Archive for the ‘Ponderables’ Category

Unusual blessing
September 4, 2018

When we think of a blessing from God, we often think of something peaceful or comforting, but some time ago I came across a different kind of blessing.

It has been making the rounds under the name “A Franciscan Blessing” or “The Four-fold Blessing.” However, from Joshua Hopping’s online blog, “Wild Goose Chase,” you can learn that this blessing or prayer actually has no connection to the Franciscans.

Instead, it was written by the Benedictine Sister Ruth Fox of Sacred Heart Monastery for a Dickinson State University graduation in 1985. Sadly Sister Ruth Fox’s name has been removed from the blessing/prayer as it made the rounds online.

For the record, here is the original blessing:

May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.
May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with:
◦ Happiness – because you will know that you have made life better for others.
◦ Inner peace – because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others.
◦ Laughter – because your heart will be light.
◦ Faithful friends – because they will recognize your worth as a person.

These blessings are yours – not for the asking, but for the giving – from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen

Think about what your life might become if you live in the reality of these four blessings. We would give witness, in big or small ways, to the in-breaking kingdom of God.

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Grand Simplicity
August 15, 2018

Lillias Trotter was an artist and Protestant missionary to Algeria. She lived from 1853 to 1928.

She wrote this about the reason she did her work.

“I do this thing for God, not for success in the work, or for happiness in my soul or for anything else. I am here for God.”

“Life is grandly simple when the spirit of calculating results and consequences, even spiritual results and consequences, has been left among the things that are behind, when obedience is the one thing that matters, when God Himself, and no mere ‘experience,’ is our exceeding great reward.”

My heart is deeply challenged by Trotter’s testimony. I want to be able to live my life in that grand and simple way.

What does success in life look like to you?

Checking our Motivation
July 20, 2018

Why do I do the things I do? Why do I try to reach out to help others? It is important to examine our motives.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke and wrote about these fundamental issues.

“It is not how much you do but how much love you put into the doing and sharing with others that is important. Try not to judge people. If you judge others,then you are not giving love. Instead, try to help them by seeing their needs and acting to meet them….

“We have the following words in a sign outside our chapel at the Mother House. They were written by Father Edward Le Joly after we had talked in 1977 and explain exactly what our work is about:

“We are not here for the work; we are here for Jesus. All we do is for Him. We are first of all religious; we are not social workers, not teachers, not nurses or doctors; we are religious sisters. We serve Jesus in the poor. We nurse Him, feed Him, clothe Him, visit Him, comfort Him in the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the orphans, the dying. But all we do, our prayer, our work, our suffering is for Jesus. Our life has no other reason or motivation. This is the point many people do not understand.”

By Mother Teresa
In A Simple Path, pages 93-94

These words challenge me to search my heart deeply as to why I do what I do.

Where Jesus sends us
May 2, 2018

On April 28 and 29, 2018, JoLene and I attended a missions conference in York, sponsored by Church and Community Empowering Enterprise, a missions organization founded and directed by Elias and Idotress Joseph, both ministers of the gospel, and both members of Harrisburg Brethren in Christ Church of Harrisburg, PA..

At the conference, this quote was given, although I do not recall who said it:
“Jesus sends us to the highways and hedges, not the pews and carpets.”

Something to ponder. Easy to affirm, but in what ways am I practicing this?

Priorities in Government Spending
February 25, 2018

There are many opinions as to how the U.S. national budget should be spent. I resonate with this powerful statement that Dwight D. Eisenhower made years ago:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

Jesus Christ taught and lived peace, and taught and lived compassionate help for the poor. I think he would say that Eisenhower was on the right track.

Is our nation on the right track today?

God Speaks
June 25, 2017

In the Bible we learn that there are many sides to God’s nature. He is kind and gentle, and also strong and powerful. In Psalm 29, King David, with repetition and lyric beauty, tells about the powerful side of God’s nature.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
Psalm 29:3-9

When was a time when God spoke to you in kindness and gentleness?
When was a time when God spoke to you in power and authority?
With what voice is God speaking to you now?
What causes you to exclaim “Glory!” when you think about God and what God is doing in your life?

Looking beyond Age 70
April 8, 2017

Samuel Zwemer (1867-1952) was an American missionary who came to be known as the Apostle to Islam. He did missions work in Arabia and Egypt and later was professor Princeton Theological Seminary. He retired from the professorship at age 70 but continued traveling, speaking and advocating for world missions after that. He died ten days short of his eighty-fifth birthday.

Zwemer expressed his attitude toward retirement by a message he gave to Princeton’s Warfield Club in his seventieth year. It was titled “Life Begins at Seventy.” He gave seven reasons why:
1. We should have a diploma from the school of experience by that time.
2. We are near to the river that has no bridge.
3. We have passed our apprenticeship in the school of life.
4. At 70, we can look further backward and further forward.
5. By this time, we should know that life consists not in the abundance of the things we possess.
6. The responsibility to witness for God to the next generation.
7. At 70, the Christian must redeem the time and live in more deadly earnestness.

What important life lessons have you learned in your life so far?
Who or what shapes your thinking as you consider aging, retirement and serving God wholeheartedly?

After Christmas
January 11, 2017

Here is a poem for reflection after Christmas and Three Kings Day or Epiphany.

The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

This was written by Howard Thurman, and African American, a Quaker and a preacher, who was active in the civil rights movement in USA.

New Testament Christianity
October 27, 2016

Many people talk about “revival in our nation,” but not everyone thinks deeply and clearly about what this involves.

A. W. Tozer was a pastor, author and magazine editor in The Christian and Missionary Alliance church. He lived from 1897 to 1963. Here are his comments on revival and prayer from this book Keys to the Deeper Life.

“Prayer for revival will prevail when it is accompanied by radical amendment of life; not before. All-night prayer meetings that are not preceded by practical repentance may actually be displeasing to God. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” We must return to New Testament Christianity, not in creed only but in complete manner of life as well. Separation, obedience, humility, simplicity, gravity, self-control, modesty, cross-bearing; these all must again be made a living part of the total Christian concept and be carried out in everyday conduct.”

Will you join those who are returning to real Christianity?

Why we do our work
February 16, 2016

Why do you do the work you do? What is your ultimate motivation?
I found a deep insight into these questions from the writings of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997).

*****

It is not how much you do but how much love you put into the doing and sharing with others that is important. Try not to judge people. If you judge others, then you are not giving love. Instead, try to help them by seeing their needs and acting to meet them.
We have the following words in a sign outside our chapel at the Mother House. They were written by Father Edward Le Joly after we had talked in 1977 and explain exactly what our work is about:

“We are not here for the work, we are here for Jesus. All we do is for Him. We are first of all religious; we are not social workers, not teachers, not nurses or doctors; we are religious sisters. We serve Jesus in the poor. We nurse Him, feed Him, clothe Him, visit Him, comfort Him in the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the orphans the dying. But all we do, our prayer, our work, our suffering is for Jesus. Our life has no other reason or motivation. This is a point many people do not understand.”

A Simple Path, pages 93-94

*****

This writing caused me to take a new look at the deeper reasons why I do my work.