Musings #6 – H0pe


Do you remember the story of Pandora’s Box? The lovely Pandora was sent by Zeus to be the bride of Epimetheus. One of Pandora’s more endearing charms was her curiosity, but that quality also proved to nearly be her undoing. One day Mercury, the messenger, sent a box to the young couple. It was meant for them to enjoy, but under no circumstances were they to open it. Well, of course, it is the old story of the forbidden fruit. Told that she could not do it, it became the thing that she desired to do the most. So, one day she pried it open and peeked inside. Suddenly out flew swarms of insects that began attacking them. Both lovers were stung with the poison of suspicion, hatred, fear, and malice. Now the once happy couple began to argue. Epimetheus became bitter and Pandora wept with a broken heart. But amid the quarreling, they heard a tiny voice cry out: Let me out, to soothe your pain. Fearfully they opened the box again, and this time a beautiful butterfly flew out. It touched the couple and miraculously their pain was healed, and they were happy again. The butterfly we are told was hope. It is hope that sustains us; it is hope that soothes our pain.

We live in a world of pessimists who want to rob us of our hope. They would prefer that we all be forlorn and dreadful, but God one has better in mind for us. He sends out butterflies in the darkest of times, and I just know that there is out flying right now one with your name on it. All we must do is open our eyes and look for it. Let us hold on to the hope that is in our faith and know that it will guide us through.

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.

—– Christopher Reeve

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.

—-Martin Luther King Jr

Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.

—–Martin Luther

I dwell in possibility.

—–Emily Dickinson

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.

—-Nelson Mandela

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every


—-Henry David Thoreau

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

—-Desmond Tutu

Hope is a waking dream.


Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

—-G.K. Chesterton

I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

—–Dalai Lama

While there’s life, there’s hope.

—-Marcus Tullius Cicero

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

~~~Jeremiah 29:11

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

~~~I Peter 1:13

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

~~~Hebrews 10:23

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.

~~~Psalm 33:22

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.

~~~Psalm 71:14

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

~~~Romans 15:13

Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

~~~Proverbs 24:14

LORD, because of you I know there is always hope -

Hope for today

Hope of a better day tomorrow

Hope that my pain will end

Hope that joy will return

Help me to have enough faith to live a life full of hope. Restore my hope in days when it seems to fade. Strengthen my hope today. Amen

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Living in the NOW

Screwtape Blog 2

The biggest downer in life is to never enjoy the day. That temptation is one of the devil’s best tools. We spend our lives fretting about what comes next and never relishing what is now. Take some time to live in the moment God have given

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34 ESV

Carpe Diem

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Self Discovery

Musings #5

Merton challenges us to look inside of ourselves with great introspection that allows us to see ourselves as God and others see us. Many times we are shocked by the comment of a loved one or friend about something we have said or done. Our first reaction may be to say that we are misunderstood, but we will never really understand until we pause and take a deep look at ourselves. God sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. The creator made us in his image and likeness with the knowledge that we would never live up to our full potential. Too often we hide behind our accomplishments and never take that voyage to the most difficult destination of all – our true self. Merton reminds us of this, but how do we begin that scary voyage?

Let me suggest a few possibilities.

These three possibilities are not a silver bullet to finding our true selves but some tools that will drive us deeper into that uncharted territory that lies within all of us. As we venture deeper into ourselves, God will give us the wisdom and courage to confront the bad and the joy of the discovery of the good. Remember, the image of God is imprinted in our DNA, and it is the desire of God that it comes out. Spend some time today pondering the possibility that that image can emerge and I know God will bless you.

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The Path to Full Devotion

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A brother renounced the world and gave his goods to the poor, but he kept back a little for his personal expenses. He went to see Abba Anthony. When he told him this, the old man said to him, ‘If you want to be a monk, go into the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it and come here like that.’ The brother did so, and the dogs and birds tore at his flesh.  When he came back the old man asked him whether he had followed his advice. He showed him his wounded body, and Saint Anthony said,

‘Those who renounce  the  world  but  want  to  keep  something  for themselves are torn in this way by the demons who make war on them’

—-Sayings of the Desert

At face value, this saying seems to be unreasonable. Meat, birds, dogs, torn flesh what a revolting picture. The real story is conditional commitment is no commitment at all. Abba Anthony is trying to tell us that a monk must fully commit himself to his calling. This same thinking applies to us who seek to be followers of Christ. The goal is to become fully devoted to the Christian journey and to hold nothing back from this way of life. As Christians, we promise to give our all to our savior. In the holding back, we invite temptation and evil to come into our lives. These forces keep us from the high calling that we have received and limit the power of the gospel that lives within us.


Lord, let me realize that you have given me unlimited strength to live for you. Please keep my mind focused on your strength and away from my frailties.


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Suffering- the bearing of undergoing pain, hardship or distress. 

(Oxford Dictionary)

We live our lives surrounded by suffering and pain. Our time seems to be loaded with many and diverse situations that cause suffering and pain. Some of the pain is physical and much of it is emotional. We are faced with difficult decisions, and we must decide how to react to suffering. Wars, sickness and strife are now regarded as things that just happen. It seems that we are backed into a corner and just must bear the pain.

That is true ,but suffering can be used for our benefit. We all know that Jesus suffered and died for us. His suffering had a great and noble purpose. He offered himself freely for that purpose. Heaven forbid we think that we can accomplish with our suffering what Jesus did with his. Our suffering can, however, have a purpose. We are all called to be followers of Jesus, and perhaps we should consider that our sufferings are a way we follow him. The scripture says, “That suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

When I was a boy and something unfortunate happened that caused me pain or stress, I was to “offer it up.” This practice is known as redemptive suffering. Simply put, redemptive suffering is taking our misfortunes and pains and allowing them to be an avenue to identify with the suffering of Jesus on the cross.

How does that look?

  • We see our pain as redemption.
  • We know that our suffering is rooted in the world and not God.
  • We know that suffering brings growth.
  • We acknowledge that it will end.
  • We offer our pain as a prayer.

There are those who have decided that to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus we must put ourselves through self-inflicted suffering. There is nothing further from the truth. Redemptive suffering is our way to take the evil that the world casts upon us and turn to God with our faith. We must thank him for the suffering that Jesus experienced and continue to have faith in him in our most difficult times.

This week we will all experience some level of suffering. Those trails can defeat us and drag us down to reject God and feel that we can do better ourselves, or it can make us stronger and more determined to follow him. Let us “offer it up” and become stronger and more faithful.

The reward of suffering is experience.

~~~Harry S. Truman

To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ.

~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Never to suffer would have been never to have been blessed.

~~~Edgar Allan Poe

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

~~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

~~~Helen Keller

Suffering is but another name for the teaching of experience, which is the parent of instruction and the schoolmaster of life.


To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

~~~Friedrich Nietzsche

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

~~~Khalil Gibran

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.

~~~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Wisdom comes alone through suffering.


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

~~~Helen Keller

God has been good to me. My faith has been good to me in the moments of deepest suffering, doubt and fear.

~~~Pierce Brosnan

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

~~~1 Peter 5:10

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

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.

~~~Romans 8:18

He was despised and rejected by others;

  a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

  he was despised, and we held him of no account.

~~~Isaiah 53:3

Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

~~~Job 1:20-21

Surely he has borne our infirmities

  and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,

  struck down by God, and afflicted.

~~~Isaiah 53:4

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

~~~James 1:12

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

  but the Lord rescues them from them all.

~~~Psalm 34:19

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

~~~Romans 8:35

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account

~~~Matthew 5:10-11

This is my comfort in my distress,

  that your promise gives me life.

~~Psalm 119:50

For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—

~~~Philippians 1:29

LORD, I pray that you will comfort me in my suffering and allow it to strengthen and teach me. Help me to overcome the pain that I bear this moment and allow me to offer it to you as a part of my faith journey. Let me be tempered as the iron is tempered by the heat of the fire. I will then go forward stronger and more resolved to be your servant.


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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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What Must I Do to Please God?

Musings #3

Today , I call your attention to the monks of the desert who chose to escape the temptations and hardships that beset them when they lived in the cities. Their escape to the desert was the way that they chose to pursue their calling as Christians. I have chosen two quotes, one from Anthony, the father of all monks; the other from Poeman, “The Pastor,” to begin an exploration into this thinking. I hope it speaks to you.

For quite some time I have been learning great lessons from the men and women of the desert monastic movement. Their commitment to living a Christ honoring life was given number one priority in their lives. Many of them abandoned influence, wealth, and families to live for Christ. They were the mentors of numerous leaders of early Christianity. Their attitudes and actions drew people to them for inspiration. I have shared some quotes from their teaching today. I will expand on those in the words that follow.

In our first saying we see the age-old question, “What must I do to please God?” That is the most important request that anyone can make. Anthony’s reply is simple. He is saying that it all has to do with focus. He says to begin with your personal life. The Christian must always have God before him. Too many believers make it habit to compartmentalize their lives. When we have a box for God, a box for work and separate boxes for each part of life, we lose sight of what should be our primary focus. Christians should always have God in front of their eyes and all else will come into focus. Anthony then turns his attention to the scripture and tells us that we should look for its testimony. The Holy Scriptures are given to us by God as a guide for life and work. We should consult with them and live in them for everything we do. Anthony’s next stop is where we live. If we establish stability of place, we will not spend our lives searching for the next adventure or excitement of life. Focus on God, Holy Scriptures and stability of place, and God will bring you great peace and salvation.

Abba Poeman warns us against excessive guilt and self-loathing. Many people suffer through much in life because they never forgive themselves for some grievance that they have committed. Somehow, they always feel a sense of guilt and never really accept the grace of God. Such an attitude leads to self-loathing and ultimately to destructive behavior. The monk communicates to the brother that God will accept the repentant heart without excessive penance. The message is that we do not earn God’s forgiveness, it is given to the penitent heart. When Christians accept and live out that truth, they are free.

We are all involved in a journey towards the cross. It is a cross of suffering and salvation. Abba Anthony gives us some ways that we can focus our lives. Abba Poeman offers us a way that we can accept forgiveness and move on with life. These two concepts will perhaps give you a vision of how to apply Christ’s suffering and salvation to your life. 

Lord, allow me to see and hear the message that you have prepared for me. May I discover the love that surrounds me and know that you are the source of that love. May I go through this day as one who is at one with you.


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Making Our Peace

Musings #2

How many times have you sought to make peace with someone or even yourself? I would be willing to say that we have gone about this task many times. Unfortunately, we do not seem to be able to come to a lasting peace. That is because we do not understand where to start. Our minds tell us we must start with ourselves and seek a solution that we can understand. I am sorry to say that our solution will likely fail, and many times make the problem worse. Merton points very clearly at the way we must approach this in ordered steps. Peace begins with us, but the source is far outside of ourselves.

We seek peace with others by making peace with God. There are so many promises in the Bible that we receive the moment we make peace with God. Here are just a few:

  • 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
  • Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. ~~~Hebrews 12:14
  • If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ~~~Romans 12:18

We begin our journey to peace by making our devotion to God our source of strength. Making peace with God means relying on him for everything. We get a strange sense of warmth and comfort when we turn things over to him. Suddenly, delightfully, we are no longer alone, and peace floods our souls. Let us look at those three biblical concepts of peace.

When God gives his peace to you it is radically different than the peace of the world. World peace is temporary and never given without a price that we must pay. We proclaim peaceful compromise, even forgiveness of offences, but we can never forget. All human forgiveness is merely clemency and not the true forgiveness of God. With true forgiveness comes a peace that surpasses understanding. That is the peace that only God can give. Once we receive God’s peace new avenues of opportunity come our way.

An important one of these opportunities is the ability to pursue peace. Every Christian should have the goal of being at peace with all. Without God’s peace in us, we are not even capable of pursuing peace with others. The word pursue means to chase. God wants us to chase peace with our brothers and sisters throughout the world. A sort of utopian peace is the pinnacle of the Christian life.

The writer of Romans gives us the charge and the reality of living life as a peace pursing follower of Christ. He tells us to expend all of the resources and energy that we can muster to live in peace with the world. A lack of peace should never be our choice. We must always do everything we can to achieve that goal. The ultimate goal of every Christ follower is to live peaceably with all.

Let us all try to make the lyrics of the familiar chorus become true. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me; let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.” We are called to do our part to lead this world to where God meant it to be.

LORD, lead me this day to be an instrument of peace to the world. May I trust you enough to truly have your peace in my heart. With your peace in my heart, I know that I can make a difference. Please give me opportunities and means to be your spokesman to the world. I trust in you and your ability to lead me this and every day.


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Musings #1

There has perhaps never been a time in my life when the world needed as much encouragement as it does now. We are beset by a horrible health crisis, looming economic problems, unparalleled political division, and a growing population of unchurched and anti-church people. The world situation gives us much to be discouraged about in all ways. Our Gospel, the good news, allows us to see a different point of view. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” These were encouraging words for a gloomy time then, and are still so today.

The first question is, how do we get the abundant life that Jesus proclaims? We get abundance by simply believing that Jesus can deliver what he has promised. Jesus is God on earth that came to redeem the world. The world is so busy trying to redeem itself, that a cloud of gloom and discouragement has landed upon us. We are like the ships of old that are sailing into a fog bank and frantically looking for the lighthouse to guide them around the treacherous rocks. It is only when the light is seen that the ship is safe. We need to see the light of Jesus and follow it to the path of abundance.

That is an encouraging word. We do have something to look toward, and it is far better than anything that we can conjure for ourselves. Once we see that abundance, then we can feel encouragement and share encouragement with others.

  • We can know that God is really with us, and he never abandons us, even in the darkest times.
  • We can walk through dark times with the knowledge that he is helping us along the way.
  • We can share words of encouragement with others, because we know that we will come out on the other side.
  • We can share a forward-thinking attitude that allows others to look forward as well.
  • We live in such a way that people can see that God is with us.

Stephen Covey tells us to treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become such a man. That is a tremendous charge for us. Jesus tells us to be the salt and light of the world. Most assuredly, we can make a difference in the lives of others. We can encourage and sustain them, and the world will be the greater for it. Followers of Jesus are called to be the encouragers of the world. Let us try to invite those we meet to be the person God intended them to be.

There are times that Christians need encouragement as well. The best source of encouragement is the church. As members of a church, you are introduced to the preaching and teaching of the word, have access to the sacraments, and contact with one another. These are means of grace, and they are all found in the church.

The Church is meant to be a cauldron of encouragement. A church is a place that we are on our best behavior, and we are looking for the best in each other. Pray that you will be of such a mindset when you are participating in church. It will encourage you as well as all those around you.

Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.

~~~ Anne Frank

Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

~~~Stephen R. Covey

You can get a thousand no’s from people, and only one “yes” from God.”

~~~Tyler Perry

Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.

~~~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Encouragement to others is something everyone can give. Somebody needs what you have to give. It may not be your money; it may be your time. It may be your listening ear. It may be your arms to encourage. It may be your smile to uplift. Who knows?

~~~Joel Osteen

A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.


When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.

~~~Zig Ziglar

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

~~~Marcus Aurelius

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”

“When you feel like you’re drowning in life, don’t worry – your Lifeguard walks on water.”

“Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you. Choose to stay positive and be the strong person that God created you to be!”

“You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax. Master the day. Then just keep doing that every day.”

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

– Albert Camus

 For nothing will be impossible with God.

~~~Luke 1:37

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

  and do not rely on your own insight.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

  and he will make straight your paths.

~~~Proverbs 3:5-6

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

  whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

  of whom shall I be afraid?

~~~Psalm 27

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

The wicked flee when no one pursues,

  but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

~~~Proverbs 28:1

for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

~~~2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,

  a warrior who gives victory;

he will rejoice over you with gladness,

  he will renew you in his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing

~~~Zephaniah 3:17

The wicked flee when no one pursues,

  but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

  all you who wait for the Lord.

~~~Proverbs 28:1

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

~~~1 Corinthians 10:13

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

~~~John 16:33

LORD, if there was ever a time that we need some encouragement, it’s now. Let me hear a word from you and know that you have my well-being in the palm of your hand. I trust you to guide me through these difficult days. Help to hear the word as I read the word. Help to hear the words of comfort and encouragement as others speak them to me. I know that you will provide all that I need. Amen


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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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