“Eight years ago, I went backpacking in Denali National Park in Alaska with my brothers (Franciscan Friar friends). One night, we were camped on a plain above a wide glacial river. The low angle sunset of the far north beautifully illuminated mountains on the other side of the river. Spontaneously and without a word, all four of us moved to sit on the edge of the valley to witness this gorgeous scene. We sat there for an hour, without a word of speech, deeply aware that we were in the presence of sacred mystery. The mountains stretched on to the horizon in a seemingly endless row. I thought of my favorite image from St. Bonaventure. Medieval philosophy teaches that goodness is self-effusive; it spreads outward from its source. Bonaventure speaks of God as “a fountain fullness.” The goodness of God overflows from the Trinity into all of creation like water overflowing from a fountain, like mountains stretching into the distance in the light of an Alaskan sunset. St. Bonaventure’s idea of God’s fountain fullness is an apt image for my life as a friar – God’s goodness overflowing into my life: a priest’s intuition that leads to two Franciscan vocations, including my own; my relationship with my aunt (Sister Miriam Regina); my experience of the compassion of the friars during my undergraduate days at St. Bonaventure University; my long and winding road to become a friar; my experience of my friar brothers at St. Bonaventure and my backpacking brothers in Alaska;…and seeing God in the overflowing beauty of creation.” —-An excerpt from the article “Reflection: The Saint, the University and Life’s Journey” by Peter Schneible, OFM
Cynthia Bourgeault describes love in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation: Love Endures. “‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).’ ‘Love bears all things.’ This does not mean a dreary sort of putting-up-with or victimization. There are two meanings of the word bear, and they both apply. The first means ‘to hold up, to sustain’—like a bearing wall, which carries the weight of the house. . . .To bear [also] means ‘to give birth, to be fruitful.’ So love is that which in any situation is the most life-giving and fruitful. ‘Love believes all things.’ . . . [This] does not mean to be gullible, to refuse to face up to the truth. Rather, it means that in every possible circumstance of life, there is . . . a way of perceiving that leads to cynicism and divisiveness, a closing off of possibility; and there is a way that leads to higher faith and love, to a higher and more fruitful outcome. To ‘believe all things’ means always to orient yourselves toward the highest possible outcome in any situation and strive for its actualization. ‘Love hopes all things.’. . . a source of strength that wells up from deep within you independent of all outcomes. . . . It is a hope that can never be taken away from you because it is love itself working in you, conferring the strength to stay present to that ‘highest possible outcome’ that can be believed and aspired to. Finally, ‘love endures all things.’ . . .The only way to endure is to forgive, over and over, to give back that openness and possibility for new beginning which is the very essence of love itself. And in such a way love comes full circle and can fully ‘sustain and make fruitful,’ and the cycle begins again, at a deeper place. And conscious love deepens and becomes more and more rooted.”
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President, National Day of Prayer Task Force, and Senior Pastor of Cross Church composed this prayer for the National Day of Prayer, which is tomorrow. “Our Dear Heavenly Father, while we come to You in complete humility, we also come to You with boldness in the authoritative name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In Jesus’ name, fill us now with Your Holy Spirit and lead us as we pray in Jesus’ name for America….in this critical hour in our nation, we pray for unity in America. Only You can bring unity, harmony, and oneness in America. As your Word calls us in Ephesians 4:3, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”, we ask You to empower us to make every effort to love in unity….We pray for God’s power to unify families, workplaces, communities, and cities in America. By Your Spirit, lead us to forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and unity….We pray in unity for the security of our nation. We ask You to preserve the United States of America from the forces of evil that are threatening our lives and our future. God, please guard all persons in public and private settings from anyone or anything that desires to harm us or take our lives. Our future is in Your hands. We agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily for the next Great Spiritual Awakening in America. Oh Lord, wake up Your church spiritually and convict Your people to agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily until the next Great Spiritual Awakening occurs in our generation. Oh God, we stand together upon Your words in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.” Through Jesus’ name and by the Holy Spirit’s power, we pray for all Americans to unify and to live together in unity. In the mighty and majestic name of Jesus Christ who is the Only Savior and the Only Hope in this world, we pray. Amen.”
Shaquill Griffin says he is blessed, really blessed, to play with brother Shaquem again. They are twins and became big news in the football draft this past weekend, as Shaquem was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. What is really inspiring about the story is that Shaquem has only one hand. It was deformed during birth and caused him such severe pain that it was amputated when he was 4. They have an incredibly close bond and both of them played football together in college. But they were separated last year when Shaquille was drafted by Seattle. But they will be reunited in the next football season. A remarkable testimony of never giving up.
“Jak is a a loud, affectionate cat. When you respond to his cries (which are difficult to ignore) and pick him up, he will usually knead on your neck, lick your face, or nuzzle into your hair. He also is eager to come when he’s called. One day after Jak had returned from a five day hiatus in Ohio farm country, I was overjoyed to see he was all right. Feeling especially protective of him, I saw him get near the road and called out to him. He jerked his head in my direction and tore off running across our large open front yard. I held open the door and he ran straight into the house. I started thinking about how well I hear God and if I go running straight to Him when I hear Him call. It was humbling and challenging to realize how I long to be as responsive as Jak. — ‘God, give me ears to hear you and a heart to follow You today. I need you, God, in even the smallest of life’s moments.’ —– An excerpt from “3-minute Devotions for a Cat Lover’s Heart by Barbour Books
“Here is one week’s treatment for tension, uptightness, and stress. Begin it today and continue for the next seven days. First day: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you… Let not your heart be troubled, and neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27). Second day: ‘Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusted in Thee’ (Isaiah 26:3). Third day: ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest’ (Exodus 33:14). Fourth day: ‘Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thy self’ (Psalms 37:7). Fifth day: ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). Sixth day: ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…'(Colossians 3:15). Seventh Day: ‘He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul’ (Psalm 23:2,3).” ——An excerpt from the book, “Have A Great Day — Every Day!” By Norman Vincent Peale
“‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). The heart of the good news we believe and proclaim is utterly generous love, because God isn’t mad at us. He is mad about us with a crazy love! Remember today that there is nothing you have to do. Receive and experience the great depths of God’s grace, mercy and LOVE for you today.” —–An excerpt from Christine Caine’s “First Things First”
“A young man who’d been accepted to the African missionary field found out that he was unable to serve because his wife physically couldn’t handle the extreme heat. Heartbroken, he resolved himself to make all the money he could to help spread the Gospel to the world. His father, a dentist, had a company on the side for making unfermented wine for communion services. The young man took over and begin developing the company. His name was Welch. Every time you see a bottle of Welch’s grape juice, you’re seeing the name of the young man whose crushed dreams resulted in funding missions through grape juice. Grapes, like dreams and desires, can become something sacred when crushed if you give them to God and resolve to glorify Him no matter what. Do you have broken dreams, crushed hopes, or a broken heart? Give it to the Lord. Resolve to keep going strong and to glorify Him no matter what. Your crush dreams, like grapes, will become the sacred juice of the Lord’s communion.” ——An excerpt from Jonathan Cahn’s Sapphires
I heard a minister yesterday telling a story on TV that was very interesting. He had a second leg of a flight cancelled because of bad weather. He had a very important meeting at 10:30 with no change of clothes but he drove to his destination. After calling several stores that didn’t open till 10, he found one that let him in and sold him everything he needed. He said that they gave him “platinum service with a brilliant touch” and that customer service was replaced by customer love. Of course, the cost was pricey. He then said that should be our behavior as Christians. I thought of the saying about how money can buy anything, but then I thought but love will DO anything. I immediately remembered James, my assistant pastor and dear friend. He went to be with the Lord five years ago this month. But I still meet people today that talk about his love, even people that only met him one time. He would do absolutely anything I asked him to do no matter what time it was. He did it for God, the Ministry, and for me. I had to be careful about complimenting anything he had, because he then wanted to give it to me because I liked it. Do we give that kind of platinum service with a brilliant touch to peopleI I would call it – perfect love service with an anointed touch.
“There are several things that the story of the widow’s mite teaches us. First, God sees what man overlooks. The big gifts in the temple were surely noticed by people; that’s probably what the disciples were watching. But Jesus saw what no one else did: He saw the humble gift of a poor widow. This was the gift that Jesus thought worthy of comment; this was the gift that the disciples needed to be aware of. The other gifts in the treasury that day made a lot of noise as they jingled into the receptacles, but the widow’s mites were heard in heaven. Second, God’s evaluation is different from man’s. The widow’s two mites added up to a penny, according to man’s tabulation. But Jesus said that she had given more than anyone else that day (Mark 12:43). How could this be, when “many rich people threw in large amounts” (Mark 12:41)? The difference is one of proportion. The rich were giving large sums, but they still retained their fortunes; the widow “put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:42). Hers was a true sacrifice; the rich had not begun to give to the level of her sacrifice. Third, God commends giving in faith. Here was a woman in need of receiving charity, yet she had a heart to give. Even though the amount was negligible—what could a widow’s mite buy?—she gave it in faith that God could use it. The widow’s faith is also evident in the fact that she gave the last of her money. Like the widow of Zarephath, who gave her last meal to Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:7–16), the widow in the temple gave away her last means of self-support. Does that mean the widow left the temple completely destitute, went home, and died of starvation? No. The Bible teaches that God provides for our needs (Matthew 6:25–34). We don’t know the details of this particular widow’s future, but we can be certain that she was provided for. Just as God provided for the widow and her son in Elijah’s day (1 Kings 17:15–16), God also provided for the widow in Jesus’ day.” —-From the article, “What Does Jesus Want Us To Learn…”