Private Letters of Mother Teresa

IMG_4627

I picked the above up from church yesterday.  It’s a simple sticker that says, “Beyond Your Selfie.” As I looked at it I thought…this should be everyone’s life motto.  Take a moment and consider living in such a world.  It would almost be heaven on earth.

Mother Teresa is one who definitely lived beyond her “selfie.”  If you haven’t seen it, you should really watch the movie, The Letters.  This movie is based on the true account of Mother Teresa’s life.  It’s amazing what this woman did as a result of her love for Jesus and her love for the outcast.  Other than Jesus, I dare say, not another human being has lived a life with such compassion in their heart.

Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu, who would later be called Mother Teresa, left her home at the young age of 18 to live the life of a missionary.   From then, until her death at 87 years old, this dear lady served the Christ she loved.  During that time span, Mary Teresa wrote many letters and within these letters there are glimpses of her that she never wanted the world to see.  Before her death she expressed her desire that these letters be destroyed, but thankfully they were kept safe and are now published for all to read in the The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta” . The writings are extremely personal and it seems as if her heart bleeds upon every page.  The following is one such letter in which she is asking the Archbishop for permission to live among the poorest of poor in India…I hope it touches your heart as it did mine…

“From the age of 5 1/2 years,-when first I received Him [Jesus]-the love for souls has been within.  It grew with the years-until I came to India-with the hope of saving many souls.”

“Your Grace, let me go, and give myself for them, let me offer myself and those who will join me for those unwanted poor, the little street children, the sick, the dying, the beggars, let me go into their very holes and bring in their broken homes the joy and peace of Christ.  I know you are afraid for me.  You are afraid that the whole of this will be a failure.-What about it?  Is it not worth going through every possible suffering just for one single soul?  Did not Our Lord do the same:  what a failure was His Cross on Calvary-and all for me, a sinner.  

I can tell you sincerely from my heart, I will lose nothing.  From my Superiors down, I know they will laugh at me.  They will think me a fool, proud, mad etc.  What if the good God wants my name?  I am His and His only.-The rest have no hold on me.  I can do without all the rest if I have Him.  Fear not for me-nor for those who will join me-He will look after us all.  He will be with us.-If for a glass of water, He has promised so much, what would He not do for victim hearts given to the poor?  He will do all.  I, I am only a little instrument in His hands, and because I am just nothing, He wants to use me.

Your Grace, don’t let me be unfaithful to Him now…Day after day, hour after hour, He [Jesus] asks the same question:  “Wilt thou refuse to do this for Me?”  Let me go, your Grace- let us trust Him blindly.-He will see to it that our faith in Him will not be lost.  Don’t delay, Your Grace, don’t put it off.  Souls are being lost for want of care, for want of love…  

I feel sometimes afraid, for I have nothing, no brains, no learning, no qualities required for such a work, and yet I tell Him that my heart is free from everything and so it belongs completely to Him, and Him alone.  He can use me just as it will please Him best.  To please Him only is the joy I seek.

You will say, what could you and your few Indian girls do?  We could do nothing, but Jesus and we few victims can do wonders.  Let me go and begin this work…I don’t know if the Holy Ghost has filled your soul with those desires and thoughts, for I am praying that He should do so.  During these days of prayer and penance, pray for, pray often, that I may love Him more.

Your devoted child in J.C. [Jesus Christ]

Mary Teresa 

[March 30, 1947]

Against much opposition, the Archbishop granted her permission to live among the poor and dying, and this she did for the rest of her life.

According to Hebrews 12:1-2,  we are surrounded by a “great cloud” of witnesses…such great ones as Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab and many other heroes of the faith.  I have no doubt that Mother Teresa is also among them. Paul encourages us to take strength in this knowledge.  Our heroes, who’ve already run their race, are with us and they are cheering us on!  Paul put’s it like this, as paraphrased by the ERV, We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall.  We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete.”  

One day our race will be over.  The time to run is now.  So let us, with confidence, lace up our sneakers, lay aside any weight, look to Jesus who is at the finish line and run like we’ve never run before!

On Your Mark…Get Set….Go!

Daily Prayer:  Lord, give me eyes to see, a heart that breaks, and a faith that takes action.  I realize my faith without good works might as well be dead, because it serves to do nothing to help the hurting.  Thank you Lord, for the testimonies of those who’ve gone on before me. Thank you for the life and faith of Mother Teresa…it inspires me so much.  I want to know you as intimately as she did.  Help me to fall more in love with you every day. In Jesus name, Amen.

2014-11-23-71KcrH3ARLL._SY355_
(Buy This Poster at Amazon.com)
Advertisements

Serenade to the Moon

I felt so fortunate to capture her, and her glory, as she gazed over our Shenandoah Valley.   

Just had to serenade with poem…

Ancient As The Moon

The moon with all her glory and wonder,

bathes us all, beneath and under.

Her sky of dark and stars ablaze

our blanket we cuddle till light of day.

And then she bids us farewell…ado 

until the night…to smile anew.

 

 

 

 

Co-Creators

Psalms 13:5

But I have trusted in thy mercy, my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

Trust and rejoice…David’s choice of words for today.  Trust and rejoice are active words. They insinuate we not sit idly by as our day takes form, but rather to become co-creators of our day.  Trust and rejoice, invites us to take part in this thing we call life.  Our life is measured in increments of time and how we spend that time is what our life will be. Pretty simple concept, yes, I know, but how often it eludes us.  I need to be reminded and reminded often.

Let’s look at trust and how it is used in this context of scripture. David proclaims that he puts his trust in God’s Mercy.  Well, what does he mean by that?  In order to understand all that David is implying, we first need to know the meaning of the word Mercy.  I looked it up at dictionary.com and this was the definition:  compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence. 

And so, Mercy, simply put is receiving compassion when we deserve punishment.  Notice, Mercy is not just  withholding of punishment but it is also the act of giving.  God is so good at this!  He shows us Mercy by withholding the punishment we deserve, but then He takes it a step further by putting Salvation in punishments place.  Thank the Lord, with God, Mercy and Grace go hand-in-hand!  

Now, let’s take a look at the other word, rejoice.  David writes, “…My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.”  The word rejoice, according to dictionary.com, means to be glad and to take delight in.  David takes delight in God’s salvation.

God’s salvation is the second part of this “Mercy” thing.   Remember Mercy and Grace go hand-in-hand.  Dear friends, that is something to truly rejoice about!  We are saved by Grace…it is the gift of God.  Since it is something we don’t deserve then it is also something we can never, ever screw up!

Another good thing about God’s mercy is that it is fresh every morning!  Lamentations 3:22-23 promises, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Let’s join God, today, and  become co-creators of our world!

Trust and rejoice.

Daily Prayer:  Lord, I’m trusting in your Mercy.  I can never be good enough to earn it  or bad enough to escape it, and for this I thank you, because I screw up all the time.  Help me to be proactive through out my day by trusting and rejoicing in your Love.  In Jesus’s wonderful name…name above all names…Amen

7554c311c1e9db76249eae2add8e98da

Who’s Staring Back?

The words of the Lord are pure words:  as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Psalms 12:6

POTD_chick_3597497k
Photo by John Robertson

In ancient times silver was purified in a hot furnace.  The metal was put into a clay container and heated to extreme temperatures.  As the metal got hotter the impurities would float to the top, at which time the refiner would skim them away.  This was done many times over until the refiner could see his reflection within the silver. Once he saw his reflection he knew the silver was pure.

How fitting for David to use this analogy in his comparison to the the word of God!  Just as silver that’s heated 7 times is pure, so stands God’s word.  Just as the refiner see’s his reflection in the silver, so can we see our reflection in God’s word.  James, the brother of Christ, uses a similar analogy; “For if anyone only listens to the Word… he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror… observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.” (James 1:23-24)  

In this scripture, James is saying, the word of God is like a mirror, and when we look into it we will see the reflection of our true selves; whether it be good or whether it be bad.   Therefore, we should look and look often, to see if our lives…the things we do, the things we don’t do…are in accordance to His word.  

James continues his analogy in verse 25 by saying, when the man sees his flaws in the mirror and makes the needed adjustments, then that man becomes a “doer of the word” and as a result he is blessed.  Jesus conveyed the same concept in his sermon on the mount when he said, “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [your needs] shall be added to you.”  So, Jesus is literally saying, if we seek to “live out” the truths of God and make it of most importance, then the blessings will follow.  

Now, this is not to imply, if we do all that God asks, our lives will be “hunky-dory” and free of problems.  No, it means, He will take care of our needs, we will be blessed, and we will be a blessing to others.  In truth, being a blessing and helping others, is the proof as to whether or not we are sincere in our faith.  James writes, “If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.” (James 1:26-27 CEB)  

The motto of my church, receive love…give love…repeat, in a nut shell, sums up true Christianity.  Since we freely receive God’s love, we should freely give God’s love and then repeat the process for as as long as we live.  

God’s word is the mirror reflecting who we are.  We should look to it often and make the necessary adjustments. And so, in closing, I guess the question we all should ask and answer is this:

Who is staring back, when you look into the mirror of God’s word?

My Prayer:  God, show me who I really am.  Show me what I need to change in my life to be more like Christ.  Help me to use my tongue to praise you and to edify others, and forgive me for all times I’ve used it to hurt and cause pain.  Lord, thank you for your free gift of salvation.  I accept your love.  May I daily live in that love, so all those around will be blessed. In Jesus’s name…Amen.  

(A publication of the “Walk Through Psalms” series)

Tear Down Your Walls

For I will restore health to you, and I will heal your wounds, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast…  Jeremiah 30:17

30-21

“I  used to put up walls to protect myself…However, I learned that if I wall others out, I also wall myself in.  If you built walls around yourself out of fear, then you must tear them down out of faith.  With the help of the Lord, you can survive hurt and disappointment and find your completion in “Him.” ____ Joyce Meyer

My Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for loving me, an outcast.  You too, Lord, were an outcast so I know you understand.  Help me to come to you to heal my hurt, rather than building walls and becoming bitter.  Give me faith to find my completion in you and not in what other’s may think or say of me.  Sometimes, Lord, it is so hard, but I believe with your strength I can do it.  Amen.  

Election 2016

26CF2F9D-E6D9-4E20-9993-2A4C8C08BDFC

Oh how fitting, this poem for Election 2016.

Please help me, Lord!
    All who were faithful
    and all who were loyal
    have disappeared.
Everyone tells lies,
    and no one is sincere.
 Won’t you chop off
all flattering tongues
    that brag so loudly?
 They say to themselves,
“We are great speakers.
    No one else has a chance.”

 But you, Lord, tell them,
    “I will do something!
The poor are mistreated
and helpless people moan.
    I’ll rescue all who suffer.”

 Our Lord, you are true
    to your promises,
and your word is like silver
    heated seven times
    in a fiery furnace.
 You will protect us
    and always keep us safe
    from those people.
 But all who are wicked
    will keep on strutting,
    while everyone praises
    their shameless deeds.

(Psalms 12)

I thought it would be nice to feature some of the best political cartoons for 2016!

Enjoy!

 

20160407edohc-a

81_177823

sk040516dAPR

Offshore
April 6, 2016

139_177775

73_177790

205_177818

mra040916dAPR

mra040816dAPR

sbr040816dAPR

139_177819

46TrumpKasich

205_177756

20160406edwas-a

Tax Havens

mrz040616dAPR (1)

Minimum Wage
April 5, 2016

gm_c160407

20160404edsuc-a

20160404edohc-a

20160406edhoc-a

20160406edstc-a

cb040616dAPR

bg040716dAPR

(A publication of “Walk Through Psalms” series)

More Than a Feeling

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?  Psalms 11:3

12376638_579547378888739_4803308708153281355_n

True faith is more than a feeling.  Our feelings change but the foundation of our faith never changes.  That’s not to say we can’t change our opinions, of course we can.  I once believed drinking alcohol in any fashion was sin, but I no longer hold to that opinion. I once believed only conservative, evangelical baptists were truly “saved” and “heaven-bound;” thank God, those blinders have been removed and my narrowed vision, widened.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Paul is saying as we grow we change.  As we grow in Christ, our personal convictions may change over the years, and that’s okay.  We shouldn’t be so rigid in our opinions that we become hardened to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus once asked his disciples, ” Are your hearts hardened? Though you have eyes, do you not see? And though you have ears, do you not hear and listen [to what I have said]?”  I hate to say this, but it seems to me, the disciples could be rather dense, but to be fair, I suppose we all are, in some areas; especially when it comes to being “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only.  Most of us only want to be “hearers” and then “tellers” of the Word.  It’s so easy to skip the “doing” part.  

Anyway, much of the time, the disciples,  just didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say. Why?  I believe it was partly because their hearts had been hardened by their own preconceived ideas and selfish desires.  When we assume we already know what’s right or what’s wrong it becomes hard for our spiritual eyes to see or our spiritual ears to hear God’s voice.  It is so important that our hearts remain tender to the voice of God. We should ask him everyday to give us understanding hearts that are receptive to His Spirit. 

So, have I lost my faith because I no longer believe everything taught to me as a child?  Of course not. Do I have to be “right” in all my opinions to have true faith.  Absolutely not. When it’s all said and done my faith rests on this one simple concept:  My God loves me.  No matter how I feel, no matter my interpretation of “certain” passages of scripture, and no matter what I perceive to be or not to be sin, this one thing is ever constant; God loves me.  (And you should know that He loves you too!)  The fact, God loves us, should be rooted within our inner most being, and should be the foundation, upon which, everything else is built upon.

I John 4:19 tells us, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  When a person truly realizes just how much God loves them, they can’t help but fall madly in love with Him.  It doesn’t happen overnight because it takes us time to grasp the full spectrum of God’s love; However, the more we meditate and dwell in God’s love the more we grow to love him. Jesus says in John 15:9, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”  He admonishes us to abide [live] in His love for good reason.  In the very next verse he says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”   And so, the benefit of abiding in God’s love is joy, and the proof that we are abiding in God’s love is our love for others.

Oswald Chambers suggests that our faith must be tried and tested through the “everyday realities of life,” and until that occurs, our faith is  only sustained by feelings and blessings. How easy it is to have faith when there’s an abundant supply of God’s blessings in our life. Or when our emotions are quickened, so much so, that we feel on fire for God.  How strong we feel in our faith during those times!  I love those mountain top experiences.  Don’t you?

But, what do we do when all of that is stripped away? What happens when God’s blessings are ripped from our lives?  What happens when we feel alone and it seems that God is no where to be found?  If our faith is based on our feelings, then we are left naked, bare, and of men, most miserable.

David in Psalms 11:3 laments, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  The key word from David’s question is “foundations.”  What or who is the foundation of our faith?  Is it a feeling, or is it Christ?

It’s a law of physics, (or should be if not) when the foundation crumbles the house will fall. There’s a song I used to sing as child about two men who built, for themselves a house.  The foolish man built his house upon sand and when the stormy rains came, the foundation was swept away and his house fell.  The wise man, built his house upon a rock and when the stormy rains came, his house withstood and stayed firm upon the rock.  The lesson, of course, being, make sure you build your faith upon the right foundation, because the storms will come and our faith will be tested.   It is inevitable.  Of this, Oswald Chambers writes, “But once we get there [the trying of our faith], no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.”

Faith placed in God’s love will never fail because God’s love for us never changes.   Even during the hardest of times, when we “feel” all is lost, we can know our faith stands, because faith is more than a feeling.  Feelings change with the wind, but God never changes, and because He never changes our faith remains when all else fails.

Each trial, of our faith, makes us stronger.  James 1:3-4, Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”  

What does, all of  this mean, and how can we, actually apply it in our daily life?

We can, and should, exercise our faith, and it would be wise to do it before we have to face the “big trials and tribulations.”  Our faith is tested, in small ways, every day, and if we are conscious of this, we can exercise our faith and it will begin to grow on a daily basis.  From Charisma Magazine, Joyce Meyer, writes,

“Faith can grow, but it only grows when we use it. It’s like a muscle. The way you build a bigger muscle is through effort—you have to use it.  As it grows, you have to use heavier weights or exercises that require greater effort to keep it growing.

It’s the same way with our faith. We put our faith in God to get through a challenge or trial, and later on, another harder trial comes along. Eventually we find that things that used to bother us or were hard to deal with aren’t a problem for us anymore because our faith has grown.”

Faith, like our muscles, grow when when exercised.  How do we exercise our faith? Well, here are some practical ways in which I try to exercise my faith on a daily basis…

  • Start early.  In the mornings, before I roll our to bed, I try to remember to spend a few moments with God.  It can be as simple as telling him “good morning” or thanking him for a safe night.  Maybe, I’ll use this time to ask for guidance, or better yet, just to tell him how much I love him.  The key point is to acknowledge God early in your day.
  • Commit to having a thankful heart.  I try to be conscious and thankful for the little things that make my life better. Such things as, having a bathroom in which all I have to do is use and flush.  Some don’t have that luxury.  In the mornings, I enjoy coffee in my cup, butter on my toast and wind-chimes playing in the breeze.  God gives us these things because He loves us and He wants us to enjoy our life.  Since it’s so easy to take these things for granted, I try to, “on purpose” commit to having a thankful attitude throughout my day.
  • Resist temptation.  Be aware of the little things that trip us up.   The Song of Solomon warns us it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines.”  Just to name a few of the “little foxes” we all need to be wary of:  Our thought life…Are our thoughts positive or negative?  Are they moral or immoral?  Our love life…How am I treating my spouse?  My children?  Or the driver who cut me off in traffic?  Our eating habits…Am I going to stop eating when I’m full or will I go for round two?  Do I make wise choices in the kinds of foods I eat?  Am I sensitive to God’s voice in this matter or do I just go with my cravings, and eat whatever I want?  Taking care of the body God gave you…  Do I exercise?  What if I don’t feel like taking that walk?  Do I give in to my feelings or do I exercise my faith and just do it?  Laziness…Do I clean my house or stay on Facebook?  (Ouch)  How much do I give in to procrastination?  (Double Ouch)  Our mouth…What comes out of my mouth?  Do I praise God or do I brag about myself?  Am I “haughty” in my speech, or do I try to use humility?  Am I gossiping? Do my words lift up or tear down?
  • Live out the word.  The only way we can do this is to read God’s word.  I try to set aside a time each day to do this, even if it’s only five minutes.  Sometimes, we become legalistic and try to commit to so many chapters or so many hours a day. That’s never worked for me, in fact, it only served to keep me away from God’s word. Reading God’s word shouldn’t be a burden.  We should go to his word with the expectation of God speaking.  It doesn’t take God a whole chapter to speak to us; sometimes one verse will suffice.  We just need to listen to him and follow his guidance
  • Listen to God.  Ask God to make your heart tender to his voice.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  Of course he speaks through his word but he also uses people and circumstances to convey his will to us.  He has given us his Holy Spirit which communes with our hearts, that’s why it’s important to ask God to open the eyes and ears of our hearts, so we may hear.  Ask God to speak and then listen expectantly.
  • Remain in the spirit of prayer.    I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”  Prayer doesn’t really consist of being on your knees and keeping your eyes closed. Prayer is simply talking to God and this can be done quietly in our mind.  Talk to God often throughout your day.  We can talk to God anywhere and during any situation.  When an ambulance passes, ask God to help that one in need.  When someone asks for prayer, pray for them right then and there within your heart. Sometimes, when I’m looking for a parking space, I’ll say to God, “Lord, it sure would be awesome to find a good parking space…”  When I’m nervous about something, I simply say to God, “Help me, Lord.”  Psalms 46:1 tells us God is, “a very present help” in our time of need.  “Help me” is probably the simplest but best prayer we can pray through out the day.

Every time we exercise our faith it becomes stronger.  The more we daily live our faith the better equipped we will be to face the harsh storms of life.  With our faith anchored in Christ, we can be certain our foundation will stand.  Sometimes we feel our faith, but sometimes we do not.  No worries, my friend, because our faith is much more than a feeling!

My Prayer:  Father, help me to walk in faith, throughout my day.  Keep my heart tender to your voice.  Help me, not only to hear your word but to live it as well.  Jesus, I accept your peace; show me how to walk in it.  May I love all those around me just as you have loved me.  All praise, honor and glory belong to you, Jesus.  Amen.

...our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life…Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life._____ Oswald Chambers

(This is a publication of “Walk Through Psalms” series)

(Also in participation of Devotional Friday Event  and Scripture Sabbath Challenge )