Category Archives: Midweek Thought

SEE YOURSELF TODAY


It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.

~~~ Thomas Merton

Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye?

~~~Jesus


Perhaps the most difficult challenge we have in life is to see ourselves clearly and honestly. Jesus the Messiah took up this issue in his much quoted and much ignored Sermon on the Mount, and mystic monk, Thomas Merton, brings it a little closer to home. It is easy for us to dismiss the idea that we have a great sin but much harder to deny that we have never been harsh towards someone when we see our own failing in them. Intrinsically, we know that we are less than perfect even when we deny it. I really don’t believe we ever fool ourselves completely, but we try hard to look like we have done so. If we can crush the sin in others that is like a mirror showing us our own failing, then we never have to deal with our issue.

Today’s call is to see ourselves in all our frailties and failures. For when we see ourselves in truth , there is a wide open door for help. That help comes in the form of grace. The grace of God allows us to live and thrive in spite of our shortcomings. In receiving the grace of God, we not only have personal forgiveness but can begin to forgive others and be a reconciler of the world around us. As long as we hold back for our own sin, we are likely to be harsh with others. This harshness creates a tension for all we encounter. Offer your weakness to the ultimate strength that is offered by the grace of Jesus.

Merton acknowledges how powerful and painful it is to see this part of ourselves. Jesus says that he wants to take that burden away from us and that his burden is light. We spend a great deal of life fighting our pain and sin, and we do it the hard way. None of us will ever be able to save ourselves or reform the world enough to save it. God knew this, and he made the provision of Jesus the Savior and Messiah.

As people who seek to be followers of this Savior/Messiah, we have to realize that salvation is an ongoing process and not a one stop acquisition. As long as we live we will have to remove one log after another from our lives, but it begins with the first log. That log is admitting we can’t do it alone. Let us do so today and renew that grace everyday we live.

SEE YOURSELF TODAY



Prayer

Lord, Today is a day of confession and repentance. I confess that I have been hard on others, because I have failed to fully examine myself. I invite the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sin and shortcomings and ask forgiveness for them. I further ask that you remind me that I need a fresh dose of your forgiving grace everyday that I live and breathe. I ask this with a humble heart and a clear mind.

Amen

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Silence As Discovery

MP05SIN042 sunrise over Monastery


Silence is never merely the cessation of words…. Rather it is the pause that holds together— indeed, it makes sense of— all the words , both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and our actions. Silence is the fullness, not emptiness; it is not absence, but the awareness of a presence.

—JOHN CHRYSSAVGIS


The writer of the Book of Romans says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. “(Romans 8:26) These words of scripture have been heavily debated and interpreted in many ways. In the Charismatic movement, they are generally interpreted as a “prayer language” that is bestowed upon someone in an ecstatic state. In 1 Samuel 1:13 we have this example, “Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” The link that is consistent is silence or the lack of words.

Theologian and scholar, John Chryssavgis, tells us that silence is so much more than a lack of words. It is indeed a joining of our spirit with the spirit of God. All of us want to find a way to God’s front door. We want to talk to him and hear from him. Sometimes the only way to do that is to embrace a “holy silence.”

The” holy silence” calls on us to pause. The purpose of the pause is to give us time to allow God’s words to surface in our crowded mind. Our minds and hearts are so jammed with the cares of life that God is never heard amid the cacophony of sounds and experiences that make up a single day. Somehow, we must find the glue of silence that binds our souls to our Creator. In doing so we begin to connect our attitudes to our actions.

As we connect our attitudes to our actions, we discover our true selves. Many of us spend a great deal of our life attempting to be what we think we ought to be instead of slowing down and silently listening to the message of God. When we do, he gives us things that are beyond words and vision that navigate our spiritual lives. We no longer need an abundance of words, because we possess an abundance of Spirit. That Spirit will enliven us with spiritual groanings that will be perceived by all that we encounter.

The concept of silence as fullness cuts against the grain of conventional thinking. Most of us would consider fullness as being active and involved in all ways with the church and the world. The Contemplative path takes us into a world of silence where we are not retreating but find a fuller way to be involved. Such a fullness allows our God to speak to us in ways that words fail. Through silent involvement we become fully aware of the presence of God in all things. We no longer limit God to a church, a class or a ritual that is prescribed by man. We find full awareness of him as we sit in the practice of a silence that is an invitation to his presence.

We should all carve out some time of silence and isolation so that we hear the voice of God and receive “words” from him.



Prayer

Lord, Allow me the courage to come to you without words and receive the words that you have hidden in my heart when you created me. I acknowledge that you have created me in your image. I confess that I have sorely neglected to develop your image, because I have been so busy making my own image. Let me take a pause so that I might allow your image to take root in me.

Amen

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A Person of Faith



Doubt



You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt. You cannot believe in God unless you are capable of questioning the authority of prejudice, even though that prejudice may seem to be religious. Faith is not blind conformity to prejudice – “ a pre-judgment.” It is a decision, a judgment that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth that cannot be proven. It is not merely the acceptance of a decision that has been made by somebody else.

~~~Thomas Merton



Merton has a fascinating premise when he says,”You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt.” Most of us have been brought up to think very differently, and that statement will require some thinking. Doubt is a bad word in most church cultures. Church people are taught to believe and leave the rest to God. If we are to accept doubt as an essential part of faith, then there are some things we need to consider.

We must first question the prejudice of following stagnate authority. Merton calls it the authority of prejudice. Things never change and ,quite honestly, that makes it easy. This authority assumes that we will walk in lock step with tradition, no matter how strange or harsh it may seem. We are trained to accept the thinking that comes from the authority, because it is just what we do. Why rock the boat?

Boat rocking begins with thinking for yourself. Maybe, just maybe, things have changed. That rule or practice was designed for people who used a horse and buggy to get around town. Perhaps that practice was started out of the prejudicial thinking of someone who never really learned to think for themselves. If we are to be independent thinkers, we must be people of prayer and study.

Prayer is simply talking to God and waiting for an answer. All of us need to develop a prayer life that will make us feel like God is listening to us and is concerned about our lives. The longer we know someone, and the more we talk with them, the more comfortable we will be. We are comfortable because we know and understand them. This concept is no different when it it comes to our relationship with God.

There still remains a rough spot. No matter how well you know someone there will always be things you do not know or understand. God is God, and we can never understand everything about him. God’s existence is a fact that cannot be proven. We can try, but we will always fail. He ,therefore, remains a mystery. It is in the acceptance of that mystery that true faith begins. When we get to know God and accept the ambiguity of his actions and existence then true faith begins to flourish in our souls.

A Prayer Banner 2

Lord, Give me the courage to examine the cookie cutter answers that I was taught about you. Give me the determination to begin to know you for myself. Give me the wisdom to ask the hard questions that will refine my faith. Give me the drive to move forward in the mystery of being a person of faith.Give me the strength to move forward this and every day as a seeker of truth.

Amen

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Refuge – Prayer and Contemplation



It was said of him (Abba John the Dwarf) that one day he was weaving rope for two baskets, but he made it into one without noticing, until it had reached the wall, because his spirit was occupied in contemplation.

Abba John said, ‘I am like a man sitting under a great tree, who sees wild beasts and snakes coming against him in great numbers. When he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is saved. It is just the same with me; I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy.’

— Abba John the Dwarf



At various times people are in need of refuge from the troubles they face in life. The word refuge means: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. We all need refuge because danger lurks, and safety is a primary need of all. As followers of Christ, we need refuge from the problems of this world. Life is so trying and difficult that we just want to say that this “Christian thing” just isn’t working. Our culture does not readily respond to the idea of committing to a power greater than ourselves. Many times we feel that we are the first people to experience this. Not so, the men and women of the desert faced this long ago. These Monks were occupied in contemplation and took refuge in prayer. Maybe we can, too.

A few questions:

  • Who or what do you turn to when you feel tired or oppressed?
  • Is there any time in your schedule to just “get away” while you are in the middle of the crowd?
  • Does the concept of contemplation seem workable to you?
  • How and where do you pray?

First, it is essential to know that you have a refuge when you feel tired or oppressed. The psalmist said: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” In this lifting up our help comes. There are not enough self-help books and webinars to save us from those times of spiritual tiredness and oppression. These battles are not limited to our spirit because they effect everything. We have all experienced times when could not lift our eyes to God or anyone else. In those times we must turn to our inner selves. The spirit of God dwells in all of us and is readily available in our times of need. The best way to tap into our inner spirit is to be still and let the spirit touch us. Contemplation is a tool by which we hear the voice of the spirit. We are carried away to a place that is spirit chosen. When there, the world seems far away. This journey could be short or long, alone or in a crowd, in stillness or motion.

Second, we must learn to get away while we are still in the crowd. Very few people can escape to the literal desert to find God. We must find Him where we are. All of us have likes and dislikes, things that energize us and things that drain us. The key is allowing our times of energy to be times that we can be in touch with God. Find a place to get away. Maybe it is by taking a walk in a crowded park. My favorite place is a coffee shop. Things have changed since Covid 19 but here are my thoughts anyway. The roar of the grinder, the rumble of the conversations, and even the distinct voice that is coming from the table next to me are like the bells of the monastery calling me to prayer. My coffee shop time is a “get away” time. There is me, God and the 30(now 10)other people in the shop, but I have gotten away. Find your place in the middle of the crowd and just get away.

Please don’t take my ideas as being negative towards real silence and isolation. We are all better people for taking times of literal silence, but our challenge is to be a monk in the world.

Third, contemplation is a scary and elusive word. A fellow monk once said of the Thomas Merton, “Merton told us we weren’t contemplatives; we were just introverts!” You can imagine that did not go over too well with men who had lived in community for ten, twenty and even fifty years. What Merton was saying is that contemplation is not isolation but involvement with God and man. Through our times of contemplation and prayer we find energy to engage the world as radically different people. The concept of isolating ourselves in some type of cloister to find God is a type of contemplation that just will not work for the bulk of us. Unfortunately, that is the picture we see when we envision contemplation. If we take the time to rethink contemplation, I believe we can all be contemplatives and monks in the world. That leads us to the how and where?

Fourth, how and where do we engage to take our refuge. The “how” is that we clear our minds and begin to focus on God. Silence, walking, writing, reading, Lectio, are all excellent “hows.” Primarily, all of us need to have a desire to encounter God at all times. Not many people fail to encounter God if they engage in silent meditation and focus attention on our breathing and God’s role in giving us life. Sacred reading is a fine way of turning our attention to the one who is sacred. The very way we are given the words we write causes us to look to God who gives us that gift of language and expression. Sometimes taking a walk and seeing the majestic creation, not just in the big mountains and blue sky, but in the small flower that grows in the crack of the city sidewalk helps us realize that God created it all. Such a walk is not a walk with a destination but a journey to discover the divine. Now the where. Quite simply it is the places God has given you -your home, a church, a sidewalk, anywhere that is available. I waited a great portion of my life to find the monastery, only to find that it was everywhere. There are cloistered monks who never find their monastery.

Find your refuge, its right in front of you.



Prayer

Lord, Help me to discover that special treasure that you have given me. May I experience the warmth of your spirit today and every day. Let me not spend so much time searching for the perfect place that I miss the refuge you have given me. Thanks for being there in all those unexpected places and remind me that I simply must still myself enough to see you. Amen

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Discovering the Sacred

The Christian must show every care and concern for the sick, children, guests and the poor, knowing for certain that he will be held accountable for all of them on the day of judgment. The Christian will regard all utensils and goods of the their home as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected.  The Christian should not be prone to greed, nor be wasteful and extravagant with the goods that we are given but should do everything with moderation and according to the leading of the Spirit.

~~~ The Rule of St. Benedict (paraphrased to apply to all)



Most of us, who are followers of Christ, desire to discover the sacred aspect of life. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to pay a visit to the National Cathedral in Washington DC. It is a magnificent and majestic building. The beauty and care of the building is most impressive. Massive stain glass windows, all with some meaning or purpose, adorn the Cathedral. While there I had the privilege of attending an intimate worship time in the basement Chapel. In such a place you can get a feeling of being surrounded by the sacred. Sadly, not all the things we do or the places we visit have such a outpouring of sacredness. Does that mean they are not sacred?

Perhaps we have let the world define what is sacred. We look at sacred as being something we cannot come near or touch. I beg to differ on that point. St. Benedict says, “He will regard all utensils and goods of the home as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected.” Wow, the shovel, the hoe, the pots and pans are all to be considered as sacred as the chalice of consecration. I believe that is so. The simplest objects in our lives are sacred. The pen is a sacred object when we write the things that God has planted in us.  The pot and spoon are sacred as we provide food for ourselves and those we love. The tools we tend our garden with are the objects that bring forth the fruit of God’s good earth.

Quite honestly, everything is sacred. We do not have to retreat to a majestic cathedral to find sacred objects because we are surrounded by them.

Allow yourself to be present with God as you go through your day. Look down at the pen, mop, lawn mower and know it is your sacred object as you carry out the work of your day. All things are objects of sacred creativity. We miss so much of God because we have confined him to a secularly designed box. Our God is everywhere and in everything. Take the time to encounter him and cherish every moment of your life.

All of our lives would be so different if we could discover the sacred in the ordinary. Work would no longer be a drudgery but a tool of blessing. Cleaning up after our toil would be a way of experiencing God as we wash dishes and clean our cars or bicycles. Everywhere we are and everything we do would become an altar of worship.

I know that this type of thinking requires us to rethink our lives, but it can bring great blessings. Let us pray that we can give it a try this week and perhaps we can of discover the sacred in our everyday life.



Prayer

Lord, Let me discover the sacred in the life and place that you have chosen for me. Slow me down enough to take note of my surroundings. Allow me to see you in the simplest of things that fill my day. Fill me with the joy of holding the sacred objects of life in my hands. May I see you in everything that comes my way and learn that you are everywhere. You are not confined to churches, monasteries, and blessed objects, but you are just with me in all I touch and do. Make today the day I discover the sacred.

Amen

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The Secret

“A man who receives something from another because of his poverty or his need has therein his reward, and because he is ashamed, when he repays it he does so in secret. But it is the opposite for the Lord God; he receives in secret, but he repays in the presence of the angels, the archangels and the righteous.”

——Sayings of the Desert

Line

Perhaps the monk is thinking of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you.” The wonderful thing about God is that he does not expect us to be showy in our worship of him, he just wants us to be real. Most of us, whether we admit it or not, like to be recognized for our successes and want our failures to be hidden and forgotten. Taking alms because of our personal poverty is not something most people would brag about. The way God asks for our devotion is completely counter cultural. Our culture expects praise and in response continued favors are given, but God operates differently. He gives quietly and diligently to those who call upon Him.

Perhaps all of us can pledge from this day forward to be aware of our tendency to be showy and strive to follow the teachings of Jesus. Our Redeemer teaches us to be humble and thankful for all that we have been given. He further asks us to share, with an open heart, all that he has bestowed upon us. Further we are to do without expectation of praise or reward. That is a tough challenge for those of us who carry the sin of Adam.

If we pledge to be people of prayer, we can strive to attain the mindset necessary to be such a person. We are given help to get there through the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, that dwells in us.


And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

~~~John 14:16&17


Prayer

Lord, Grant me the courage and wisdom to seek the guidance of your Spirit that you have planted in me. As I come to rely upon the Spirit, I will have the ability to do in secret the works and prayer that are a part of my journey. Then, I will have the faith to know that the rewards you have given in secret are by far the greatest of all. Come, Holy Spirit.

Amen

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Learning from Below

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated — in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.

~~~~Dietrich Bonheoffer (Letters from Prison, p.16)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

~~~Luke 15:1


There have perhaps been few times in the history of our country when Bonheoffer’s assertion that we learn from below is more true than now. We are facing a perfect storm of unrest and uncertainty . This has rattled even the most serene among us. We must remember that the scripture and Jesus himself have always told us to be aware and responsive to the down and out of our society.

Too often we ignore the cry of the needy or treat it in a patriarchal way. The time has come for us to listen and learn so that we will gain the credibility to advise and teach. As Bonheoffer says, “waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior.” Sometimes it is difficult to rethink our perspectives, but the time has come. Perhaps we have waited and looked long enough. All action should be done in the context of the Christian tradition of selflessness. Nowhere in all of the words of scripture is lawlessness or violence tolerated.

The time has come for us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and do it out of care and love. Too often we have done this out of obligation, guilt or ,heaven forbid, to gain recognition. Such motives can lead to resentment and even a feeling of superiority. Never forget that Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Those words were a sea change moment for his disciples. Children were without power and wealth and of little value. Perhaps we are living in a time like that. Let’s look for the little children of our day and do so with peace and love.


Prayer

Lord, It’s hard to learn from people we see as beneath us. We acknowledge that all are created in your image and have value in your sight. Help us to look to all with respect and kindness’ so that we might together create a better world. Give us this day an opportunity to learn and grow with such a goal in sight.

Amen

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Mystery of Being

The ultimate Mystery of being, the ultimate Truth, is Love. This is the essential structure of reality. When Dante spoke of the ‘love which moves the sun and the other stars’, he was not using a metaphor, but was describing the nature of reality. There is in Being an infinite desire to give itself in love and this gift of Self in love is forever answered by a return of love….and so the rhythm of the universe is created.

~~~Venerable Bede

The ultimate truth and mystery of life is love. The absence of love leads people to do some very dark things that hurt, destroy, and ravage those who are near them. Perhaps there is no greater need in the world that to discover the power of love.

The love I refer to is not one that gives us all that we want but a love that requires something of us. It requires that we know that we are loved. When people realized that they are loved by their creator with an unlimited and endless love they can love themselves and others. Perhaps the greatest need of most people is a positive self-love. Godly self-love brings peace and harmony. It is the type of harmony that allows neighbors to live at peace with one another even when they are different. This love allows husbands and wives to respect and cherish one another in the worst of times. It is a love that is promised by God. We need only receive it and by doing so, we can share a boundless love with the world.

Venerable Bead called it the mystery of being. Without this discovery we are doomed to live in self-hatred and doubt. Mysteries are hard to solve and perhaps the mystery of love has been the hardest that people have ever faced. It is one that requires that we look way beyond ourselves and to the God that made us in His image. The solution is to claim and capture that image and to spread it to all that we touch.

We all go about our lives trying to find ways to discover the love of God. Sadly, we think that we can discover the mystery with rules or practices that are man made and explainable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mystery of being remains a mystery. We are called to embrace the mystery and allow the love of God to flow through us. God will not totally reveal himself to you, but He does love you and will give you the strength to love others

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

~~~The Living Bible





Prayer

Lord, I want to surrender to the mystery of being. Let me this day know that you are the essence of love. Your love created the world and will sustain it. Guide me as I flounder with my own methods of finding you, and touch me in a way that allows me to discover you. With that discovery my life will be complete.

Amen

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CHARACTER

Line 1CHARACTER – The estimate formed of a person’s quality; reputation; good repute.

(Oxford Dictionary)

We are fast approaching an election that will decide the White House, the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate. I do not know about you, but I will be voting based on the character of the candidate and their philosophy will be a distant second. We have seen, repeatedly, that people of character make good decisions even when those decisions do not agree with their political philosophy. That is what made our country a great nation, and it is the way we can stay great.

Character is also the key to the resurgence of the church. We have seen in the past twenty years a true decline in the church. People are too busy or just not interested. My strong belief is that, while there is a great deal of truth to the previous statement, we have a deeper problem. We can never rebuild the faith community that we call the church, until we make character building the focus of our ministry. Somewhere on the journey we have lost our way and focused on either permissive freedom or harsh rules to define the church.

Character is built by knowing who and what we are from the inside out. Too often church people seek their direction from outward sources and neglect the inner strength of character that comes from being a person of faith and prayer. Read the scriptures and meditate on them, and God will build your character and give you some answers in the most difficult of situations. These answers will be spiritually based and not as difficult as trying to enforce a rule or being so free that we lack forethought or direction. Paul describes those spiritually directed answers this way, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” That is our goal – to become children of God.

Children of God know how to be honest and truthful. Children of God are always putting others first and themselves last. Children of God talk to the Father about anything and everything. Children of God are not afraid to do the right thing when it is not the popular thing. Children of God bring light into a room and calm in the midst of calamity. Do you get it? Children of God are persons of character that make the world a better place.

I share this verse as a blueprint for character development.


If we sow a thought, we reap an act;

If we sow an act, we reap a habit;

If we sow a habit, we reap character;

If we sow character, we reap a destiny.

—Michael P. Green

Quotes Banner

The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.

~~~Abigail Van Buren

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

~~~Abraham Lincoln

Top 15 Things Money Can’t Buy- Time. Happiness. Inner Peace. Integrity. Love. Character. Manners. Health. Respect. Morals. Trust. Patience. Class. Common sense. Dignity.

~~~Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

~~~John Wooden

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

~~~Helen Keller

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

~~~Martin Luther King Jr.

A man’s true character comes out when he’s drunk.

~~~Charlie Chaplin

Education as far as object the formation of character.

~~~Herbert Spencer

People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.

~~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The wise have a solid sense of silence and the ability to keep a storehouse of secrets. Their capacity and character are respected.

~~~Baltasar Gracian

Scripture Banner

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

—Romans 5:3-4

Do not be deceived:

‘Bad company ruins good morals.’

—1 Corinthians 15:33

Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher,

—1 Timothy 3:2

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

—Romans 8:14

The wicked flee when no one pursues,

  but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

—Proverbs 28:1

For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.

—Philippians 3:18

Prayer BannerLord, I seek to develop character that only you can give me. I pledge myself today to seek your direction and wisdom so that I may become of person of authentic character. that comes from the heart. Let my life be rooted in truth and faith in you so that I may, by nature, do what is right and good.

Amen

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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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