Category Archives: Christian Living

Authenticity

Today I’m going to talk about faith and authenticity. You may have noticed my blog’s tagline: Faithfully Authentic. Two words I’ve based my life on. The thing is, you can’t really be faithful to Christ and fully authentic to yourself. Just like you can’t be truly faithful without being utterly sincere. They’re concepts that must […]

via Stay Woke — Real as the Streets

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A Great List!!

1. Switch the Welch’s for Sangria.

2. Attribute everything, from the slightest breeze to the dog’s passing of wind, to the Holy Spirit.

3. Watch the Baptists wait for the liquor store to fix their generator.

4. Tell each other about the time we didn’t have air conditioning when we were growing up.

5. Listen […]

via 10 Things United Methodists Do During A Blackout — Richard’s Food for Thought

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Substantial

Any daily newspaper recounts tragic story after story of premature deaths, fractured relationships, and broken dreams. Indeed, we need not turn to any newspaper for an accounting of the world’s troubles and sorrows. We have only to look at our own friends and families. We have only to look into our own lives. Jesus never insulted people by telling them their problems weren’t real. He never told the sick they were never really sick or that their illness had no pain or reality. He never told people that death wasn’t real.

Hear this story of a family living in Indiana where tornadoes are frequent. The youngest member of the family had a special fear of storms. One day when a storm threatened the father took his son to the front of their substantial home, pointed out across the neighborhood, and said to the boy, “There, you see everything is okay. These are solid homes and we are safe and dry in them.” About that time a tornado touched down a block away and utterly destroyed several of these “substantial” homes. The storms of the natural world are real just as are the storms of the spiritual, psychological world. Trouble and tragedy are real. Evil and death are real. Jesus never said to his disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, “This is no storm. The storm is in your mind.” He never said that. Instead he said to the storm, “Peace, be still.” And it was. Are you out of a job? Did your home decline in value? Are your financial resources dwindling? Do you have a serious illness? Is your marriage not right? Is there a real problem with the children? Are you enslaved in a debilitating habit? Then don’t deny it, says Jesus. The widow never said her son wasn’t dead. Admit the problems. Don’t deny them. Simply embrace the God of peace

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Jesus as Scapegoat

Image credit: White Crucifixion (detail), Marc Chagall, 1938, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

I share this piece by Rev Richard Rhor of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I hope you enjoy it.

Blessings, Irvin

Cross as Agenda

In terms of healing and symbolism, everything hinges on the cross. The cross is about how to fight and not become a casualty yourself. The cross is about being the victory instead of just winning a victory. The cross is about refusing the simplistic win-lose scenario and holding out for a possible win-win scenario.

The cross clearly says that evil is to be opposed but we must first hold the tension, ambiguity, and pain of it. “Resist evil and overcome it with good,” as Paul says (Romans 12:21). The cross moves us from the rather universal myth of redemptive violence to a new scenario of transformative suffering.

On the cross of life, we accept our own complicity and cooperation with evil, instead of imagining ourselves on some pedestal of moral superiority. As Paul taught: “everyone has sinned” (Romans 5:12) and Jesus the Lamb of God had the humility to “become sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) with us.

The mystery of the cross teaches us how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to oppose evil without becoming evil ourselves. Can you feel yourself stretching in both directions—toward God’s goodness and also toward recognition of your own complicity in evil? If you look at yourself at that moment, you will feel crucified. You hang in between, without resolution, your very life a paradox, held in hope by God (see Romans 8:23-25).

The goal of God’s work is always healing reconciliation, not retributive justice.  And like Jesus, we must invest ourselves in this work of reconciliation that “the two might become one” (see Ephesians 2:13-18).

Human existence is neither perfectly consistent, nor is it total chaos, but it has a “cruciform” shape of cross purposes, always needing to be reconciled in us.To hold the contradictions with God, with Jesus, is to participate in the redemption of the world (Colossians 1:24). We all must forgive reality for being what it is. We can’t do this alone, but only by a deep identification with the Crucified One and with crucified humanity. Christ then “carries” us across!

The risen, victorious Jesus gives us a history and hopeful future that moves beyond predictable violence. He destroys death and sin not by canceling it out; but by making a trophy of it. Think about that for a long time until it cracks you open. And it will!

Rev. Richard Rhor OFM

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You and the Journey

Pause now and take a good look at yourself and see who you really are. Do you know? Do you think of yourself as being a wretched weakling? Do you pretend to be someone you are not? Then imagine this: that you would dare to think you are worthy of being called by our Lord to a special task.

The desire to be God’s servant must come from your own will, a gift placed there by the hand of God Almighty, but done so only with your consent.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Do you acknowledge your weaknesses?

The hardest task for anyone is to see yourself as others see you. We have a rosy vision of our looks, behavior and personality. Many times our self-assessment is far from the truth. In order to approach God we must realize our helplessness without Him and allow Him to give us His grace. Jesus said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing?” Their behavior blatantly showed there lack of self-understanding.

Do you have a false self?

Even after we know we are weak without God we have a tendency to “go it alone.” We set up an imaginary reality about ourselves that reflects our view of God and how He defines a righteous person. In essence, we become that defined person but it is all a lie. As sure as a movie set have facades, by God, we will have a good looking facade. Jesus says it this way, “For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.”

Can you see that God values you?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” He gave His son! What more proof can we expect! God values us enough to sacrifice His all for us. We are unworthy/worthy creation. When we come to the point of recognizing our value to God, we are ready to move toward God.

Do you understand how to give yourself to God?

The easy answer to this question is to say we must be “saved/born again.” Personal salvation is an important doctrine of scripture but it is only the beginning of our Christian walk. If we give ourselves to God just one time, we miss the point. I once heard a man say in a bit of a mocking way, “I was born again and again and again.” I would assert that is exactly what giving yourself to God truly encompasses. We must rise every day to a new round of willing prayer and submission to God. Salvation is not a one-time event. I am not sure it is an event at all, but I know it is a journey.

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Let us join together and set out daily on this contemplative path.


PRAYER

Lord allow me to see my sin and weakness. Give me the courage to not hide behind a façade of spirituality. Allow me the insight to know that you love me in site of myself. With these things in mind propel me more forward in the grace journey towards You.

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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Pope Francis on Fasting

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March 3, 2017 · 7:18 am

Thoughts on Compassion

Compassion Quotes

Compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.

—-Russell Simmons

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

——-Maya Angelou

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

——Dalai Lama

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.

—–Albert Schweitzer

 

compassion-2

The Bible on Compassion

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Colossians 3:12

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

If there was ever a time that we all need to practice compassion, it is now. Terrorism is an everyday occurrence around the world, depression hits the most unexpected people, we have lost confidence in our government, and life is changing so fast and the world is so brutal that we all cry for compassion. Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. Christ followers should wake each day with a strong desire to ease the suffering that surrounds us. Compassion is the key. Let’s look at some ways that we can be compassionate.

BUILDING BLOCKS OF PRACTICED COMPASSION

  • Pay attention – Make a real effort to see the suffering around you.
  • Understanding – Seek to understand the plight of those you encounter.
  • Love with connection – Don’t just say, “I love you,” find a way to connect with people.
  • Sensing the sacredness – See ALL people as a creation of God.
  • Bring new life – As you encounter the others God gives you, have a true desire that they flourish.
  • Act – Ask yourself, how can I restore this person to life?

Prayer

Lord allow me to catch a glimpse of what life would be if we truly had compassion upon one another. Open our minds to the new concept of being a truly compassionate people. Lead us to see each day as an opportunity to help others. In doing so we can find a quality of life that we never dreamed was possible. Let us take the advice of the Master and engage in compassionate actions this and every day.

AMEN

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This Thing Called Love

Loving TendernessHildeguard

Loving tenderness abounds for all

from the darkest

to the most eminent one beyond the stars,

Exquisitely loving all

she bequeaths the kiss of peace

upon the ultimate King.

– Hildegard of Bingen

Jesus tell us : Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ There is none greater. Many of us spend our lives searching for the best way to live a godly life but Jesus gives us a truly simplistic answer – love God , our neighbors and – just as important – ourselves. We are horrible at loving ourselves and finding neighbors to love is an almost impossible task.

Let us begin at the beginning – love God. If we are to love God we have to begin by acknowledging Him as our creator and the sustaining power of our lives. We must put aside the notion that was are masters of our own destiny and give Him credit for who He is. We love God by staying in touch with Him through prayer and listening His Spirit when He answers our prayers. That is a beginning of love for God.

Love our neighbors – We dream of the perfect neighbor and we never find them. That because we are looking in the wrong place. Our concept of neighbor is physical proximity but God has something much greater in mind. My wife told me a story about meeting a neighbor at McDonalds recently. She enter the restaurant and ordered food for herself and two of our grandchildren. There was a somewhat disheveled lady who later ordered a cup of coffee and a very small amount of ice cream. Soon it was evident that she was receiving her food out of the generosity of the restaurant staff. On her way out my wife asked her if she was hungry and needed help to buy a meal, her reply was “no.” as my wife proceeded to the car she noticed that she was followed by the lady who then approached her with these words, “Neighbor I didn’t really tell you the truth because I am hungry – Can you help me?” My wife accommodated and she replied, “Thanks, neighbor.” That is the kind of neighbor Jesus was talking about. A lady that is down and out by our standards understands God’s concept of neighbor. That lady is my neighbor as well and I didn’t say it was going to be easy to love your neighbor.

Love yourself – “..Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” People who cannot love themselves find it impossible love others. Did you know that suicide was the seventh leading cause of death among adolescents in 2013? (CDC stats) The National Institute Mental Health estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. Wow! We are not loving ourselves very much. The key to self is recognizing our worth in God’s eyes. He created us, He redeems us, and He watches out for us. That makes you and your neighbor worth loving.

The challenge is simple learn to love God because of who He is and what He has done and I believe the rest of the puzzle will come together.


Prayer

Lord give me the vision to recognize your loving tenderness in the beauty that surrounds me. Allow me to see it in the life giving nature of the morning dew and the majesty of the setting sun. Such a realization will lead me to love You more and to love and care for myself and my neighbor. Might I see the majesty of all your creation – especially we humans who are the crown of all creation. Help me to discover Your brand of love and make it mind.

Amen


Adam-and-Eve

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What Would You Do?

I have heard this story shared many times and ways over the years. Let us take heart that there was greater good in the world then and that is still the case today. Here these words about the colorful Mayor LaGuardia of New York. (By the way, he was a Republican)

Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City during the Depression, and he  LaGuardia-picwas quite a character. He would ride the city fire trucks, take entire orphanages to baseball games and whenever the city newspapers went on strike, he would get on the radio and read the Sunday “funnies” to the children.

On a bitter cold winter’s night in 1935, Mayor LaGuardia turned up in a night court that served the poorest ward in the city, he dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. After he heard a few cases, a tattered old woman was brought before him, accused of stealing a loaf of bread.

She told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick and her grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, insisted on pressing charges. “My store is in a very bad neighborhood, your honor,” he said. “She’s got to be punished in order to teach other people a lesson.”

The mayor sighed. He turned to the old woman and said, “I’ve got to punish you,” he said. “The law makes no exception – ten dollars or ten days in jail.”
But even as he spoke, LaGuardia was reaching into his pocket and pulling out a ten dollar bill. “Here is the woman’s fine,” he said, “and furthermore, I’m going to fine everyone in this court room fifty cents for living in a city where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”

The following day, the New York Times reported that $47.50 was turned over to the bewildered old woman. It was given by the red-faced store owner, some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations and city policemen – and they all gave their mayor a standing ovation as they
handed over their money.

What a great story!

That’s how it should be with Jesus followers. Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” After he uttered these words they ran him out of Nazareth. I wonder what would happen Jesus-Captivesif a Mayer of New York would do what La Guardia today? Would he be applauded? Would there be negative headlines in the NYT? In our “me” society, I ask you to consider the way YOU treat the poor and the disenfranchised? Let us practice true compassion in our daily walk.

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