Thursday, March 10, 2011


A Lenten Prayer

The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me.


Henri Nouwen

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Clergy flameout is not necessary and may be preventable

By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service
SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) -- Twenty-four hours after a snowstorm in Teays Valley, WV, I walked out to the highway to pick up the Saturday morning Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper, the largest in the state.

Back at the kitchen table and a cup of hot chocolate, I opened the paper to a well-written story by Ron Orozco of McClatchy Newspapers, "Churches confront issue of 'clergy burnout'."

Orozco's thought-provoking story centered around Fresno, CA, one of my favorite areas in the United States.

There are negatives, but many positives as well. I do not know of anything burning out that was not at one time on fire and burning brightly. I will consider those of the clergy family.

Clergypersons are the spiritual leaders, ministers, preachers, teachers and shepherds. Paul wrote to the faithful in Ephesus, "And He gave some apostles . . . and some pastors and teachers" (Ephesians 4:11). The Bible also refers to them as "Ambassadors for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:20).

To "burn out" means, we can safely assume, that something or a person was once on fire.

A man or woman senses their "call to the ministry" with the deep conviction that this "is what God wants me to do." After some years of preparation, whether it be little or as it is more often in our day, involving a bachelor's degree and then a graduate degree of 45-90 semester hours of graduate study -- the day of ordination may arrive.

How does this person of such tremendous possibilities "flameout" or "burnout" after years in the ministry? If I were the speaker for a pastor's conference or seminar for professional and business leaders, as I have been many times, here are a few things I would emphasize to prevent "burnout".

1. They may have heard too many sermons on the piety of "wearing out and not rusting out" in God's work. Sounds good, but may be a little on the stupid side of ministry.

2. Married clergy members who become distracted by those of the opposite sex are headed for disaster.

3. Successful clergy persons, like many narcissistic athletes and politicians, read too many of their own headlines.

4. They want to do things Jesus did not do. They want to be present before they are even called. Always being on the job 24-7 does not convey much more than an abundance of ignorance.

5. Churches and pastors should see to it that the pastor eats, sleeps, exercises, reads, studies, relaxes as is becoming to healthy and spiritual people. How about a "weigh-in" each month for the pastor? Deduct five dollars from the weekly check for every pound he is overweight?

6. Churches should be aware that it is much less expensive to keep a pastor healthy and functioning positively and successfully than it is to go through a church and leadership wreck. "Humpty Dumpty" falls are often beyond repair. All the superintendents and bishops cannot put it back together again.

7. Churches should make certain that pastors are on complete vacation with their families at least six weeks of each year. If a pastor's parents are living, send him home to Mom and Dad twice each year no matter how far away they live. A week with parents helps the "greatest preacher" among us get his feet back on the ground. He is still a little boy trying to grow up in their house. Putting your feet three times a day under Mom's table will do more than visiting the counselor's office or the psychiatrist's couch.

Samuel Butler defined a clergyman as "A human Sunday." A clergyman is also a human Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Pastors are human and they need lots of help from other humans so all can succeed and be faithful to the very end.


When God makes a covenant with us, God says: "I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me." In our society we don't speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say: "I will fulfill my part as long as you fulfill yours. When you don't live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine." Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms.

But God didn't make a contract with us; God made a covenant with us, and God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That's why marriage, friendship, life in community are all ways to give visibility to God's faithfulness in our lives together.

Henri Nouwen's Society


1) Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that you pull out when in trouble. It is a "steering wheel" that directs us in the right path throughout life.

2) Do you know why a car's windshield is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Because our past is not as important as our future. So, look ahead and move on.

3) Friendship is like a book. It takes few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.

4) All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it; it may not last forever. If going wrong, don't worry; it may not last long either.

5) Old friends are like gold! New friends are diamonds! If you get a diamond, don't forget the gold! Because to hold a diamond, you always need a base of gold!

6) Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles and says, "Relax, it's just a bend, not the end!"

7) When God solves your problems, you have faith in His abilities; when God doesn't solve your problems, He has faith in your abilities.

8) A blind person asked St. Anthony: "Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?" He replied: "Yes, losing your vision."

9) When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them; and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

10) Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles. It takes away today's peace.

--author unknown AllWorship

Thursday, March 3, 2011


There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.

Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.


Henri Nouwen Society