Monday, August 31, 2009

Why People Give

Why People Give

This is the time of year when churches are in the process of planning their projected budget. This essential procedure lacks exactitude, but when done correctly and published to the membership everyone gets a birds-eye view of the scope of the mission of the church.

The next step taken by most churches is to conduct a campaign for pledges to that budget. Many ministers and church leaders do not look forward to this annual task. We are reluctant to ask people to give, even to so worthy a project as the church. For the most part I have always found this exercise to be potentially spiritually enriching. I believe most people want to give to causes which represent the betterment of society in general and individuals in particular.

There are at least 3 essential ingredients to a stewardship campaign with integrity. The first is a clear understanding of the sacred nature of the cause for which money is being raised. This is God’s money. It is to be used only for promoting the Gospel and helping people. These are two things to which Jesus called his followers when he was here in the flesh. "Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). After a laundry list of ways we are called to minister to the poor and oppressed, Jesus said: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren (and sisters) you did it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). Having established the holy nature of the effort we go to step two.

People tend to give generously when they know their leaders are giving generously. I recall a phrase from a stewardship campaign many years ago which I find to be true: "Financial influence runs downhill." No minister or church leader should ask others to do something they are not doing. One of my friends was asked by a local church to direct the annual stewardship campaign. Early on he was told that the pastor of the church had never pledged, and had no record of giving. He went to the pastor and asked if this was true. After some stuttering and fancy footwork the pastor admitted this to be true, but said he gave to other undocumented causes. My friend said to him: "You will either make a pledge worthy of your means right now or I will pack my bags and go home. I will not ask people to do something their pastor is not doing."

The third important element: "Do not be afraid to ask people to give." When the cause is beyond our own interest – when it is for the highest purpose, be bold.

Robert Macauley, founder of AmeriCares Foundation, a humanitarian group that provides relief efforts at home and around the world, recalled an experience he and Mother Teresa had on an airplane flying to Mexico. As box dinners were being passed out, Mother Teresa asked how much the airline would donate to her charity if she returned her dinner. When she found out, she soon had everyone, including the crew, returning their dinners.
But it didn’t stop there. When the plane arrived at its destination, Mother Teresa asked the crew if she could have the dinners to donate to the poor. And, when the airline provided the dinners, she asked to borrow one of their maintenance trucks to deliver them.

If your cause is just and you can speak with the moral authority of one who has already set an example, boldness is appropriate.

AN ENCOURAGING WORD for September 27, 2007 - written by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, Monroeville First United Methodist Church

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Tyranny of Absolute Certainty

AN ENCOURAGING WORD written for August 20, 2009, by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, Monroeville First United Methodist Church

The Tyranny of Absolute Certainty

What we see and understand in and about life so often fails to correspond with what others see and understand. For those for whom unanimity of understanding is essential to emotional security and mental comfort, this universal fact is a source of considerable frustration and anxiety.

In the opening chapter of his classic book, The Immense Journey, anthropologist and naturalist, Loren Eiseley, offers an insightful caveat concerning his view of reality which he gives in the remainder of his book. He says: "On the world island we are all castaways, so that what is seen by one may often be dark, obscure (or hidden) to another". (Eiseley, Loren. "The Immense Journey". Vintage Books, 1959. 14)

There are so many things which conspire to keep us from seeing things alike. Our views are conditioned by our experiences, our ignorance (or education), our prejudices, and our deep (and often unconscious) personal needs. 

How futile it is for us to expect others to share our perceptions of reality with uniform exactitude. We may learn from each other, but we will never be alike. Those who nurture serious expectations of uniformity are doomed to disappointment; and those who are obsessed by expectations of uniformity are the budding tyrants of our time who would extinguish the human mind, which is the primary light by which God has traditionally rescued us from darkness and ignorance, chaos and fear.

We are never in greater danger of error than when we are absolutely certain that we are absolutely right. The most destructive and inhumane times in history have been those in which some person or group of persons have been so absolutely sure they were absolutely right that they used the power at their disposal to impose their views of reality on all who were under their domain. Some of the most unpleasant people I have ever met have been people who were absolutely sure they were absolutely right, and whose mission in life was to impose their views on everyone else by whatever means necessary.

To be a little uncertain, or at least only moderately sure, is to be human - and humane. The encouraging word for today is that you do not have to be absolutely sure in order to be right. 

It is quite possible to have strong convictions and still be open to those with countervailing strong convictions. Our understanding of reality changes as we grow older, and hopefully, wiser. My children ask me questions to which I sometimes have to reply: "You should have asked me that question thirty years ago when I knew the answer!" I suspect that all of you who are over thirty-nine have had same or similar experiences. 

The people with whom Jesus had his most serious problems were those who had no doubt whatsoever that they were absolutely right. In order to prove their point and eliminate any doubt about how wrong he was, they killed him. 

Think about that the next time you are absolutely sure that you are absolutely right.

(You may email Dr. Butts at )

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teach Us To Pray, by Dr. Jim Savage

"Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." (Jer 33:3)

The utmost earnestness should be employed in seeking Salvation in the use of appointed means; yet it is to be sought only as the Gift of the Son of man.

Constant exercise of faith in Christ is the most important and difficult part of the Obedience required from us as sinners seeking Salvation. When by His Grace we are enabled to Live a Life of Faith in the Son of God, holy tempers follow, and acceptable services may be done. God, even His Father, who gave their fathers that food from heaven to support their natural lives, now gave them the True Bread for the Salvation of their souls. Coming to Jesus, and believing in Him, signify the same. Christ shows that He is the True Bread; He is to the soul what bread is to the body, He nourishes and supports the Spiritual Life. He is the Bread of God. Bread which the Father gives, which He has made to be the food of our souls. Bread nourishes only by the powers of a living body; but Christ is Himself Living Bread and nourishes by His own Power. The Doctrine of Christ Crucified is now as strengthening and comforting to a believer as ever it was. He is the Bread which came down from heaven. This shows the Divinity of Christ's person and His Authority; also, the Divine origin of all the Good which flows to us through Him. May we with understanding and earnestness say, Lord, evermore give us this Bread. (Matthew Henry)

"We receive God's Grace and it has nothing to do with merit. The beauty and the paradox of Grace is God does not demand that we EARN His blessings. The Grace and Love of God transcends our human ability to understand. But even without understanding, we are Called to Accept that Gift of Grace, freely given, and rejoice.

There is great Mystery. But what we need to Know and Believe is that there is great Power. Things happen when we pray that do not happen if we don't pray.

Prayer is one of the Ways we link ourselves with God; we put ourselves in the channel of God's moving Power; and we participate with God in ministry to All." (Maxie Dunnam)

REFLECTION: Practice a Life of Prayer:

The psalmist pleads his earnestness, and the Mercy of God, as reasons why his prayer should be heard.

Our poverty and wretchedness, when felt, powerfully plead in our behalf at the Throne of Grace. The best self-preservation is to Commit ourselves to God's Keeping. I am one whom Thou favorest, hast set apart for Thyself, and made partaker of Sanctifying Grace. It is a great encouragement to prayer to feel that we have received the Converting Grace of God, have learned to Trust in Him, and to be His servants. We may expect comfort from God when we keep up our Communion with God. God's Goodness appears in two things, in giving and forgiving. Whatever others do, let us call upon God and Commit ours case to Him; we shall not seek in vain. (Psalm 86, Matthew Henry)


Grace is the Gift of unlimited blessings that I receive without any requirements or stipulations being placed on me. There is no term I must meet and there is nothing I can do to earn or lose the unconditional Love of my Creator.

Grace is always present and blessing me. Mercy and Goodwill are mine Now and Always.

The Gift of Grace proclaims that I am of unquestionable value to my Creator; the generosity of God inspires me to give back in return.

Yet the Reality is I am Always Blessed with more than I give.

Thank You, Gracious God. Thank You, Christ Jesus. Thank You, Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy....You are my God, be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You I cry all day long....Hear my prayer, O Lord." (Ps 86:1, 3, 6)

"Keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of Your people, and direct their hearts toward You." (1 Chron 29:18)

Monday, August 10, 2009


(Fearlessly daring; bold; unrestrained by convention)

"David danced before the Lord with all his might......."


Lord, give me a cheerful disposition, not only to benefit myself but also to bless others. I know that a good attitude can be a great influence for You. Help my Joy spread to all those I meet. Amen.

2 Samuel 6:12-19:

It became evident that happy was the man who had the Ark near him. Christ is indeed a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence to those that are disobedient; but to those that Believe He is a Corner-stone, Elect, Precious. (1 Peter 2:6-8)

Let us be religious. Is the Ark a blessing to others' houses? We may have it, and the blessing of it, without fetching it away from our neighbors. David, at first setting out, offered sacrifices to God. We are likely to speed in our enterprises when we begin with God and give diligence to seek Peace with Him. And we are so unworthy, and our services are so defiled, that all our Joy in God must be connected with Repentance and Faith in the Redeemer's atoning blood. David attended with high expressions of Joy. We ought to serve God with our whole body and soul and with every endowment and power we possess. (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714)

"Remarkable things happened when the early church prayed. The fourth chapter of the Book of Acts records just one of those Audacious Prayers and the nearly unbelievable events that followed a time of very Bold Prayer.....

The results of the apostles' Prayer was evident to those within the church and astounded observers from afar, who were then drawn to this contagious and Joyful community.

May our Prayers be as Audacious and God's Response in our midst as dramatic and Transforming." (Rueben P. Job)

CONTEMPLATION: Stillness and Praying....Personal Rhythm:

Some never experience the Peace of Contemplation because they try to Pray in distractions. Most people realize that it is difficult to hear God's whisper over blaring noises. Our noise is on the inside. Our minds grind in an endless conversation---commenting, regretting, expecting, worrying, resenting. Because of these distractions our encounters with God remain shallow and tentative. Some of the early Desert Fathers called this the ceaseless "murmuring" of our minds. An early abba likened the mind to a tree full of chattering monkeys.

Through a rhythm of quieting and "stilling," of systematic Preparation for Prayer, we can Attune ourselve to the Mystery within us. Contemplation begins with the quieting of one's whole lifestyle and being.

Discipline of Inner Stillness:

1. Prepare yourself. Be comfortable; Be alone; Slow down.

2. Be Aware. Observe feelings; Relax.

3. Breathe. Take four long breaths. These can help you distance yourself from the world. (Sr. Kathryn Hermes, 2001)

(4. Enjoy the Presence of God.)

"This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Ps 118:24)

Enjoy the blessings of this day.

"Be glad of Life, because it gives you the chance to Love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars; to think often of your friends, and every day of Christ; and to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit, in God's out-of-doors.

These are the little Guideposts on the footpath to Peace." (Henry van Dyke)

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Disciples are Expectant.

The Way early disciples lived mystified people around them because the disciples seemed to live in another world. The Principles that guided them clearly differed from those that guided others. They Practiced a Way of Life both beautiful and mysterious. Their Lives made sense only if one Knew that they were Living by the Power and Guidance of God. Their Lives were governed by the Reign of God and not by the press of politics or the call of culture. They were Different Because they Chose to Live their Lives in Obedience to and in the Presence of God. (Reuben P. Job, A Guide To Prayer For All Who Seek God, Upper Room, 2003)

The people sought the Spiritual food of Christ's Word, and then He took care that they should not want bodily food. If Christ and His disciples put up with mean things, surely we may.

And this miracle shows that Christ came into the world, not only to Restore, but to Preserve and Nourish Spiritual Life; in Him there is enough for All that come. None are sent away from Christ but those who come to Him full of themselves.

No difficulties can hinder Christ's appearance for His people when the set time is come.

Let the disciples have their Master with them, and All Is Well. It is for want of rightly understanding Christ's former works that we view His present works as if there never were the like before.

It is sad to think how much more most care about their bodies than about their souls. (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56, Matthew Henry)

"Regardless of how we define Christ's separation from the world, one fact is clear: He did not separate Himself from human beings and their needs. Nor did He limit His concern to the Spiritual part of man's personality." (Edwin W. Lutzer, 1941-)

REFLECTION: Wherever we are, God Is, and All Is Well.

THE LIGHT OF GOD SURROUNDS US. Wherever we may be in the world, we give thanks that God's Light is shining on our Pathways.

THE LOVE OF GOD ENFOLDS US. We are never alone. Enfolded in the Love of God, we receive the deep, abiding comfort of our Creator.

THE POWER OF GOD PROTECTS US. God is the One Power and Presence in the universe, ever with us and blessing us.

THE PRESENCE OF GOD WATCHES OVER US. We are eternally One with God and one another.


(This prayer was put in Bibles for troops in WWII and also taken to the moon when astronauts landed there in 1969)

"Do not fear for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Father God, give us Jesus' wisdom, Jesus' heart, Jesus' determination to minister to All. He had compassion on All. Thank You, Gracious God, for Christ Jesus. Lord, today minister to our churches wherever they are, to Your disciples wherever they might be this day. Help us to live in this world but not be a part of this world, Now striving to Live Your Way. May we have the compassion and generosity toward All that You showed us. Thank You for coming to show us the Way Home to the Father through You. Come, Holy Spirit, guide us this day in the Jesus Way. Thank You for the assurance of Such Love! Amen.

"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His field." (Matthew 9:36-38) In Christ, Jim

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

“Hollow Praise” by Dr. James H. Savage

Has someone ever given you a compliment, and later said something about you behind your back that was not so pleasant? Why do we humans do this? Would it not be easier to simply never offer the compliment to the other person if we are not serious about our words? How does it make you feel about the other person when you find out through the rumor mill that unkind things have been spoken? I wonder how Jesus felt on Palm Sunday as he rode into Jerusalem.

The New Testament shares through the four gospels that Jesus began to be less and less popular as Passover came closer and closer. Jesus was talking about His death more as each month passed by. Jesus’ disciples seem to become more nervous as they journey closer to Jerusalem, and as they speak more about death.

When Jesus and the disciples reach Bethpage, they settle down near an olive grove. Some of these olive trees today date back for many centuries. We often call this place that is still in existence “the mount of olives.” It is located on a hillside directly across from the hillside gate where Jesus would enter on the next Sunday. Jesus spent much time in prayer and thought as he prepared himself for the entry into Jerusalem. A great number of people were still following Jesus, and many inside the city had heard about Him. Jesus must have been famous by the time Sunday had come, for the crowds were lining the streets. They were praising Jesus, and proclaimed: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Why were they waving palm branches, and calling Jesus “the Son of David?” They did this because they expected Jesus to overthrow the Romans, lead a rebellion of Zealots, and establish a new nation of Israel. Jesus heard their shouts of praise, and already knew He would disappoint them greatly since His purpose was very different.

I personally think Jesus appreciated the support, and shouts of praise. But Jesus would also have concern in His heart for the souls of the same people who would turn their backs on Him in just a few days. Everyone loves a person in power like a king or a president. But no one likes a servant who dies on a cross for the spiritual salvation of the world.

Things did not change for the followers of Jesus until The Day of Pentecost. Even the event of Easter did not provide the power and courage that was needed. Palm Sunday reminds me that our praises to God might be hollow shouts of praise until we receive the power and courage we need through the Holy Spirit. In my daily relationships, Palm Sunday reminds me to offer true and genuine encouragement to family, friends, and church members alike. My prayer is that each of us will be filled with God’s Spirit this year, and offer our praises to God, and our encouragement to our fellow Christians along the way. I pray that our praise to God and our encouragement to others will never become words that are nothing more than “Hollow Praise.” God grants the Spirit to all who ask. God offers us the opportunity to offer heartfelt praise this year! Praise God!

It is interesting that all four of the traditional gospel writers include the story of what we call “Palm Sunday.” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all share this great story, but here is Matthew’s account:
“When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethpage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; and they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the palm trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” May the God of all palms and praises touch your heart and bring comfort to your soul this spring. May the God who led Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, be with you and give you comfort, and strength for each day: and may the God of peace bring peace to all souls that struggle.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009



Many things present themselves as diversions, many things offer themselves as remedies, but the soul finds that the Lord alone can heal. The Holy Ghost gives to poor souls a fresh sense of their deep necessity, to stir them up in earnest applications, by the prayer of Faith, by crying to God. And as they love their souls, as they are concerned for the Glory of the Lord, they are not to be wanting in this duty....... Then let us up and be doing; it must be done, and it is attended with safety. We are to humble ourselves before God, as guilty in His sight. Let us acknowledge our sinfulness; we cannot justify ourselves or plead not guilty.

Jesus Christ is the great Ransom; He is ever an Advocate for us and through Him we Hope to obtain forgiveness. (Matthew Henry,1662-1714)

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I Hope....." (Psalm 130:5)


In his journal, John Wesley describes hearing a choir at Saint Paul's Cathedral singing this Psalm on May 24, 1738, just hours before he felt his "heart strangely warmed" at Aldersgate Street. This is a Psalm of Hope, a plea for God to hear; an expression of Hope for God's forgiveness. The Psalmist repeatedly asserts Hope that God will Save. (The Wesley Study Bible, 2009)


The powers of this world do not want to see their authority and control usurped by another, even if that other is God.

To preach a Message and Practice a Life of Authentic Discipleship will make us uncomfortable and make others anxious and sometimes hostile. We are not above the struggle of what it means to Follow Jesus. The complex issues of Life do not lend themselves to easy answers. It is not easy to Know with certainty the Path we are to Follow. ("A Wesleyan spiritual Reader" by Rueben P. Job, Upper Room Guide To Prayer For All Who Seek God)


Wonder expands our thinking, deepens our insight, attunes our hearing. We begin to ask, Why? and How? and What if?

Out of that quest comes Discovery: all of our inventions and creations and musings and pushing for knowledge---our drive to conquer challenges, to search out mysteries. It should lead somewhere, prod us to think a bigger thought that moves on to nobler or more expansive actions. Visions and insights that Open us to Wonder should be enjoyed and meditated on and pondered through the years until we not only Understand their Meaning, but find ourselves shaped by them.

A Sense of Wonder exposes the world as more than flat and static and still.

We become able to See its dynamic qualities, to See inside and through and past the obvious. Wonder recognizes and enjoys the beauty of Creation and the quality of Created Things.

When we develop the Sense of Wonder we gain insight into Purposes and Meanings behind events and gain the desire to Seek out Wisdom from the Powers beyond our own.

We're able to Understand that this Life isn't all there is.

There's a time and space and order in another Realm.

Those of us who have come to Know this have to Share the Love discovered! The Holy Spirit is truly Guiding the Way if only we Wait and Seek with our whole heart and mind and soul.

Dear God, lead us in new directions this very day is our prayer. Surprise us with insights that never end! May we Share the Love we've found. Thank You, Father God. Amen.

Monday, August 3, 2009


".....The righteous are as Bold as a lion." (Proverbs 28:1)

True Prayer begins with God who moves our spirit, as the Gospel song tells us, to seek Him seeking us.

To believe that we who Pray take the initiative is a conceit born of pride! The impulse to Pray always begins with God. We may either choose to Obey or ignore that impulse, but the impulse itself always begins with God. Through our Prayers He reveals that His Will is wholly Love, and that our response to that Will must be Love as well. Even our Love for God draws its Energy from the Source of Love itself, which is God...........

This yielding may begin hesitatingly, reluctantly, and with apprehension, but over time these misgivings must give way to the Joy of that New Awareness that comes of Spiritual Rebirth. (Russell M. Hart, "Crossing the Border")


Wesley calls Prayer the "proper test of our desires, nothing being fit to have a place in our desires which is not fit to have a place in our Prayers." (Sermon 26) He says we Pray "not for a passive, as for an active conformity to the Will of God." Testing desires and being conformed to God's Will do not happen in passive pleasantries of Prayer. It takes us beyond a "sweet hour of Prayer" into a Profound Awareness of God's Goodness and painful confession of our sin until we hear the often disturbing and always challenging Word of God for our world. (The Wesley Study Bible, 2009)


We need to find an "out-of-the-way" place in our own backyard or by a lake or at a park to "rest awhile." When we are stretched in so many different directions we still need time by ourselves to get our Life together.

Most of us only spend time at these rest stops once or twice a year during the period we have marked on our calendars: Vacation.

When that time arrives and we hit the road to get away from it all, sometimes we maintain the pace we keep during the rest of the year. When we return we often seem more tired than when we left. But every now and then during this sacred space of leisure----whether we put our feet as we gaze at majestic mountains in the early morning mist or soothe our thirsty feet in a cool stream; or put our feet under the table in the company of Friends----we may find ourselves whispering, "Ah, the Good Life."

The challenge comes in keeping that whisper Alive in our hearts when the rubber meets the road again and we find ourselves rushing off to our next appointment. The challenge is to find these holy places of rest in the midst of the hectic pace of everyday Life. The challenge is to take a few mini-vacations each day to refresh the spirit and restore the soul. (Joseph Nassal, "Rest Stops for the Soul")

2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

"My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my Cross, but I have never thought of my Cross as itself a present Glory. Thou Divine Love, whose human path has been perfected through sufferings, teach me the Glory of my Cross, teach me the value of my thorn." "George Matheson, 1842-1906)

Dear God, we Know to Trust You with our sufferings. Help us to understand Your great compassion, even when You choose to let us remain broken. Teach us through our weaknesses to lean on Your Strength. Give us Grace as You keep us humble, so that Christ's Power may rest on us. Forgive us, Lord, when we forget Your Gift of how to Pray, and Your example of Love. Come, Holy Spirit, purify our hearts with Holy Fire this day. Teach us is our Prayer always. Thank You, Gracious God. Thank You, Christ Jesus. Thank You, Holy Spirit! Amen.

"But He gives us more Grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives Grace to the humble.' " (James 4:6, Prov 3:34)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tell What You have Seen, By Dr. Jim Savage


"He wants you to become a Living Force for All mankind, Lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant Lights as you stand beside Christ, the Great Light, bathed in the Glory of Him who is The Light." (St. Gregory Nazianzen)

The language of God is specifically tailored to each person who encounters Him.

The apostle Thomas was missing when Jesus appeared to the apostles. He claimed that he wouldn't believe Jesus was risen until he put his hands into the wounds of the Savior. To Thomas, a man struggling with faith, Jesus spoke a very "physical" language: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believe." (Jn 20:27) Jesus offered His body to Thomas so that he could touch His wounds and Know that it was He.

To Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, Jesus said, "Do not hold Me for I have not yet ascended to the Father." (Jn 20:17) Mary was not struggling with faith, she was shaken by Love. She did not need to touch in order to confirm her faith. Love had led her beyond doubt. To one in Love, Jesus instead gave a Mission: "Go to my brethren and say to them...." (Jn 20:17)

Many whom Jesus healed, forgave, or called in the Gospels were sent to tell someone else what had been done for them. The Samaritan woman is one who went off to gather her whole town to hear Jesus. Those people saw for themselves, then moved on to develop their own stories of Relationship to this Teacher at the well.

The world waits for the story of what you have seen. Your contemplative Living, your Journeys through Prayer, the Crosses you have carried and Shared, the nights you have passed through, God's Self-revelation to you----someone is waiting to hear.

Your story will be the language by which others will learn how to sit in God's Presence, Listen, and speak to Him.

Jesus Knew where He had come from, why He was here, and what He was supposed to accomplish. He came down from heaven not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. That determination controlled every decision He made.

As a result, He was not distracted with trivia. He was never in a hurry, for He Knew His Father would not give a task without the time to do it. Christ was not driven by crises, feeling He must heal everyone in Israel. He could say, "It is finished," even when many people were still bound by demons and twisted by disease. What mattered ultimately was not the number of people healed or fed, but whether the Father's will was being done. His clearly defined goals simplified His decisions." (Erwin W. Lutzer, 1941-)

AFFIRMATION: Awareness: Gratefulness: JOY IN LIVING:

Gratitude brightens any day. We can be on a personal Mission to brighten the world with appreciation to God.

Coming from our hearts, we put our Love into words of appreciation for family, friends, All....even those who pass through our day only briefly.

We can say silent thank-yous to Spirit throughout the day for Blessings and Opportunities. With each acknowledgement, we grow in Awareness of God as our Source of Love.

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!" (2 Cor 9:15)

"Do not fear, God is with you. Be serene, joyful, happy. Carry serenity, joy, and a smile everywhere, especially where smiles re missing because God's Grace is missing." (Venerable Mother Thecla)

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) In Christ, Jim

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Call to Confession, by Dr. Jim Savage


As Believers it is our privilege to Share the Good News. It is our responsibility after we have met Jesus. He IS our Life and we want others to Know this great Gift of Love.


In a way, the disciples leaving Jerusalem and walking to Emmaus were experiencing may of our misperceptions about God. They had expected a Messiah who would accomplish things their way, on their timetable, to their satisfaction. And instead, He had been killed. That was it. Their time had been wasted. Their hopes had been dashed.

Then a man caught up with them and accompanied them to their home. He was interested in their feelings about the situation. He kept them talking, while they revealed to Him their fears, their disappointment, and ultimately the Love that lay beneath their pain.

In a sense, they were walking away from their commitment to discipleship because Jesus hadn't performed correctly...or the way they had expected.......

Jesus put Himself totally at their disposal for as long as they desired His Presence. He taught and didn't rebuke. He listened and spoke as long as it took to ignite Anew the Fire in their hearts. He revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread. By the time He disappeared from their midst, their commitment had been Rekindled. They ran, not walked, back to Jerusalem.

Lord Jesus, You speak to us and our world changes. You say, "Be still!" and all of creation listens. All recognize Your voice. This same voice spoke everything into Being with the dawning of time. You are Lord over All and give Peace to All who take the time to be still and listen for Your voice today. Peace You leave with us. Thank You, Christ Jesus. Amen.

"Be Still My Soul" (1752, Katharina von Schlegel)

Be still my soul! Thy God doth undertake To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now Mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still my soul! The waves and winds still Know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

AFFIRMATION: Feeling Peace in the Moment:

I take a few moments throughout the day to rest from all activities---from thinking and talking, looking and doing----and become still.

I let go of any expectations of what I should feel or do. The less I focus on myself and my surroundings, the more at Peace I am.

I maintain Awareness of the Present Moment. There are no concerns to distract me, no disruptions to my time alone with God.

I rest in the Silence and let Serenity wash over me.

The Peace I experience in the quiet of this Sacred Time brings respite and Renewal to my soul. I am in the Flow of God's Love.

Thank You, Father God. Thank You, Christ Jesus. Thank You, Holy Spirit. Amen.

"The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you Peace." (Numbers 6:26)

"For He is the Living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth." (Daniel 6:26-27)