Category Archives: Christian Living

Grace Rules

 


Child psychologists tell us that children not only need, but want rules. “They require set limits to ensure them of the security and sense of control needed for proper development.”

Adolescents balk at rules. They seem to go all out to prove the old saying that, “Rules are meant to be broken.” They, too, are desperately groping for a boundary of comfort and safety, however.

Adults are generally regarded as “rule setters.” We use our wisdom and life experience to make those rules we feel are important for our children’s well-being.

I don’t know about you, but when I am exhausted by life’s demands or find myself out of resources to deal with a difficult situation, I long for a set of rules for the game of life. I would enjoy giving up the gut-wrenching decisions and judgment calls of life, for a set of rules that would free me of the awesome responsibility of the moment.

If you have ever wanted someone to tell you what to do and relieve you of your burden of responsibility – GREAT NEWS! Romans 12:9-21 gives us ten rules for a successful life:

  • Love sincerely.
  • Hate evil.
  • Honor others.
  • Have joy, hope, and patience.
  • Pray.
  • Share.
  • Be good to your enemies.
  • Get along.
  • Don’t be conceited.
  • Don’t get back.

Paul wrote these words to a group of beleaguered and persecuted Christians in the huge pagan city of Rome almost 2,000 years ago. The payoff for following the rules for those first century Christians is exactly the same for us today and is found in verse 21. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Be assured of this promise – good overcomes evil – always!

—-Monica Boudreaux


 


PRAYER

Lord – Help me to always seek to overcome evil with good in my life. Help me rely on your rules for mercy and grace to make all my decisions.

Amen

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The God that Loves Us

During this time our Lord showed me a spiritual sight of His simple, homely loving. I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comforting to us. He is our clothing, which wraps and embraces us in love. He completely enfolds us in tender love so that He might never leave us, being to us everything that is good, as I see it.

—-Julian of Norwich

Julian newThe world that surrounds us is full of strife and anger. Loving relationships seem to very hard to develop and maintain. People are turning to drugs, legal and illegal, to make life work. If we can’t find love and security, we’ll just check into a fantasy. Julian did not live in a setting that was much more accommodating than ours. She had problems and insecurities that plagued her, and yet she found love and she found it in solitude. Her entire life was dedicated to finding divine love.

What do we discover when find divine love and how does it change our perspective?

Julian asserts that God has a homely love. The love of God is simple and unassuming, unlike the love of other people that can be so complicated. So many of us perpetuate our false selves, not only to the world but to ourselves as well. We try to avoid being simple because simplicity invites vulnerability and vulnerability leaves us open to hurt. God, however, give us the example of a love that disregards these dangers and it is a grand thing.

Shaker  Elder Joseph gives us a word in his “Simple Gifts.”

simple gifts

Some four hundred years later this follower of Jesus is seeing God in the same way that Julian did from her cell. Perhaps we can also look for this simple God in our hectic world.

God’s love is all that is good and comfortable to us. Untold amounts of money are spent every day by people that are seeking comfort. We long to hear a comforting word or see a comforting movie. The longing for comfort is an essential part of how we are designed, and yet it remains so elusive to us. Julian sees it as a simple act of God that is only waiting to be recognized. When many of us think of comfort, we think if comfort food or comfort waist bands in our clothing. That comfort implies excess ,but the only excesses that God holds are in his ability to give of himself to us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16) What kind of comforting love is that?

The God that loves us never abandons us. We may lose touch with Him but he is always there. I know that is hard for many to process. All of us have had those times when we think God has forsaken us. Those times are frustrating and fuel anger and resentment. It helps to envision God as our clothing.  We never even think about what we are wearing, but we would quickly notice if we lost our coat on a cold day. In the same way God clothes us in our most difficult times.


Prayer

Lord, may we never forget the homely love which is simple and comforting . We try to complicate love but you make it simple. Your simple love is  reliable as the clothes on our backs and as available as the sun that rises every morning. Let us recognize this love.

Amen

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Lent Day 9

February 23

I Cry to You Lord

Psalm 130

A Song of Ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2   Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

English: Portrait of John of the Cross

English: Portrait of John of the Cross (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.


Prayer Thought

Lord, I believe that you hear me in my distress. Come to my aid.


“In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.”

—John of the Cross

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Thanking God for Jesus

Advent-WreathTuesday, first week of Advent

OPENING PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you show us the loving face. Help us to love you in return.

SCRIPTURE

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’

Luke 10:21,23-24

THINK ABOUT IT….

How wonderful it must have been to hear Jesus speak those words! God has revealed something special to them, not because they were great students are especially smart, but because God wanted them to know who Jesus was.

God still wants us to know who Jesus is. That’s why we have the Bible. That’s why we have the church. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we know that Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth and it’s not because we figured out something or because we have use our brain power instead, it’s because the father wants us to know who Jesus is so that we can be saved from sin and death.

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, we thank you for showing us your son. May we come to see him in his kingdom.

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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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