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Living the Time

When I was a small boy one of the highlights of my summers was the “Waveland Trip” Waveland is a small beach community in Mississippi. My mother’s uncle owned a camp (Southern for beach house) just a block or two from the water. Every June about 20 -25 people packed themselves into that 1000 square foot house on a tiny lot for a grand party. The fare was simple: hamburgers, chips and beer or colas for the adults; and hotdogs, chips and Wyler’s fruit punch for Beachthe kids. That was lunch and supper. Breakfast was always an abundant supply of scrambled eggs and grits with some kind of fake orange juice. This place was no resort, but going to the beach was the highlight of my summer. The trip was always short, just Saturday and Sunday, but it was grand. On the way home in a noisy, uncomfortable, non-air conditioned car I thought about next year and how very long it would be before I could return again. A year for a 6 or 8 year old is a lifetime. The last of those trips is now more than 50 years ago. I ask myself how time has sped up so furiously since a little boy’s year was so long?

I now know the importance of redeeming the time. The ability to cherish the moments becomes increasingly important as our years pile up. A few years ago the slogan “Carpe Diem’ was popularized by  Christian author, Tony Campolo, in his book by the same name. The expression was first penned by the Roman poet Horace. In his day it meant “Pluck the Day,” but today it is translated as “Seize the Day.” We all want to indeed live each moment with passion and conviction and in the process live life to the fullest. Many years ago an unknown mystic writer pick up on this idea.

You used the correct expression when you said “for the love of Jesus.” The love of Jesus is the source of the help you need. Love’s power brings everything together. Love Jesus, and everything of his becomes yours. As God made time, so God judges our use of time. Tie yourself to Him with love and faith, knitting your relationship together. This way you may become a part of the larger fellowship of those fastened to God by love. You will have friends among the saints and angels who do not waste any time.

— Cloud of Unknowing

“As God made time, so God judges our use of time.” We fail to understand the importance of time usage as we wish away our years as youngsters and as we whist our way through our productive years. If we are to cherish and enjoy the gifts of God we must take the time to be aware of His presence and calling in our lives. The writer asserts that love and faith glue us to God .This relationship opens a tremendous array of opportunities and gifts to us. We have relationships on earth and in the heavens that do not waste time but give themselves fully.

Stop for a moment and do an inventory of what you do with your day. Do you truly seize the moments of beauty, service and joy that come with each day of this extraordinary life that God has given you, or do you spend your day in a furious rush to accomplish a goal or in a funk waiting for the tomorrow that may never come? Somehow I think if we recapture the slowness of the passage of time experienced by a small boy between his trips to Waveland, we could live a richer and fuller life.

July-26.2017


Prayer

Lord help me to live in the moment. Allow me to see the beauty of the flowers and feel the refreshment of the falling rain on a hot summer day. Let me see the innocence in the face of a child and feel the pain in the face of the hurting. May I count my moments in a childlike way that allows my days and years to linger on as I experience your creation.

Amen

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Some Quotes to Ponder

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

 What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

      ARISTOTLE

Happiness depends upon ourselves.    

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead.

All men by nature desire knowledge.

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.

 

The Cloud of Unknowing Quotes

“The universes which are amenable to the intellect can never satisfy the instincts of the heart.”

“For I tell you this: one loving, blind desire for God alone is more valuable in itself, more pleasing to God and to the saints, more beneficial to your own growth, and more helpful to your friends, both living and dead, than anything else you could do.”

“And therefore take good heed unto time, how that thou dispendest it: for nothing is more precious than time. In one little time, as little as it is, may heaven be won and lost.”

 

Perhaps one or more of these quotes can act as a meditation or writing guide to you this week.


PRAYER

Lord, allow me to make the most of the time that you have allotted to me. Let my hours be productive. and my days be meaningful . I trust your grace to bring me through.

Amen.

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Our Time

Pay attention, then, to how you spend your time. You have nothing more precious than time. In one tiny moment of time, heaven may be gained or lost. God gives us time in sequence, one instant after another and never simultaneously. We only experience the present moment. God never reverses the orderly progression of time. God does not ask for more than we can handle in one moment.

“What can I do? If what you say is true, how can I account for each moment God has already given me?

—The Cloud of Unknowing


June-14

“Pay attention to how you spend your time.” Those are the opening words of the wise sage who gave us the wisdom of The Cloud of the Unknowing. Our western culture has taught us to put a monetary value on time. Time, for many people, is a way of measuring productivity. In such thinking, we become slaves to the tick of the clock. We have little time for anything but work and achievement. This writer urges us to be aware of time as a tool that brings us closer to God. When we are so busy with the worldly use of time, God seems to be sidelined. All time is given to us by the Creator and that creator wants us to use it wisely and succinctly. I would suggest that we all have to develop a sense of “God Time.” This is a time that we use to connect ourselves with the Almighty and the souls that surround us. Let me share some observations about living in “God Time.”

· TIMES IS PRECIOUS – “Time is your most precious gift, because you only have a set amount of it.” (Rick Warren) Do we live our lives as though that is true? Do we cherish the each moment that God has granted to us? The Psalmist cries out, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We are all told from time to time to live each day as if it was our last. As we begin to realize that that our time is finite in this world, we begin to move closer to God.

· TIME IS SEQUENTIAL– . The concept of time being sequential and orderly allows us to live each moment. The phrase Carpe Diem (seize the day) was popularized a few years ago. We can all live better and more productive lives if we live and cherish each moment and see the next moment as an opportunity. In one tiny moment heaven may be won or lost. In that same moment a life may be saved or change irrevocably. Always be aware that time is sequential-orderly and cannot be rushed or slowed. We live in the flow.

· TIME IS NOW.—The only thing we can really effect is the task that is in front of us right now. Opportunities really don’t repeat themselves. We can never relive a single moment of time. Sci-fi writers have spent a great amount of creativity imagining time machines and portals that allow us to go into the future or return to the past. Invariably time travelers are trying fix a mistake of the past or bring something back from the future that will make life better in the here and now. When you wake up in the morning there is no past you can relive that you can change or future you can truly predict, there is only the wonderful day you have be given to live in the moment. Remember, each tick of the clock is important

· TIME IS ALWAYS UP TO THE TASK – God never gives us more than we can handle in the ticks of the clock that are allotted to us. Paul the Apostle tells us,” 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.” God always give us the time to work through things as necessary. The challenge is to use it.


Prayer

Lord, teach me to not only count my days but to count my minutes. Let each tick of the clock be an opportunity to get closer to You or to be of service to my neighbor. May you guide me to lead a live well planned and well executed for your glory and my good.

Amen

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Choose the Incomprehensible

Therefore, leave all the things of the world that you can understand and instead chose to love that One Who you cannot comprehend. For while God may be loved, God will never be understood. God may be found by love and held by our hearts but never by our thoughts. Sometimes it may seem good to think of the special kindness and the worthiness of God.”

—-Cloud of Unknowing

5-24-17Any casual Google search or a stroll around a bookstore will quickly teach you that we, as people, want to understand everything. We want to be able to figure things out. There is, after all, an answer to every question and it is our job to find it. The writer implies that if that is our approach to God, we will never find Him. He gives some advice as to how we might find God.

God is found when we abandon the things of the world that have so tightly controlled our lives and given us our self-worth. In our quest for God we must swallow our pride and accept that we will never truly be able to put God in a convenient box. The push to understand God in simple terms is maddening. By abandoning the search for the concrete facts about God, we find the peace that was found by the desert monastics of the 4th and 5th centuries. Abba Pambo said, “By the grace of God, since I left the world, I have not said one word of which I repented afterwards.” The challenge is to “leave the world.”

Most of us cannot leave the world in the same fashion that the men and women of the desert did some 1500 years ago. We have responsibilities, obligations to our families, and just plain sensibilities that prohibit us from doing as they did. So then, how do we accomplish this undertaking?

The first call is the call of love. To love someone is to accept them with the full knowledge that you will never totally understand them. People have given their 5-24-17-2lives in a quest to understand God and failed at just loving him. The sure road to agnosticism is to make understanding God a prerequisite to loving Him and believing in Him. We enter into the cloud of belief with love and not knowledge. The Apostle Paul put it quite appropriately when he said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” If we choose the path of love vs understanding, we will one day see God as He is.

God is held in our hearts and not in our thoughts. Knowledge is a very powerful thing but there is nothing greater than heartfelt feeling. Such a feeling defies convention and logic and fights battles that may seem unwinnable. Our task is to give our hearts to God. We must put aside our desire to be able to explain the unexplainable and just accept Him with eyes of the heart. Christian musician Michael W. Smith says, “Lord open the eyes of my heart.” When the eyes of our heart are opened, we will see Him.

We are called upon to choose the incomprehensible as we journey with God, as we pray to God, as we trust God, for in all of these things we must put aside the norm of the world and search for the supernatural norm.

As we follow God, we choose the incomprehensible.


Prayer

Lord help me to have the courage to seek you in the incomprehensible corners of my life. Protect me from the self-centered faith that leads to ruin and give me the courage to not know, but to believe.

Amen.


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Jesus as Scapegoat

Image credit: White Crucifixion (detail), Marc Chagall, 1938, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

I share this piece by Rev Richard Rhor of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I hope you enjoy it.

Blessings, Irvin

Cross as Agenda

In terms of healing and symbolism, everything hinges on the cross. The cross is about how to fight and not become a casualty yourself. The cross is about being the victory instead of just winning a victory. The cross is about refusing the simplistic win-lose scenario and holding out for a possible win-win scenario.

The cross clearly says that evil is to be opposed but we must first hold the tension, ambiguity, and pain of it. “Resist evil and overcome it with good,” as Paul says (Romans 12:21). The cross moves us from the rather universal myth of redemptive violence to a new scenario of transformative suffering.

On the cross of life, we accept our own complicity and cooperation with evil, instead of imagining ourselves on some pedestal of moral superiority. As Paul taught: “everyone has sinned” (Romans 5:12) and Jesus the Lamb of God had the humility to “become sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) with us.

The mystery of the cross teaches us how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to oppose evil without becoming evil ourselves. Can you feel yourself stretching in both directions—toward God’s goodness and also toward recognition of your own complicity in evil? If you look at yourself at that moment, you will feel crucified. You hang in between, without resolution, your very life a paradox, held in hope by God (see Romans 8:23-25).

The goal of God’s work is always healing reconciliation, not retributive justice.  And like Jesus, we must invest ourselves in this work of reconciliation that “the two might become one” (see Ephesians 2:13-18).

Human existence is neither perfectly consistent, nor is it total chaos, but it has a “cruciform” shape of cross purposes, always needing to be reconciled in us.To hold the contradictions with God, with Jesus, is to participate in the redemption of the world (Colossians 1:24). We all must forgive reality for being what it is. We can’t do this alone, but only by a deep identification with the Crucified One and with crucified humanity. Christ then “carries” us across!

The risen, victorious Jesus gives us a history and hopeful future that moves beyond predictable violence. He destroys death and sin not by canceling it out; but by making a trophy of it. Think about that for a long time until it cracks you open. And it will!

Rev. Richard Rhor OFM

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Capturing Humility

Look at your weaknesses, not at your strengths, and pay attention to what you still need to do, instead of rehearsing in your mind what you’ve already accomplished. This is the best way to get and keep humility.

—-Cloud of the Unknowing

Humility-1The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

—Jesus of Nazareth

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

—-Peter the Apostle

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

― Ernest Hemingway

Becoming humble of action and deed is the great calling of all Christ followers. Our words only speak as loud as the deeds and actions that people see in us. There is a great deal said about being humble. Humility defines us in many ways.

HUMILITY – Preachers preach it scholars teach it. Here are a few thoughts on humility.

  • Humility helps us to know when to say yes.
  • Humility is our best friend when given a demanding task.
  • Humility is the best mirror we will ever own.
  • Humility teaches us how to handle power and wealth.
  • Humility guides when ego pushes us to stray.
  • Humility is passing over the mistakes of others,
  • Humility is the ability to accept insult without revenge.
  • Humility is our friend when we are all alone.
  • Humility is the cures pride.
  • Humility builds real confidence.
  • Humility is minding your own business.
  • Humility is the only path to God.

Prayer

Lord help me to discover that healing powers of humility. Release me from the chains of pride and ego. Allow me to flourish in being no more, or less, than you have made me to be. Guide me through this day as a real person who can put aside the arrogance that so besets me.

Amen


Humility-1

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The False Self

To say I was born into sin is just saying I came into the world with a false self. I was born in a mask. I came into existence under sign of contradiction, being someone that I was never intended to be and therefore a denial of what I am supposed to be. Unless I came into existence and non-existence at the same time because from the very start I was something that I was not.

—–Thomas Merton

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus of Nazareth

The ego is the false self born out of fear and defensiveness.

John O’ Donahue

The concept of “false self’ is one that we all need to freely acknowledge in order to grow and prosper as God intended. Most of us realize at some point in our lives that things are not really like we had hoped they would be. No matter how hard we try to be the person that we want to be, we always seem to fall short. We compensate for this by creating a false self. That self is totally self-sufficient and creates its own image. We were designed to be one with God and many spend a lifetime trying to deny that reality. Our vision is our false self because we can control that self.

That self drives us to do weird things, but there is an answer. Surrender to and become the “God designed” you. That requires that we give up the idea of being an all sufficient creation that needs nothing more than training or experience. We are all born flawed and those flaws only get worse if we keep denying them. We all need a true makeover. Such a makeover is called by some being “born again.” That new birth is being born of God and beginning a life that is no longer self-dependent but God dependent.


Prayer

Lord help me to be what you want me to be. Give me the freedom and grace to seek you in my journey. Give me the courage to stop pretending to be something I am not. Allow me to put aside my pride and trust the unknown that you have planted in me.

Amen.

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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.

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One with God

But until I am made one with God in my very essence, I will never have complete rest or true peace; that is to say, until I am so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.

—Julian of Norwich

The desire to be one with God is the ultimate aim of all believers. If we are one with God, our struggles are lessened, our understanding is infinite, our compassion is beyond belief and our motivation is always pure. John Wesley gave up on that possibility of perfection in later life. The scripture tell us, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” The simple fact that we cannot achieve perfection on this earth begs the question, why should the Julian-Quote-1believer seek oneness with God? Let’s use Julian’s three concepts (rest, peace & closeness) to unpack this question.

WE SEEK REST

We exist in a tumultuous, ever spinning world, of God’s own making. Julian asks for complete rest. In my assessment this is probably never going happen for us. Perhaps there may be an extremely rare, one in a billion, who experience true rest this side of heaven, but it should not be the goal that makes or breaks our walk with God. As we seek oneness we can fine joyous times of rest as we worship, pray and experience God’s spirit in our faith communities. If we expect perfect rest, we are like the people who used to tell me that “…if all of the bible is not true then none of it is.” Such an attitude lacks understanding of the Christian journey of renewal and redemption that we all travel. Seek rest in all ways possible, and God will give you wonderful times of rest and soul renewal.

WE SEEK PEACE

In this journey of oneness we find peace even in our failures, because we live in the hope of the better future. One who seeks this goal is a “never give up person.” No matter how difficult, how discouraging or impossible life seems, God is always near. This concept stirs in us a holy restlessness that steers our lives as surely as the currents of the ocean steer ocean liners. Our peace may not be the ultimate peace, but is an abiding sense of being on the journey with God. Peace is available to those who seek it.

CLOSENESS

Julian says,”… so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.” I am going to use the word closeness to flesh out this idea. We experience closeness in many facets of our lives. We are close to our spouses, partners, children, parents and some special friends. In each of these relationships there are filters in place that determine how much we will give, share and trust one another. As our relationship grows stronger, the filters become lessened and we become “as one.” That is the closeness Julian refers to when she says that no created thing would be between her and God. We all know that until death there will be created things between us and God. Such reality does not preclude a closeness to our Creator that borders on supernatural. After all, He is our supernatural creator. The point here is not to hold back from our Creator. We must let Him into our dark places. Just as closeness is never achieved on earth until our significant others see us at our worst, the same is true with God. Let Him in and the results will be remarkable.

Keep these three things in mind and you may get closer to God than you ever dreamed.

CS-Lewis-Quote-1


A Prayer for Closeness

Dear Lord, Life has handed me my share of problems and distractions, but I know that you have it under control. I know that you love me in spite of who I am because that is what you do. My greatest desire is to focus on you in all that I do and say. Please give me that strength and desire to do so. May we grow closer from day to day.

Amen

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When I Say I Am a Christian

 This is a poem I shared in a recent sermon. I share it with you

“When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not shouting, ‘I’ve been saved!’

I’m whispering, ‘I get lost!’ That’s why I chose this way.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t speak with human pride.

I’m confessing that I stumble – needing God to be my guide.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not trying to be strong.

I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not bragging of success.

I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

 

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t think I know it all.

I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not claiming to be perfect.

My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I’m worth it.

 

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I still feel the sting of pain.

I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name.

Carol Wimmer

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