God and Visions

Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons. They had a donkey which died on the way. When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, “How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?” They said, “How do you know about that, Father?” And he told them, “The demons showed me what happened.” So they said, “That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true.” Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

—-Anthony of the Desert


I would be the first to admit that the monks of the desert left us some very fantastic and unbelievable stories if we took them as literal truth. The Desert Fathers, like Jesus, had sayings that fall into the same category as parables, and this is one of them. The parable belongs to Jesus, but the myth belongs to all of us. The Oxford dictionary tells us that a myth is a traditional story, either wholly or partially fictitious, providing explanation or embodying a popular idea concerning some natural or social phenomenon or some religious belief. These stories are mainly a collection of myths that illustrate the life and beliefs of the men who withdrew from society to better serve God and their fellow human beings. With that in mind let me make some observations about the Dead Donkey.

We cannot help but be fascinated when someone proclaims that they have had a vision about you or someone you love. These visions drive us toward this person. We will give money, spend timeTarot Reader and fight for the credibility of this person. They have, after all, opened a new vista of life to us. Our world is crowded with these sorts of folks that pander their livelihood from others by using fear and excitement. It seems harmless on face value. Who among us is not fascinated by the Tarot readers, palm readers and other super naturals that we see in the French Quarter of New Orleans or any other tourist destination?

At the heart of the saying was the nature and origin of any vision. The brother who came to the Abbot had two questions. Were these visions true and were the coming from evil sources? Anthony answered their question by telling them they he knew that their donkey died during their journey. The brothers knew that there was no earthly explanation that would explain how Anthony knew this event of their journey. Fascinated, they ask him how he knew about the calamity. He answered them quickly and bluntly – “The demons told me what happened.” What does this tell us about the nature of visions and why people seek them?

God did not create us to have supernatural visions, he created us to love Him, care for the Carpe Diemearth and live each day to the fullest. People who seek to have such visions about the affairs of others or the future are really trying to be gods. That is the ultimate evil. As I see it this desire is the real SIN of humankind; it is idolatry to want to know and see things that only God can see and know. There was an exceedingly popular saying a few years ago, “Carpe Diem,” which is Latin for seize the day. That is what God created us to do this day and every day.

Let us put behind the ideas that we can be as God is and validate the idea that we are the fulfillment of God’s plan. We get up everyday to be a part of his creation, and we live our lives knowing who he is and what he desires for us. Anything more than that is trying to take his place.


PRAYER

LORD, In these difficult dark days, we sometimes seek a power that is not ours. In seeking that power, we search in places that we were never meant to go. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you and your grace and your blessings that you give us every day. It is because of those things that we can live no matter how difficult the day. Lord, guide us through this day and through these times with you at our side.

Amen

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Time for God

“Just as fish die if they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cells or pass their time with men of the world lose the intensity of inner peace. SO like a fish going towards the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we will lost our interior watchfulness.”

~~~ Anthony of the Desert

The wise old monk was telling his learners how to stay close to God. His answer was quite simple and direct. Stay in your (cell) cloister! A cloister is to a monk a place of seclusion where the monk can better communicate with God and control their temptations. In a strange way we have all been cloistered for the past few months, but have we come closer to God? I cannot answer that question for you, but I can give some suggestions about becoming closer to God.

First, an observation and a suggestion. Using Facebook and YouTube analysis I believe that most of our Sunday services have been viewed by over 100 people. For us that is quite amazing, since we have several people that are not a part of the social media world. In my communications with other pastors their observation has been the same. We all have a larger viewership than we expected. So, you can get closer to God through social media. There are family units who are doing modern day cloistering to watch worship times.

Second, we can and must set aside a personal time of prayer. It can be a place or a method, but we need to stay in touch with God.

Third, it is vital that we engage in sacred reading. This is, but not limited, to reading of scripture. Plan on reading portions of the Bible daily. Reading theological works and devotionals is sacred reading as well.

Fourth, writing or journaling your thoughts about God and what he is doing, or not doing, in your life. I would suggest that you write some prayers that are your heartfelt outpouring to God.

Fifth, just set aside some time of silence every day. This is a time when we are still and wait to hear from God. Warning, some days you may not hear much but keep going.

There is also another meaning to the word cloister, but it is a more modern one. A cloister is a covered walkway, usually in a Monastery or Cathedral, that leads from one building to another. I like to think of my time of prayer, silence or isolation as a time that leads me from one place to another. The cloister walk that I have committed myself to will lead me to know God better and to serve the world more willingly and joyfully.

May we all structure our cloister walk so that we may be ready to be the salt and light of the world. 


20200512_105507

My Cell where I find time for God



Prayer

LORD, the world seems so overwhelming that it scares me. I know that when I am frightened I can come to you and you will be there. You are always willing to give me comfort in the darkest of times. Help me to remember that you are always there for me, but I must take the time to develop a way of getting closer to you. Help me this day to commit to being in the cloister walk with you and the world you send my way.

Amen



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TODAY’S WORD IS COURAGE

A study on corporate managers was commissioned a few years ago. In it they were asked if they voiced positions that 1. focused on the good of the company, rather than personal benefit and 2. jeopardized their own careers. The results of this study found four leader-types in all organizations.

  • Type #1 courageous. These people expressed ideas to help the company improve, in spite of personal risk or opposition.
  • Type #2 confronting. These people spoke up, but only because of a personal vendetta against the company.
  • Type #3 calloused. These people didn’t know, or care, whether they could do anything for the company; they felt helpless and hopeless, so they kept quiet.
  • Type #4 conforming. These people also remained quiet, but only because they loathed confrontation and loved approval.

The researchers discovered that the courageous managers accomplished the most, reported the highest job satisfaction, and eventually were commended by superiors. Their commitment had certainly improved the quality of their lives. Courage is the most important quality of any leader.

J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of “Lord of the Rings” and many other great literary works, contributes this comment, “Courage is found in unlikely places.” We are all looking for courage right now and I can see it manifested in so many ways. I have seen courage in the people who restock the shelves of the grocery store. Those that drive the trucks across the country to make sure we have the goods we need are an inspiration to me in this time. Bus drivers, checkout clerks, drive up attendants at McDonalds and so many others are the most unlikely people of courage I have ever seen. The list of these unlikely people of courage could fill this whole page, but I just want to say thanks to all of them.

There is another area of courage I want to mention and that is all of you. You have isolated yourselves and lived life in ways that you never imagined to protect yourselves and those you love and don’t even know from this virus. It has taken remarkable courage to carve a new way of living so that we may all live a healthy and promising life. Be courageous enough to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, wear gloves when necessary, and above all, accept social distancing as a part of life. These are all acts of courage we must continue to do so that we might look forward to a wonderful future.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”


QUOTES

Mark Twain #5Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

― Winston S. Churchill

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

― E.E. Cummings

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.

― Maya Angelou

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.

― William Faulkner

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

― Anais Nin

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

― Mark Twain

Courage is found in unlikely places.

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

― Brene Brown

Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.

― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird


Scripture

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

+ Psalm 56:3-4

CourageSo do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

+ Isaiah 41:10

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

+ Isaiah 41:13

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

+ Matthew 10:28

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

+ 1 Corinthians 16:13

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

+ Philippians 1:12-14

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

+ Hebrews 13:5-6

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

+ Deuteronomy 31:6

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

+ Psalm 27:1

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

+ 2 Timothy 1:7

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

+ 1 John 4:18

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.

+ 1 Chronicles 28:20


Prayer

LORD, I ask you to give me the courage to face the day and the determination to make it better. You know that I am afraid, and I know that you will help me to overcome that fear with the courage you provide by the spirit that you have given to me. Let me live this life with a spirit of courage and victory despite all the adversity that surrounds me. May your spirit dominate my thoughts even in the darkest times.

Amen

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The Source

“When St. Anthony entered to the internal desert, the demons watched him Writerdauntingly, saying, “O You young of age and mind, how did you dare to enter our territory, as we have never seen a human before you.” And they all started to fight him. He said to them, “O strong ones, what do you want from me, the weak; And who am I so that you all gather to fight me. Don’t you know that I am ashes and dust, and unable to fight the smallest in you.” And he lay on the ground, shouting to God, “O God, help me, and strengthen my weakness. Have mercy on me, as I sought after you. Do not leave me; and do not let those who think that I am something overcome me. O God, You know that I am unable to fight the smallest of these.” When the demons heard this prayer full of life and humility they fled away, and did not dare to approach to him. “

~~~ Anthony of the Desert

There is no question that we battle evil at all times. Some choose to see evil as some sort of devil or demon that haunts us. Others choose to see evil as a state that has persisted on the earth since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. No matter how you define the presence of evil on earth , we can defeat it. Ironically, we can only do this by admitting, as the desert monk did, that it is more powerful than we can ever imagine.

After we come to this admission , we can say as the Psalmist does, “I will lift UP my eyes – from where my help comes.” When we find ourselves in a situation that we are powerless to control or defeat, we must call upon our God because He has the power to defeat ALL enemies. We are so tempted to believe that we can do it on our own.

When my son Jeremy, who who will be forty on his next birthday, was about two years old his mother always stressed to him how important it was to hold his hand when he crossed the street. Our oldest was always a very resourceful person so he decided that he could hold his own hand. When it came time to cross the street or to walk in the mall he would clasp both hands together and say, “ I hold my own hand.” That didn’t work too well. He did not realize that holding his own hand defeated the very purpose of holding hands. His mother held his hand to protect him, not to control. In the mind of a two year old, holding his hand was control and he didn’t want it. Most of us are more than two years old, and yet we still want to be controlled. Like the commercial where the man is doing all kinds of crazy things saying, “I got this,” but really he doesn’t have anything. He’s just simply out of control. We cannot control the sources of evil on this earth without looking to the source of our blessing, of our hope, and our power.

The source of our power is found when we humbly cry out, I can’t do this on my own. The psalmist even goes further and plainly admits that the source of power comes from aStrenghtbove and not from within himself. I fear that today , as we face this dreadful virus, we are looking so deeply inside of ourselves that we are forgetting the source of all healing, peace, understanding, and that life really is from above. This does not mean that we should not do our best and muster together all of the resources that God has blessed us with to defeat this plague that has beset us. However, as we do it we should never forget that all that we are and all we will ever be comes from God. He is our TRUE source of ALL.

In these times we must put our trust in our Source. We should do all that we can with the knowledge that we have to fight this situation, but in the end we must lean on the strength of God. He will see us through to the end. The times that lie ahead may be difficult, but God will be with us.


Prayer

LORD, we acknowledge you as the source that guides us and sustains us. In these difficult times we ask you to guide us to put ourselves aside and allow you to steer our course. Forgive us Lord for trying to be our own gods, and convict us to follow your guidance so that we may find the ultimate source of our victory.

Amen

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Serenity

SERENITY – Contented tranquility of mind, temper and countenance.                         (Oxford Dictionary)

Perhaps the most famous saying that uses the word serenity is Reinhold Niebuhr‘s Serenity Prayer. This prayer has been used by Alcoholics Anonymous and others as a prayer of centering and peace in a troubled world. The word and the prayer serve as a guide to stepping outside of yourself and giving your troubles to God. I highly recommend that you add this little prayer to your “go to” list of prayers.

The late Fred Craddock tells this story. Many years ago a pastor served an extremely small country church whose building was heated by coal heaters and whose plumbing was outside. The tiny congregation usually consisted of fewer than a dozen women at least 65 years old.

The church sat on a beautiful mountainside overlooking a picturesque valley. An old, abandoned dirt road ran from the church beside the mountain into the thick forest. Often, the pastor drove to church early, leaving the car in the parking lot to walk down the dirt road into the forest to commune with deer, wild turkeys and God.

One morning, however, the pastor was lost in the serenity of the place and realized he would be late starting the service. As he approached the church, the usual congregation of elderly women hovered near the outhouse. The pastor expected to be chastised for his tardiness, but instead, was greeted with sighs of relief. The women had seen the pastor’s car, and not finding him in the church, thought something had happened to him. They were so glad to see him, they forgot how late he was!

That is real serenity! A place or state that gives us love and acceptance when we are not necessarily doing everything with perfection. Our world has, quite literally, been turned upside down. Negative prices for a barrel of oil, a virus with no cure, closed churches, closed malls, no sporting events, and we are not sure when even our new normal will come to be or what it will bring. There has never been a time when we have needed to grasp on to the inner serenity that the peace of God offers. Remember the words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” That is the peace we need now.

Let us grab for the serenity that comes as we turn our focus on our God and Creator.

 

PRAYER

LORD, sometimes serenity is a hard place to reach. I ask you this day to give me the inner peace that is necessary to be at peace in a troubled world. I seek the healing balm that only you can give. May your Spirit be a part of me so I may be a part of you. In that unity I will achieve a level of peace that can only come from you. May that serene peace fall upon me today. Amen

Click for a Video Devotional on Serenity

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Take Time to Breathe

Merton #3


Twentieth century existential psychologist Rollo May said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.” The more I think about that statement, the closer I get to full agreement with Dr. May. We often think that the faster we work, the quicker we can solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. How many times do we find ourselves lost in our problems and never stop long enough to evaluate our options? In my life I can recall times that I did not know where I was or what I was doing there, but I continued to busy my life with frantic activity.

Much to our surprise that whole concept was changed about six weeks ago, and we still are trying to wrap our heads around the new normal. We now are staying at home and only doing essential things. I hope that you, as I have, take this time as a period of introspection and renewal. Just as we will be practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future, we should consider allowing ourselves breathing space to pray, think and renew. Let us clear our minds as well as our schedules. Jesus gives some advice.

After a very tiring day of ministry, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” He had found himself in a situation where rest was necessary for more ministry to follow. In the same way, we can lose ourselves in good things, works that make a difference, and literally become exhausted and unable to accomplish our goals. In these times we are lost, and hurried activities will not solve our lostness.

We must allow ourselves not only social distancing but breathing space to think, to rest and to find ourselves. Never have I heard a story of a lost person who found his way by moving faster, but often we find our center as we slow down. If you find yourself feeling lost or overwhelmed, take time to do an inventory. Breathing space can make all the difference in the world. We all have been forcibly slowed. Let us not waste this precious time.

I will share a poem from Mary Oliver.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I do not know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall downMary Oliver Midweek #3

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

There has never been a better time to look at our lives than the situation we are in at this moment. Let us take the time to breathe and examine.


Prayer

LORD, I thank you for the breathing space that you have given to me. Let me not waste it being resentful of things that have been taken from me. Rather, let this be my time of discovery and growth. Lead me this day to find something new and grand that I can take with me the rest of my life.

Amen

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The Danger of Judgment

“Let everyone beware lest he presume to take it upon himself to criticize and condemn other men’s faults without his having been truly touched within by the Holy Spirit in his work. Otherwise he may very easily err in his judgments. Beware, therefore. Judge yourself as seems right to you between yourself and your God and let other men alone.”

—-The Cloud of Unknowing

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God?

—-Romans 2:1-3

The words of Paul in his letter to the Romans and the words of the medieval mystic who wrote THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING are the same. Simply stated, we must be very cautious when we condemn other people. We are about to embark in a strange new world in the coming days. We’ve never been here before, and we’re not sure what it’s going to be like. The whole idea of “social distancing,” wearing masks and being cautious every time we venture from our homes is a strange and rather scary place to be. Our challenge is how we handle it?

As Christians, we can be those that lead the way with generosity, kindness, compassion and care for our fellow man. We can try to observe the guidelines and go forward in this world. We can pray for the finalized solution to come sooner rather than later to this extreme problem that we have. We can help those who have had losses during this time of isolation to bury and mourn their dead. We can support them and lift him up and give them the hope that only Jesus gives. Those are some ways that we can be very positive in the coming weeks and months.

The message of the mystic in THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING and the Apostle Paul gives us fair warning of the possible dark side of our reaction. Let us be determined that we’re not going to criticize, condemn and complain. Let us pray without ceasing that God will deliver us from taking that path that the evil one has designed for us since the Garden. That is, I will do it my way. Such a decision is a slippery slope we walk down when we are frightened by this very deadly unknown we are facing. Let us heed the words of the Medieval Mystic and the Apostle Paul every time we hear ourselves speak or think words of criticism and judgment.

We do this by praying without ceasing. This is an excellent time for you to reboot your prayer life. Perhaps you might consider setting a time for prayer each day. It is possible that you may want to investigate some prayer practices that you have never done before. There are so many ways to pray to God. There are so many ways to be in the presence of God. I’d like to suggest a few in the links below. I hope they might help.


Links on Ways to Pray

Lectio Divina

Daily Bible Reading

The Daily Office

The Jesus Prayer

The Examine


Prayer – LORD, make it possible for me to overcome my fear in the coming weeks and months and not fall into the trap of a critical and judgmental attitude. Let me now lay myself before you as a servant of yours. I ask you today, what service may I render to others? Guide me to look very closely at my faults and short-comings and make self-change my priority. Give me the strength to be an example of what it means to be a Christian. Take away my sin and fear so that I may be strong as I go forward today. Amen

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Monday Musings #2

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THIS WEEK – HOPE

Hope – Expectation of something desired, a feeling of expectation and desire combined.

(Oxford Dictionary)


Do you remember the story of Pandora’s Box? The lovely Pandora was sent by Zeus to be the bride of Epimetheus. One of Pandora’s more endearing charms was her curiosity, but that quality also proved to nearly be her undoing. One day Mercury, the messenger, sent a box to the young couple. It was meant for them to enjoy, but under no circumstances were they to open it. Well, of course, it is the old story of the forbidden fruit. Told that she could not do it, it became the thing that she desired to do the most. So,   one day she pried it open and peeked inside. Suddenly out flew swarms of insects that began attacking them. Both lovers were stung with the poison of suspicion, hatred, fear and malice. Now the once happy couple began to argue. Epimetheus became bitter and Pandora wept with a broken heart. But amid the quarreling, they heard a tiny voice cry out: Let me out, to sooth your pain. Fearfully they opened the box again, and this time a beautiful butterfly flew out. It touched the couple and miraculously their pain was healed, and they were happy again. The butterfly we are told was hope. It is hope that sustains us; it is hope that soothes our pain.

We live in a world of pessimists who want to rob us of our hope. They would prefer that we all be forlorn and dreadful, but God one has better in mind for us. He sends out butterflies in the darkest of times, and I just know that there is out flying right now one with your name on it. All we must do is open our eyes and look for it. Let us hold on to the hope that is in our faith and know that it will guide us through.



Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1


Quotes

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.

—– Christopher Reeve

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

—-Martin Luther King Jr

Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.

—–Martin Luther

I dwell in possibility.

—–Emily Dickinson

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.

—-Nelson Mandela

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.

—-Henry David Thoreau

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

—-Desmond Tutu

Hope is a waking dream.

—-Aristotle

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

—-G.K. Chesterton

I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

—–Dalai Lama

While there’s life, there’s hope.

—-Marcus Tullius Cicero


Scripture

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

I Peter 1:13

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

   even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22

But I will hope continually,

   and will praise you yet more and more.

Psalm 71:14

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Know that wisdom is such to your soul;

   if you find it, you will find a future,

   and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 24:14


PRAYER

LORD, because of you I know there is always hope –  

      Hope for today

         Hope of a better day tomorrow

              Hope that my pain will end

                  Hope that joy will return

Help me to have enough faith to live a life full of hope. Restore my hope in days when it seems to fade. Strengthen my hope today. Amen


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Self Discovery

Midweek Thought #1


“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.”

― Thomas Merton


Merton challenges us to look inside of ourselves with great introspection that allows us to see ourselves as God and others see us. Many times we are shocked by theExplorer 2 comment of a loved one or friend about something we have said or done. Our first reaction may be to say that we are misunderstood, but we will never really understand until we pause and take a deep look at ourselves.God sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. The creator made us in his image and likeness with the knowledge that we would never live up to our full potential. Too often we hide behind our accomplishments and never take that voyage to the most difficult destination of all – our true self. Merton reminds us of this, but how do we begin that scary voyage? Let me suggest a few possibilities.

  • Learn to sit quietly in the presence of God.

  • Learn to say, “I was wrong.”

  • Learn to value others more than yourself.

These three possibilities are not a silver bullet to finding our true selves but some tools that will drive us deeper into that uncharted territory that lies within all of us.  As we venture deeper into ourselves, God will give us the wisdom and courage to confront the bad and the joy of the discovery of the good. Remember, the image of God is imprinted in our DNA, and it is the desire of God that it come out.  Spend some time today pondering the possibility that that image can emerge and I know God will bless you.


Midweek #1

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Monday Musings #1

Musings-a period of reflection or thought

NOTE- I thought I would share this on the blog as well as to my congregation. It is a day late but I hope you enjoy the read.


Each Monday during our continued shut down, I’m going to publish a newsletter called- “Monday Musings.” I will be taking a word or a topic and putting together a series of quotes, bible verses and a prayer that shed light on the word of the day. Today’s word is ENCOURAGEMENT. There has never been a time in my life when I needed some encouragement more than I do now. Below you will find some words that I hope will encourage you through this week.

Prayers, Irvin


THIS WEEK – ENCOURAGEMENT

Encouragement – To give courage , confidence, or hope in order to make someone sufficiently confident or bold to do a specified action.

(Oxford Dictionary)


Jesus on WaterBut let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.

—Psalm 5:11


QUOTES

“Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.”

– Anne Frank

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”

“When you feel like you’re drowning in life, don’t worry – your Lifeguard walks on water.”

“Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you. Choose to stay positive and be the strong person that God created you to be!”

“You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax. Master the day. Then just keep doing that every day.”

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

– Albert Camus


SCRIPTURE

Mark 11:22-24

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

James 2:19

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Luke 1:37

For nothing will be impossible with God.

Colossians 1:11

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.


PRAYER – LORD, if there was ever a time that we need some encouragement, it’s now. Let me hear a word from you and know that you have my well-being in the palm of your hand. I trust you to guide me through these difficult days. Help to hear the word as I read the word. Help to hear the words of comfort and encouragement as others speak them to me. I know that you will provide all that I need. Amen


Click for a Devotional on Encouragement

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