Brothers and sisters in Christ,
As I was praying about what to write this week, my conversion story came to mind. I hear God speaking to me through songs and scripture. So through this letter I will try to give you a brief synopsis of Gods mercy in my life.
I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school through eighth grade and onto a public high school that my father taught at and my mother was a substitute teacher. My father was not Catholic, but always attended church with us. (He did convert to Catholicism after 30 years of marriage). I have four sisters and one brother. I never left the church, but my path took me on many side roads of self destruction. Needless to say, I was more than a handful to my parents.READ MORE
Brothers and sisters,
I received this text on Sunday morning from Peter Walterscheid:
“Guys, I stumbled onto Ecclesiastes 3 this morning. Verses 1 &2. Look it up. That’s where we are this week!”
Of course, I was curious, so I looked it up. Here are those two verses:
“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.”READ MORE
Brothers and Sisters:
I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!
Usually, summer slows down a bit for the community, but this June, “post-pandemic”, it seems like we have been very busy! We had our June General Leaders Gathering (GLG) on June 5th here in Tempe with over thirty leaders and guests from formation district, our Albuquerque outpost and all our California Branches in attendance. We came into the weekend with an open agenda, ready to hear from the Lord about what His plans are for us going forward as a community. Afterward, I asked the attendees what their takeaways from the weekend were, and it was a surprising variety of answers. It seemed the Holy Spirit revealed a different piece of a bigger picture to each attendee, so that all together it formed a complete picture. It’s amazing how much God loves reminding us how we are a “Body” made up of many members and we are not complete without each other! (1 Cor 12:12)READ MORE
Growing up in Durango Colorado, summer was heaven on earth for me. We were blessed to live in a small town, we knew everyone, and everyone knew us, at least our last name - “isn’t that Doc Pivonka’s son?”. We had total freedom; one rule: be home before dark! In a small town with a bicycle, you could go anywhere, and do anything. No fear, not a care in the world. There were some areas that we knew we shouldn’t go, and we “generally” avoided them.
When did life change? When did fear enter the picture? When did the worries of life start to bog us down? Was it all at once, or was it just one worry, one anxiety, one small thing at a time? As I look back, it can be hard to remember those worry free childhood times.READ MORE
Brothers and sisters,
Happy Easter!! We are just past the halfway point of the Easter season, so it’s still time to be celebrating and rejoicing in the great news of the Resurrection!! I love the Easter season not only because I take a break from the fasting that I normally do the rest of the year, but also because the readings from Mass are from the Acts of the Apostles. There are so many great events that took place in the life of the early Church, and they are all done by regular people like you and me. This one line from Acts sums it up: “Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).READ MORE
Brothers and Sisters:
I am re-reading a book I read about two years ago called “The Benedict Option” by Rod Dreher. Many of you reading this letter are familiar with the book, which has gained great popularity in Catholic circles over the last several years. One quote from the book summarizes his thesis:
“Americans cannot stand to contemplate defeat or to accept limits of any kind. But American Christians are going to have to come to terms with the brute fact that we live in a culture, one in which our beliefs make increasingly little sense. We speak a language that the world more and more either cannot hear or finds offensive to its ears. Could it be that the best way to fight the flood is to...stop fighting the flood? That is, to quit piling up sandbags and to build an ark in which to shelter until the water recedes and we can put our feet on dry land again? Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance that can outwit, outlast, and eventually overcome the occupation. Fear not! We have been in a place like this before. In the first centuries of Christianity, the early church survived and grew under Roman persecution and later after the collapse of the empire in the West. We latter-day Christians must learn from their example—and particularly from the example of Saint Benedict.”READ MORE
I think the biggest thing that I have missed due to my being forced to work from home due to COVID has been listening to Air 1 or K-Love radio my drive to and from work. My commute from my bedroom to my office is much shorter and really doesn’t offer much time to get in my Christian Music fix.
A couple of months ago I splurged on an Alexa Dot, and this has allowed me to get back into my daily music. Depending on my what I am working on, I either listen to contemporary Christian music, or classical music.
Any time that I am working on a talk, preparing to lead a gathering, or now, a letter to the body, my antennae go up when I listen to Christian music. The Holy Spirit frequently speaks to me through lyrics. In the past month I was really touched by two specific songs: My Testimony by Elevation Worship; and God of this City by Chris Tomlin. Although these are two different songs, the parts that really jumped out at me are very similar:READ MORE
Geoff’s Shell’s Coordinator letter two weeks ago had a wonderful exhortation about deepening the virtue of humility in our lives. He started with a sentence from Phillipians 2- the well-known exultation of the humility of Jesus and His obedience to death. With Palm Sunday tomorrow, what better topic to write about in this letter than the “Humility of God”!
The humility of God is really about God’s love and fidelity to the world, even when the world turns away from Him and denies Him. The persistent mercy and love He shows to mankind is indeed a mystery rooted in humility. Cardinal Ratzinger once wrote:READ MORE
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” (Philippians 2:3)
Recently, I was meditating on the principle of “humility” in the Christian life. I realized that for me (and I suspect for many of us), the natural tendency, once I think I know something, is to clutch onto it for dear life. After all, I thought of it, didn’t I? So it must be true!!!
The “deadly sin” for which humility is the antidote is pride, which C. S. Lewis (in keeping with many of the Church Fathers) describes as the primeval sin, the sin of Lucifer. Small wonder that the Evil One is so skilled at tempting us mortals toward that tar pit. The frustrating characteristic of pride is that, no matter how advanced we may be in the Christian walk, that sin always lurks close at hand. We may achieve some degree of mastery over gluttony, envy, sloth, but pride? That is always but a stone’s throw away….READ MORE
Brothers and Sisters:
As I write this, I am in Augusta Georgia at the North American Network of Charismatic Covenant Communities (NANCCC). It is great to see old friends from so many sister communities around the country. It is especially nice to see the new generation of young adults present that have caught the vision and have been called to Covenant Community by the Lord. The Lord is continuing to keep His promises and is raising up a new generation to serve His purposes of renewing the world!READ MORE