11 Years Ago Today – Thanking Our Father in Heaven for Yet Another Year

Originally published  in 2014, following is an edited version with new observations.

Am thankful that today marks another milestone for which God Himself only is due praise and glory. Here is the recap from a few years ago. Please make sure to visit the testimony link. 11 years!! It is overwhelming to recount the benefits this far down the road.

Now for a 2016 reflection on the continuing blessings of my 2005 cerebral hemorrhage.

1) The swiftly sudden onset of this terrifying illness continues to remind me of the boundless preciousness of life.

2) Even bad moments in life contain untold worth, and, gathered together in concerted contemplation, lead a person to realize how very truly present God always is in the lives of His children. All of life’s moments are of inestimable value.

We do very well to recall the truth of truths of the presence. Scripture references are plentiful, i.e. Psalm 16:11, 23: 5, 51:11, 90:8, 95:2, 105:4, 114:7, 139:7, Jeremiah 3:17, Jonah 1:10, Matthew 28:20, John 14:6,23, Hebrews 9:24, Revelation 7:17 among many more. Examine these, and you will be humbled and thankfulness will build in your heart and mind.

3) It is impossible for me to overemphasize the always quality/quantity of God’s presence. Turns out this is an expansion of the wonder of the above observation.

At the beginning, middle, and end of every day, the LORD is with his beloved children! AMEN!

4) The LORD’s presence is marked by the overwhelming awareness of a simultaneous, phenomenal manifestation of ἀγάπη and holiness paired and inseparably interwoven together. Two attributes that are in actuality one. All of a single piece.

5) Reality without God is an utterly ruinous, dark state of being.

6) Reality without the acknowledgement of God’s presence is a soul-destroying existence. Seek (in prayer and ἀγάπη) the welfare of your soul and that of others.

7) Reality with the active seeking of God’s face is of greatest preciousness. The pearl of great price.

Seeking, being loved by, and loving God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit is our greatest occupation. Loving (ἀγάπη) all others is the true and necessary consequence of our being loved by God.

Thanks be to the Holy and Loving God!

It is my fervent prayer that you be blessed throughout the whole of the year of our Lord 2016!

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Henri Nouwen – Out of Solitude, Conclusion

Nouwen was an extraordinarily gifted spiritual writer. Here’s a passage from his Out of Solitude, Conclusion that provides some very powerful reasoning for prayer by means of withdrawal to the lonely place.

(Mark 1:35) ” ‘In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.  When Simon and his companions found him, Jesus said: “Let us go—to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.”

The words which Jesus spoke in these neighboring country towns were born in the intimacy with the Father. They were words of comfort and of condemnation, words of hope and of warning, words of unity and of division. He dared to speak these challenging words because he did not seek his own glory: “If I were to seek my own glory,” he says, “that would be no glory at all; my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ although you do not know him” (John 8:54). Within a few years Jesus’ words brought about his rejection and death. But the one who had spoken to him in the lonely place raised him up as a sign of hope and new life.

When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions. The your serious engagement can merge with an unmasking smile. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: then you can care. Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest but let us not forget to once in a while get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place.”

AMEN!

Praying should take ALL our energies

In what appears below, please note the use of the koine Greek word ἀγαπήσεις translated shall love. Because of the ambiguities that profligate from 21st century notions/concepts/applications of the English word love, I use the Greek to convey the overwhelming richness of the source of love who shows us the vastness, depth, height, breadth, and enveloping quality of the wholeness and holiness of Godly love. See 1 John 4: 7-12.

Mark 12:30 (ESV) >  And you ἀγαπήσεις (shall love) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

It is a glory-filled privilege to pray.  With that in mind, and with a focus upon how much we involve ourselves in the ἀγαπήσεις of the Lord our God, the following came to me during what I would call a personal episode of contemplative habitude.

with a heart filled with devotion, mind replete with wisdom from God’s Holy Word, spirit abounding in the Holy Spirit, a soul full of joy! Pray with all that makes you you. ~the Reverend Michael Trent Shaw

Grace, mercy and peace,

Michael+

It Is Very Human to Pray

David Ireland in his “On Faith” article “Why Prayer Is the Most Human Thing We Can Do”:

“In fact, the most human thing we can ever do is pray. We are most human — virtuous, morally grounded, and generous with our love — when we have regular times on our knees. The most hope-filled and resilient people on the planet are those who give themselves to prayer. The weakest person is one without prayer. Prayerlessness is an admission that you don’t need God’s help. You can go it alone. Such a posture weakens you and keeps God at arm’s length.”

Read the whole thing here.

A Lenten Prayer of St. John Chrysostom

H/T: Fr. Paul Jagoe

Thursday Lent 5:

O Lord, my God,
I am not worthy that You should come into my soul,
but I am glad that You have come to me
because in Your loving kindness
You desire to dwell in me.
You ask me to open the door of my soul,
which You alone have created,
so that You may enter into it
with Your loving kindness
and dispel the darkness of my mind.
I believe that You will do this
for You did not turn away Mary Magdalene
when she approached You in tears.
Neither did you withhold forgiveness from the tax collector
who repented of his sins
or from the good thief
who asked to be received into Your kingdom.
Indeed, You numbered as Your friends
all who came to You with repentant hearts.
O God, You alone are blessed always,
now, and forever. Amen.
~Prayer of St. John Chrysostom c. 400 A.D.~

The Core of Christian Ethics and Plain Old Everyday Christian Behavior

Some sweet day maybe I will figure out why working hard at chores around the homestead brings with it some thoughts from another place, a place not yet familiar, but assuredly known.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Messiah, I have been blessed in incalculable ways by my time at Asbury Theological Seminary.  My philosophy and ethics courses still stretch me  toward the ancient paths where the good way is.  After some sweat-drenched (part of my chores were outdoors) reflection the following congealed in my mind, heart, and spirit. In the event I can overcome the inertia of feeling my age right now, I will make a little pocket card that I’ll laminate and carry around. Maybe the ancient paths will be more plain to myopic me. Just pull out the card, Old Man…

The Core Of Christian Ethics and Plain Old Everyday Christian Behavior

Be, say, and do only that which

  1. Pleases the Father
  2. Brings glory to the Son
  3. Results from the movement and ministry of the Holy Spirit

from Jeremiah 6:16 ~

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
[But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’]

I may leave off the bracketed sentence on my little card, but it does serve as a stark and fitting warning. An ounce of buzzkill is better than the pounding that comes with the cure??

In, for, with, and by HIS agapé,

Michael +

Eight Year Survival Thankfulness – Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…

Eight years ago to the day, I suffered a (significant, three centimeter – in the words of my neurologist) cerebral hemorrhage, then was in neuro ICU for a week and rehab for about a month.  For that first week, my left side was paralyzed. It was a frightening time to say the least.

There can be no doubt at all that our LORD definitely and distinctly had His hand in my healing before, during, and after the hemorrhage.  Here is a testimony (given at All Saints Episcopal Church in Winter Park, FL) of the unlimited  and tangible reality of His presence I gave twelve days after my release from the hospital.  Please review and share with friends, family, and others.

Eight years later, I reflect upon this with deep, deep thankfulness that I was the recipient of such overflowing grace.  And, in some way to preserve the importance of His presence in the lives of His children, I’m still receiving it even now.   In my experience the miracle of healing leaves a permanent imprint of the presence of the LORD. I guess His presence is stuck on me now. I can’t even begin to convey to you the joy or the value of this! I am so very, very, very, very, very, very, very richly blessed!

Yes, God is realer than real!!!

I offer Him my rather plain reverence and praise for His love and care for His often wayward children!!!

Please enjoy this wonderful hymn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv_a4v6b3QI One of my very favorites.

AMEN!