Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reminders for Ministers

I was going through some old pocket notebooks and stumbled across the following list. I jotted these down at a ministers and spouse retreat a few years back and though I'd pass them along. If I recall correctly, they list was given by Pastor Dave Williams of Mount Hope Church of Lansing, MI. There's something here for everyone.

For lack of the original title, I'll simply call the list, "Reminders for Ministers."

1. You must work at staying simple and uncluttered
2. It is better to look for symptoms of health rather than sickness
3. Love your work or find work you do
4. Use your mouth to speak faith, encouragement and cheer to others
5. I can defy the odds if God is working with me
6. Make decisions unashamedly
7. I have to keep getting up again
8. I can't give up on humanity because I was hurt by another person
9. God's mercy endures forever
10. In life I can never succeed alone
11. Be suspicious of all my first impressions
12. Learn the power of focus
13. I have to take time for privacy and rest
14. Focus on the important, not just on the urgent
15. Seek God early
16. The "victim mentality" never brings increase, but ensures decrease
17. Unless I keep expanding, growing and developing, I will level off and die
18. The true meaning of the New Testament staff and board
19. Jesus will multiply what you have if you give Him what you have
20. It's a sin to be good when God has called you to be great
21. There are only two wills in the universe: God's and some other
22. I must understand the "seasons"
23. Always ask questions
24. Try to annihilate fear and anxiety
25. If I don't want to be lost, I need to hang out with those who know where they are going

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What is Wisdom?

Early this morning I was certain I saw someone on Facebook ask the question. “What is wisdom?” A little later, when I went back to the individual's page to make a comment, the question was no longer there. Then I wondered if I mistakenly thought it was one person, when, in fact, it was another. Maybe I dreamed it. Now I am not sure. Regardless, this led me to jot down a few thoughts concerning wisdom, which I will now share with you.

Three words are sometimes used interchangeably: knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Though they are related and often interwoven, they are not synonyms.

Knowledge – has to do with mental gathering of facts,
Understanding – has to do with the mental grasping of those facts in the context of its original setting - why a fact is a fact, so to speak,
Wisdom – puts into practice the making of right decisions in ones life – in thought, word and deed – based on the knowledge and understanding we have.

The opposite of knowledge is ignorance
The opposite of understanding, in this context, is being naive
The opposite of wisdom is foolishness

As one simply and succinctly put it, “Wisdom is the ability to live life skillfully.”

How often have we or others we know made foolish decisions that resulted in bad outcomes? Outcomes that could have easily been avoided if we had acted wisely instead.

As we go through life, we would do well to remember the words of Proverbs 4:7, which says, “Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God's creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and all our neighbors who are poor.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

There is a Contemplative

There is a contemplative
in all of us,
almost strangled
but still alive,
who craves quiet
enjoyment of the Now,
and longs to touch
the seamless
garment of silence
which makes whole.
- Alan P. Tory, taken from Celtic Daily Prayer

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Bit of Silence

These thoughts were taken from this morning's devotional reading and were found in the book, Celtic Daily Prayer.

"If we practised silence a little bit more, then when we did speak we'd have something to say." - John Skinner -

"I weave a silence on to my lips
I weave silence into my mind
I weave silence within my heart
I close my ears to distractions
I close my eyes to attractions
I close my heart to temptations.
Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm
Let all the tumult within me cease
Enfold me, Lord, in your peace."
- David Adam -

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Little or Much

"Those who do not need as much as some others should thank God for the strength they have been given and not be sorry for themselves. Those who need more should be humble about their weakness and not become self-important in enjoying the indulgence granted them. In that way all the community will be at peace with each other." - St. Benedict of Nursia

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rare Qualities

Beautiful qualities the world around us longs to see in those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ: Reverence, Integrity, Faithfulness, Gratitude, and Humility. These are too often lacking, but so desperately needed.

What other qualities would you add to the list?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Amish Peace

The following quote was written by an Amish man called "Uncle Amos," who occasionally wrote for a publication called the Small Farmer's Journal. Though written with the Amish life in mind, I thought it would easily apply to those who admire the monastic lifestyle - those who are monk's at heart.

"If you admire our faith, strengthen yours. If you admire our sense of commitment, deepen yours. If you admire our community spirit, build your own. If you admire the simple life,cut back. If you admire deep character and enduring values, live them yourself. "

The above quote was taken from the Introduction in the book, Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World.

(The photo is of me when I played an Amish man in an Arctic Cat commercial.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011


If I were not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Rapture happened, I would not attend any post-Rapture parties, I would not celebrate that all the followers of Jesus were gone, thereby freeing me to live and do as I please without some holier-than-thou telling me how to live my life and cramming some Bible verse down my throat. I wouldn't go looting the homes of Christians, figuring, “They're gone! They're not going need this stuff anyway!”

What I would do would be to stand trembling, realizing that the Jesus I denied was real, the message of the Gospel that I scoffed at was true and the gift of God's love and forgiveness that I openly rejected, laughed at, mocked, and at times even profaned, has now passed me by.

The pride that kept me from repentance and from surrender to God, I would curse with every fiber of my being. I would not swallow my pride, but with all that is in me I would vomit it out, seeing clearly that my pride was my poison; my arrogance, my curse. I was offered life abundant and life eternal, but, instead, I chose a mere temporal life, a mere earthly existence and ridiculed those who believed in an everlasting bliss in the presence of God.

The trembling would soon buckle my knees and throw me to the ground with great fear and great force. My tear-stained face would be buried into the dirt. With all pride now gone from me, I am broken, I am overwhelmingly afraid, I am empty and humbled beyond words. I would realize that am not as great as I thought I was, and the God I thought was not, I now fully realize... truly is.

With nothing more to lose, I would, with every ounce of energy, from the very depths of my being, cry out to the Christ I repeatedly rejected, “Lord, have mercy on me. If there is any way, if there is any hope, if it is at all possible, Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me. I beg of you, I plead with you, Lord, have mercy on me.” This would be the fervent prayer of my every breath until my final breath.

Many arrogant will continue to embrace their pride and curse the Truth. They may celebrate, they may party, they may loot the homes of their neighbors, they may continue to blaspheme the God they now know to be true.

But I wouldn't. For the life of me, I wouldn't. But then, that's just me.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Called To Be Contemplatives

We are all called to be contemplatives in the heart of the world — by seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and [God's] hand in every happening; seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.

- Mother Teresa

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ten Reasons to Pray

Following are ten reasons why we should pray:

1. Prayer reminds us that we are not the solution to the challenges that grip our world but we have access to the one who transcends those challenges.

2. A prayerless nation has no hope beyond the headlines.

3. Prayer aligns us with God’s heart, purposes and blessings.

4. Prayer is an act of humility that precedes honor.

5. Prayer enlarges the heart beyond selfish motive.

6. Prayer provokes the heart to consider not only what is but what can be with God’s help.

7. Prayer is best prioritized when one asks God to change one’s own heart first.

8. No matters of eternal value will be accomplished outside of prayer.

9. Prayer is properly prioritized vigilance in a spiritually passive world.

10. Prayer at its best is an offering of one’s self to be used by God as a part of the answer.

- Rev. Bill Shuler, senior pastor at Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Consideration for Lent

Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Monk's Mission

I came across this quote from Thomas Merton and thought readers of this blog would appreciate it.

"The monk is not defined by his task, his usefulness; in a certain sense he is to be useless, because his mission is not to do this or that job but to be a man of God."

In the midst of your doing for God, don't forget to simply be for God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphany Prayer

On this Epiphany I came across another Mozarabic prayer. It was entitled simply, Epiphany Prayer. As the Christ revealed Himself to the Maji, may He reveal Himself to us in a greater and clearer way this year.

This prayer was taken from the Mozarabic Breviary.

Thou, O Lord, art the Star of truth, that riseth out of Jacob, and the man that springeth from Israel. In the new Star thou showest thyself as God, and lying in the Crib God and Man, we confess thee to be the one Christ. In thy great mercy grant us the grace of seeing thee, and show unto us the radiant sign of thy light, whereby all the darkness of our sins may be put to flight: that so we who now languish with the desire of seeing thee, may be refreshed with the enjoyment of that blissful vision. Amen.