Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pride

Pride is the first of the seven deadly sins. One falls into pride when one lacks trust in God and his mercy and becomes arrogant, hypocritical, and self-centered. Reinhold Neibuhr, who has been referred to as the twentieth-century theologian of sin, summed up humanity’s basic sin our unwillingness to acknowledge our creatureliness, our self-elevation in one word, PRIDE. Neibuhr described the four types of pride:

1. The pride of power wants power to gain security for self or to maintain a power position considered to be secure.

2. Intellectual pride rises from human knowledge that pretends to be ultimate knowledge. It presumes to be final truth.

3. Moral pride claims that its standards for virtue test and measure all righteousness. Niebuhr observed that most evil is done by “good” people who do not know that they are not good.

4. Spiritual pride is self-glorification. It claims that “self’s righteousness” conforms to God’s righteousness.

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Falling and Rising

“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know Julian Icon-filterednothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”

― Julian of Norwich


Think about the words of Julian as you go through  the normal ups and downs of life.

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United Methodists on God

As a United Methodist Elder I am asked what do Methodist believe from time to time. Below you will see the official answer to two questions. I thought it was a good place to start. Next Friday we will go to Jesus.


Who God is

When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinity—three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From early in our Judaic roots we’ve affirmed that God is one and indivisible, yet God is revealed in three distinct ways. “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” is one way of speaking about the several ways we experience God.

We also try to find adjectives that describe the divine nature: God is transcendent (over and beyond all that is), yet at the same time immanent (present in everything). God is omnipresent (everywhere at once), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). God is absolute, infinite, righteous, just, loving, merciful…and more. Because we cannot speak literally about God, we use metaphors: God is a Shepherd, a Bridegroom, a Judge. God is Love or Light or Truth.


What God does

We cannot describe God with certainty. But we can put into words what God does and how we experience God’s action in our lives. God works in at least these seven ways:

  • God creates. In the beginning God created the universe, and the Creation is ongoing. From the whirling galaxies, to subatomic particles, to the unfathomable wonders of our own minds and bodies—we marvel at God’s creative wisdom.
  • God sustains. God continues to be active in creation, holding all in “the everlasting arms.” In particular, we affirm that God is involved in our human history—past, present, and future.
  • God loves. God loves all creation. In particular, God loves humankind, created in the divine image. This love is like that of a parent. We’ve followed Jesus in speaking of God as “our Father,” while at times it seems that God nurtures us in a motherly way as well.
  • God suffers. Since God is present in creation, God is hurt when any aspect of creation is hurt. God especially suffers when people are injured. In all violence, abuse, injustice, prejudice, hunger, poverty, or illness, the living God is suffering in our midst.
  • God judges. All human behavior is measured by God’s righteous standards—not only the behavior itself but also the motive or the intent. The Lord of life knows our sin—and judges it.
  • God redeems. Out of infinite love for each of us, God forgives our own self-destruction and renews us within. God is reconciling the individuals, groups, races, and nations that have been rent apart. God is redeeming all creation.
  • God reigns. God is the Lord of all creation and of all history. Though it may oftentimes seem that the “principalities and powers” of evil have the stronger hand, we affirm God’s present and future reign.

When all is done, if we have difficulty in imagining who God is or in relating to God, there’s a simple solution: Remember Jesus—for in the New Testament picture of Jesus, we see God.

From United Methodist Member’s Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006)

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Some Thoughts on Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is an expression of faith. It assumes that human beings are not self-sufficient but dependent on God. It is not a sign of weakness to pray but a sign of our humanity. Prayer acknowledges our need for God. Prayer is surrender. In his book, The Reaffirmation of Prayer, E. Glenn Hinson says that “the key to human existence lies in surrender to God, putting one’s self and one’s affairs utterly and with complete child-like trust in God’s hands.” The concepts of need and surrender are at the heart of our prayer lives.

There is not one among us who would make the outlandish claim of be totally self-sufficient and without any need. Even more outlandish would be to pretend that we have no need of spiritual strength and nourishment. One of the keys to an effective prayer life is to become comfortable with need. This need pushes us toward God, and then He becomes the “go to” person for our deep and simple needs.

God can never become our “go to” person until we surrender our valued self-sufficiency. The surrender concept moves us out of ourselves and into the hands of God. When we are in the hands of God, we feel very comfortable to taking our every need to Him. Look again at the words of the Lord’s Prayer.


Lords-prayer

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Our Neighbors

 

Abba Poeman

Abba Poeman

To instruct your neighbor is the same things as reproving him.

 Do not do your own will; you need rather to humble yourself before your brother.

—-Abba Poeman


The concept of being a good neighbor is addressed in all sorts of literature. The ringing sound of these two quotes from Abba Poeman is to practice humility and selflessness with our neighbors. We are trained from a very early age to take care of ourselves and those who are dependent on us. Even the Bible tells us that a man who does not care for his family is worthless. In accomplishing these lofty goals, we sometimes neglect our relationships with others. At times we see ourselves as superior to those around us and feel the need to correct them.

The Abba’s words and the words of Jesus take us in a slightly different direction. Bible words like “go the second mile and loving my neighbor as myself” provide a different model. They serve to remind us that our lives are bigger than just doing what is best for me and mine, but find their true meaning when we are mindful of others.

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A Midday Prayer

Angels, bearers of good tiding, awaken me to joy,to divine presence whenever I experience what is good, true, and beautiful.Let me take great joy in recognizing beauty in the eyes of other good people.It is there if I take the time to really see it.


Scripture Reading

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

Luke 2:9-10


Silence

Relax and let go for a few minutes and allow your body to feel itself breathing. Let go of the cares of the morning and prepare to face what lies ahead.


Blessing of self: I affirm myself for…


Blessing of the lunch

Bless Lord those that have labored in the fields for this food

Bless those who have provided for me

Bless those who gather

Bless the breaking of the bread

Christ beside me

Christ behind me

Christ around me

Christ at the table


This is a Celtic pattern of midday prayer.

Try it. Blessings

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The Pope and the Rolling Stone

pope rolling store

The dream of every rising rock star is to one day make the cover of the Rolling Stone. I seriously doubt that the Pope ever expected this or is fully aware of the profound cultural implication. I, for one, think it speaks volumes for his ministry. I pray that he will continue to go to the the world with his message. Today,I am going to buy a copy of the Rolling Stone. The first one I’ve purchased since college. (nearly forty years)

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The Visit

Luke 19:1-10

            Fifteen little boys sat on hard benches in the synagogue and tried to pay attention as the rabbi droned on from the writings of Moses.  One boy was about half the size of the others.  He hated school and he hated the other fourteen boys.  They made his life miserable.  They were unmerciful in their ridicule of him.  He was a “runt, half-pint, Pee Wee.”  They picked him up and tossed him around like a ball.  They refused to allow him on their teams; he made them lose.  While the rabbi examined the Sabbath laws with the class, Zaccheus made plans for revenge.  He fed his bitterness and anger by justifying his hate with the actions of others.  He was on the receiving end now, but one day he would get even!

The boys grew up.  Zaccheus became an adult with a child’s body.  The Roman government employed him as a tax collector – and he got even!  By collecting far too much money and pocketing the extra, Zaccheus became enormously wealthy, selfish, and lonely.

The news was that the great prophet Jesus was coming to town.  Out of curiosity, Zaccheus made his way to the road on which Jesus would travel.  He never expected such a huge crowd!  He pushed, shoved, and tried to elbow his way through the sea of humanity to no avail.  It was fun to keep little, despised Zaccheus in the back!  Totally frustrated, he spied a tree just a bit up the road and perched on a limb overhanging the route.  Here, he had a great view away from the riffraff.  Smugly, he waited for Jesus.

Try for a moment to imagine the shock Zaccheus felt when Jesus walked under the limb, looked straight into his eyes, and said, “Get out of the tree, Zaccheus.  I’m coming over to your house.”  He very nearly fell out of the tree, but he managed to climb down and hurry home to make preparations for his guest.  The crowd stood in indignant amazement at Jesus’ judgment.  Of all the homes He could have chosen to visit!  Zaccheus through the eyes of God, not through the eyes of man.

Jesus and Zaccheus talked that day.  Zaccheus opened his heart and poured out his hurt and anger.  When it was empty, Jesus made it over – new-and filled it with love only He can give.  Zaccheus recognized Jesus that day, and he was never the same.  He stopped being a “taker” and became a “giver.”  He got a stack of money and ran every step to town.  He sought out each and every person he had cheated and paid them back four times what he owed them.  He gave a lot that day.  He gave forgiveness to those fourteen school mates.  He gave the grace of Jesus to all he met. He gave his heart to Jesus, and that necessitated giving to others.

Use these contemplative days of Lent to visit with Jesus.  Empty your heart of hurt and anger and let it be filled instead with grace.  Become a “giver” not a “taker” as you journey.                                   Monica Boudreaux

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Silent Listening

I recently discovered a fascinating modern mystic. Mama Maggie is a Coptic who works with the poorest of the poor in troubled Egypt. At a leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church she said, “The hardest task of a leader is to get to know the Almighty and to keep your heart pure.” She asserted that a way to accomplish this is through silence. There “you discover a taste of eternity.” Silence your body to listen to words.

Silence your tongue to listen to thoughts.

Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating.

Silence your heart to listen to your spirit.

Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit.

—–Mama Maggiemamamaggie

I am thoroughly convinced that if all of us would the biblical admonition of “be still and know that I am God” we would experience a sense of peace and be far more successful in all of our endeavors.

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More Celtic Wisdom

Celtic WISDOM 1

Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic. Your sense of each other darkens and your presence is sore. If you can come through this time, it can purify with your love, and falsity and need will fall away. It will bring you onto new ground where affection can grow again.

——John O’Donohue

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