Monthly Archives: February 2013

Fully Present

God, the Father watches us all everywhere.

Abba  Serapion  said,  ‘When  the  soldiers  of  the emperor are standing at attention, they cannot look to the right or left; it is the same for the man who stands before God and looks towards him in fear at all times; he cannot then fear anything from the enemy.  

—-Sayings of the Desert

The wise Abba gives us a thought about living a focused life,or in other words, a fully present life. Our full presence always starts when we stand before God. If we can learn to keep focused on Him and His desires for us we can accomplish just about anything. It is in the looking to the left and right that we find ourselves in disarray and confusion. Make it a goal in your life to always be fully present in the task that is before you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Commitment, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Focus, Fully Present, Missional Living

Our Faithful God

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

As Americans we tend to get the idea that we can do anything. It is sort of a vision of invincibility. After all we took the lead in WWII, put the first man on the moon, saw the Soviet Union fall, led the cyber age and have the strongest economy in the world. With all those things on our side what can be against us?

The world seems to be filled with hate for the USA. Our utter disbelief and horror as we have endured one shock after another. The time has come for us to take stock of ourselves, to look deeply into our beings and to find the root of our strength. Long ago the Psalmist said: –

A hostile world! I call to God, I cry to God to help me. From his place he hears my call: my cry brings me right into his presence—a private audience (the Message) Psalm 18:6

We now find ourselves in a situation where all our ready answers are failing to fill the bill. The only answer for us is to renew that great faith that is within us. It is God’s will to bring good to us all. God created everyone with great potential. He created us in his own image. -“to be a little lower than God.” -He will hear our cry in our darkest times and give us a private audience. The time has come to request that audience.

God calls on us individually to come to the realization that He is waiting to hear from us. If we all call upon the God of grace and peace to guide us in these strange times we will wake up to a radically changed world. . A world that is no longer at the daily mercy of terrorist but in the loving arms of the creator of us all. A creator that is capable of bringing love to the heart of hatred that drives the people who rob us of the peace that Jesus came into this world to give us.

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Filed under Conflict, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Love of God, Missional Living

Lent — A Different Perspective

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers.

The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.

This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. “I don’t mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers.”

‘Tis odd, isn’t it?” the man replies, “You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”

The bartender and soon the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening – he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, “Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all…”

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, “You’ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well… It’s just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent.”

Perhaps we should look at what we are giving up for Lent as well? Think about it.

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Filed under Commitment, Fasting, Humor, Lent

Inside Out

A Desert Monastery

A brother questioned Abba Arsenius to hear a word of him and the old man said to him, ‘Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accord with God, and you will overcome exterior passions.’ He also said, ‘If we seek God, he will show himself to us, and if we keep him, he will remain close to us.’

—Sayings of the Desert

Insider trading is buying stocks with information not known to the public and reaping large profits as a result. It is illegal in our country. But with our relationship to our God it is a very desirable thing to get to know Him by our interior activity so that our exterior behavior would prove to be very profitable and good. The challenge of the desert and of our world is to contain our passions. In doing so, we become people of love and grace.

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Filed under Christian Living, Desert Fathers, Evil, Lent, Missional Living

Action, Being and Words

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

—Mahatma Gandhi

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220)

― St. Francis of Assisi

The rose transmits its scent without a movement. I have a definite feeling that if you want us to experience the aroma of Christianity you must copy the rose. It irresistibly draws people to itself and the scent remains with them. A rose does not preach … it simply spreads its fragrance.

Mahatma Gandhi

Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.

 St. Francis of Assisi

At first glance these two famous men would appear to be at the opposite ends of the religious and spiritual perspectives. Gandhi, a Hindu, and Francis, a Christian, are essentially saying the same thing. Why? The direct answer is: God is the God of the universe. He truths are universal and not owned by any particular group. To live out a life of faith requires three things:

  •  Action… The willingness and eagerness to get something done and the conviction to act on it.
  • Being… Possessing the qualities that identify you as a person of faith.
  • Words… The ability to choose the right words at the right time

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Filed under Christian Living, contemplative, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Missional Living

Authority and Control

Controversy

Heavy work, such as I should never choose; but sometimes it must be done. Well might the ancient say, ‘God made practical divinity necessary, the devil controversial. But it is necessary: we must “resist the devil,” or he will not “flee from us.” Those are the words of John Wesley in a letter to the Bishop of Exeter. Mr. Wesley was in the midst of a dispute with the Bishop over authority.

It is uncanny how many of the arguments we have in our day are over authority. The tricky issue of “who gets to decide,”causes many good things to go undone, because we hold on tightly to that which we claim as our own. The devil’s oldest trick is to have us busy resisting each other instead of resisting him. As we journey into Lent today, we must look deeply inside of ourselves and try to discern that path that we must take. God created us for good works and we must find those works . Let us not be thrown off the path by disputes over the issue of “who gets to decide,” but rather push to accomplish the task of being God’s hands and voice to the world.

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Filed under Christian Living, Church Conflict, Controversy, Criticism, Evil, John Wesley, Lent, Missional Living, Power

Our Ever-present God

 One day Abba Daniel and Abba Ammoes went on a journey together. Abba Ammoes said, ‘When shall we, too, settle down, in a cell, Father?’ Abba Daniel replied, ‘Who shall separate us henceforth from God?   God is in the cell, and, on the other hand, he is outside also.’

——-Sayings of the Desert Fathers

When John Wesley began to preach outside it was seen as an innovation in his time. And yet some 1000 years earlier we see this Abba saying that God is outside as well. It is amazing that these men of the desert were so far ahead when it comes to seeing God in all His ways and places. Today we live in a time of conflicting styles of worship and even of questions about the presence of God. We may want to take the words of Abba Daniel to heart and realize that God is always with us. God is not trapped or confined to a building or a place. He is our ever-present God

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Filed under contemplative, Desert Fathers, John Wesley, Lent, Monasticism

Good Heart

Statue of John Wesley at Wesley's Chapel City ...

Statue of John Wesley at Wesley’s Chapel City Road, London. (January 2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him, and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question: “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”

—-John Wesley from “Catholic Spirit”

The words of John Wesley ring loud and clear in this confusing and divisive time. Wise men allow others to differ from them without turning on them. The concept that we must all walk in step with one another or become enemies is destroying our churches and nation. Our political or theological stands are not the sum total of our being.. The heart reveals our true nature. We are people of good heart or bad heart. If we wish ill will and destruction with any who disagree with our opinions, then I would say that we are not of good heart. However, people of good heart and wisdom can embrace others even if they are not in full agreement with them. 

People of good heart:

  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Attempt to find the greater good
  • Work for the greater good
  • Seek truth
  • Understand there is more than one right answer
  • Give up power

To all I ask: “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, John Wesley, Methodist, Unity

A Missional Moment

This past Saturday I decided to get very adventurous. I got on my bicycle and rode the eight miles from my home to Downtown New

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

The San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl XXIX trophy on display at the 49ers’ Family Day at Candlestick Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orleans on the Saturday afternoon before the Super Bowl. I expected to see the many media booths and other stages that had been erected before the game, the throngs of people milling about, but I saw something I didn’t expect.  In front of the Prebytere there was what I would call a preaching “shout off” going on. It seems that some very conservative Christians had taken it upon themselves to convert the world, especially those that were having too much fun. At the same time there was a man who didn’t quite see things the way they did that was shouting back at the preacher with every breath.

Being the “think and let think” Methodist that I am, such a situation distresses me. I listened for a while and when the shout off had ceased I engaged the heckler. I simply wanted to tell him that though I didn’t hold the views of the street preacher who had just condemned to hell everyone from the party goers to the Archbishop of New Orleans, that I did not feel that his heckling was effective. He eagerly engaged me in conversation, grabbed my hands, and at about six inches from my face insisted that look him in the eyes. I was told microphone frequencies were changed in the 1930’s making all microphones the tools of Satan. I quickly excused myself and rode back home.

How often have you been caught thinking that things were different than they were? I wanted to support someone who seemed to want a more loving approach to the gospel, instead I was confronted by a rather delusional man. We are all called to be Missional and sometimes we may misread a situation, but we must press on to be the Missio dei of the world.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Evil, missional, Missional Living

God’s Grace

god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

He also said, ‘God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as he did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much.’

—sayings of the Desert

These words were recorded some 1500 years ago. Too often we think that no generation or people have had it tougher than us. It seems that the theme of this being the “worst of times” has been around a long time. The wisdom of the desert tells us that God lessens the temptations on those who cannot bear them. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”(I Cor. 6:18) Rest assured, bad things will happen, but God always gives us a way out.

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Filed under Christian Living, Dedication, Desert Fathers, Evil