Tag Archives: Christian Living

Ambition and Cleanness of Heart

Even when I try to please God, I tend to please my own ambition, his enemy. There can be imperfection even in the ardent love of great perfection, even in the desire of virtue, of sanctity. Even the desire of contemplation can be impure, when we forget that true contemplation means the complete destruction of all selfishness – the pure poverty and cleanness of heart.

~~~ Thomas Merton

Merton June 17Ambition, by itself, is not evil. When we have ambition, we improve ourselves and the world. Ambitious business people have built great companies that have provided goods and services to people and improved their lives. Doctors and scientists have developed medicines, vaccines and medical procedures that have saved the lives of untold numbers of people. The entrepreneurs and others were ambitious people who wanted to make a difference. Ambition does have a dark side. It turns dark when it is no longer shares with the welfare of others, but it is simply for self-satisfaction and aggrandizement.

Merton says that we even try to please God and yet simply feed our ambition. If we are seeking to love, serve, be virtuous or live out the fruits of the spirit for our own satisfaction it is worthless. Even in contemplation we can feed our selfish ambition. We must seek to please God outside of our self-satisfaction. God is not impressed with the works we do, the purity we possess or the prayers we pray unless they are offered to Him and not for our own drive to succeed.

In my years as a pastor and teacher I have seen this scenario carried out countless times. A person is so driven to be a model Christian that they for forget why they should be Christian. Their works are so big that they make others look small. Their words are so high and mighty that they put others down by their very nature. Their walk with God is truly a walk with themselves. This is the type of spirituality that Jesus warns about in the Sermon on the Mount. “Be careful not to perform your righteous acts before men to Ambition 1be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)- This is what ambitious Christianity can evolve into, and it is the opposite of the selfless lives we are called to live.

Merton gives us some sound advice and direction. He directs us to please God by emptying ourselves of self. The emptying of self means that we offer all that we do to our creator without expectation of return or praise. We may not even be deemed successful by our neighbors and peers. Remember God sees in secret what we do in secret and rewards us greatly. This allows us pure poverty and cleanness of heart.


Prayer

Lord, Allow me to use my ambitions to please you and not myself. Help me to discern the difference between selfish ambition and pureness of heart, a pure heart the prays and serves to please you and not myself. It is extremely hard in our driven and competitive world to keep a selfless focus but with your grace and help I know that it is possible. Keep me on the right path this day and give opportunities to live out my mission to you.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Midweek Thought

Fear


THE WORD IS FEAR


faer Definition

Sometimes fear is a very helpful thing that keeps us from harm, but many times it’s an inner voice and barrier that keeps us stuck. Fear is an emotion that keeps us from getting what we want and becoming who we honestly, deep down want to be.

Musing 7 Graphic 1We live with fear whether it is from a pandemic virus or just having to carry out the normal functions of life. We all have fears. Some of our fears are quite easily proven, while others are rather absurd. The sad thing is that whether they are real or imagined they still affect us in great ways. Our computers and bookshelves are lined with resources to overcome fear. Despite all our efforts, fear lives on.

Learning to handle fear and overcome it is the ultimate goal of every one of God’s creatures. People have climbed mountains, jumped out of airplanes, and sailed solo across oceans in an attempt to conquer fear. The quotes and scriptures are just small tools to perhaps allow you to think about what role fear plays in your life and how you might minimize its effect.

Musing 7 Graphic 2On the other hand, fear is a necessary part of who we are, and we can know that, “Fear makes us feel our humanity.” Those are the words of Benjamin Disraeli a 19th century British Prime Minister. Fear is both friend and foe, and we must learn to make peace with the fear that lies within each of us.

Fear Vedio Banner


Quotes Banner

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

― Marie Curie

Without fear there cannot be courage.

― Christopher Paolini

First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.

― Aristotle

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

― Joseph Campbell

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

― Marcus Aurelius

Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ignorance is the parent of fear.

― Herman Melville

He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.

― Shannon L. Alder

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.

–Babe Ruth

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.

— Bertrand Russell

Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.

— Karl Augustus Menninger

Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death.

— James F. Byrnes

Scripture Banner

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?

Cast your burden on the Lord,

  and he will sustain you;

he will never permit

  the righteous to be moved.

~~~Psalm 27

For I, the Lord your God,

  hold your right hand;

it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear,

  I will help you.’

~~~Isaiah 41:13

The fear of others lays a snare,

  but one who trusts in the Lord is secure.

~~~Proverbs 29:25

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~~~Romans 8:38-39

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’

~~~Mark 5:36

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

~~~Revelation 1:17

‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

~~~Matthew 6:34

When the cares of my heart are many,

  your consolations cheer my soul.

~~~Psalm 94:19

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’

~~~Joshua 1:9

Prayer Banner

LORD, fear has cheated me of more of your blessings than any other emotion. Fear has robbed me of the joy, peace, abundance and so many other things that you desire for me to possess. Let me this day use the grace that you have bestowed upon to move beyond my fear into your world of blessings. Let me put aside the defeat that fear wishes me to possess and move to the victory that you have given me by your love.

Amen


1 Comment

Filed under Monday Musings

Elusive Purity

Day 25The plans of the mind belong to mortals,

but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All one’s ways may be pure in one’s own eyes,

but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Commit your work to the Lord,

and your plans will be established.

—–Proverbs 16:1-3


Question– Do I use the wisdom that God offers?


Prayer- Lord, I acknowledge that a special purity comes you and that I am merely a vessel that carries what you have given. Let me have the understanding to be able to put your spirit to work in me. In doing so, I can achieve the purity of heart that so eludes me. Amen


Day 25-1

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent 2020, Lenten Prayer Guide

Call Upon the Lord

Day 24I call upon you, O LORD; come quickly to me;

give ear to my voice when I call to you.

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,

and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice

—-Psalm 141:1-2


Question- Do I call upon the Lord and believe he will come?


Prayer- Lord, I call upon you this day with the faith that you will carry me through. I acknowledge you as my strength I times of trouble, my shield in times of danger and my deliverer in times of panic. Please be me this day and be my friend. Amen


Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Lent 2020, Lenten Prayer Guide

Who are You?

day 23

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

—Acts 9:4-6


Question- Do we sometimes forget who Jesus really is?


Prayer- LORD, let me never forget that I am called to be a follower of you. Help me to act in a way that people may see you when they see me. Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent 2020, Lenten Prayer Guide

From the Beginning

Day 22In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

—John 1:1-3



Question- Do I trust that God has always been with me?


Prayer- LORD, your scripture says that your love for me has always been in your plans. Let that assurance lead me to live a life that honors you. Amen


Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Lent 2020, Lenten Prayer Guide

The Voice

Day 21Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.’

—1 Samuel 15:24-25




Question- What voice are you following today?


Prayer- LORD, I seek your forgiveness for the many times I have ignored you. I implore you to speak loudly to me so that I may hear you above the voices of the world. Attune my ears to your words so that I may follow your path to the glorious life you have in mind for me. Amen


Leave a comment

Filed under Lent 2020

Rules for the New Life

Day 19      March 18

Day 19Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

—Ephesians 4:26-29


Question- Do I take the time to really work on my anger?


Prayer- LORD, your peace surpasses all my understanding. When anger rises within me, please calm my mind and soothe my heart with your gentle words. Fill my whole life with your perfect peace. May my personality be shaped by your peace rather than my frustration. Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent 2020, Lenten Prayer Guide

Singing the Song

Day 16Sing joyful songs to the Lord!
Praise the mighty rock
where we are safe.
Come to worship him
with thankful hearts
and songs of praise.

The Lord is the greatest God,
king over all other gods.
He holds the deepest part
of the earth in his hands,
and the mountain peaks
belong to him.

—-Psalm 95:1-4


Question– How will I sing a joyful song to the Lord today?


PrayerLORD, I long for the safety that you offer to me. There are times when the world is so threatening that I feel quite alone. In those times I look to you to be my rock. Let me never forget that you are always there for me. Amen.

Day 16 Special

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent 2020, Lenten Prayer Guide

Day 15 Humble Yet Alert March 13

Day 15Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

—Hebrews 5:6-8


Question – How can my humility keep me alert to the evil one?


Prayer – LORD, the world teaches me that humility is weakness, but you teach that it is strength. Give me the courage to be humble as a way of being aware of the evil that is all around me. In that humility, you give me strength. Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent 2020