Category Archives: Christian Living

Work and Prayer

When the holy ABBA Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by spiritual apathy and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, “Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; What shall I do differently? How can I be saved?” a short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and platting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an Angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the Angel saying to him “do this and you will be saved.” At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

~~~ Sayings of the Desert


In a recent google search I received 776,000,000 hits to my search “Prayer Book”.  Our world is searching for and hungering for a way to pray. The disciples of Jesus said, “Lord teach us to pray,” and he gave them what we called the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. People who seek God want to pray, but prayer is sometimes, many times, difficult to manage in the lives that we live. Most of us were taught to prioritize our lives so that we can be successful in all that we do. We are busy, anxious, stressed, depressed, tired and in the amid hustle and bustle, prayer gets shoved to the back. It is overlooked and neglected while we go about the important tasks that each day brings us.

This model was later refined by Benedict of Nursia the founder of modern Monasticism. He wrote a rule to guide those who felt the calling of God to enter a religious community. The Rule was a guidebook on how to live in a communal setting and get closer to God. Benedict used a Latin phrase- ORA LABORA –or work and prayer. The purpose of any monastic community is prayer and closer union with God. Prayer can be words, listening to scripture or simple silence in the presence of God. The Monks of his time and those of today have a daily prayer schedule called the Office of Hours. There are seven times of prayer a day for the Monk of strict observance.

Benedict and Anthony both realized that a man had to do more than pray 24 hours a day. In his Rule Benedict states – “Idleness is the enemy of the soul” and he set a path for work at every community that allowed it to thrive spiritually and physically. The Monks were given various tasks and commitments that go to support the Monastery and help the outside community. These tasks are as widespread as greeting guests, making bread, candles, and as diverse as making   coffins.  The Bible is very clear and speaks of idleness many times. One of my favorites comes from Proverbs – “One who is slack in work is close kin to a vandal.” (Proverbs 18:9) Work is essential part of our spiritual life.

Obviously very few of us are ever going to join a monastic community, but we all want to pray and get closer to God. If we are to be truly closer to God, we must develop a rhythm of work and prayer that allows us to praise God for all he has given us. We must offer our work up to God and feel that he is using us to help his creation. To do so we are compelled to find our rhythm of work and prayer. I hope that you can find a rhythm that will free you to be the person that God created.


PRAYER

LORD, I offer myself to you today. Let all that I do with my hands be credited to you. Lead me to a place where prayer and work are both natural and are a part of my service to you. Grant the peace to be able to develop a life that is pleasing to you.

Amen

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Nothing Else Matters

LUKE 15:11-32
In the grand scheme of written material, we have only a few words that Jesus actually said. Because they are so few, they are all the more precious and meaningful. Jesus often taught using parables – short, easy to remember stories that teach an important lesson in faith. Without exception, these stories are portraits of grace that stir our minds and hearts. They are forever relevant keys to growth in kingdom living that challenge our natural inclinations to prejudice, selfishness, judgementalism, misplaced priorities, and self-righteousness. They teach us that when we do acts of mercy, love, and compassion we are truly living in the kingdom of God. Parables teach us that grace is a gift of God to be passed on to all we meet, that forgiveness is not an option, that each person is of equal yet priceless value, and that knowing God is the only treasure that matters. They give us insights to the nature of the Father through the stories of the son.

One of my favorite parables is the Prodigal Son, or more accurately the Gracious Father. The central truth of this story is the Father’s eager forgiveness and unconditional restoration of his wayward child. He had lived so long with the awful gnawing fear that his son was dead. He had relived countless memories of when he was a little boy. He had remembered in detail the funny, sweet things the boy had done. He had imagined his smile and the way laughter just bubbled out of him when he played. He had thought about how he looked when he was asleep and the times he had held him when he was hurt or afraid. Now he was here! He was alive and he was home! Nothing else mattered!

The image of the Father running down the road to meet his son with open arms of love and acceptance takes my breath away. That image stays with me in one of my most precious memories.

Our son returned to Fort Hood, Texas, after a year-long deployment to Iraq. When his battalion came marching across the parade ground, I spotted him in formation just by the way he walks. When the welcome home speeches were made and the ropes holding back the families were removed, I took off in an all-out sprint! For so long I had lived with the awful fear that I would never see him again. In that year, I had recalled hundreds of sweet memories: the way he smiles, his first steps, stitches in his foot, rocking him to sleep. Now he was here! He was alive and he was home! Nothing else mattered!

So, it is with God the Father. He anguishes over our hurts and our loneliness, our rejection and our sins. But, we are reconciled to Him, because He RUNS to us with open arms of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. We are home! Nothing else matters!

Reflection – When has the Father run to you with forgiveness, acceptance and hope?


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What Can We Gain ?

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.

— Thomas Merton

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Sermon July 18

I have been in the process of transitioning to a new ministry role. Look for more posts being this week.

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Worship April 11, 2021

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Worship Video

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Driven to Their Knees

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Prayer of the Week #5

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February 9, 2021 · 9:25 am

Service

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