Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love

Lord God, my Beloved, if you still remember my sins in such a way that you do not do what I beg of you, do your will concerning them, my God, which is what I most desire, and exercise your goodness and mercy, and you will be known St. john of the Crossthrough them. And if you are waiting for my good works so as to hear my prayer through their means, grant them to me, and work them for me, and the sufferings you desire to accept, and let it be done. But if you are not waiting for my works, what is it that makes you wait, my most clement Lord? Why do you delay? For if, after all, I am to receive the grace and mercy that I entreat of you in your Son, take my mite, since you desire it, and grant me this blessing, since you also desire that. Who can free themselves from lowly manners and limitations if you do not lift them to yourself, my God, in purity of love? How will human beings begotten and nurtured in lowliness rise up to you, Lord, if you do not raise them with your hand that made them? You will not take from me, my God, what you once gave me in your only Son, Jesus Christ, in whom you gave me all I desire. Hence I rejoice that if I wait for you, you will not delay. With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart? Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

——John of the Cross

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The Center

Bless to me, O God

Each thing my eye sees;

Blessceltic-cross to me, O God

Each sound my ear hears;

Bless to me, O God

Each odor that goes to my nostrils;

Bless to me, O God

Each taste that goes to my lips;

Each note that goes to my song,

Each ray that guides my way,

Each thing that I pursue,

Each lure that tempts my will,

The zeal that seeks my living soul,

The Three that seek my heart,

The zeal that seeks my living soul,

The Three that seek my heart.

Catherine MacLean — Alive Now Magazine  September/October 2014

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My Treasure

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 almost 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.

Heart shaped rockJesus 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” – have 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 hoarded 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.

I have been trying to remember last year’s Christmas gifts – those I received and those I gave. I remember being tired while shopping. I remember trying to find some bargains to save money. I remember making sure everyone got the same amount spent on them and trying to find just the right little treasure for each person. I remember opening presents after church on Christmas Eve. I cannot remember what those gifts were. How illusive the world’s treasure is!

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 Advent be honest about who 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.”

Reflection – What does my heart truly treasure?
Monica Boudreaux

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Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

In his covenant prayer, which he offered every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, John Wesley prayed:PrayerEvent1

I am no longer my own but Thine, put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt, put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

As fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, Wesley’s reminds us that we are not “free agents’ who go about doing whatever pleases us, but are part of something special. Our calling is to make a covenant with God and each other  that carries out the mission of Christ. How do you express your covenant relationship with God and others?

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The Perfect Gift

About 2000 years ago, God sent us the perfect love gift – Jesus Christ. From His miraculous birth to His miraculous resurrection, the life of Jesus tells humankind the greatest love story of all time. The heart of God and His awesome love for us is clearly revealed in the image of His perfect Son in a crude feeding trough and on a crude wooden cross. The forgiveness and freedom He accomplished there exacted a price that only God could pay. The extraordinary thing about God’s gift, is that it is freely given to all people – no favorites, no exclusions. Your name is on God’s gift list! You are included!

All that Jesus accomplished for you and me was intended to bring the abundance and delight of God’s love and grace into our lives. For Christians, every day should be a unique opportunity to revel in that freedom and show that grace to others.

Christ should bring to mind love images for those of us who are believers. An innocent virgin-born baby in a manger with the glow of heaven on His face. A savior – healing with His gentle touch, calming a storm with His mighty words, playfully cuddling children on His lap.

Christ_in_Garden_GethsemaneDuring this season of Lent, we must also see Christ heartsick and weeping in a garden, hanging broken and bleeding on a cross, and gloriously alive after the resurrection.

In response to this great gift of love, Christians should bring to mind love images to the world. Non-judgmental people with our hearts and arms open to all. People who practice peace and scatter hope. People who understand forgiveness and look for the good.

Jesus Christ – God’s perfect gift for all people, for all time. You are on the gift list.


PRAYER: Father – Thank you for the perfect gift of Christ. Thank you for including us all.

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Passion Knowledge

crucifixionI thought I had some sense of the passion of Christ, but still I desired more by the grace of God.

I thought that I wished to have been at that time with Mary Magdalen and the others who were Christ lovers, and therefore I desired a bodily sight wherein I could have more knowledge.

—-Julian of Norwich

Many times, but especially during the Lenten season, we set our minds on the passion of the Christ. What did He endure on the cross? Why did he do it? Did he really have to suffer so much? Julian, however, didn’t ask the same questions, instead she just wanted to be there. Somehow she desired to mystically experience the emotions of the moment. Julian intuitively knew that physical presence could bring knowledge that would thrust her closer to Her Savior. Our task is to seek that same familiarity so that we can function as emissaries of the promise of the passion. That promise is grace. As we feel with the Christ, we can offer the message of His grace with the same freedom.

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St. Joseph

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (13...

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55). He wasn’t rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph’s genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as “son of David,” a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).

We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

As celebrate St. Joseph with feasting let also remember his commitment to our Savior.

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United Methodists on Jesus

As a United Methodist Elder I am asked what do Methodist believe from time to time. Below you will see the official answer to two questions. I thought it was a good place to start. Next Friday we will go to the Holy Spirit.


Who is Jesus

In trying to find words to express their faith in Jesus, the New Testament writers gave him various names. Jesus was Master, Rabbi, Teacher. He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He was the Doorway to the sheepfold, the Light of the world, the Prince of Peace, and more. In the church’s long tradition, scores of other names or titles have been given. Let’s look at five of the most central biblical names for Jesus:

Son of God

We believe in Jesus as God’s special child. We call this the Incarnation, meaning that God was in the world in the actual person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel writers explain this in different ways. In Mark, Jesus seems to be adopted as God’s Son at his baptism. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit. In John, Jesus is God’s pre-existing Word who “became flesh and lived among us” (1:14). However this mystery occurred, we affirm that God is wholly present in Jesus Christ.

Paradoxically, we also believe that Jesus was fully human. One of the church’s first heresies claimed that Jesus only seemed to be human, that he was really a divine figure in disguise. But the early church rejected this. It affirmed that Jesus was a person in every sense that we are. He was tempted. He grew weary. He wept. He expressed his anger. In fact, Jesus is God’s picture of what it means to be a mature human being.

Christ

We say “Jesus Christ” easily, almost as if “Christ” were Jesus’ surname. Yet this name is another way of expressing who we believe Jesus to be. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means God’s Anointed One. For years before Jesus’ time the Jews had been expecting a new king, a descendant of the revered King David, who would restore the nation of Israel to glory. Like kings of old, this one would be anointed on the head with oil, signifying God’s election; hence, the Chosen One = the Anointed One = the Messiah = the Christ. The early Jewish Christians proclaimed that Jesus was, indeed, this Chosen One. Thus, in calling him our Christ today, we affirm that he was and is the fulfillment of the ancient hope and God’s Chosen One to bring salvation to all peoples, for all time.

Lord

 

We also proclaim Jesus as our Lord, the one to whom we give our devoted allegiance. The word Lord had a more powerful meaning for people of medieval times, because they actually lived under the authority of lords and monarchs. Today some of us may find it difficult to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our lives. We’re used to being independent and self-sufficient. We have not bowed down to authority. To claim Jesus as Lord is to freely submit our will to his, to humbly profess that it is he who is in charge of this world.

Savior

 

Perhaps best of all, we believe in Jesus as Savior, as the one through whom God has freed us of our sin and has given us the gift of whole life, eternal life, and salvation. We speak of this gift as the atonement, our “at-oneness” or reconciliation with God. We believe that in ways we cannot fully explain, God has done this through the mystery of Jesus’ self-giving sacrifice on the cross and his victory over sin and death in the Resurrection.

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Affirming Our Faith

ApostlesCreedThe way I affirm my faith is by reciting and believing the words of the Apostles’ Creed. Many times I have been questioned as to the meaning and purpose of the Apostles’ Creed in worship. The words below are my small stab at what the Creed means to me, and what I mean when I refer to myself as an Apostles’ Creed Christian.


The Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth; 

This beginning of the Creed sets forth our personal profession that we believe in God as Creator. We affirm that nothing was made that did not have His stamp on it. This does not mean we reject evolutionary change, but it does mean that we believe that our God started the process.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,

In this section we affirm Jesus as the Son of God, and not only a Son, but a self-creation of God through His Spirit. Mary, the virgin, was the vessel by which God brought Himself into the world.

suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;

In these words we affirm that Jesus really did suffer and truly died. His suffering was brought by man, namely Pontius Pilate. This death was a means of victory for Him because He rose from the dead, and by this act overcame man’s greatest enemy, death.

he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.

When Jesus rose from the dead He went to heaven as God sitting in the throne with equality to the Creator God. Because He is not only man but God as well and as such He will sit in judgment at the appointed time.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

After Jesus left the earth in the ascension, He said to His disciples that He would send a Comforter so that they would not be alone. That Comforter is the Holy Spirit, who is God’s real presence on earth. The word catholic means universal, and we are affirming that we belong to the universal church no matter what label we use. By affirming our belief in the communion of saints we are further asserting our belief that all who call upon Jesus are part of the Church. In the final three lines we express our faith in the plan of God to forgive, renew and reward those who have chosen to be a people of good will.


These few words are far from an exhaustive commentary on the Apostles Creed, but I hope that they can stand as a beginning point of faith. Next time you stand and recite this creed, I hope you will think of some of these thoughts.

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CLEAR VISION

Luke 15:11-32

 He was born blind.  A perfectly formed, beautiful baby boy kicking his tiny legs and swinging his arms in a sea of darkness.  He had little hope for a quality life in first century Jerusalem.  His father daily led him to his unofficial, but reserved location near a small pool.  Others who had forfeited in some way God’s blessing spent their wretched days there – begging.  Some days he collected nothing.  Some days a hateful boy stole the few pennies resting in his cup.  Everybody in Jerusalem knew that either he or his parents had a great sin for which God was exacting vengeance by taking his sight.  They all wished they knew what that family had done wrong!

One day, just like thousands of other black days, Jesus passed by.  He put some mud on those sightless eyes, gave instructions to wash off the mud in a nearby pool, and left the man to respond in faith.  At first, he saw a blurry light, then large shapes.  He blinked quickly several times.  His vision cleared!  He could see!  Out of darkness!  When questioned by religious authorities already concerned about the miracle worker, the formerly blind man could only explain the phenomenon this way:  “Only one thing I know.  I was blind, but now I see.”  What joy!

Many of us born with sight, still have a clouded vision of Jesus.  We’ve allowed so much to distort our image of the Savior!  The Bible is full of stories of people who did the same.  Let’s learn from them.

He’d been in the field all day, but as he approached the house, it was evident something big was happening.  It was a party!  Why in the world, in the middle of the work week, with no previous notice would Father be throwing such a huge party?  Confusion gave way to anger when he saw him.  So, he was back – the spoiled little brother who took his inheritance and left home to have fun.  He’d lost it all!  The older brother couldn’t feel relief that his younger brother was alive, joy for his father, hope that things had changed – just ANGER!

Jesus was coming for lunch.  Martha had peeled the vegetables, cooked the lamb chops, mixed the fruit salad, and baked the bread.  She had straightened the house, set the table, washed up all the cooking utensils, mopped the kitchen floor, and dusted the living room.  Mary, her sister – sat!  Jesus and Mary were talking and laughing and Martha was jealous.  Why did Mary always get preferential treatment from everyone?  Jesus was telling Mary and Lazarus about his work, but Martha was too JEALOUS to listen!

He was young, handsome, wealthy, – a good man.  Although everyone thought he had it all – he knew he did not.  He spoke out of a sense of frustration when he inquired of Jesus, “What am I missing?  What’s this hole in my heart that my possessions cannot fill?”  Jesus, testing his commitment, suggested he give away all his possessions in order to clear up his priorities.  The rich young man wouldn’t even consider the suggestion.  He preferred his POSSESSIONS to Jesus.

The disciples were riding out choppy waves on the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus, not needing a boat, simply walked out on top of the water to join them.  Impetuous Peter wanted to walk on the water, too.  What a thrill!  Jesus probably chuckled to himself as he gave Peter permission to join him.  At first, Peter managed the miraculous, but after a few steps he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.  Panic replaced exhilaration because SELF-RELIANCE replaced faith.

Pontius Pilate had a chance to be history’s greatest hero.  He had the power to set Jesus free.  He knew he should.  He recognized his innocence.  He vacillated in his judgment, but the crowd won out.  Pilate was people-pleaser.  He didn’t want trouble from the Jews and a reprimand from Caesar, so he compromised his integrity and ordered the death of the Savior.  He made a ceremony of washing his hands of the Messiah’s innocent blood, but OTHER PEOPLE kept him from allowing the stain to be washed from his soul.

James and John – brothers looking out for each other.  They didn’t feel completely comfortable with the question, but the obsession for power and recognition overshadowed the guilt.  They sucked in their breaths, and nonchalantly asked Jesus for a little favor.  The request – to sit on either side of Jesus on His heavenly throne.  After all, wouldn’t it be lovely to be recognized throughout all eternity as Jesus’ favorites?  How powerful the feeling would be as all the saints of all the ages took note of their importance.  Jesus dealt the brothers a powerful blow with His reply – they had missed the whole point!  Those who find their joy in service are great, not those who find their joy in POWER or RECOGNITION.

What clouds our vision of Jesus?  Like the blind beggar who responded in faith, let Jesus five you clear sight.  What joy!

Monica Boudreaux

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