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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living

The Divine – Human Portrait of Grace

John 1:14-17

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

I have my son’s dog tags which he wore for his deployment to Iraq. I treasure them and look at them often to contemplate the lessons I learned that year – an awareness of the real presence of God, gratefulness for every day of life, realization that imprinted in just four lines of metal is all the Army needs to know about a soldier. This is how my son’s dog tag reads:

There is no rank, no hometown, no race, no family – just a blood type which ties him to the physical world and a religious affiliation which ties him to the spiritual world. At the end of the day that is who we are – human beings with a blood type imprinted on our DNA and spiritual beings with a religious confession of faith in Christ imprinted on our souls.

Jesus Christ’s passion and death reaches us with lessons of grace, because he was both a human being and God, a human – divine miracle, and the source of grace we so desperately need.

The angel declared his name, “God with Us”

  • God With Us, in a feeding trough.
  • God With Us, touching lepers sores
  • God With Us, run out of his hometown.
  • God With Us, spit upon, slapped, scourged.
  • God With Us, crowned with thorns.
  • God With Us, hanging on a tree.
  • God With Us, dead in a tomb.
  • God With Us, walking out of a cemetery.

Over and over “God With Us” demonstrated how to give grace – underserved gifts of love and mercy to the unworthy, unloving, and ungrateful. The crucifixion of Christ provides for us an image of the essence of our existence – finite human beings and infinite souls that are united by the resurrection of God With Us, the divine and human in a portrait of grace.

PRAYER: Father, Thank you for grace shown to us in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Monica Boudreaux

2 Comments

Filed under Monica Boudreaux

Pope Francis on Fasting

facebook_1488544047896

Leave a comment

March 3, 2017 · 7:18 am

Fasting, A Lenten Discipline

Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent. The Lenten season of the Christian Year when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. I share with you today a way of fasting during Lent.

John-Wesleys-Fast

THE JOHN WESLEY FAST – A LENTEN DISCIPLINE

What is the “John Wesley Fast?”

Each Thursday evening, after the evening meal, until mid-afternoon on each Friday, Methodist people are invited to follow Wesley’s example of fasting and prayer. During this time he did not take solid food but fasted and focused much of his time in prayer.

What is a fast?

Normally persons do not use solid food, but continue with liquids during such a short but regular fast.

Who is invited to participate in the “John Wesley Fast?”

John Wesley expected the “preachers” to participate, and he wanted all of the John-Wesley-whoMethodist leaders and people to follow this discipline.

Why this pattern?

Methodist people are invited to discover the power in this regular pattern and discipline that John Wesley followed for a half a century. For Wesley, the more important reason for fasting was that fasting is a help to prayer.

As one of John Wesley’s “preachers,” I would like to suggest that this Lenten you observe the “John Wesley Fast” as a Lenten discipline.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fasting, John Wesley

The Lenten Journey

AS we begin Lent I trust that all of us have some special practice as we begin our journey to the cross. My wife and I have written a Lenten Prayer guide that contains some stories and prayer help designed especially for lent. This guide is available as a Kindle book from Amazon.

Click below to  read a sample or purchase.

Book-Cover-2017

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Lenten Prayer Guide

TREASURE

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—–Luke 12:27-34

I have a little rock, smaller than the palm of my hand and shaped like a perfect heart.  On a summer day while taking a walk with my grandfather, he noticed it on the ground and gave it to me.  That was more than fifty years ago, and after moving sixteen times and a lot of life, I still have that little rock.  It is one of my greatest treasures.

Jesus spoke of treasure.  He had been telling his followers that the things we worry about – the material things like clothes and food, where we live and how much is in our “storehouses” ahave already been provided by the Father.  He encouraged them to look at the beauty of the lilies of the field and the helpless birds fed by their Creator.  No greater provision could have been made for them.

Your treasure becomes what drives you.  Your treasure determines how you spend your time and money and energy.  Your treasure dominates your thoughts and consumes your passion.  Your treasure defines your soul.

Jesus had just told the parable of the rich fool.  This man had planned and horded and saved.  He had become the rich owner of many storehouses and was proud of his hard work and accumulated abundance.  One night – he died.  He had a great wealth of the world’s temporary treasure all put away in a “safe” place, and a poverty of eternal treasure stored away in heaven.

Jesus has told us to make sure our treasure is in heaven, to make sure that what is important is eternal, to make sure that what is precious to us is of God.  Christ has told us that what we cherish must be spiritual, must last past the few years of our lives, and must live on in the souls of those we have served.  Our spiritual footprints should help others who journey behind us to find the way to Christ.  Then our treasure is forever safely kept by God.

There is an old Creole proverb that says, “Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.”  Jesus said your heart all of who you are determines what you treasure.  Jesus warns us, we cannot serve two masters.  We will choose to give our hearts to the world’s temporary treasure or God’s eternal treasure.

While you ponder and wait this lent be honest about whom you love and what you love.  Take the time of this season to store up that eternal treasure, that real treasure so rare and precious it cannot be bought.  It can be found in unexpected places and unexpected people as we serve in the name of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “Your heart and your treasure will be in the same place.”


Prayer– Lord, Teach me the value of eternal treasure. Forgive me for desiring the world’s treasure.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Lenten Prayer Guide

THE GREAT ENCOURAGER

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34


We’ve all felt it. We’ve all struggled with it. We’ve all been overcome by it. Discouragement! People or circumstances in our lives that have eroded our courage and resolve much as the endless waves of the sea wash away the precious shoreline. At times, we are robbed of our confidence a small piece at a time, hardly aware that we are losing ground. Other times, we are so devastated that in one monumental, horrible event our entire beach of personal determination and fortitude is washed into the ocean of fear and dismay.

I have often been comforted by reading of Jesus’ discouragement when He was here among men. God encouraged Jesus when He was baptized by sending a Jesus--quote-2-15-17dove from heaven and assuring Him by His own words that He was loved and pleased His Father (Matthew 3:16-17). After enduring forty days of tortuous fasting and temptation, God recognized Jesus’ need for encouragement and sent angels to attend Him (Matthew 4:11). God even sent Moses and Elijah to have an inspiring talk with Jesus in the midst of His ministry among men who didn’t understand (Matthew 17:3). On the last night of Jesus’ life, when the disciples offered only discouragement in the Garden of Gethsemane, God sent an angel to strengthen His precious son for the horror of the crucifixion the next day (Luke 22:43).

The Bible is filled with reassurance and hope for daily discouragement. Here are a few examples. Do you ever worry? Jesus confronted worry with the promise that if God cares for a little sparrow, He most assuredly will take care of you, the most precious of His creations (Matthew 6:25-34). Do you ever feel that doing good doesn’t pay? In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus supported those who are persecuted for doing what is good and right by confirming for them a great reward in heaven. Do you ever feel hindered by fear? According to Matthew 10:30-31, God has every hair on your head numbered. Do you ever feel utterly exhausted? In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites the weary to come to Him for rest. Do you ever feel all alone? Jesus guarantees us, “I am with you always!” in Matthew 28:20.

Whenever you feel overcome with depression of feel demoralized by people or events that repress your courage and sap your joy, look to the Great Encourager – Jesus! He made encouraging other’s His life’s work. He still does!

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER:

Father – Give me encouragement along mu journey. Show me others who need my encouragement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Journey, Encouragement

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, Compassion

Peace Within

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

—–Teresa of Avila


We sometimes lose sight of our own purpose and how we are meant to play a part in bringing peace to the world. So often it starts here: with internal peace–a peace with Our Lord and a deep sense of rest in the creation He has made us. Such a peace radiates out into our families and our communities. Cultivated in each of us, it could bring about great change in our world. And yet, suffering and death, pain and loss, will all continue to be part of our experience. Let us pray to be instruments of peace even in moments when it seems the battle is lost. Let us never submit to the lie that violence is victorious.

Leave a comment

Filed under Peace, Teresa of Avila

Relaxation and God

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, ‘Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.’ So he did. The old man then said, ‘Shoot another,’ and he did so. Then the old man said, ‘Shoot yet again and the hunter replied ‘If I bend my bow so much I will break it.’ Then the old man to him, ‘It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.’ When he heard these words “the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

——Abba Anthony

It is a novel thought for most people that relaxation and rest are an important part of life. The average American works 11 hours more per week that they did in 1970. That is a somewhat startling little fact. I wonder how much more we are really accomplishing than we were forty seven years ago. Without a doubt the rise in use of pain killers, sleeping pills and people who suffer depression are linked to our lack of rest. The number of prescriptions for sleeping pills alone, grew 30 times over between 1994 and 2007. Hospitalization for clinical depression has been on the rise since 1975.

Why is this happening?

The wise man of the desert pointed this out to the hunter, and it changed the hunter’s life. We need to rediscover the value of rest, and to acknowledge that it is necessary for physical and spiritual wellbeing. God knew this when  He gave us the Sabbath. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. The Hebrew word Sabbath literally means “to cease.” Just as God rested from His creation work, we are to rest from our day-to-day occupations and refocus on what’s really important. It’s a day to push the reset button. Anthony and God were on the same page here. All of us need to “relax the bow” before it snaps.

Plan a personal SABBATH, you need it!


Prayer

Lord give me that courage to pause. The world threatens me if I dare to think that I can take time to renew my body and my faith. Long ago you gave us the command to do so. Too often we see your commands as chores rather than pathways to blessings. Help us to see the bright pathway that is illuminated by Sabbath rest.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Abba Anthony, Sabbath