Thursday, January 28, 2010

LISTENING FOR GOD, by Dr. Jim Savage

I have heard Your Call, my Lord, and respond with a Yes that arises from the depth of my being. I Know that if I follow close to You, nothing shall be able to separate me from Your Love. Amen. (Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God)

Who are we to think that God speaks to us? Yet we know that God is trying to reach us all of the time.

Thomas Aquinas distinguished two kinds of Listening: "the language of man that speaks around us and God who speaks to us interiorly." For opposite reasons, these two kinds of Listening seem difficult for people who speak too much and superficially, while God doesn't express Himself enough and too profoundly.

Thomas Aquinas said: "There are two types of Wisdom: created and uncreated; both are given to man, and by this Gift of Wisdom, man can grow towards Holiness." He brought up many means to acquire created Wisdom: through our own efforts and as a freely-given Gift from God. We should give thanks to God for this Gift.

"Strive for the greater Gifts" (1 Cor 12:31): knowledge of God, theology, or discussions "about" or "of" God. By believing in a teaching that was given by God to man, we turn towards Him and draw the desired Wisdom from there.


There is something very practical about God's Grace.

"For the Grace of God that brings Salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to Live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." (Titus 2:11-12)

Grace brings Salvation, then shows us how to Live out our Salvation. Grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness and yes to godliness. While the Law does motivate Obedience, acting as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ Jesus, the incredible Grace of God is an even greater Motivator.

Grace brings out the best in people, not the worst. True Grace pours from the heart to be Shared with all.

The desire to say no to all that would make Jesus sad should be a motivator for Grace. Yet, some folks do refuse to show Love for others who do not measure up to our expectations, our 'rules' for Christian Living. Many folks have do this at one time or another.

Jesus makes it easy for us. Grace is the radiance of the first-Love that Christ Jesus extended towards us. "We Love because He first Loved us." (1 John 4:19)

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Is yours a Life of Grace? Are the people around you inspired to godliness because you offer Grace? When you make a decision about right or wrong, is it made by Listening and following through?

You can take control of your own Life by taking the time to Listen for God's Call, and following God's will, so don't wait for others to determine your fate in Life. Live with your Purpose for being in Christ Jesus as Lord. With God's help and the power of the Holy Spirit,
you can find complete enjoyment and can arise each morning with a song in your heart and a skip in your Walk........Thanks be to God for Such Love!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prayer For the people of Haiti...

Lord, I just want to say THANK YOU, because this morning I woke up and knew where my children were. Because this morning my home was still standing, because this morning I am not crying because my husband, my child, my brother or sister needs to be buried out from underneath a pile of concrete, because this morning I was able to drink a glass of water, because this morning I was able to turn on the light, because this morning I was able to take a shower, because this morning I was not planning a funeral, but most of all I thank you this morning because I still have life and a voice to cry out for the people of Haiti. Lord I cry out to you, the one that makes the impossible, possible, the one that turns darkness in to light, I cry out that you give those mothers strength, that you give them peace that surpasses all understanding, that you may open the streets so that help can come, that you may provide doctors, nurses, food, water, and all that they need in a blink of an eye. For all those that have lost family members, give them peace, give them hope, give them courage to continue to go on! Protect the children and shield them with your power. I pray all this in the name of Jesus!!! Amen!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Eating Apples in the Dark, by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

AN ENCOURAGING WORD written for January 7, 2010, by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts.

There is an interesting story of a mountaineer who came home hungry one night. He lit a candle and began to eat an apple from a bowl of four apples. He soon discovered that the apple was inhabited by a lively worm. He threw it away and selected another, which he soon discovered to be wormy. He tried the third apple, but again found a worm. Whereupon, he blew out the candle and ate the fourth apple in the dark.

Sometimes it is easier to live in the dark than to face uncertain realities of life in the light. Some call it 'putting one's head in the sand'. Others call it 'looking the other way'. Psychologists call it 'denial'. Whatever you call it, it is dangerous. It can lead to eating a lot of bad apples without knowing it.

Several years ago I was a delegate to a law-making conference of the church. The dynamics of the procedure were not much different from the sessions of the Alabama State Legislature, which I have observed many times. I found myself ill-disposed to come home and tell the people who had sent me what really went on. It would shatter too many illusions and create too much anxiety.

I was reminded of the old German adage: "It is better not to know how sausages and laws are made". I had never really understood that adage before, but my experience made it painfully clear. To know how sausages and laws are made tends to make you lose your taste for sausage and your respect for laws.

We are living in complex and potentially dangerous times. Even a democracy can be an ineffective and sometimes dangerous form of government in the absence of the studied attention of an informed citizenry. We take great pride and sometimes exaggerated comfort in the fact that we live in a democratic society. [I use the term "democracy" because that is how we commonly think of our form of government. Technically, we live in a constitutional republic.] It is easy to forget that whatever you call our form of government, it needs "tending to". It cannot be put on auto-pilot and left to function unobserved and unattended.

Speaking to the House of Commons in 1947 Winston Churchill made an astute "tongue in cheek" observation regarding democracy. He said: "Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Any student of history and any observer of the rise and fall of governments over time would agree with that "Churchillian" observation. Our enthusiasm about our form of government has sometimes led us to mistakenly think that we could export it, unaltered, to other countries whose culture is complicated and radically different from our own, and that such a change would be received with universal appreciation and function with great success. We have had occasion to experience great disappointment in the practical application of that philosophy. We tend to forget, if we ever knew, Churchill's caveat regarding the universal and immediate application of democracy as we know it. In a conversation with President Eisenhower in August of 1954, Churchill opined: "I am a bit skeptical about universal suffrage for undeveloped nations [actually, he used the word 'Hottentots' which I am hesitant to use] even if refined by proportional representation..The British and American Democracies were slowly and painfully forged, and even they are not perfect yet."

Our form of government is a "work in progress" and is dangerously fragile when left to float unattended. When 'the people' do not know, or do not care, what is happening at city hall or in the state legislature or in Washington, our democratic society (constitutional republic) can not only become ineffective, it can fail. When we blindly elect officials who become increasingly beholden to the army of self-interested lobbyists who prowl the halls of our law-making bodies, looking for law-makers who are morally weak, financially needy and fearful of not being re-elected, our government is in mortal danger. An informed and vigilant populace is an essential ingredient of our democracy. Ignorance and indifference are the greatest enemies of good government..

The fabric of integrity in our social and political life is kept intact by the people who keep the lights on while eating apples; and who are willing to watch diligently to see how sausages and laws are made. Ignorance may momentarily soothe our anxieties and accommodate our laziness when we have to take a bite of something about which we are not sure, but it will cause us to end up swallowing wormy apples, bad sausage and equally unpalatable laws. Blissfully blind ignorance can cause illness and lawlessness and the loss of our most precious possession - freedom.

Keep the candle burning bright when you eat apples. Keep an eye on how your sausages and laws are made. It is the key to the survival of our form of government and our way of life.

Speaking on the right of the election of Lord Mayor of Dublin over 200 years ago, John P. Curran said: " The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance, which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.."

Don't blow out the candle!!!