to give us special gifts so that we would have power to know, love and serve him. That is the Theological virtues. The Theological virtues, just mean gifts that come from God that help us get back to him. They are the gifts of faith, hope, and charity. Now you all probably knew about faith, hope, and charity, but might not have known they were called theological virtues. Just know that they come from God and lead us back to God.

These virtues of faith, hope, and charity – help us to do what? They help us to know, love, and serve God. Remember our original question 6. Q. Why did God make you? A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. Well, God gave us the gift of faith, that we could know God and believe what he told us in the creed. God gave us the gift of hope, so we could serve him in the sacraments and prayer that lead us to our ultimate hope which is heaven. Finally God gave us the gift of Charity, that we might love him and our neighbor in the commandments.

Now it is Christ who makes all of this possible by his Passion, death, resurrection, and Ascension into heaven. Jesus is the power behind this good news. When we became Christians at our baptism, we were anointed with the Holy Spirit and that is when the gifts of faith, hope, and charity were given to us. And each one of those special gifts sits in our souls in an infinite amount, the question is – how often  will we dip into this storehouse of grace?

Let me tell you what happens when you do activate those gifts, you become like Christ. In fact the word Christ means, one who has been anointed. A Christian, is one who has been anointed like Christ, and we do have that anointing.

Now what happens when, after our baptism when we have been anointed, we dip into that storehouse of faith, and we come to know God in the creed. We begin to profess that faith to others and that makes us prophets. A prophet isn’t mainly one who tells the future, but one who speaks the words of God. When we speak God’s words we are his prophet.

Now when we dip again into that storehouse of Grace in our souls called hope and begin to serve God in the sacraments and in prayer we are being priests. Not in the same way that an ordained man is, but we become priests who mediate in our prayers and sacrifices for our neighbors and the whole world.

Finally we enter into that storehouse of Charity and bring out that love that we have for God and our neighbor, we are being Kings. When we often think of kings we thing of a man who lords it over other men. But that is not the model that Jesus gave us. Our king wears a crown of thorns and is pouring his life out on our behalf. That is our king. We are kings when we bring out that charity on behalf of God and neighbor. Jesus said – No greater love has no man than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends. This is true charity and true kingship.

IN BRIEF

God  gave us the gift of faith so we could know Him in the creed to live our vocation as a Prophet.

God  gave us the gift of hope so we could serve Him in the sacraments and prayer to live our vocation as a priest.

God  gave us the gift of Charity so we could love Him in the commandments to live our vocation as a King.

These three things find their ultimate fulfillment in the Mass. In the Mass, we profess our faith, celebrate the sacraments and pray, and in that prayer love our neighbors and God.

Then they say GO. GO out into the world and continue to be a prophet, priest, and king just like you were here at Mass.