Last year, Centenary students, faculty, staff, and alumni wrote devotionals for the Lenten season. We thought they were good enough to keep posted. We hope that you will be inspired by their words.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Scripture: But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,” “Rab-bouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:11-18
Love conquers all! Love is healing. Love is all that matters. How is love speaking to you on this Easter Sunday? How does it speak to you in your daily life? Where is your attention? What holds you?
The way we handle the small everyday mundane tasks, shows who we really are. I am reminded each day that we are called to be lights for each other – to love each other. I try and focus each day on what I love about the people that God brings into my life. I know that when I take time to listen to others, encourage and call out their gifts that I am strengthening the light within them. When I meet a person, where he is and listen and provide space for his story to unfold, I am offering a place of refuge. I have found that there is great healing when another person truly listens and hears our story with love. We feel valued, accepted, worthy...It is important that we slow down enough to be really present with those we care about.
I feel so blessed to have a wonderful family, good friends, a job, a safe place to live, and enough food to eat. And yet, even with all these blessings there are times when I struggle; when I feel all alone. Everyone needs a place of refuge. A safe space where they can be open and be loved and nurtured for who they are; a place to work through the suffering. As I get older, I now understand people’s lack of response to suffering. If they have never experienced great suffering, they do not have the knowledge or wisdom to respond to it or the strength to be present for it. It is something they are afraid of. But with great suffering comes wisdom and transformation.
The times when I have felt so alone, so desolate, nothing to pray for and wasn’t sure I could go on…these were the times of my greatest growth; letting go and knowing that I am in God’s hands. I have no control. There is nothing I can do to make it better. I have learned to trust God, to surrender to His love, to the stillness; to let Him wrap me in His love. He is always there. Asking God to fill me and use me for His purpose, not my own – “Let thy will be done.” It is during these times that other people have provided a safe space for me. Helped me to see the light; that Easter was coming.
Prayer: Father, thank you for Easter. Thank you for reminding us that love conquers all. Help us to be lights and to help reignite the spark in others. Help us to be a blessing, a source of strength, a place of refuge in the darkness for others. Thank you Father, that you are always there…no matter what…you are always there. Your love is constant. Amen.
Laura Vaughan '85
Assistant to the Vice-President of Student Development
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Scripture: Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and saw how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:50-56
I have celebrated fifty-eight Easters now and for thirty-three of those Easters I helped plan the celebrations as member of a church staff. Holy Saturday and its observance has always been interesting. For the most part it is a day of preparation. There are not many traditions that have special services or programs associated with Holy Saturday.
From the perspective of Easter we know that the events of Good Friday are eclipsed on Sunday. However, life experience teaches us that the first Saturday of that first Easter weekend must have been devastating. It was a holiday weekend, family members and friends had traveled from far away places to share meals, worship, and fellowship. And in the midst of the holiday—tragedy strikes, dreams are dashed, lives changed forever.
I can imagine breakfast for the extended family prepared by a loving mother trying her best to salvage the holidays while her heart too was breaking. Those gathered ate in silence, occasionally there are sobs, until the silence is broken. Someone says, “it wasn’t supposed to end like this”. Another states, “if I had only known, I would have done some things so differently.” Still another asks, “What do we do now?”
The challenge for every believer is to find ourselves in this great story of faith. What can we find in the despair, loneliness, loss and defeat that sets in the morning after someone we love dies, receives a devastating diagnosis, or is no longer in our close relationship for whatever reason?
Sunday is coming! Friday’s tragedies come into every life. The dark realties of Saturdays follow. Then comes Sunday! Sunday comes with hope, promise and light breaking through!
Prayer: We are Easter people; people of hope and promise; people of the light; sunrise people. Thank you, God for breaking into history; for sending Jesus and assurance that in every circumstance of life you are present and you care. Give us grace to follow the light. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, our teacher, example, and redeemer we pray. Amen
Friday, April 6, 12
Scripture: “6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” Romans 12:6-10
UBUNTU (I am because we are)
There are sometimes when we do not feel good and we need someone to give us simply a hug or a shoulder to cry on or to encourage us or simply to make us smile again.
That is why God gives each of us great gifts that are unique for each person. The verse tells us that each of us has different gifts and it teaches us to put those gifts in action and do it well. It says “if your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.” As the verse says, God gives us gifts to help each other. If we each use our gifts and support each other, we will create a better environment.
We all have noticed personal statements at Centenary on many staff members doors talking about what they are passionate about. This is a great initiative, however, I encourage our staff members to not let this be just a written statement about who they are but to show it through their actions.
Yes, the United States may be an individualistic society but we can make a difference here at Centenary College and create UBUNTU. I invite you to come together, with our different gifts, supporting and encouraging each other to make our Centenary family stronger and very bonded.
Prayer: Dear God thank you so much for creating great people with the ability to positively impact each other’s lives. We ask you that you forgive us for the many times we have used your gifts for only our benefit. Teach us to love one another and to support one another despite the individualistic society in which we live. Help us to create the Ubuntu on our campus so we may positively affect our family, friends and people around Shreveport and all over the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray AMEN
“Love each other with genuine affection,a and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 8: 10
Tendresse Sul ‘13
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Scripture: John 13:21-35
I had the privilege this past Sunday of participating in a drama that highlighted the events of Holy Week. The author of the drama developed a personal perspective from six key players in the Holy Week story. My husband Clay played Judas and I was struck by the words he spoke. He spoke of how often Jesus would bring “unsavory” and “despicable” people to join the band of disciples and how that frustrated him. After all, it was unheard of to share a cup of wine at the table with people beneath your station in life. As he spouted his dismay at Jesus’ practice of sharing the table with the most unacceptable people, the character of Judas suddenly realized that Jesus had done the same with him. Even on the night of his betrayal, Jesus offered Judas the cup. And in that moment Jesus offered forgiveness to the most despicable of all. What a powerful revelation! What unimaginable love! We six players in the drama moved to serve communion to the congregation who had gathered. As I held the cup speaking “his blood poured out for YOU” to each person, I was overwhelmed with the reality of Christ’s great love for us all. People from all walks of life, different cultures, different races, different ideologies and no doubt, different degrees of betraying Jesus came together to receive the bread and wine. As each unique face looked into mine I silently gave thanks to a God who welcomes and embraces us all, regardless of how unlovely or unlovable we may feel. What a beautiful table! Thanks be to God!
Prayer: Grant me the grace, Oh God, to so fully receive your mercy that it becomes a part of me. Let your grace then quell my criticism, my cynicism and my resistance to loving others as you love me. Amen
Betsy Eaves '78
Vice President of Student Development
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Scripture: Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
After reading this bible verse I realized I was struggling with my walk with God. I knew he was there, yet sometimes I couldn’t really feel him. I began to think that possibly God just wasn’t there. Of course this was just my mindset in the midst of freaking out about other things, but in that moment I truly felt defeated.
Every day we go through things that make or break our faith and maybe it’s the simplest thing but it can still challenge us; eventually these moments begin to pile up and a person can become overwhelmed. Every day what we really need to do is be strong. In the moment it seems like the most impossible thing to do. How can we possibly be strong through struggles and tough times? The answer is that God stated he will NEVER leave or forsake us! Realizing that God will never leave our side lifts so much weight off our shoulders. With this mindset each and every day we can get through just about anything.
Prayer: Father God I just ask that you remind us each and every day that you are there and you will never leave us. Our struggles, with school or life or work may seem over powering but you never put us in a situation that is too difficult to handle. I ask that you forgive us in moments of doubt and frustration and guide us into the paths you want us to live. Thank you for everything. In your name we pray, Amen.
Heather Wilson ‘15
Tuesday, March 3, 2012
Scripture: Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. – John 12:23-26
I always struggle with succinctly defining the meaning of Lent. It’s a time of reconciliation, recommitment, and renewal – a space in the Christian calendar in which we draw closer to God and pursue God’s purpose for us as created beings. It also requires contrition and confession, admitting short comings in our attempts at living into God’s image. Holy Week, especially, points us toward the cross, as we walk with Jesus through the paschal mystery of his life, death, and resurrection. We look backward and forward, remembering the crucifixion and anticipating the empty tomb. In this way, Lent is more than the sum of its parts – wholly, it teaches us how to live. Existing simultaneously in the past and the future helps shape a mode of presence as the body of Christ.
In the above passage, Jesus models a way in which we might continue to live in defiance of the world’s cruelty by embracing the hope of the resurrection. Jesus promises that our efforts extend past individual action, even that of the Son of Man. By joining in the vision of our Creator, death itself cannot end the work that we do on earth. Through God, our life, beyond its temporal limits, can bear much fruit.
This is what we seek during Lent. We recall the suffering of Christ and expect his coming again so that we might faithfully discern a way to live now as followers and servants, knowing that what we strive for is not vanity, but the coming kingdom, which encompasses and transcends past, present, and future.
Prayer: God of hope, guide us through this holy week that we might grow closer to you, seeking your perfect will and abundant love. Strengthen us in your Spirit for the work of your kingdom so that all might know the justice, mercy, and grace it brings. Through Christ, we pray. Amen
Emma Cook ‘09
Monday, April 2, 2012
Scripture: For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
Discipline and Service
I profess I am moved by the words, the life and the actions of John Wesley. I came to the United Methodist Church as many do; my wife brought me. And in the church I found a way of understanding self-control in the life, works and writings of John Wesley. Wesley dedicated his intellect and self-discipline to an active religious life aimed at renewing the Church in Christ. He understood the Gospel is for the whole person and the whole human race and put that conviction into action by preaching in fields, town squares and at coal mines, by taking a personal opposition to slavery, and by supporting ministries and schools for the sick, poor, and orphaned. Wesley’s words, life and actions provide a powerful witness as an example of faith in Christ coupled with action.
The Wesley Covenant Prayer: I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen
Vice President for Advancement
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Scripture: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15: 5-7)
“BE BRAVE. KEEP GOING.”
I follow an artist in Houston, TX, who keeps the above quote posted and visible in his workspace at all times. He claims it to be an absolutely necessary reminder and encouragement amidst the challenges and conflicts that are inevitably encountered in creating.
I’ve come to agree with him. Out of that agreement and the sometimes-desperate need for such a reminder, I’ve just recently adopted the habit for myself. A necessary reminder not only in the workspace, at the computer, canvas, guitar, etc. – but in the home, on my phone, or wherever assures that it will find me in the throes of the stuff of everyday life. Where challenges and conflicts abound.
I’m one of 7 young adults living together in the Highland neighborhood here in Shreveport. We have both the pleasure and pain of having been called to learn to do life together, to seek making a home and a community that might bring us and the places we inhabit a bit closer to the realities that God intended for us. I say both pleasure and pain, because when sharing all of life with anyone, you then inevitably show each other both glimpses of the glory of all we have been made to be, as well as the excruciating reminders of all that has gone wrong in our human stories and how far we’ve yet to go.
So, as a housemate and I talked about last night, I’ve come to think that just to continue to exist at all – and moreover to exist together – is a very brave thing. It takes courage, and we don’t make or sustain courage all on our own.
When standing at what looks like the ruins and rubble of your last 5 years and having no clue or seemingly no word yet from the Lord on where to begin…we must hear, “Be brave. Keep going. All will be well.” When walking nauseated into a silent room hoping to reconcile some unfortunate misunderstanding and all the hurt that followed it…we must hear, “Be brave. Keep going. This is worth it.” When staring at a blank Word document, a white canvas, or an empty audio file…we must hear, “Be brave. Keep going. You can do this. In fact, you were made to do this. For the good of the world.” When it seems everyone around you is connecting and sharing and loving and being loved while you observe from the corner and somehow can’t get budge…we must hear, “Be brave. Keep going. You’re not alone. And it’s almost your time…”
It is worth it.
No one, not even one of us, is alone.
We are made and sustained by the good, strong, and only-loving God that wins every battle. Even that of death that we might be brought back to life again and again and again. And that we may be a part of that process for the people around us.
May we know and rest in remembering this.
Sarah Duet ’11
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Scripture: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Matthew 5:43-46
I'm currently writing a thesis to obtain a Masters of Arts degree in Religious Studies. While theses, by nature, are ridiculously hard and make one want to pull their hair out and scratch their fingernails down a chalkboard. I "conveniently" also chose to write on a topic that is emotionally draining— I know brilliance at its best.
Over the last year, I've been looking at how this paramilitary organization in my home town constructs its identity racially, religiously, and politically, and how the use of these constructions allow this group to oppress others within my hometown community. I'm not going to lie, this topic..these people infuriate me sometimes. And, I easily become hateful, cynical, and just don't want to love. Because, for me, it's seriously hard to love my enemies, when they are my neighbors.
Further, my cynicism and hate have heightened, since I found out that the Aryan Nations, a belligerent, religious white supremacy group, decided to make it's "world headquarters" just 50 miles away from Shreveport in Converse Louisiana. This made my soul hurt, and I didn't know how to handle it. When I heard the leader of the Aryan nation speak on the news, I was so angry. I thought, "how could a man and a group like this exist here?! They shouldn't be allowed to live here... I don't want people like that near me." And, I realized at that point that I was being just as hateful as the belligerent white supremacist in Converse Louisiana. This is obviously NOT what we, as people of faith, are called to do. This is NOT how we are called to love. We are in fact supposed to "Love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us." So, in the processing this realizing about my own brokenness, I wrote this poem that I think connects well with how Jesus' call for us to love our enemies. Whoever they may be.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that you help me love those, who I would normally hate, ignore, or blow off. Help me notice and experience the humanity and divinity that is you in them. And, I pray that they notice and experience the humanity and divinity that is you in me. Because, it is this type of enemy love that brings us together and lets us see Christ in the world. This is what the Kingdom of God looks like. Amen.
Maegan Daigle ‘09
Assistant Director of The Christian Leadership Center
March 30, 2012
Scripture: If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.” Luke 11:36
Too often, I find myself being overly critical of myself. Rather than realizing that I am human and I make mistakes, I get caught up worrying about the mistake I made. Instead of realizing that I made a mistake and there is nothing I can do about it, I try to change the situation so that it does not look as bad. This cycle of regret and covering-up causes unneeded stress and anxiety.
This unneeded stress and anxiety, from my experience, turns many people away from Christianity. Christianity, when viewed from a highly critical perspective, is a standard, and if the standard is not met, one is either not a Christian or not accepted by Jesus. This idea of Christianity is inadequate at best. Christianity is not a measuring stick. Christianity is the opposite. Christianity functions on forgiveness through grace, which by definition does not have a standard.
If Christianity is not standardized, why does is it often believed to be so? I think that the problem originates within a misinterpretation of scripture. The scripture above along with many other scriptures describe how our body is full of darkness before we know of Jesus, and full of light after. This is where the misinterpretation begins. The overly-critical perspective of Christianity originates from seeing “the light” as originating from us, not from Christ. From this perspective, we have to be perfect because if we fail, the light fails, and thus Christ’s love fails. Rather than viewing the scripture as humans being the light, let Christ be the light, and let humans reflect it. From this perspective, Christians are not required to be perfect. Christ is the source of the light, so when Christians make a mistake, the light does not stop shinning. From this perspective, Christ’s love is forgiving and gracefully given, not given to the select few who meet a requirement.
As you go through the day today, realize that life is not a mission to meet a standard. Instead, live life as an act of love, realizing that it is ok for both others and yourself to make mistakes. Spreading Christ’s love, knowing that you do not have to be perfect, allows for freedom to love for others and yourself even when the “standard” has not been met. When loving others and yourself through the mistakes, you are allowing “your whole body to be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp GIVES you light.”
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me see past my mistakes. You have already erased the mistakes I have made and the mistakes that I have yet to make. Thank you for your loving forgiveness that allows me to relax and accept myself as I am. Please use me to reflect your love in the world even though I might not be perfect. Allow me to understand that your love does not require that I meet a standard. Help me realize that you love me as I am; mistakes and all. Amen.
Kellan Klaus ‘14
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Scripture: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:3).
Once upon an un-time, there was a son who experienced everything good all of the time, for he lived with his father in perfect splendor and love. One might imagine that they could have lived that way contentedly forever. But they had an idea that they’d like to share their graceful truth and reveal their good rule, so they came up with a project called “re-creation.”
The basic plan was this: to create some things, and then to re-create them. The crux of the project required an expensive short-term mission trip in which the son would adventure from his father’s peaceful home into the created place that had long since come not only to disregard its maker, but also to misunderstand him and even to hate him. The creatures had used their creativity to break everything.
The son shivered to enter his world—so cold, so dark. And he left it in similar fashion. But this time, the cold and dark was itself a glorification: he submitted himself to the brokenness of his own creatures and let them do their creative worst, and in so doing, he revealed the pith of his character, and his father’s, too.
The project had hit a kind of climax, but the father had another act to play. Now, it was time for the father to grant the son’s final request: to vindicate him, to return him to the perfect goodness and peace they had enjoyed before, to put all things to rights.
So the father did that, and the son brought many new brothers and sisters with him to that glory.
But that’s another story for another day.
Prayer: Father, God, Creator, Savior: reveal the glory that Jesus has now, which he had before the world existed. Reveal his perfection that he may be celebrated for who he is. Reveal his goodness that he may be enjoyed for who he is. We are your creatures, made to bear your image in the world, but we are not “sound, substantial flesh and blood.” Lord, have mercy. Lord, be glorified.
Jennifer Phifer Strange ‘99
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Scripture: By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23
Four years ago I went on a mission trip to Tennessee. On the drive there, our senior pastor asked a few of us if we could name all nine of the fruit of the Spirit. I think that by working together we were able to come up with four or five of them. So we decided that by the end of the car ride we would have all nine of them memorized. The fruit of the Spirit quickly became a recurring theme for me. It seemed like any camp, mission trip, or church function that I went to for the next two years included a talk about the fruit of the Spirit. Finally it dawned on me that they must be pretty important if God kept on presenting them to me.
Some people just seem to be naturally gifted at expressing love, living in joy, bringing peace, practicing peace, exhibiting kindness, giving out of generosity, observing faithfulness, showing gentleness, or having self-control. But they all require work to master. These nine fruit of the Spirit are important to keep in mind all throughout the year; but during this time of Lent, I challenge you to focus on them as we prepare our hearts for Easter.
Prayer: God, thank you so much for everything that you give to us and help us to actively seek love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins. Amen.
Alissa Brown ‘15
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Scripture: Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
There was a point in my life where everything that could have gone bad went bad. I lost sight of everything that was going good and felt like I was always alone out to fend for myself. Ever since I read this scripture my life has changed and I have tried to always remind myself that I was never alone even in the direst situations.
Life tends to throw anything it can to bring our spirits down. But it is up to us to recognize that we are not the only ones fighting our own battles. I failed to recognize that God was always there by my side and I was only hurting myself more trying to work all my problems out on my own There is a lot of emphasis in our society to be independent and help ourselves. The situation with God is totally different. He is a great problem solver. He is always there to help us but is only waiting for us to call upon him. Forget what problems you have and start asking God for help. He doesn’t want to see you hurt any more than you want to. When you feel like you can’t go on Lift up your burdens to God and let him work his miracles in your life. You’ll be amazed at the endless opportunities you will have and how much happier you will be!!!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I lift up my burdens up to you. Please help me to become a stronger and courageous person according to your own Word. Remind me us that you are always there for us wherever we may go. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Kari Walpole ’14
Monday, March 26, 2012
Scripture: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives us generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” James 1: 2-7
There have been times in my life, like many others, where I have faced challenges and change. Some of those changes have definitely led to uncertainty. Everyone faces times in their lives where they are uncertain of the future. We reach forks in the road of life and we aren’t certain which way to go. There are some very pivotal points; we graduate HS and do we go to college, to the workforce, or serve our country? After college, do we go on to more college, work, get married, start a family, etc? There are also those more emotional changes: relationship changes, breaking ties with those that are negative influences, and moving away from family. What is usually the first reaction? Do you worry? Feel uneasy? Does the worrying help? Does the stress result in solutions? Do you feel alone during these times of unrest? Usually during these times we feel tested and we ask why. Why us? Why now? What am I suppose to do?
When I was moving to Louisiana last year I literally worried about every aspect of the move to the point that I was worrying so much about what had to be done, I wasn’t working on finding solutions. Finally, I had enough. I knew what I was doing was ridiculous and counterproductive. I literally handed everything over to the Lord. I said that He was going to make it ok, and I BELIEVED it. He was leading us to Louisiana, so He was going to provide everything we needed. I started tackling each issue one and a time, and it was a snowball, one thing lead to another, lead to another and in a matter of time (a couple weeks), everything had fallen in place. There was such a reaction, it was by design, and there is no way I alone could have made everything happen as quickly and as effortlessly as it did.
However, there’s a catch. It’s easier to take back whatever you have handed over to Him then it is to let go of control. Once you pray to Him to help you and you give Him your fears, concerns, your needs, you have to let go of the control. You cannot manipulate the situation so it turns out the way you want it to. You have to have faith and BELIEVE that He will provide and will find you peace.
The word says you must mature; the definition of mature is “having completed natural growth and development”. This maturity leads to the growth and development in wisdom and knowledge and more importantly, faith. Each milestone or test you overcome and mature through makes you stronger and will prepare you for future challenges, either for you or for others.
Having faith in the Lord to help you find resolve is more productive than stressing. Stress and worry are hindrances and mean you haven’t matured in His word. Faith leads to peace and resolve, and ultimately to maturity. However, this doesn’t mean you will always get what you want. “Man must not expect to receive anything from the Lord”. You can’t simply pray for God to give you something or ask for something to happen. God knows our hearts and only He knows the pages written for your life. You must have faith and listen and BELIEVE that He knows your needs.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that you guide me, as I know you have already paved my road and written my chapters. I ask that you please allow me to hear you, to know your presence and to feel peace in your will for me. I turn over all my concerns, my trials, and my troubles over to you. I stand knowing you will lead me if I allow you to take control. I have faith and no doubt that these tests will develop the perseverance I need to see through these times and not at them and to mature through you. Thank you for all you do to protect me and help me find resolve. Amen.
Assistant Director of Intercultural Engagement
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Scripture: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12
In July of 2011, I, along with five other young adults, felt that we were being called to live in intentional community with each other. We explain this by saying that we felt like God, through the scriptures in Acts concerning the early church, was leading us to share life together, meals together, worship together, service together, and prayer together on a day-in and day-out level. We felt like God was leading us toward a very holistic faith, drawing us to one of the lower income neighborhoods to seek restoration in life together, a community in The Yellow House of Highland.
In choosing to live in close quarters with other broken people, you commit to see the very best and the very worst of each other, and to see it through. One of the greatest examples from Jesus, that we can reflect for each other, is the choice to stick around, work it out, to bury self and choose love through dirty dishes harsh words hurt and blame, all messier than we ever intended. Persistence wrapped in grace and truth demonstrates that love does not fail. Love washes over a multitude of things and chooses to stay when others leave. And through this, we see God.
"For I am convinced that (nothing)...will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8
Britney Winn '09
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Scripture: Sirach 2:1-6
Faith is Like a Bridge
I was once told that faith is like a bridge. It is our bridge to God and ultimately to heaven. There are three types of bridge faith. The first is like the scary rope bridge from Indiana Jones, the ones that you are afraid to walk on because every step your take the pieces fall to the ground. The second is like a bridge from my home town called the OK Allen Bridge. This bridge is stable, but you are still afraid to drive over it. You really want to drive with your eyes closed because you are afraid that it could fall at any time. The third is like the nice safe bridge going in and out of Baton Rouge. It is metal and safe and you know you are always going to get from one side to the other safe and sound with no problems.
When I was growing up I have unfailing metal bridge faith. I never questioned God and I always knew that everything happening in my life was happening for a reason. During my sophomore year of high school I lost my grandfather. This was the first time I ever questioned God. I did not meet him until I was in the eighth grade meaning I only knew for him about two years when he passed away. I could not understand why God had put this amazing man in my life and took him away so quickly.
During my junior year of high school I lost my Great grandmother and a very special little boy. This little boy’s name was Caleb and he was the light of my life, one of the few people to make me smile. I had babysat him since he was three months old and at the age of three he drowned. My world was crushed. I had robe bridge faith and fell every time I tried to get back up.
This is when I turned to the above scripture. The part that struck me the most was “In crushing misfortune be patient.” That’s just it, be patient. It sounds so easy, when things are easy be patient and wait for them to get better. That is so hard for me and for most of us. As hard as it is, God is telling us right here to be patient and things will always be okay.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we go through our daily lives, help us to have faith sturdy like a metal bridge. Help us to be patient when things are bad and to know that in our hardships and times of adversity you will be there for us. Help us to know that in the end everything will be okay. We know that you will never leave us behind and you will always be there for us even when times are hard and we think you aren’t. Help to know this every day, especially when it is hardest.
Regina Price ‘15
Friday, March 23, 2012
Scripture: Psalm 139: 7-12 - “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
“Here it’s You and me alone God.”. That’s how the song “Garden” by Misty Edwards starts. I was listening to it this morning and realized that so often we forget the power and impact of that statement. The Living, Sovereign, LORD Almighty is with you today. Our eyes this season look to the crucifixion and resurrection which fixed our Jesus as LORD in the hearts and eyes of all men. It was in this place, with His death, that the veil from the temple was ripped in to. It was torn from top to bottom showing the furious longing of God for His people (Matthew 27:51). This is the first thing recorded that happened after the crucifixion, along with the earthquake. So while the LORD was mourning His Son, shaking the earth, He was crying out for us. The veil was torn. The glory of God was released. The Holy of Holies was now open, meaning there is now nothing separating us from God. So why do we live like there is? Where you are, God is. This is His temple. Wherever you are is where His sanctuary is. For ”where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” So remember today that the magnificent power and love that bought you is the same power and love that is with you.
Prayer: LORD God Almighty reveal Yourself to me. Show me Your glory. Let me walk in the light of Your presence today and forever more. Convince me that no matter where I am, I am never out of Your reach. You hold and keep me. Remind me of who You are and of Your awesome promises to me. Reveal Your furious love for me. I want to see You.
Maggie Aultman ‘14
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Scripture: Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God? Psalm 42: 1-2 (Coverdale translation)
Interstate 15 heads south from Salt Lake City toward St. George and Las Vegas. I was driving it on a typical July day, the slightly vegetated slopes of the Wasatch range to my left and the bright glare of the arid Great Basin off to my right. Every place anything resembling a river came down out of the mountains there would be a town. I turned east at Cedar City, drove up over the Markagunt Plateau, down into the grassy valley of the Sevier, over the pass into the Kanab Creek drainage, and across the scrub brush plateau to the east Entrance to Zion National Park. On through the tunnel I went and finally came down into the heart of Zion, the valley of the Virgin River. It seemed lush compared to what I had seen the rest of the day. A brief visit to the visitors' center and I decided to enter Zion Canyon early the next morning to get some pictures of the west wall as the sun was just starting to light the peaks as it rose.
I caught the first shuttle in twilight hours and stopped at the viewpoint for the Three Patriarchs. I got my photo and started to walk the trail up to the Lodge for some breakfast. I was startled to find the valley teeming with life. The sacred datura was unfolding its pale trumpets to the growing daylight. Songbirds were all atwitter and the wild turkeys were coming out of their roost in the trees to break fast on the ground. Deer were browsing in the brush and smaller animals were scurrying everywhere. The lush river valley in the desert let life flourish.
The psalmist would have been at home here. The trees and animals might have been different, but aspects of the countryside would have been very familiar. He would have known the values of hunting by the river and the other watercourses for all sorts of food – game, fruits, nuts. The water sustained life, and the animals wanted to be there.
The desert was also part of the psalmist's life, physically and spiritually. It was a place of testing, and often the test was one of deprivation. The great were always tested in the wilderness. Moses, David, Elijah, and even Jesus are forced into the wilderness to become spiritually thirsty so that they can be open to receiving the living water from God.
The Samaritan woman comes to the well to get water. Why? Was it for drinking or cooking? We never know. We presume she was physically thirsty. But at the well she encounters Jesus and learns that she is also spiritually thirsty. She leaves with both thirsts slaked. The psalmist knows he is thirsty in both ways. As both he and the deer need physical water to live, the psalmist needs the Living Water of God's love. We understand the psalmist because we share his thirst, but unlike the psalmist we don't have to end with a question. Through Jesus we come to know that we are always in the presence of God. He is with us always because his Spirit lives in us. We never need to be thirsty. But sometimes we wander and forget the promise of God's presence until we stumble across the stream where life is teeming in the midst of the desert. At last we are renewed.
Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. Wash us and renew us with your Living Water.
Dr. David Bieler
Associate Professor of Geology
Chair of Geology Department
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Scripture: In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. Mark 1:9-12
I have been thinking a lot about wilderness lately. Perhaps it is because, as Christians, we begin the season of Lent with remembering the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, tempted by Satan. I am struck by the sudden shift in Mark’s gospel as Jesus emerges from the waters of baptism, still basking in the glow of God’s affirmation, and is immediately driven into the wilderness. And notice that, although it is Satan who tempts Jesus in the wilderness, it is the Spirit who drives him there. It is the Spirit who leads Jesus into that place of isolation and desolation. It is the Spirit who takes him to a place where he must come face-to-face with his humanity and the temptations that come with it.
What is that wilderness for you? For one new friend of mine it is a literal wilderness of moving to another country, far away from friends and family, to do mission work. For another friend, it is the loss of a job and, with it, a sense of self-esteem. For a family in the church, it is the sudden death of a 25 year-old father of 18 month-old twins. Just as suddenly as the Spirit thrust Jesus, dripping from the baptismal waters, into the wilderness, the elation in our lives can turn into despair. Yet, just as surely as it was the Spirit who led Jesus into that wilderness, it is the Spirit who sustains us in ours.
Prayer: 'God, help us in those wilderness times to depend on you, the one who never forsakes us. Amen.
Reverend Mimi McDowell
Minister of Congregational Care
Noel United Methodist Church
Tuesday, March 20 2012
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 6:10-15
Sometimes in life, during our walk with God, He will require us to do certain tasks. Like Elijah and Isaiah, God gives us commissions, makes us promise and expects our obedience in return. Not only does He expect our obedience, but He expects us to be diligent, faithful and patient in our work. When God promised Abraham that He'd make Him a father of many nations, God was faithful to keep His promise because Abraham was obedient in doing the will of God or the task God had prepared for him. Not only did he do the task assigned to Him, he did it in faithfulness AND patience. This set of scriptures tell us God is able to do what He promised; He doesn't slack neither will He forget your labor you have done in His name. But God doesn't just want us to be diligent in His work, but in everything we put our hands to—including school, work, ministry, etc. Don't be slothful because time is precious. We cannot give it but we can waste it. Time is a gift from God that He freely gives us to do His work and all the things that will benefit and enrich our lives for the better. Work gets tough and school gets stressful, but we must remember we are working toward a goal. We must have patience. When you've done your work for a week, do you not still have to wait for your check, or direct deposit to come through? Or when you've taken a test you've studied hard for or finished your semester successfully, don't you still have to wait for a grade and a diploma? You sit anxiously waiting for the A you know you've earned, or wiggle in the chair as your name is closer to being called. Maybe you're that hard worker waiting to receive a check at the end of the week, because you have many things you need to take care of. The point is, sometimes we can do what we are supposed to do and still have to wait on the manifested blessing. But we must wait with patience and keep faith. Our patience and faith will be tried but our love for God, people and what we do, matched with our faithfulness and diligence will pay off! He can't lie against His word so take Him at His word and go at all life's challenges with the made up mind to work hard, be faithful and have patience. Your labor and prayers are NOT in vain. Keep going.
Prayer: Take the serenity prayer with you this day that you may be able to stand every task ahead of you with faith and diligence. It simply says God grant me the serenity to change the things I can change, accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Be blessed.
Delisha Powell ‘12
Monday, March 19, 2012
Scripture: Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 7: 36
Putting God First
I grew up in a Christian family and as a pastor’s child; I thought I could trust God in any circumstance and all situations of life until I came here to Centenary College. For the first time in my life, I understood what depression meant. I was not able to trust God in any circumstance. Worries of life became my first preoccupation, and God did not anymore have the first place in my life. I started trying to control my life by thinking that if could just work harder things will be okay. The harder I worked the more tired I was and things were the same and worries did not go away. Therefore, I decided to let God lead me and tell me what to do. As I started letting God speak through me I came to realize that in this fallen world, Christian or non-Christian, we will always have problems that we cannot control. So, how can we trust God in our everyday life? Trust comes when we focus on what is important. What is more important is the kingdom of God. This means that God should be our prime preoccupation, thus put God first in our lives. When we put God first in our lives, we will be then able to trust him and our worries will have a different aspect. The end of the verse tells us that when we put God first he will give us everything we NEED.
Prayer: God forgive us. Many times we choose to put first - people, objects, goals and other desires in our live. Teach us to seek first your kingdom because that is the most important thing.
Tendresse Sul 13
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Scripture: 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25
This passage is one that rocks my world every time I read it. It is so powerful and so convicting. Part of its power is how simple it is. “Do not merely consume the truth of scripture. Let that truth transform you!” It’s common sense and yet we need to be reminded of the role we play in our own transformation through Christ. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel of Christ that ultimately shapes us into new creations but it is our choice to receive it that is the catalyst for that change.
As we continue to seek God’s guidance in the growth and formation of our souls through this Lenten season, it is essential we all take seriously the charge to be doers of the Word and not merely consumers.
This is a season for instigating what will hopefully be long-lasting life change. Becoming a better parent, becoming a better giver, a better seeker, a better missionary, a better disciple is what this Christian walk has to be all about.
Let your prayer simply be, God, who and what can I be to make the greatest impact for your Kingdom? Guide me. Change me. Transform me into a new creation that seeks to do whatever possible in my power to be an ambassador for the life-giving message of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Joe Robideaux ‘04
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Scripture: . Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When your heart cries, “Trust, how? I have been so broken. There is too much pain. I don’t want to fail…again.” I am sure we have all been here at some time in our lives. Picture this… Somehow you are caught in the tides of life. The waves beat you down and you are worn and weary. The cliffs to freedom seem so high that they are unreachable. You feel defeated…tired. You look up and realize where you got off track. At one time you were walking along the beach with the One who holds your life in His hands. You were in tune with His spirit, step by step you walked in faith. You trusted Him with not only your heart, but your life. You had no reason to fear. The storms rolled into shore and as soon as things got tough, you lost sight of the Son. Your mind filled with fear, worry…doubts creeped into your thoughts. You began to question His love. You lost trust and built up walls in your heart. The waves swept you away and you began to trust in your strength alone. You lost sight of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 13:7 states, “It Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” There is a deep correlation between love and trust. Search your heart and if there are places where you have lost trust and focused on your own strength, surrender, trust, and let Him lead you once again. The Lord is with you always, even amidst the storms.
Prayer:. Dear Lord, Your strength is far greater than I can comprehend. Your love is perfect and beyond description. Help me trust You with not only my heart, but every facet of my life. I need You to carry me through every detail of this life. I know I can do nothing by my own power. I trust You. I love You. Amen.
Elizabeth Dilks ‘13'
Friday, March 16, 2012
Scripture: Hebrews 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
It's so easy to lose sight of who God is when we become distracted and busy. It seems like everyone at Centenary looses focus at one point or another, just because we are so busy. When we don't stay in relationship with God, we begin to lose faith in Him. It's so easy to put our faith and time in someone or something else. Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves what we are doing with our time. What are we doing with God's time? Do we find time to talk to God throughout the day? For me personally, there are many little things that take up my time. Some are meaning, but some are just pointless. Just because something is permissible, does not mean that it is beneficial. That concept is sometimes hard for me to follow, even though I do believe it. God desires for us to be in relationship with Him. Take a second to talk to God today, and let Him speak to you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for placing us here at Centenary with a mission. Lord help us to stay focused on you while we run the race you set before us. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness that looks past all my flaws. Reveal to me what is holding me back and slowing me down. I do not want anything to hinder me from knowing you. With all unkind motives aside, I want to serve you God. Be with us Father, and speak into our lives a new revelation of who you are. I love you Lord and thank you for the work you are doing in me every day. All this in Jesus' name I pray. Amen!
Mariah Pitre ‘14
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Scripture: But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ 41But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)
Sitting with a close friend at lunch I couldn’t help but think about all of the other things I had to do today. I still needed to write a paper for class, return several emails for work, and I had a meeting later that day I needed to prepare for. With all of this going through my head I missed the better part of what my friend was saying. Because of my preoccupation with what was to come I never truly enjoyed the moment I was in.
Much like Martha we often get caught up in the next moment. I am sure that Martha intended to sit and spend time with Jesus once preparations for his visit were complete, but she got wrapped up in everything else she needed to do. Jesus reminds her to live in the moment. If you are always looking to the future then you will never be present, in the present. The challenge becomes not to get caught up in the preparation for the next moment, while you are still in the midst of one. Enjoy being where you are while you are there, or like Martha you might miss out on spending time with your maker.
Prayers: Lord, today help me to notice the trees, the leaves, the grass, and the beauty of creation that surrounds me. Help me to enjoy each moment and to be aware in every moment of the opportunities to see, taste, touch, feel, and smell. In this time of preparation for your coming at Easter help me to truly enjoy each moment of my life. Amen
Christopher Vaughan ‘09
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Scripture: Be still, and know that I am God..–Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Weeks go by, the seasons change and semesters come and go. We lose teammates, we lose friends, and we lose colleagues for one reason or another. Graduation comes, new events happen and the energy of campus life never fails to find us. The source of that energy changes from student to student, class to class, assignment to assignment or even challenge to challenge. Nonetheless it exists and it can’t be ignored.
As we move forward, grasping for perfection, focused on meeting deadlines and simply trying to make it day by day, the only true consistency we seem to find is that change is inevitable. As the hurdles continue to find us as we run this race of life we must learn to accept that it’s in the “timeouts” and “water breaks” that we develop into who we are. It’s also through the process of reflection that we will learn from the changes taking place all around us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to realize that it’s not always about how fast we ran this week or if we were able to get our point across in the last meeting. Instead our courage should be found in how well we listened to others and our confidence in our ability to lead by example. These skills come from you and we can only grow stronger in these abilities when we sit still and trust in you. Amen.
Chris Lavan ‘06
Director of Global Engagement
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Scripture: Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 HCSB
One Man With Courage Makes a Majority. Andrew Jackson
As a basketball coach, athletics presents many daily challenges that can be related to most professions. One of the biggest I face is whether to just follow the norms of coaching or to step away from that norm and do something that is uncomfortable not only to me, but also to parts of my profession.
While I feel I am taking steps towards being a better person, better coach, and better mentor, I know that I have yet to do all that God has called me to do. You and I are no doubt similar in this regard. We are all “a work in progress” and continue to grow into what God wants from us and for us.
One thing that we all need to remember as we live in this crazy world, is that most situations we encounter are hard. And to get through the hard, we all need courage. As most of you reading this are believers of God and His son Jesus, then it is not just simple courage we need in our daily Christian walks. We need courage to live as the Book of Romans has commanded us to live, so that we are not “conformed to this age” and that we may “be transformed” in our daily walks and how we love and influence those that we impact. For how we love and influence, is the mark that we will leave on our age.
Prayer: Lord, we ask for personal understanding of what it means to be a Romans 12 Christian and appreciation for what Andrew Jackson said so simply that One man with courage makes a majority. Help us to have the courage to walk through life differently and let our Christian leadership make for a better majority. In your name we pray, Amen.
Men's Head Basketball Coach / Assistant Athletic Director
Monday, March 12, 2012
Scripture: fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I ran across this scripture a week or so ago, and thought, man that’s really intense. The more I think about it, it relates to my everyday life. God wonderful and abundantly fills our lives with those “small” things such as a hug, sunshine, a friend, a smile...
I’m not taking a lot of hours, but the classes all require at least two hours or more of daily dedication. Along with one hour for each ensemble and lesson work, and work-study, I find myself this semester busier than ever and more locked up in my own personal world with little to no interaction with my friends and family. I sometimes just feel extremely suffocated; like I’m at my wits end.
Then God comes, in my private conversations with him at night I know He hears my “answering machine” prayers I say. Like the women's retreat I recently partook on, I didn’t know, or even understand why I had this nagging feeling that I should go no matter what the circumstance. I did, and I do not regret a single moment of it. He pulled me away form my schools work, away from everything that could have possibly stressed me out that whole entire weekend and put me in a place surrounded by his quiet whispers.
He has always done that. When I just feel like everything is going to fall apart and I’m at the stage of an emotional breakdown from it all He finds a way to lift my chin up and give me strength. It doesn’t have to be something big like a retreat, it can be one small message, a hug from a person, a call from my little sister, or even a text from my best friend who’s miles away.
I owe so much more gratitude to God than what I give him, but even in my darkest hour, that moment where I’m just unable to even think of anything else other than what needs to get done, He provides me strength.
For those that believe God doesn’t hear you that he is not connected to you, doesn’t see your suffering, your stress take a look around. As a college student it is sometim