Worth the Wait

Advent-WreathWednesday First Week of Advent

 

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for 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

God seems to bless those who wait. Waiting is a timeless discipline with eternal rewards. The scripture has many stories of those who waited and learned.

Noah waited for years as he built a boat on dry land and learned the lesson of deliverance. Jonah waited three days in the belly of the fish and learned the lesson of obedience. The prophets waited for centuries to see the Messiah and learned the lesson of faith. Joseph waited in prison and learned the lesson of forgiveness. Zacharias waited to speak and learned the lesson of humility. Anna and Simeon waited a lifetime to see the Savior and learned the lesson of perseverance.

Waiting during the season of Advent can serve as a discipline to teach us many spiritual truths. While waiting we can develop patience and true obedience. We can glimpse the hugeness of God’s love and grace and learn to recognize holiness when we encounter it. Waiting nurtures our compassion and opens our eyes to see others in need. It opens our hearts to service and fosters a freedom to give and encourage others. As we pause and wait for God, we have time to assess our priorities, discover happiness where we are and develop an appreciation for what we have.

Advent is a time to deal with our fears, our anger, our disappointments, and learn to both give and receive forgiveness. It is a time to internalize the cleansing joy of repentance and to know the peace of taking last place. While we wait, we can use the unknown time to realize that living with mystery builds faith, and suffering and sacrifice reveal God to us. While waiting we acquire a dependence on God, we gain hope, and we become sure that while we wait we are never alone.

During Advent, the Church waits to celebrate the first Advent of God into the world and waits for completeness and perfection at the Second Advent. In the waiting, we find our peace.

Reflection – What have you learned from God during those waiting times of your life?
Monica Boudreaux

Worth-the-Wait


Prayer

Lord, teach me the value and virtue of waiting in this impatient world. The prophets of old knew that the things that they proclaimed were not yet evident. As  we proclaim your coming may with do it with confidence and determination. 

Amen

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Thanking God for Jesus

Advent-WreathTuesday, first week of Advent

OPENING PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you show us the loving face. Help us to love you in return.

SCRIPTURE

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’

Luke 10:21,23-24

THINK ABOUT IT….

How wonderful it must have been to hear Jesus speak those words! God has revealed something special to them, not because they were great students are especially smart, but because God wanted them to know who Jesus was.

God still wants us to know who Jesus is. That’s why we have the Bible. That’s why we have the church. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we know that Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth and it’s not because we figured out something or because we have use our brain power instead, it’s because the father wants us to know who Jesus is so that we can be saved from sin and death.

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, we thank you for showing us your son. May we come to see him in his kingdom.

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Thanking God for Jesus

Tuesday, first week of Advent

OPENING PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you show us the loving face. Help us to love you in return.

SCRIPTURE

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’

Luke 10:21,23-24

THINK ABOUT IT….

How wonderful it must have been to hear Jesus speak those words! God has revealed something special to them, not because they were great students are especially smart, but because God wanted them to know who Jesus was.

God still wants us to know who Jesus is. That’s why we have the Bible. That’s why we have the church. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we know that Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth and it’s not because we figured out something or because we have use our brain power instead, it’s because the father wants us to know who Jesus is so that we can be saved from sin and death.

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, we thank you for showing us your son. May we come to see him in his kingdom.

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Choosing the Path of Light

Advent-Wreath_thumb.gifMonday First Week of Advent

OPENING PRAYER

Lord Jesus, may your Justice be revealed to all nations of the world.

SCRIPTURE

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:4-5

 THINK ABOUT IT…

Decorations hung on houses and storefronts remind us that Christmas is coming. The Season’s echo through the malls and offices. Would have to close our eyes and ears to miss out on the season.

In the same way, we have to shut her eyes and ears to the Evening News not to know that we desperately need a savior. War and injustice, crime and violence were not part of God’s original plan, but sin brought a lot of bad things into the world. In his life, death and Resurrection, Jesus overcame sin and death and opened the way for us to share his life forever in heaven. Meanwhile, a struggle goes on between good and evil

This Advent, let us choose good. Let us follow the Lord every day and open our hearts to his love.

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come in our hearts and in our home.

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Advent–Coming

This Sunday is the first Sunday of the Advent season of the church. Advent is a special time for the church. The time is a mixture of anticipation and spiritual preparation for the coming of the Christ child. Such preparation involves repentance and joy.Those two are a rare combination. I share with you some words that my wife wrote a few year ago about Advent that emphasize the joy of the season.


Advent-Coming

Advent comes from the Latin meaning “a coming” or “arrival”. The season begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent begins our new church year as Christ comes to us again with the peace and joy needed to take us through another year.

During the season of Advent, the church celebrates two comings of Christ. First, we remember his incarnation, the coming of the Messiah, the world’s Savior. Second, we look forward to the second and final coming as reigning Lord and Judge. We thank him for His first Advent, prepare for his Second Advent, and celebrate His Presence through the Holy Spirit. It is a unique time when the past, the present, and the future realities of God are combined.

Advent gives voice to the joy and hope that the Christ Child brought to the earth and the expectation of the total restoration of God’s Kingdom when He comes again. The church looks forward to the completion of our salvation and the end of the world’s suffering when Christ comes again. The season forces spirituality into an increasingly secular Christmas and enriches our relationship to God, to each other, and those who have come before us.

The earliest recorded observances of Advent are from the fourth century. Monks set aside approximately six weeks before Christ’s Mass as a time of penitence and devotion and fasting. Advent became a time when new Christians prepared for baptism. For more than a thousand years, the church has set aside a four week period to recover Christmas as a holy time of expectation and preparation.

Today in the midst of so much despair Advent offers HOPE – the hope of the church, the hope of the restoration of creation to completeness upon Christ’s return, the hope of the salvation Christ brings. In the midst of so much war and death, Advent offers PEACE – the peace beyond our understanding, the peace that is more than the absence of conflict, the peace of Christ. In the midst of so much prejudice and hate, Advent offers LOVE – the perfect love of God, a way to love one another, the yearning to love His church. In the midst of so much sadness and loneliness, Advent offers JOY – the joy of salvation, the joy of new life, the joy of heaven

Monica Boudreaux

Advent-Scripture

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Outer Turmoil/Inner Peace

Teresa of Ávila was born Teresa Ali Fatim Corella Sanchez de Capeda y Ahumada in Ávila, Spain. Less than twenty years before Teresa was born in Teresa31515, Columbus opened up the Western Hemisphere to European colonization. Two years after she was born, Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Out of all of this change came Teresa pointing the way from outer turmoil to inner peace.

As we suffer through mass murders, church shootings and threats of nuclear conflict we shout very loudly for inner peace. Teresa has some ideas about peace that I share with you today.


      • Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”
      • May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.
      • The closer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes.
        Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of God in all created things and praise Him for them all.
      • Truth suffers but never dies.
      • In this distress, — for then I had never had a single vision, — these Thy words alone were enough to remove it, and give meTeresa-Quote perfect peace: ‘Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I, and I will not abandon thee. Fear not.
      • To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.
      • The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.
      • We need no wings to go in search of Him but have only to look upon Him present within us.
      • The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.
      • Pain is never permanent.
      • Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.

 

I hope that these words of Teresa can help bring peace to your life today.


Prayer

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.

Teresa of Avila

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Labor and Humility

Abba Carion said, ‘I have labored much harder than my son Zacharias and yet I have not attained to his measure of humility and silence.’

 —-Sayings of the Desert

Very few of us would think of humility as a laborious task, yet the Abba speaks this word about himself. There are two distinct lines of thought in this very brief saying. First, humility is not only a sought-after state for the contemplative but Related imageis a lifelong labor. The second is the apparent unfairness of some people being rewarded even if they labor less than we do.

Humility is a hard task, and we must wake every day to the familiar words of the Jesus Prayer, “… have mercy on me, a SINNER.” Until we see ourselves as worthy of nothing but graciously gifted with His saving grace, we will never attain any sort of true humility.

Feeling cheated or let down by God is an age-old problem. So many times in our lives we have felt as though we have done all we can do, and we are still lacking. Exasperatingly, we are confronted with others who did less and received abundant blessings. The lesson here is that we do what we do out of love and worship of God, and not for reward from Him.


Prayer

Lord, give me that grace to be able to labor for you without question. Drive away the tendency to think that I work harder than other and am somehow cheated. Let me take each task as a blessing that only I can achieve.

Amen


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The Loves of God

 

Lord, you love discretion, you love light, you love love; these three you love above the other operations of the soul. Hence these will be sayings of discretion for the wayfarer, of light for the way, and of love in the wayfaring.

—-John of the Cross

 

John of Cross presents to us an approach to soul spirituality. He asserts that there are three operations of the soul that are primary. These operations guide us on our journey as we travel towards God. We are wayfarers searching for ourJohn-of-the-Cross-11-8-17 ultimate home. For me, this is a familiar journey. During nearly all of our 40 years of marriage, my wife and I have either lived in Parsonages or knew that the home we were purchasing would have to be given up when a move was designated. The life of an itinerant preacher is not one that encourages, or allows, the stability of place. Much to our joy, an opportunity presented itself for us to purchase and move into our “forever home” two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, we lived in some very fine homes that we could never have afforded on our own, but it is such a peace to know that we are now stable.

The Christian wayfarer is on a very similar journey. He or she is happy and contented to be where God has placed them at the moment but always keeps an eye out for what is to come. We are all on a soul journey towards God and searching for the true meaning being a citizen of the God’s Kingdom.

Discretion

Discretion is knowing the right thing to do and doing it with a sense of humility. Jesus said, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.” As wayfarers, there are many experiences that will transpire in this world before we become complete kingdom people. None of us can achieve completeness of our souls when are busy with self-promotion. God’s love is not present in showy Christians. God wants us to be discrete.

Light

Our paths are being illuminated by the light that God supplies. There are far too many people who desire to supply their own light. In doing so, they completely miss the light of God. Our soul journey becomes a confusing mess of competing “lights” and none of them are the true light. The true light brings both freedom and responsibility. There is a sense that when we walk with the light we accept some of the burdens of others as Jesus accepted the burdens of all. As we accept the burden of others, we are given true light that will illuminate our path. Additionally, we are given the strength and wisdom that comes with God’s light. His light allows us to never be alone.

Love

Love is the most over used and distorted word in our vocabulary. We love in all kinds of ways and still miss the love of God. His love is unconditional and unfettered. It is limitless and available to all. Our love is always so conditional and it is limited by our ability to grasp the love of God. All God wants us to do is to accept His love and He will do the rest. When we accept His love we get a view of His heart and cannot be restrained from being and acting like Him. No rules are necessary – only live in the bliss of knowing the love of God.

If you are thinking that this is too good to be true, you are probably right. There is no such thing as perfection on this journey but there is the path that seeks it. God tells us through John of the Cross that there are at least three ways that we can try to find harmony with God. My suggestion is to just try. What have you got to lose?


Prayer
Lord, help me to examine the way I observe discretion, light, and love along my path. Keep these concepts in my mind as I walk the wayfarer’s path of life. Might I accept the wisdom of the wise man of the past and seek these concepts every day.

Amen


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Love, Jesus Style

‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:36-39

love-Triangle-Nouwen


There were constantly people who seeking to trip Jesus up in one fashion or another. Jesus was playing a high stakes game with the Jewish leaders. He was challenging their rules and about to bring a tidal wave of change to their lives. For so long religious life had meandered along just as these leaders had desired but Jesus came with a new revelation, new ideas, and most dangerously, with great power. He was confronted by a teacher of the law with this question. “Which commandment is the greatest?” He answered with two which have three applications.

His first was to love God. That seems like an easy one, especially if it could be done in a vacuum. Think about it, God created us, he gives us life and He sustains us every day. That not a hard one. We would be fools not to love Him. The real challenge is how do we express such love? A simple solution would be to get up every morning and just tell Him we love him and keep Him on our mind all day. That seems like love to me but it only begins there.

Secondly, we are to love our neighbors. Loving our neighbors brings a plethora of unanswered questions. All of these questions are summed up in one. Who is my neighbor? Jesus answers this question many times in His teachings. Similarly, it is answered in Hebrew scripture as well.

• Live generously towards the poor and alien (Lev. 19:9–10).

• Do not steal from anyone (Lev. 19:11).

• Do not be deceptive in dealings with people (Lev. 19:11).

• Do not oppress, rob, or exploit the poor by paying unfair wages (Lev. 19:13).

• Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind (Lev. 19:14).

• Do not be partial to the poor or show favor to the great but judge honestly (Lev. 19:15).

• Do not commit financial fraud. (Lev. 19:16).

• Do not hate your brother (Lev. 19:17).

• Do not seek revenge or hold a grudge but extend forgiveness (Lev. 19:18).

These verses are part of the Levitical law and point toward proper treatment of All people. That leads me to conclude that all of God’s people are my neighbor. There is a third caveat to this teaching of Jesus that may prove to be the most difficult of all.

Love yourself – There is no love without self-love. If we mistrust ourselves and think lowly of ourselves we will be a very dreadful person. Perhaps the real problem with these Jewish leaders was their inability to love themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin.

I share a poem that is credited to the late Robert Schuller that can serve as a good model for self-love.

Love-triangle-mertonI may be young; I may be old, But I am somebody,

For I am God’s child.

I may be educated; I may be unlettered, But I am somebody,

For I am God’s child.

I may be black; I may be white, But I am somebody,

For I am God’s child.

I may be rich; I may be poor, But I am somebody,

For I am God’s child.

I may be a sinner; I may be a saint, But I am somebody,

For Jesus is my Savior. I am God’s child!

When we know to whose family we belong, we learn to esteem ourselves correctly.

Loving God, neighbor, and ourselves is not something that we perfect all at once. A woman once received a valentine card that said on the cover: “I love you terribly.” Inside were the words “But I’ll improve with practice.” It is not an easy task to be a loving person. Life is busy, filled with frustration, disappoints and exhaustion. In the midst of everything, we are often called to love the unlovable. While wading through such confusion we can discover the love triangle that points to loving God, self, and others – thus we find the secret of a fulfilling life on earth and a foretaste of the life to come.

Love-triangle


PRAYER

Lord, is difficult necessary that we learn of love from you. You created us out of love and you sustain us with love. You ask us to complete the triangle of love that will make us whole. This day, help me to love you, my neighbor and myself with a love that can only come from you. I cherish that love and seek it from you.

Amen


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Writer’s Rules

C.S. Lewis was a English scholar, writers and theologian. His many works and writings are still widely used today. He was not only a great writer of books but a caring man who answered his mail and never missed an opportunity to encourage young writers. In 1959 an American schoolgirl wrote to C. S. Lewis asking him for advice on the craft of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules.

1. Turn off the radio.

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.CS Lewis Writing

4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.

5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

Not many of us even think about typewriters and radios anymore but we are still surrounded by distractions that can blur our focus and rob us of some jewel that might have been. Lewis’s advice is just as alive today as it was nearly 60 years ago when he first penned this list. I past this along to all my fellow bloggers and readers.


Prayer

Lord help me to develop the talents that you have seen to bestow upon me. Guide me to use my time wisely and to continue to work on my gifts.

Amen

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