Tuesday, March 31, 2009
During each of our lives there are inevitable moments when someone comes into our life at precisely the right time and they say or do precisely the right thing. Their words or actions may help us perceive ourselves more clearly, remind us that everything will turn out for the best, helps us to cope with life's difficulties or see us through hard situations. These people are human angels. They come when we least expect them and when we can most benefit from their presence.
I have been blessed to know a few human angels in my life. Some are close to me to this day and others have come to me for a time but have long since moved on to others. I remember them all and thank God for their presence. My prayer is that some day I can be the same for another.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Spending time connecting with nature nourishes the soul, reminds you that you are never truly alone and renews you by attuning you to the earth's natural rhythms. Taking a walk under the stars or feeling the wind on your face may be all it takes for you to reconnect. Remember, you are as much a part of nature as are the leaves
on a tree or water babbling in a brook.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
When policymakers consider America's grave social problems, including violent crime and rising illegitimacy, substance abuse, and welfare dependency, they should heed the findings in the professional literature of the social sciences on the positive consequences that flow from the practice of religion.7
For example, there is ample evidence that:
- The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers8 are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
- Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
- The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
- Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
- Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
- The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
- In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
- Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one's chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The early years of our lives are about experiencing and learning as much as possible. We move through the world absorbing the ideas of other people and the world. In our youth, our physical strength and beauty tend to open doors and attract attention. As we age, we begin to form our own opinions from the information we've gathered. At this stage, beauty becomes what we're saying and who we are as much as how we look.
In the middle years we prepare for a new stage of growth. Children move on and careers change or end. The lines on our face and the grey hairs on our heads are beautiful testimonies to the fullness of our experience.
In the winter of our lives, our beauty becomes more about our essence. We may be more radiant than ever at this stage because our inner light from years of living shines through our eyes. Beauty at this age comes from the very core of our being. We should not just give lip service to "growing old gracefully" but embrace it as a way of life. With age comes inner beauty that never goes out of style.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Perhaps it is arrogance on my part, if I handle it, I will work to get the answer I want. If I turn it to God, He will give the answer I need. It is at this point I recognize the road block...it's the sin of unbelief. Never spoken but often practiced.
I must often call to mind the words of the hymn by Issac Watts..."O help my unbelief"...
How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains
But there's a voice of sov'reign grace,
Sounds from the sacred word:
"O, ye despairing sinners come,
And trust upon the Lord."
My soul obeys th' almighty call,
And runs to this relief
I would believe thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!
To the dear fountain of thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul,
From crimes of deepest dye.
Stretch out Thine arm, victorious King,
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
It is an unforgettable moment. As the sun traverses the sky its light is suddenly focused into an intense beam which illuminates a carving of Christ on the Cross. This is not a scene from an Indiana Jones film, however, but a stirring piece of visual synchronicity that dates from medieval times.
At the spring and autumn equinox, the setting sun hits a window at Holy Trinity Church in Barsham, Suffolk, and illuminates the 5ft carving for four spellbinding minutes.The spectacle dates back to the 1300s, when the narrow window was built in the church tower, but it was lost for centuries. It was only rediscovered recently by the village church's assistant curate, the Reverend John Buchanan, who spotted it by chance.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
What does the way you worship say about you?
I know there has to be a certain amount of order in the worship and I do love to sing the hymns, repeat the prayers and follow the liturgy but how much of myself do I inject in the process? Do I really listen to the words I'm singing? Do I sing them with joy in my heart? Do I feel for those I'm praying for or do I just mouth the words? When we sing the Doxology during offering, do I truly feel grateful for the gifts I have?
The Pastor, Choir Director, Liturgist, Musicians and the Worship Committee all do their part but I must make every effort to be present in the moment and make the worship my own. God is watching me...does it make Him happy?
Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
A friend sent me this poem and it dawned on me that since we are in relationship with them, we see them as viable, loving humans...but others may not. Keep this in mind next time you visit those who have passed their "prime".
Crabby Old Woman
What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking, when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food, and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice , the things that you do,
And forever is losing, a stocking or shoe?
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding,as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now, a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows, that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide, and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other, with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me, to see I don't mourn
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years, and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old woman, and nature is cruel;
Tis jest to make old age, look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone, where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living, life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact, that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; Look closer......see,.....ME!!
There are so many terrible events in the world every day that we may start to wonder whether our little contribution can ever make any difference. When you realize there are people starving just a few miles away or that countless homeless people roam the streets for lack of a warm bed it may seem our activities are futile. Dwell on this too long and you may become depressed or despondent.
We are not called to save the whole world, solve all the problems or help all the people. Each of us does have our own unique call...in our communities, our churches, our own homes. It is important that we keep asking God to keep our feet on the right path and give us the strength to play our part. We must trust in His faithfulness. With time we discover that following through with small tasks is the most important gift we can give the world.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
God wants us to deal with our emotions as they happen and keep them from changing our attitudes towards others or the world in general. With God's help, we have the strength to face them; we must have the courage to trust He will lead us through.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Practice humility today in all your actions
Be generous today; help someone in need
Look for ways to be helpful throughout the day
Do a job that needs to be done without being asked
Be courageous; walk away from any impure situations today
Don't be idle. Always do something for others for your own spiritual growth
Go out of your way to help or talk to someone who is usually difficult
Volunteer for an extra job today
Visit someone who is sick or lonesome
Monday, March 16, 2009
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today,
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Don't do any unnecessary talking
Exercise patience in all things
Restrain anger and go out of your way to be kind to the person trying to make you angry
Don't be distracted with someone else's business
Do whatever is asked of you with a joyful and pleasant attitude
Speak in a pleasant tone
Tell the truth in all dealings
Avoid vanity or self-seeking
There now, that's not too hard, is it?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Another issue to deal with during Lent is the prejudice that lives within us all. Most of us aren't even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We think we relate well to people who are different from us in color, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle but what is our spontaneous reaction? If we're put in an uncomfortable situation what is our first thought? If you spoke at that moment, would your words be kind or would you have a knee-jerk reaction?
Strangers, people different than we are, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being "other." Our only hope is to recognize that God loves these "others" as much as He loves us and He calls us to love them in the same way...unconditionally! Once we grasp this reality we can begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God's heart and our prejudices can gradually disappear.
In the movie "Robin Hood" (starring Kevin Costner) a young English girl asks Morgan Freeman (who is portraying a Muslim) if God had painted him...instead of being shocked, his answer is "No, Allah loves infinite variety"...Praise God that all humans are part of that variety.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Prayer is more than conversation. Entering a close walk with God will sometimes call for words and sometimes for a simple enjoyment of presence. In silent, contemplative prayer I simply rest in God. Moving beyond verbal conversation, I move into quiet communion.
As a relationship deepens, we no longer need many words to enjoy each other’s company. In an intimate relationship, two people value each other’s presence, sometimes with words, sometimes in silence.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The greatest gift parents can give their children is their love for each other. Through that love they create an anxiety-free place for their children to grow, encouraging them to develop confidence in themselves and find the freedom to choose their own ways in life.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
A bad day may be showing you that it is time to slow down, change course or lighten up! You may discover wisdom in the day that otherwise you would have overlooked. Most of us would certainly prefer to avoid the uncomfortable feelings associated with a bad day, but many times the day will help us learn more about ourselves.
Bad days may leave us feeling vulnerable but they can only have a long term negative affect on us if we let them. It is much more fruitful to ask what you can learn from such a day. These days can and do contribute to the people we are or are becoming. Though we may feel discouraged or distressed, bad days can teach us patience and perseverance. It is important to remember that your attitude drives your destiny.
You are not alone and the world is not against you. We all go through bad days. Remember that tomorrow is another day and is almost guaranteed to be a better one!
She had been one of the pillars of our church. You know them, standing ram-rod straight and ably performing any task necessary to serve God, the church and the congregation. Even though she has been obviously failing over the last several months, she always "felt like" seeing the young people and encouraging them to take an apple from the bowl in her room (she and her family have their own orchard).
We would have visited her yesterday but she couldn't wait and Saturday evening went to her eternal rest with God. We'll miss you Betty!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Jesus says, "No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house" (Matt. 5:14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let's not have "double lives"; let us allow what we live in private to shine in public.