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The 40 Days of Lent

Day Seven



Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,

“One does not live by bread alone,

   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

~~~Matthew 4:1-41

Prayer-Banner_thumb1Lord, We live in a world that tells us that we live by bread alone, but you tell us different. Inspire us during this Lenten season to discern that different path. Let us be guided by your spirit in the direction that you have set out for all of your creation. Strengthen us as we seek that direction.

Amen

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This Week – Ego

Ego Self-esteem, self-importance; a person’s sense of this in himself or herself. That part of the mind which has a sense of individuality and is most conscious of self.

(Oxford Dictionary)



The word EGO can be scary because the proper balance of ego and humility is a true challenge. Thomas Merton said, “Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.” Most of the time that is the way we think of our ego, that self-delusionary false self that we project to the world. Let me divide our ego into two parts.

We all need to have a positive view of ourselves if we are to look at the world in a realistic way. God created you in his own image, and that means that you are unbelievably valuable to him. People who have an exceptionally low self-esteem find it difficult to think well of others. God desires us to have a strong enough ego to be valuable and productive in the world. Our ability to love ourselves is key to our love for others. The writer Tennessee Williams believed that we see each other through our flaws. Our flaws are part of us, and we must embrace them as well. The problem is that we do not have enough positive ego to go beyond our flaws and flourish as God intended. We must value ourselves. Jesus put it best, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the part of our ego that is important to healthy living.

The second part of our ego is the dangerous one. We have all encountered egotistical, narcissistic, self-absorbed people in our lives. They make life miserable. Somehow they operate under the delusion that they are the only people in the world that really know anything. You want to know how to run your life, just ask. Egotistical people always have an answer, and their answer is the only one. Merton would refer to this type of behavior as the false self at it worst. This is the ego we are to avoid and control. Such ego leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and sometimes violent behavior.

The real key to understanding our ego is to embrace that we are created in the image of God. That means that we are to love ourselves. It also means that we are to conduct ourselves in a way that projects that created image. Psychologist Sigmund Freud warned that we must not give in to the primitive ego that destroys ourselves and others but must rise to the “super ego” that builds ourselves and others. Unlike Freud, I know that we do not have to do this alone. Because we are followers of Jesus, we have the companionship and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God guides on our way. This Spirit shows how to love others as we love ourselves, and Jesus is the prime example of that love.

Your ego is not your natural born enemy, but it is a force to be reckoned with on your journey. Let us understand that we are worthwhile and valuable, but everyone we meet is just as valuable. Remember the words of the writer of Proverbs.

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.



Quotes BannerMidlife is the time to let go of an over dominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.”

― Carl Gustav Jung

Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”

― Shannon L. Alder

Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”

― John Lennon

Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.”

― Chögyam Trungpa

“If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.”

― C.S. Lewis

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

― John O’Donohue

“The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.”

― Eckhart Tolle

“Or, rather, let us be more simple and less vain.”

― Rousseau Jean-Jacques

“You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak.”

― George Clooney

Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.”

― Gary Hopkins

How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick.”

― Joseph Campbell

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.

―Gilbert K. Chesterton



Quotes Banner“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

~~~John 5:31

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

~~~Colossians 4:6

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

~~~John 8:28

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

~~~Mark 10:17-18

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

~~~1 Peter 5:5

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

~~~Proverbs 16:18

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

~~~Proverbs 29:23

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

~~~Proverbs 16:5

Prayer Banner

LORD, We fear what our egos may drive us to do. You have warned us many times of the dangers of being prideful or boastful. Help me ,Lord, to have enough self-worth to glorify you and enough humility to value others. Guide me down the path that allows me to be the person that you intended to create.

Amen

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This Week – Desire

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Definition

Desire – Long for, want earnestly, (a thing , a person) Feel loss of, to miss. Express a wish for, ask for, request, a thing or a person.

(Oxford Dictionary)



More often than I would like to admit the word desire is linked to physical passion. I acknowledge that physical desire is a very real thing, but I want to examine the word beyond that aspect. During the dark days of World War II, England had a great deal of difficulty keeping men in the coal mines. It was a thankless kind of job, totally lacking in any glory. Most chose to join the various military services. They desired something that could give them more social acceptance and recognition. Something was needed to motivate these men in the work that they were doing so that they would remain in the mines.

 

Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a speech one day to thousands of coal miners, stressing to them the importance of their role in the war effort. He did this by painting for them a mental picture. He told them to picture the grand parade that would take place when VE Day came. First, he said, would come the sailors of the British Navy, the ones who had upheld the grand tradition of Trafalgar and the defeat of the Armada. Next in the parade, he said, would come the pilots of the Royal Air Force. They were the ones who, more than any other, had saved England from the dreaded German Luftwaffe. Next in the parade would come the Army, the ones that had stood tall at the crises of Dunkirk.

Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in minor’s caps. And someone, he said, would cry from the crowd, “And where were you during the critical days of the struggle?” And then from ten thousand throats would come, “We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.” We are told that there were tears in the eyes of many of those soot laden and weathered faced coal miners. They had been given a sense of their own self-worth by the man at the top. That story begs the question. What are our desires?

We desire self-worth. Just like the Welsh coal miners of that day, we have a deep desire to think we and our work make a difference. It is exceedingly difficult to toil each day with a feeling of worthlessness. Our desire is to be worthwhile and worthy. Such is a very natural and legitimate desire.

We desire recognition. All people have a simple desire to not be invisible to the world.  Most people do not need a recognition ribbon for all they do but do want to be seen and appreciated. There are loads of people who work in literal invisibility. They suffer from their lack of recognition. We are largely responsible for their lack, because we take so much for granted in the world. Whether they are our parents, children or the worker at the grocery, they desire and deserve our recognition.

We desire love. The desire to be loved is perhaps our greatest and most complicated desire. It is one that can drive us into some extremely dangerous ground. We live in a world that has defined love in a very carnal direction. Love is not always carnal. Love is the kind word, the helping hand and the warm smile for which we a yearn. Our society has, in many ways, forgotten about this type of love. The desire for the purity of the love of God stands at the front of the line.

Desire can be used to make us better persons. My hope is that you will channel your desire in a direction that will bring you peace and blessing.



Quotes BannerDo not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

~~~Epicurus

Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.

~~~Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

Unsatisfied desire is in itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.

~~~C. S. Lewis

The scientist is motivated primarily by curiosity and a desire for truth.

~~~Irving Langmuir

There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.

~~~George Bernard Shaw

The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire.

~~~Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark

Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the kingdom of God on earth.

~~~John Wesley

Ultimately, it is the desire, not the desired, that we love.

~~~Friedrich Nietzsche

The authority of those who profess to teach is often a positive hindrance to those who desire to learn.

~~~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.

~~~William Blake



Scripture BannerWhom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

~~~Psalm 73:25

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,

Favor is better than silver and gold.

~~~Proverbs 22:1

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

~~~Hebrews 13:18

But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

~~~Romans 7:8

But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

~~~Matthew 12:7

It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

~~~1 Timothy 3:1

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,

And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

~~~Psalm 51:6

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

~~~James 1:19-20

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

~~~Romans 7:18

Prayer Banner

LORD, Desire can be a tricky emotion. It is an emotion that can lead us down the wrong path. Desire is also the strongest drive we have when we seek you. Help us to separate our selfish desires from those that drive us toward you and your love. May we all learn to possess holy desires that drive us toward you and your love. Amen

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Prayer of the Week #5

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February 9, 2021 · 9:25 am

Adversity/Deliverance

Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might become free from care. He went and told an old man this: ‘I find myself in peace, without an enemy,’ he said.

The old man said to him, ‘Go, beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that the soul makes progress.’ So, he besought God and when warfare came,

he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.

~~~ Abba Poeman of the Desert



The popular cry is deliverance, but the old man gives us a different cry -‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.’ As difficult as it is, we must acknowledge that in our trials, salvation comes to our souls. Pop preachers and politicians tell us that all adversity will be taken away, and they have the formula for removing these obstacles from our lives. None of us wants to hear the message of endurance and strength. When such a message is proclaimed, we know that the problems of life must be faced, and we must walk in the valley from time to time. That is a very loathsome thought, but the resolve and fortitude we acquire through these times will carry us to new spiritual heights. The wise old man points in the direction of inner strength, a quality that can only be learned by walking in the valley. For amid our darkest times, our relationship and knowledge of God blossoms, and a vital relationship is created. Pray to God for this strength.

This strength comes when we learn to make adversity and suffering an avenue of growth and change. We never grow unless we change. There is a sad old pop culture myth that we can grow without changing. I was told long ago that the best way to market your new product was to make someone dissatisfied with their current product. That is what we are forced to do amid the adversity that we face in our churches, families and jobs. If we find ourselves praying for deliverance so that we do not have to change, we are missing the point. Perhaps this adverse situation is a wakeup call from God.

Some of the greatest and most productive changes I have made in my life have been a result of adverse times. We never change or alter our prayer life, worship pattern or close relationships until we hit a rough spot. Then we are reminded that our lives are not static, and we do not have all the answers. Isn’t that great? I do not have all the answers. That is such a freeing thought, and it causes us to look in new directions. 

The first of these new directions is to look to other people with an open mind. Openness that says that someone else may have a better idea or way to accomplish what we are so desperately trying to do. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame wanted to develop a computer software that would eventually be called Basic. As he was in the early stage, he realized that it could not be done without some help from a previous computer, program and thus he reached and out and was flexible enough to admit that he did not have all the answers. As a result, his product succeeded and at age 31 he became the world’s youngest billionaire. The truth of that story is that Gates had to go through a time of trial and adversity and that looking to others was his way out.

The second of these new directions is to rethink how important God is in our everyday lives and decisions. We can go through life just giving God a nod on Sunday and perhaps here and there during the week. Sooner or later adversity comes in our lives and we can handle it two ways. The way many people handle adversity is to blame God and become bitter, This reaction makes us most miserable and quite hard to be around at times. The person who blames it all on God, and just as importantly, sees himself as the master of his own universe, lives a tormented and miserable life. We must turn to a greater belief and dependence on God in our time of adversity, and he will see us through the fight.

Remember that help in times of adversity radiates from your relationship with God and your neighbors.



PRAYER

LORD, Savior of every life, in following you we choose to love and never to harden our hearts. You wish us to know a Gospel joy. And when the depths of our being are covered by a dark cloud, one way forward remains open, the way of serene trust.

Amen

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This Week – Care

Care – An object or a matter of concern; a thing to be done or seen too – a charge, protective oversight, or guardianship. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



I doubt that there is a person on earth who genuinely wants to be known as uncaring. We all seem to care about a variety of things and people that touch our lives and even some that do not. To develop an attitude of care we must look both inside and outside of ourselves. That is perhaps the greatest challenge of becoming a caring person.

Looking outward is vital because we must see life as it exists beyond our world. Bertrand Russell tells us,“One must care about a world one will not see.” The imperative of that statement is that we must look outside of our world, or we truly just do not care about anything. Our world is full of people who never look outside of themselves to even care for the people that surround them. There is a near epidemic of abuse in so many homes today that we begin to wonder if anybody really cares. We must perhaps begin the journey of care by thinking about the many hurts and needs in the world that we never see. I pray God that we will never see starvation on the street corner, but we need to realize that such destitution is a part of the world that we live in. As we begin to care about the things we do not see, we develop keener eyes to see the needs that surround us. We begin to care for our neighbors and friends, our families, and caring becomes a way of life.

Now comes the next challenge. Most of us have heard of “compassion fatigue.” It is defined as a condition characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others. In other words, we no longer care about anything or anybody. Why? Perhaps the primary reason is that we have neglected to care for ourselves. To properly care for others, we must care for ourselves. The beginning of self-care is rest. When we do not take the time to rest, we find ourselves at a loss to do the things that we love. Rest allows us to rethink what we are doing and why we are doing it. The quieting of our minds allows us to see our value to the world and the importance of respecting ourselves as a special creation of God. Essential to self -care is a positive view of ourselves before we lift a finger to others. This allows us to look deeper at the needs that surround us. With a healthy dose of self-love and self -care we are ready to care for the world.

The caring person knows how to show love and respect. There is no love without respect. It is not enough to tell someone you care when you do not value their worth to the world and see yourself as some sort of paternal figure that wants to straighten up their disastrous lives. People do not need a human savior but a friend and companion who cares about them. As persons of care, we are led to build up the self-worth of those we care for and about. Our imperative is to make their lives more worth living, and in doing so, they too become caring people. It is contagious. When people discover that others care about them, they begin to care about the world. In some nearly mystical sense, they are led to become people of care as well.

What are human beings that you are mindful of them,

   mortals that you care for them?

~~~Psalm 8:4



Quotes BannerIf we take care of the inches, we will not have to worry about the miles.

~~~Hartley Coleridge

I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

~~~Abraham Lincoln

One must care about a world one will not see.

~~~Bertrand Russell

Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the kingdom of God on earth.

~~~John Wesley

My friend…care for your psyche…know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.

~~~Socrates

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.

~~~Dale Carnegie

If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.

~~~D. L. Moody

Nobody is so busy that they can’t make time for the people they really care about.

~~~Leila Sales

A song and a smile from someone I cared about could be enough to distract me from all that darkness, if only for a little while.

~~~Ransom Riggs

The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.

~~~Carson McCullers



Scripture BannerThat there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

~~~1 Corinthians 12:25

Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

~~~Corinthians-2 11:28

For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

~~~Philippians 2:20

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

~~~Philippians 4:10

Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.

~~~Peter-1 5:7

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

~~~Psalm 23:1

what are human beings that you are mindful of them,

   mortals that you care for them?

~~~Psalm 8:4

And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

~~~Matthew 10:30-31

The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

~~~John 10:13-14

The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”

~~~Luke 10:35

Prayer BannerLORD,

Teach me to care for the unloving.

      Teach me to care for the undeserving.

          Teach me to care for the unknown.

              Teach me to care for the unreachable.

Teach me that in caring for these I can learn to care for myself and have the peace that is bestowed upon a person of a caring heart. I ask that your spirit guide me as I seek these things. AMEN

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Prayer of the Week #4

Augustin of Hippo.jpg

Read More About Augustine

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Prayer of the Week 2

Merton Prayer

“The Merton Prayer” from

Thoughts in Solitude

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Prayer of the Week 1

Lord help us to turn, from callousness to sensitivity, from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose, from envy to contentment, from carelessness to discipline, from fear to faith. Turn us around, O Lord, and bring us back toward you. Revive our lives as at the beginning and turn us toward each other, Lord, for in isolation there is no life.

Amen

From  “Gates of Repentance.” Chaim Stern

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Thanksgiving Prayer

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