Monthly Archives: July 2020

I Must Be Me


It is not humility to insist on being someone that you are not. It is as much as saying that you know better than God who you are and who you ought to be. How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else’s life? His sanctity will never be yours; You must have the humility to work out your own Salvation in a darkness where you are absolutely alone.

And so, it takes heroic humility to be yourself and to be nobody but the man, or the artist, that God intended you to be.

~~~Thomas Merton – New Seeds of Contemplation



We all seek to find ways to better ourselves. We want to be richer, wiser, more pious than we are today. The challenge becomes the way we achieve those goals. Most of us are convinced that God made a mistake when he created us. He meant for us to be smarter, better, and simply different than what we see in ourselves. Somewhere along the way some well-meaning Christian decided that it was a sign of humility to disown ourselves. I could not possibly say that I was, or was becoming, a perfected creation of God. If we could just find someone, some model that we could copy, things would be alright. We say that we must be like them in order to be humble.

Merton tells us that it is just the opposite. In denying ourselves in that way, we are denying the providence of God. That is not true humility. True humility is to continue to struggle with who we are and to become who God made us to be. God creates each of us in a unique way and want us to thrive in the reality of ourselves. He has something in mind for us and will get us to that point. He never promised it would be easy.

Next time you look at someone and think, that is who I want to be, remember, God wants you to be just the way he made you. The psalmist says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made you to be YOU.

Each of us has some rough spots that we must smooth, but he created us in his multifaceted image. That is why we are all different. We can never be someone else no matter how hard we try.


Prayer

LORD, Let me be humble enough to be the person you created. My short comings and failures are the rocky roads that you have set before me as I journey to your Kingdom. Please give me the humility to live with the flaws that you have given me and know that they are the road to you. I must never stop trying to usher in your Kingdom.



Amen

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THIS WEEK -PATIENCE

Patience – The capacity for calm endurance with pain, trouble, inconvenience – forbearance under provocation, tolerance of the faults or limitations of other people. Calm

A teacher had just finished putting the last pair of galoshes on her preschoolers—thirty-two pairs in all. The last little girl said, “You know what, teacher? These aren’t my galoshes.”

The teacher removed them from the girl’s feet. Then the little girl continued, “They are my sister’s, and she let me wear them.” The teacher quietly put them back on her pupil.

Now that’s patience!

Patience is a virtue that we all strive to have. Our world teaches us by default to be impatient. Streaming videos, text messages, ATMS, online payments allow us to get and do what we want instantaneously. There is no need to ever wait because you can get it now. I think that such things are good. None want to go back to postal mail, going to the movies and paying bills at the payment window of each company.

This new way does bring with it a loss of the art of being patient. We are being an increasingly impatient and demanding society. Nothing happens quite fast enough; we have been spoiled by technology and convenience and have become a demanding and impatient society. The cashier, the waiter, the cook does not move fast or efficiently enough for us. We want satisfaction now!

Our creator looks at this in a different way. The psalmist says,” I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” God is trying to teach us to wait and in due time we will receive. That is awfully hard for us in the world we have created. To receive the most important things of life we must wait. This waiting makes the virtue of patience especially important. As a matter of fact, it makes it essential to having a peaceful life.

Road rage,domestic violence, drug use, murder, robbery are all symptoms, though extreme ones, of our lack of patience. God wants us to learn to wait and grow as we journey through life. He calls on us to be observers and stewards of the earth. He wants us to be kind to the less fortunate and loving to the children. God says when we have done it to the least, we have done it to him. Perhaps we can think this week about what it means to be patient.

Quotes Banner

Our patience will achieve more than our force. ~~~Edmund Burke

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time ~~~Leo Tolstoy

To lose patience is to lose the battle. ~~~Mahatma Gandhi

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. ~~~Unknown

Learning patience can be a difficult experience, but once conquered, you will find life is easier. ~~~Catherine Pulsifer

One minute of patience, ten years of peace. ~~~Greek proverb

One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life. ~~~Chinese Proverb

Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. ~~~George Bernard Shaw

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. ~~~Anonymous

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. ~~~Aristotle

Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far. ~~~Swahili Proverb

Patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace. ~~~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Scripture Banner

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. Corinthians 13:4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love Ephesians 4:2

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;

do not fret over those who prosper in their way,

over those who carry out evil devices. Psalm 37:7

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

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Prayer

Lord, I seek patience in an impatient and demanding world. I seek to be like you and to know that this world is your creation, and in due time, will fulfill your purpose. Help me to be patient as I go though my daily routine. Give me the grace to be patient with those that I encounter each moment. Help me to be patient with myself as I struggle though life’s journey. Allow me to see your plan even as I try to force things into my time frame.

Amen

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The “Oughts” of Life

Line 1It is hard to live in the present. The past and the future keep harassing us. The past with guilt the future would worries. So many things have happened in our lives about which we feel uneasy, regretful, angry, confused, or, at least, ambivalent. And all these feelings are often colored by guilt. Guilt says: “You ought to have done something other than what you did ; You ought to have said something other than what you said. These “oughts” keep us feeling guilty about the path and prevent us from being fully present to the moment.

~~~ Henri NouwenLine 1

It is hard to live in the present without the past and the future harassing us. Our past burdens us with guilt the future with worries. So many things have happened in our lives about which we feel uneasy, regretful, angry, or confused. And all these feelings are often colored by guilt. Nouwen tells us: “Guilt says: You ought to have done something other than what you did ; You ought to have said something other than what you said. These “oughts” keep us feeling guilty about the path and prevent us from being fully present to the moment.” We need to flee from this guilt.

When I was growing up, it seems that a lot of people had a plan for my life. When college came around there were people who knew without a doubt what I should pursue .Others knew what I ought to do, and if for some reason I disagreed they were disappointed and wanted me, by accident or design, to feel guilty. As you get older these things fade into the background only to be replaced by other “oughts,” but they continued to be the guilt producing hindrances of life.

The next great guilt producing ought is the future. What should I do to prepare for the future? Am I proactive enough to be truly prepared? Is my profession disappearing? These sorts of questions wreck happiness and productivity in the now. That is not what God wants for his creation. I am convinced of that beyond a doubt.

A few years ago Christian writer, Tony Campolo, wrote a book titled-Carpe Diem- Seize the Day. That is what our creator wants for us. He desires that we live each day to the fullest with optimism about the future and peace with the past. We must grab the day and live it for the glory of God and our own self being. We spend far too much time analyzing and not enough time living. The key is to grasp the idea that as we seek the kingdom of God all else will come clear. Our primary direction has to be looking toward a loving and forgiving God who forgives the past and holds the future. He told Jeremiah ,”For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He went on to tell the exiles to prosper in the land where they were exiled.  We must accept the forgiveness of God , live the day, and not fear the future.

May God give you the strength to see life in such a way.

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Prayer

Lord, I come to you in this time of fear and confusion and ask you to give me the strength to live this day to the fullest. Allow me to enjoy and relish the blessings that you have given me. Might I call upon your might to climb the hills and navigate the uneven ground that is before me. Might I never lose sight of the importance and blessing of each day of life.

Amen

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Peace

THIS WEEK -PEACE

Peace – Freedom from, or cessation of, war or hostility; the state of nation or community in which It is not at war with another. Freedom from disturbance or perturbation, especially as a condition of an individual; quiet, tranquility.

(Oxford Dictionary)

The word peace has a variety of implications. We all know that peace is an absence of war or conflict, but it is much more. Peace relives us of anxiety, worry and even physical illnesses. A person who lives with a sense of inner peace can face the toughest of times. That inner peace acts as a shield to the arrows of harm and difficulty that are directed their way. The scripture puts it this way-” Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) When  we surrender ourselves to the care of Jesus, we discover a peace that is beyond this world.


The peace of Christ will lead to the solution of those times of conflict and strife that we face. We live in times of peril and strife, and I believe that a great deal of it comes from our refusal to call on the one who gives real peace. Jesus promised to leave his peace with us, and that peace would not be as the world’s peace but would cross new frontiers. The peace of Jesus is the key that opens the door to peace in the world. We must open that door.

We open the floodgate of peace by surrendering our selfish desires to an unselfish God who loved us even when we did not love him. His peace can give us what the world cannot give:

  • Peace of mind
  • Peace of heart
  • Peace that destroys conflict
  • Peace that is everlasting
  • Peace that is personal and corporate

The quotes ad scripture in this musing are meant to lead us in that direction. Read them and meditate on them and let God give you peace.

You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level. ~~~Eckhart Tolle


We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.  ~~~Dalai Lama


There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war. ~~~Daniel Berrigan


Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. ~~~Elie Wiesel


Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgments. Peace is not an ‘is,’ it is a ‘becoming.’ ~~~Haile Selassie


We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. ~~~Dwight D. Eisenhower
We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.~~~Thomas Merton


Peace is not the product of a victory or a command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions. ~~~Oscar Hammerstein II


You may call for peace as loudly as you wish, but where there is no brotherhood there can in the end be no peace. ~~~Max Lerner


Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances. ~~~ Mahatma Gandhi


Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. ~~~Wayne W. Dyer


Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.~~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:27


Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7


Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3


do not fear, for I am with you,  do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10


I will both lie down and sleep in peace;  for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. Psalm 4:8


Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another. Romans 14:13


And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15


Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7


Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:17-18


For a child has been born for us,  a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;   and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Lord, I seek peace today. First give me peace in my heart and soul so that I may be able to face the trials of life. My ability to face the trials of life will make me a peacemaker to those who are in conflict. Let the peace that you put in my heart so shine to the rest of the world that they can see that you are real and can make a difference. Amen

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None is Higher than Hospitality

Midweek 14-2‌Henri Nouwen, the great spiritual writer, was going to a monastery for a retreat. The monks observed vows of silence and the retreat was to be meditative and prayerful. Nouwen was delayed and was late getting to the Monastery on a very unwelcoming miserable, rainy night. Upon his arrival, he rang the bell and was met at the door by one of the brothers. He warmly greeted Henri, took his wet coat, took him to the kitchen and made him a cup of tea. They chatted into the late-night hours and Nouwen began to relax and feel ready for the retreat. He knew this monk was supposed to observe silence, so he finally asked him, “Why are you willing to sit and talk with me?” The monk replied, “Of all the duties of the Christian faith and the rules of my order, none is higher than hospitality.”

The church is a community as well, and hospitality should be a primary focus. Today’s church should be a place of welcome to all who come our way. There should be no connotation that only “rule followers” are welcome at the church. I fear that we have forgotten the concept of radical hospitality and confused it with assimilation into our group. If the church is to practice true hospitality, it must practice inclusiveness. That means no one is barred from total participation in the life of the church. I am concerned that we have lost sight of a most important tenet of Christianity. I thank the monastics for giving us a reminder.

Not only the churches but our homes and personal spaces should be welcoming. We should be ready to help and greet those who come our way. In doing so, we welcome God and reap the benefit. I believe that hospitality is at the core of Christianity. It is of the highest of the practices of our faith.

LinePrayer

Lord, help me to remember that the open door of hospitality can have eternal consequences. Let me practice the open door in my heart so that I may reap the reward of plenty that comes to those who truly share with their brothers and sisters. Give me the gift of never considering a stranger as strange and unworthy.

Amen

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A New Beginning

A new beginning! We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as an opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine.

~~~Henri J.M. Nouwen


What a concept for us to digest in these uncertain and difficult times! We all dream of a new beginning where we can leave all our anxieties and problems behind to never be visited again. Our new beginning means that we are fresh and, perhaps, reborn. Jesus does give us this promise in his discourse with Nicodemus when he says that a person must be “born again” to enter into the kingdom. The emphasis is one of a spiritual rebirth. Most of us can understand spiritual rebirth but what about a real new beginning.

I would venture to say that a spiritual rebirth is the beginning of our new beginning. What must follow is a faith-soaked belief that we are living as a new person. That indeed all things have passed away and are becoming new. The most difficult and demanding part of the Christian journey is to allow yourself to accept the grace of God and have a new beginning every day we live. Nouwen put it so beautifully when he says, “Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life.” Picture that – a day pregnant with new life!

We can live a day that is full of promises that are all good. I am not trying to say that bad things will not happen, but I will say that God promises a good outcome. Our creator protects and equips us for all we encounter. The worst that the world can send our way, we can handle. We process all things by not allowing the darkness and gloom of past failure to bring clouds and thunder to our new day. With confidence we claim God’s grace and power this day and know that it is indeed a new beginning. That is the good promise of God.

God does have a gift for you and me. The gift is that he is with us always until the end of time. God’s gift is that his Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. These are solid promises of Scripture that we often neglect. As we learn to not neglect them, we can achieve a new beginning every day, every hour, every minute because we are the crown of His creation. Our God wants us to live and thrive and show forth his image to the world.


Prayer

Lord, This is indeed a day of new beginning. We begin each day with the freshness of the morning dew and the hope of the good we can experience and accomplish. Do not allow the evil of this world to pollute and taint that which you have bestowed upon us. Strip the evil one of the power of gaining control of us, and let your spirit so shine in us as to be a light for others to see. Give us opportunities to love and serve as we travel our journey.

Amen

ee

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Dying to Self

Midweek-12a

One of the paradoxes of the mystical life is this: but a man cannot enter into the deepest center of himself and pass through that sensor into God, unless he is able to pass entirely out of himself and empty himself and give himself to other people and the purity of a selfless love.

~~~Thomas Merton

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

~~~Jesus

One of the greatest tasks of living the Christian life is to die to self. Dying to self means that we must set aside our wants, desire and way of seeking God and turn ourselves over to God’s Spirit and direction. When we take such a step we become God dependent not self dependent. Suddenly, we can see through new eyes and hear through new ears. We see and hear as God hears and many things that made no sense to us before now make sense. Merton calls it emptying ourselves in order to see others as God sees them. This new sight brings us into a life changing relationship with God and our fellow man.

This brings us the purity of selfless love. With that purity secured in us , we are ready to pursue the kingdom of God in the here and now. We can empty ourselves and learn to serve those around us with joy and not bitterness or reluctance. We can give without expecting something in return. We can now have a full understanding of the concept “turning the other cheek.” With this attitude we can live a life of victory.

Jesus tells the same story to his disciples when he speaks a parable. The seed(wheat) must fall to the ground and die before the fruit is brought forth. The seed must give up its identity as a seed and become a plant to produce what it was created to produce. That is the product of dying to self.

A good challenge to us would be to examine how our lives would be different if we truly died to self. Who would we serve? How would we serve them? What would our priorities be? How would we carry them out? By asking these questions and more we can determine just how much we have died to self.


Prayer

Lord, Help me to understand what you mean when you tell us to die to self. Guide me to examine everyday whether I have died to self and risen in you. It is only with constant self examination and communication with you that I can stay on the right path. Guide me this day to find that path and follow it where its leads, because I know that is where I will find YOU.

Amen

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