Monthly Archives: March 2017

Capturing Humility

Look at your weaknesses, not at your strengths, and pay attention to what you still need to do, instead of rehearsing in your mind what you’ve already accomplished. This is the best way to get and keep humility.

—-Cloud of the Unknowing

Humility-1The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

—Jesus of Nazareth

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

—-Peter the Apostle

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

― Ernest Hemingway

Becoming humble of action and deed is the great calling of all Christ followers. Our words only speak as loud as the deeds and actions that people see in us. There is a great deal said about being humble. Humility defines us in many ways.

HUMILITY – Preachers preach it scholars teach it. Here are a few thoughts on humility.

  • Humility helps us to know when to say yes.
  • Humility is our best friend when given a demanding task.
  • Humility is the best mirror we will ever own.
  • Humility teaches us how to handle power and wealth.
  • Humility guides when ego pushes us to stray.
  • Humility is passing over the mistakes of others,
  • Humility is the ability to accept insult without revenge.
  • Humility is our friend when we are all alone.
  • Humility is the cures pride.
  • Humility builds real confidence.
  • Humility is minding your own business.
  • Humility is the only path to God.

Prayer

Lord help me to discover that healing powers of humility. Release me from the chains of pride and ego. Allow me to flourish in being no more, or less, than you have made me to be. Guide me through this day as a real person who can put aside the arrogance that so besets me.

Amen


Humility-1

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Lessons from the Passion

Matthew 26:30-39

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

“I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’

The last hours of Jesus’ life bear powerful truths for our daily living.  Lessons and principles for following Christ are to be learned in almost every event of those last hours.

Watch and learn…

  • On Thursday night, Jesus ate the traditional Passover meal with His disciples.  That night, He performed an act of great humility.  The Messiah washed the feet of His apostles.  He taught them that to be great, you must be small.  The way to lead is to serve.  Remember Jesus washing the disciples’ dirty feet if you feel unimportant, un-empowered or small.
  • Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.  He declared his loyalty, even to the death.  But Jesus sadly informed him that he would vehemently deny knowing the Savior three times before the rooster would crow in the morning.  Remember Peter as he heard the rooster crow early Friday morning if you feel self-sufficient or confident in your own resources alone.
  • After the meal, Jesus went to the garden to pray.  His followers chose sleep, not prayer.  In the loneliness of those hours, Jesus’ heart was in great agony as He accepted death for our salvation.  Remember Jesus kneeling alone in the garden if you find it hard to do the right thing.
  • Then came the trials.  First, Christ stood before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin; then, the Roman governor, Pilate; next, Herod, the Jewish puppet king; and finally back to Pilate again.  In cowardice, Pilate let the people choose; Jesus or Barabbas, a convicted criminal.  Remember Jesus as he heard the crowd shout, “Crucify him!  Give us Barabbas!” If you feel wrongfully accused.
  • The Roman soldiers beat Him, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him and made Him carry His cross.  Remember the humiliation of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa if you feel rejected or excluded.
  • Jesus was nailed to the cross with huge spikes. In the midst of His torture, He prayed for His executioners.  Remember Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them,” if you find it hard to forgive.
  • Those same soldiers gambled for His clothes.  Remember how Jesus must have felt as the soldiers played games at the foot of the cross if you feel discouraged by power struggles, feel used or feel misunderstood.
  • There are lessons to be learned from all suffering but the passion of Christ shows us the true heart of God.  The Lenten season gives us 40 days to ponder Christ’s passion and learn from it.

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – Give me the wisdom to learn lessons of service and humility as I consider Christ’s passion.

Amen.

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God’s Proposal

Ephesians 1:2-12

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

The Genesis account tells the saga of creation in human time. Imagine… it was day six of the most fascinating week of all time. God turned to his right and looked at The Son. He made a proposal that paled the awesome creation of the previous five days. A proposal that stilled the birds in flight and the fish as they swam. A proposal that caught the undivided attention of heaven and hell. A proposal made only once in an eternity and once in a universe. A proposal only God could conceive. God said, “Let us make man! Let us make man like we are!”

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All the new creation united with breathless anticipation. The Son gave a confirming nod and smiled. His agreement sealed His fate and man’s opportunity to live forever. Heaven rejoiced! Creation cheered! Hell shook! The Son approved a plan only He could accomplish.

The season of Lent is that time set aside in the church’s liturgical calendar for us to seriously contemplate the amazing proposal God made on the “sixth day” of creation. These 40 days are days to reflect on God’s fascinating design for the eternal soul of each person and how that plan was accomplished through the passion, death, and resurrection of The Son. To properly prepare for the celebration of Christ’s victory at Easter, we must make a serious, spiritual attempt to recognize the enormity of God’s grace to us – from the beginning.

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER: Father, Give me a clearer understanding of your design for my eternal life. Thank you for the hugeness of your grace.

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The False Self

To say I was born into sin is just saying I came into the world with a false self. I was born in a mask. I came into existence under sign of contradiction, being someone that I was never intended to be and therefore a denial of what I am supposed to be. Unless I came into existence and non-existence at the same time because from the very start I was something that I was not.

—–Thomas Merton

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus of Nazareth

The ego is the false self born out of fear and defensiveness.

John O’ Donahue

The concept of “false self’ is one that we all need to freely acknowledge in order to grow and prosper as God intended. Most of us realize at some point in our lives that things are not really like we had hoped they would be. No matter how hard we try to be the person that we want to be, we always seem to fall short. We compensate for this by creating a false self. That self is totally self-sufficient and creates its own image. We were designed to be one with God and many spend a lifetime trying to deny that reality. Our vision is our false self because we can control that self.

That self drives us to do weird things, but there is an answer. Surrender to and become the “God designed” you. That requires that we give up the idea of being an all sufficient creation that needs nothing more than training or experience. We are all born flawed and those flaws only get worse if we keep denying them. We all need a true makeover. Such a makeover is called by some being “born again.” That new birth is being born of God and beginning a life that is no longer self-dependent but God dependent.


Prayer

Lord help me to be what you want me to be. Give me the freedom and grace to seek you in my journey. Give me the courage to stop pretending to be something I am not. Allow me to put aside my pride and trust the unknown that you have planted in me.

Amen.

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THE FIRST STONE

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

John 8:2-11

Image result for he who is wo sin cast the first stoneMedical doctors and counselors tell us that a great deal of sickness, both mental and physical, is brought on by the fact that people carry around a tremendous burden of unresolved guilt. As creations of God, we long for His forgiveness, even though we don’t even recognize the need. Hear a story of forgiveness.

The woman was being shoved and jostled along the dusty road. Her long, dark hair was covering her face. She could see little. She had stumbled and fallen several times and the brush burns on her elbows and knees stung.

The men harassing her called her terrible names as they roughly pushed her along. They were taking her to the right place – the church. They were taking her to the right person – Jesus. But, they were taking her there for all the wrong reasons.

The men were well dressed, finely appointed religious leaders. On the outside, they were excellent examples of the best religion had to offer, but on the inside, they were dead and filthy.

They had found this woman in the act of adultery and were anxiously anticipating stoning her to death. Thinking to entrap Jesus with a violation of the law at the same time, they took the woman to the temple where Jesus was teaching.

In response to their question about the death sentence on this woman, Jesus at first ignored them and then began writing in the dirt with His finger. The woman cowered terrified that she would be stoned to death within minutes. She dared not lift her eyes to meet any of theirs.

Jesus knew her fear – He could see it. But since He was God, He also knew her heart and the hearts of the pompous men judging her. Jesus looked at the adulterous woman as He looks at you and me. He was filled with love for this woman He had created just a few years before. Maybe as He wrote on the ground, He thought of you and me, people He would create 2000 years later.

His eyes met the eyes of the religious leaders. He looked into the emptiness of their hearts. He made a simple statement that carried with it the authority from heaven and said, “If you have not sinned, you can throw the first stone.” Those men convicted by the irrefutable authority of the Lord walked away – one by one.

Then His eyes met the frightened eyes of the woman. He asked her where her accusers were. Upon her reply, He performed a remarkable miracle. He forgave her.

God’s miracle of forgiveness continues 2000 years later. During this Lenten season confess your need for God’s forgiveness. By the grace of Jesus Christ – you are forgiven!

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – We confess our need for forgiveness and gratefully receive it. May we forgive those who have “trespassed against us” as you have forgiven us.

AMEN

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Some Thoughts About Fasting

The season of Lent is always a time to think and prayer about the value of fasting. Today I will share some thought from a variety of people from diverse background about fasting.

 

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“One way to begin to see how vastly indulgent we usually are is to fast. It is a long day that is not broken by the usual three meals. One finds out what an astonishing amount of time is spent in the planning, purchasing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up of meals.”

– Elisabeth Elliot

“If the solemnities of our fasting, though frequent, long, and severe, do not serve to put an edge upon devout affections, to quicken prayer, to increase Godly sorrow, and to alter the temper of our minds, and the course of our lives, for the better, they do not at all answer the intention, and God will not accept them as performed to Him.”

– Matthew Henry

“The greatest saint in the world is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice. It is he who is most thankful to God.”

– William Law

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.”

– William Secker

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.”

– Ole Hallesby

“This Man (Jesus) suddenly remarks one day, ‘No one need fast while I am here.’ Who is this Man who remarks that His mere presence suspends all normal rules?”

– C.S. Lewis

“The abstinence is not to be an end in itself but rather for the purpose of being separated to the Lord and to concentrate on godliness. This kind of fasting reduces the influence of our self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do a more intense work in us.”

– William Thrasher

“Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, you determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.”

– Wesley L. Duewel

“Fastings and vigils without a special object in view are time run to waste.”

– David Livingstone


My Lenten fast is the “John Wesley Fast.” You might want to do this as well.


Prayer

Lord help me this day to develop a Lenten discipline. Allow me to conquer the desires of my body for rest, comfort and ease so that I may offer myself to You. For it was in your discomfort and pain that you brought life to me. Let this Lenten season be a time that I remember your sacrifice as I make the spiritual journey to the cross.

Amen


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A Lenten Thought

The only trouble is that in the spiritual life there are no tricks and
no shortcuts. Those who imagine that they can discover spiritual gimmicks and put them to work for themselves usually ignore God’s will and his grace.

  • Thomas Merton

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The Divine – Human Portrait of Grace

John 1:14-17

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

I have my son’s dog tags which he wore for his deployment to Iraq. I treasure them and look at them often to contemplate the lessons I learned that year – an awareness of the real presence of God, gratefulness for every day of life, realization that imprinted in just four lines of metal is all the Army needs to know about a soldier. This is how my son’s dog tag reads:

There is no rank, no hometown, no race, no family – just a blood type which ties him to the physical world and a religious affiliation which ties him to the spiritual world. At the end of the day that is who we are – human beings with a blood type imprinted on our DNA and spiritual beings with a religious confession of faith in Christ imprinted on our souls.

Jesus Christ’s passion and death reaches us with lessons of grace, because he was both a human being and God, a human – divine miracle, and the source of grace we so desperately need.

The angel declared his name, “God with Us”

  • God With Us, in a feeding trough.
  • God With Us, touching lepers sores
  • God With Us, run out of his hometown.
  • God With Us, spit upon, slapped, scourged.
  • God With Us, crowned with thorns.
  • God With Us, hanging on a tree.
  • God With Us, dead in a tomb.
  • God With Us, walking out of a cemetery.

Over and over “God With Us” demonstrated how to give grace – underserved gifts of love and mercy to the unworthy, unloving, and ungrateful. The crucifixion of Christ provides for us an image of the essence of our existence – finite human beings and infinite souls that are united by the resurrection of God With Us, the divine and human in a portrait of grace.

PRAYER: Father, Thank you for grace shown to us in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Monica Boudreaux

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Pope Francis on Fasting

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March 3, 2017 · 7:18 am

Fasting, A Lenten Discipline

Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent. The Lenten season of the Christian Year when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. I share with you today a way of fasting during Lent.

John-Wesleys-Fast

THE JOHN WESLEY FAST – A LENTEN DISCIPLINE

What is the “John Wesley Fast?”

Each Thursday evening, after the evening meal, until mid-afternoon on each Friday, Methodist people are invited to follow Wesley’s example of fasting and prayer. During this time he did not take solid food but fasted and focused much of his time in prayer.

What is a fast?

Normally persons do not use solid food, but continue with liquids during such a short but regular fast.

Who is invited to participate in the “John Wesley Fast?”

John Wesley expected the “preachers” to participate, and he wanted all of the John-Wesley-whoMethodist leaders and people to follow this discipline.

Why this pattern?

Methodist people are invited to discover the power in this regular pattern and discipline that John Wesley followed for a half a century. For Wesley, the more important reason for fasting was that fasting is a help to prayer.

As one of John Wesley’s “preachers,” I would like to suggest that this Lenten you observe the “John Wesley Fast” as a Lenten discipline.

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