Monthly Archives: August 2016

Success

From Brown Book Magazine:1904

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


“I am going to work with Christ today, for the salvation of my soul, for that is the reward he gives.”

Sayings of the Desert


Whether it is the words of a great writer or a committed monk of the desert, the formula for success seems to be the same. Success is expressed by what we accomplish outside of ourselves by giving to others. Jesus said, “…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you.” Jesus makes it quite clear that hospitality or works that only have potential payback are not a key to the doorway of success. The essence of success is leaving more thaRalph-Waldo-Emerson-1fn you take. In doing so, your success provides for the welfare of all. Those who provide for the welfare of all find themselves immeasurably rewarded.

There is not one among us who does not seek success. For some, success is big and glowing but for others, it is far simpler. Our skill set, goals and definition of success are all factors in our ultimate success, but one thing remains constant, Those who act only out of selfish motives never find peace. A person who has no peace is not successful no matter how they appear on the outside. One who spends life laughing, loving, and enjoying has the ability to motivate and help others to grow. A person who seeks God in all work will find Him in multiple places. Never think of yourself as “merely” anything, but see yourself as one who contributes greatly to the world. The key word is always – CONTRIBUTE. Our lives will ultimately be measured by our contribution.


Prayer

Lord help me to see the needs of others around as being as important as mine. Lead me to give more than I take and receive graciously what I am given. Let every moment of my work be a time of prayer that is guided toward you. Let my days be filled with laughter and joy and my nights with rest and peace. Please allow me to contribute to the successes of others and to be at peace while doing so. My I leave a trail of abundance as I go about my days. Let me leave more than I take.

Amen

graciously what I am given. Let every moment of my work be a time of prayer that is guided toward you. Let my days be filled with laughter and joy and my nights with rest and peace. Please allow mw to contribute to the successes of others and to be at peace while doing so. My I leave abundance as I go about my days. Let me leave more than I take.

Amen

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Filed under Desert Fathers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Success

Our Journey Toward God

 

Cloud-of-Unknowing-PIC-1The “Cloud of Unknowing” is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer. The true message of this book is that the way to know God is to stop trying figure Him out and simply surrender yourself to the realm of “unknowing,” and then we begin to see a glimpse of God. The first chapter introduces four degrees that we all share in our journey to God. These are COMMON, SPECIAL, SINGULAR AND PERFECT. I would like to unpack some small truths about these degrees.

COMMON

The common degree is where we begin. In this degree we discover the joy of the creation of God. We see the love that he has surrounded us with in our friends, our activities and the things that make our lives worth living. Freely we acknowledge that we are created by Him from nothing and that He is the one who breathes life into us. When someone asks a “common” person if they believe in God, they answer with an enthusiastic, YES! They not only believe in God but comprehend His majesty.

SPECIAL

As our spiritual journey continues, a realization of the fall and sin of Adam comes into our lives. With this realization we can begin to see the suffering of the Savior as He redeems us of our sin with His marvelous grace. This degree brings us into a time when we realize that God sent Jesus to negate the sin of Adam and bring grace to all.

SINGULAR

By continued prayer and growth in faith we become extraordinary in our relationship with God. This relation begins to be natural and inbuilt into every aspect of life. We no longer “have” to pray but our lives become a prayer. This is a most challenging degree to reach. Most committed Christians fall in and out of this place.

PERFECT

Perfection is heavenly bliss. Such bliss is not attainable on this earth but must wait until we are joined to God in the heavenly state. John Wesley spent a great deal of his life looking to achieve this state but realized in his old age that it would not come this side of heaven. In spite of that he still reminds Methodists that they are marching on to perfection.

This path suggested by the writer of “Cloud of Unknowing” can serve us well as we live out our Christian journeys.


Prayer
O God, all hearts are open to you.
You perceive my desire.
Nothing is hidden from you.
Purify the thoughts of my heart
with the gift of your Spirit, that I may love you with a
perfect love and give you the praise you deserve.
Amen

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Filed under Christian Journey, Christian Living, Cloud of Unknowing

Finding a Way

One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph.   Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able.  But to each one the old man said, ‘You have not understood it.’ Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, ‘How would you explain this saying?’ and he replied, ‘I do not know.’ Then Abba Anthony ‘Indeed Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: “I do not know.”

—-Abba Anthony of Egypt

The current events of our day demand that presidential candidates know everything. As a result, these candidates say things that are not well thought out, and even reckless. People lie on their resumes because they feel they must do so in order to get ahead. The world we have created is one that encourages everyone to be more, do more than is realistic. That demand has been the downfall of many who could function in a world that accepts and respects, “I don’t know.”

“I do not know.” These are four most difficult words. Admitting these words has been difficult for people since the beginning, since we are created with a “must know” nature. All men run from mystery, and yet God is a mystery. He calls us to believe what we have not seen. We are led to serve without knowing the results of our service. Be attentive to the voice of the Spirit that calls us to action, even the things that remain a mystery to us.

The old monk helps us find a way in the here and now to the mystery of God. The “I do not know” is the way that we express our belief in that unknowing mystery of God. We are surrounded by atheists and doubters who have demanded concise and quick answers about the God we worship. We are first and foremost a people of faith. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Proclaim your faith and live your life in the joy of not having all the answers.

PRAYER

Dear Lord ,I do not know why there is so much evil in the world. I do not know why I fail to love you and my neighbor as much as I should. I do not know why prayers that seem so necessary go unanswered. I do not know why the scripture is full of mysteries. It is in that sort of unknowing that I cry out to you in faith.

Amen

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