Thusday 5-21-2015

I do love listening to the chanting monks! yes, in Latin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MONASTIC CHANT of the Psalms appeal to many today who find the gentle, rhythmic singing a soothing introduction to meditation. Recordings of chant sell in great quantities, and monasteries are receiving a record number of guests looking for a different pace of life. The Psalms draw people in because they represent prayer uttered from the whole range of human experience.

Even those of us who do not participate in community singing of the Psalter can relate to the down-to-earth cries of God’s people in these ancient songs. Through the Psalms God’s people have wept together, celebrated victory, danced, made music, lamented, and found hope in Yahweh. Jewish and Christian people alike have cherished the Psalter as a means of praying with integrity.

The Psalms of the Hebrew scriptures quickly acquired a fixed place in the church, which chanted the entire Psalter weekly. Over the centuries our liturgies have reduced the number of psalms in worship, but the practice of reciting the whole Psalter on a regular basis has been preserved within monastic communities. …

We seldom take time for stillness in our culture. Monastic life is countercultural in that it punctuates each day with periods of silence. Monastics are no less busy than the rest of us; the telephone rings, guests arrive at the door, the grass needs to be mowed, food must be prepared — but when they (and we) attend to tasks from a place of stillness, it enhances the quality of Presence. … As I sat each day with the monks and learned to pause at the end of each line of a psalm — alien to my usual way of reading — I began to let the Psalms pray me. Today, with no community to assist my praying, I find that if I continue to practice the frequent pauses, I am more able to “hear” what God is saying through these ancient prayers.

– Elizabeth J. Canham

Tuesday May 19, 2015

Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us. —Billy Graham

When Billy Graham wrote those words in 1965, no one knew how true they would be 50 years later.

At its best, anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25). At its worst, anxiety is a crippling disease, taking over our minds and plunging our thoughts into darkness.

But God wants so much more for us than to walk through life full of fear, worry and anxiety.

“Do not be anxious about anything,” the Bible tells us in the book of Philippians, chapter 4, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Our instructions don’t stop there. The chapter goes on to tell believers exactly what we should focus on. And it’s not fear, terrorism, illness, death or evil.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9, ESV, emphasis added).

The first step to an anxiety-free mind is to give your life to Jesus Christ. Once you’ve taken that step, it’s important to fix your thoughts on Jesus and the promise that He is preparing a place for His followers in heaven (John 14:2-3).

“We can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
—Hebrews 13:6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 4:6-7

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
—Psalm 34:4

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
—Psalm 42:5

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
—Matthew 6:34

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
—2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
—Psalm 23:1-6

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
—1 Peter 5:5-7

“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
—Hebrews 13:6

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
—Revelation 21:4

Friday May 15, 2015

THE CALL TO LOVE GOD and to serve with enthusiasm comes in the midst of many other demands and priorities. When God began speaking to you – through situations, friends, parents, a Sunday school teacher, or a pastor – you may have heard the message of God’s love only faintly. God uses all sorts of ways to speak to you. Perhaps you have grown more aware of your pilgrimage, but other priorities such as rearing children, establishing a career, or seeking pleasure took precedence, shelving or crowding out your relationship with God. Any relationship that is not given priority soon becomes meaningless if not lost altogether.

Although our yes to God’s call is a sincere response to what we understand that call to be, it is not a once-and-for-all event. Because God’s will is revealed slowly or gradually, there are always new beginnings, new calls to a deeper level of commitment. Our spirits are challenged again and again to deepen the relationship with God and to find fuller expressions of that relationship in meaningful ministries through the local church.

– Robert Wood

Tuesday May 12, 2015

SPRINGTIME SINGS a song of hope
that whispers everywhere.
It’s heard by every tiny seed
carried in the air.
It’s sung by every butterfly
in chrysalis as they sleep.
It’s heard by every tulip bulb
buried in earth’s deep.
It’s sung by every acorn
that will one day be a tree.
It’s heard in every tiny egg
by birds who will be free.
The song of hope is whispered
as Jesus lives anew.
Easter is a song of hope
sung for me and you!
–Glenys Nellist

Monday May 11, 2015

MARTIN LUTHER said, “Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.” Death is a complex mystery and each person’s death is unique. I have given a lot of thought to my dying wishes and have recorded my choices in a document called “Five Wishes.” This act on my part relieves my family of making these choices for me when that day arrives. Yet only one in five Americans has completed advance directions or written a living will.

The patriarch Joseph made his wishes about his death arrangements known to his family. By his act Joseph reaffirmed his faith in the God of Israel. Joseph knew he would not be among the Israelites in the flesh when they left Egypt and marched to Canaan. But his bones would accompany them. …

Joseph exemplifies the willingness to plan his death as a witness to his faith. The document “Five Wishes” allows people to do the same by recording the following information: (1) The person who will make decisions for you when you can’t. (2) The kind of medical treatment you do or don’t want, including decisions about life support. (3) How comfortable you want to be. (4) How you want people to treat you, which could include dying at home; if possible, bedside prayers, pictures, etc. (5) What you want your loved ones to know, including burial plans and your ethical will. Your ethical will makes note of what you want your family to remember about your wisdom and values. Signing “Five Wishes” automatically revokes all previous durable power of attorney grants and any and all previous wills you may have made.*

Father, give me wisdom to decide what is best for the end of my life and the courage to tell my family. Amen.

*While this is true in the United States of America, it may not be valid in other countries.

– Richard L. Morgan

Sunday May 10, 2015

PRAYING THE SINNER’S PRAYER is not the end goal of the Christian life. Praying one prayer, or having one experience of God’s grace, is not the fullness of what God hopes for us. Please don’t misunderstand me: having an initial experience of God’s grace by faith is absolutely essential, but it does not represent the entirety of the Christian life. When we talk about “getting saved,” we sound a lot like a naive couple on their honeymoon who think they have experienced the fullness of marriage. They will soon realize that getting married is just the beginning of marriage, not the end. Similarly, receiving forgiveness of our sins and being born again do make us Christians. … There is a real change, but it is just the beginning of an entirely new way of life.

– Kevin M. Watson

Saturday May 9, 2015

WE ARE NOT DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ because we have accumulated information about God, Jesus, or the Bible. … Following Jesus is not primarily a matter of knowledge and information. It is a specific way of living – a set of practices – through which we embody the gospel in our own lives as part of a community of people who have made the same commitment to walk in Jesus’ path.

A more accurate translation of the word disciple might be “apprentice.” An apprentice is also a learner, and apprenticeship suggests we learn by doing. A novice is apprenticed to a master worker and learns by conversation, observation, and – most important of all – by working alongside someone with a set of skills the novice wishes to learn and adopt.

– Thomas R. Hawkins