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Saturday, December 7, 2013

LISTEN TO THE QUIET



 
Psalm 65: 8
Those who live at the edge of the earth stand in awe of your wonders.  From where the sun sets to where the sun rises, you inspire shouts of joy!

I am blessed here where I live, near the West Shoreline of Florida.  I can look out from my lanai and see the splendor of the night sky running to greet me.  And when I awaken, the lazy morning sun pours down on me as I listen to the grass grow ~ and I know that all peace reigns in my corner of the world.



                                                          © 11/2013 Photo by John Sgarlata


Weeping willows dancing in sweet abandon

Against an azure sky

Tomorrow will wait...

An oriole visits my porch and speaks a song

Written just for me - This moment is sweet solitude

Raindrops slide down my cheek and

Hush whispers to the pond

Listen ... sweet silence


Quiet splendor

Only Jesus and sunshine ~ a cool breeze

At this moment ... Listen to the Quiet ...
He is everywhere.


A Word About Prayer:

There are two elements of prayer:
...where we speak to God
...where God speaks to us

We may feel that the most important aspect of prayer is letting God know what we need (the 'speaking part' of prayer).  He already knows.  He still wants us to ask:  asking demonstrates to Him that we love and trust Him to direct our way.  Listening for the still, small voice of God is exquisitely important.  It is the 'listening part' of prayer that offers the soul nourishment:  it is where God's Holy Spirit hovers over us and fills us with God's presence and peace.  It is there, in those quiet moments with the Lord that He draws us nearer to Himself and His embrace.
Carol A. Castagna  
© 11/2013 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hospitality As It Relates to Being a Christian


 


Hospitality As It Relates to Being a Christian :

     If one stops to think about it, hospitality is synonymous with one's 'heart for God.'  In some instances, hospitality may come in the form of a warm welcome for family we have not seen for months or years. We prepare a lovely table setting, with our best china, stemware, silverware, napkins, tablecloth and add a vase of colorful flowers to the table ~ to express our joy at their arrival.  In many ways,  it reflects the stories of the women in the Bible who prepared food and lodging for family, friends and strangers who traveled many miles from their homes. These women killed, skinned and prepared the animal for consumption:  theirs was not an easy task.  Today, our task is easier but the message is the same:  Welcome!

     In other ways hospitality speaks to what Jesus has taught us:  The first and most poignant one I am thinking of is:  "You shall love the Lord, thy God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind"...this is the first and greatest commandment.  Deuteronomy 6: 5 and Matthew 22: 37.  And the second is similar:  "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Leviticus 19: 18 and Matthew 22: 39.

     An example is that of the good Samaritan giving a cup of cold water to a stranger:  And Jesus said to him, "If you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me."...i.e., dressing wounds, comforting with words, listening to a friend's  grief, sharing joy in celebration.  The crowd did not undertand.  Jesus explained that our love, indeed, our expressions of love toward others is as if we are expressing our love to Him.

     In view of the previous verses, it would appear that hospitality is not limited to the home.  So, if hospitality does not refer only to welcoming people to our homes, what does it refer to?  I like to define hospitality as something that we as Christians bring with us wherever we go.  It is our unconditional acceptance of people, our willingness to listen, our welcoming embrace, our invitation to spend time together, our concern upon someone's loss, our joy upon someone's celebration ~ our concern and love.  Let me suggest that our home is probably the first place where our graciousness is seen, i.e., in the way we make someone feel welcome and at home which is an unfamiliar setting to them or the way our non-judgmental attitude speaks kindness. Our home could be considered an in-reach or an in-our-home reach.

     If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we are conveying hospitality in the finest and most intimate sense.  In other words, we bring hospitality or a sense of welcome, to the person ~where he is.  We meet people along the way, each day:  unaware of their particular circumstance, we greet them.  One may need an encouraging word from the Lord, through us.  One may need a warm embrace that says we care, that says that Jesus cares about him/her.  A child may need an understanding heart to calm his fears.  Mother Teresa considered every adult and child that she met, to be, in essence, Jesus.  In other words, each person took the form of Jesus.  She dressed the wounds of the sick and poor, as though she were ministering to someone who was equally as important as Jesus  . She gave a cup of cold water as though she were giving it to Jesus.  Hers is an amazing story:  she brought her love for Jesus to the people on the streets of Calcutta.   Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Mudderidge is the story of a journalist's interview with Mother Teresa.   At the age of 80, this journalist, who was an atheist, became a convert (to Catholicism) as a result of his observation  of  Mother Teresa's example of Christ by her gift of self to the homeless of Calcutta.  If our goal, as Christians is to reach the lost for Christ, perhaps, then, hospitality is synonymous with our out-reach or our (out-in-the-world/field-reach), as well as our in-(home) reach.  As Christians we often show that we have a heart for missions, the down-trodden in other countries, the poor without food and water, warm clothes, or medical resources. We are hospitable to these strangers, Good Samaritans to people abroad and in the United States.  The Lord blesses our offerings.  
     In our  little corner of the world, though, around the corner, next door, up the street, we can show the same heart for missions, heart for God, or hospitality.  The mission field or our hospitality track may be right in our own backyard.  
     In this regard, this is still our outreach but we are bringing people in our surrounding area in to our homes (in-home) reach, which kind of gives a warm and cozy, comfortable feel to our mission.  Ultimately, the in-home reach becomes an extension of our out-reach to people in our corner of the world.


May the Love of My Jesus Surround You
A Song for You


May the love of my Jesus surround you
His love encompass, enthrall ~ yes, abide with you
Open your heart and receive Him, today!
His arms are opened ~ He'll show you the way

May the joy of my Jesus be your joy
His joy, unceasing, far-reaching be your joy.
Reach out, He's calling, 
He loves you, today!

He'll give love, joy, love
You'll bring Him praise!

Carol A. Castagna
copyright 11/2013





A POEM OF THANKSGIVING: JOY COMES IN THE MORNING





 Cactus Plants on my Kitchen Bay Window
 
JOY COMES IN THE MORNING

A POEM OF THANKSGIVING
AND REJOICING IN HIS PROMISE
Lord, You have turned my mourning into dancing
My night into the sweet glow of
Moonlight
You’ve touched my life with the might of your
Healing hand
And comforted my soul in the desert
Lord, when I walked through briar and thistle you guided my way
And lifted me close to your heart to breathe your sweet
Presence
My soul sings your praise for directing me God-ward
And upward
I am content to look toward heaven and to know the
Strength of your promise
It is you, oh God, my Portion, my Redeemer, my Joy
Who breathes new life into each new day
Stay with me as I grow old and await your return.
carol a. castagna copyright October 2012
ISAIAH 55: 12 AND 13      
“FOR YE SHALL GO OUT WITH JOY, AND BE LED FORTH WITH PEACE; THE MOUNTAINS AND THE HILLS SHALL BREAK FORTH BEFORE YOU INTO SINGING AND ALL THE TREES OF
THE FIELD SHALL CLAP THEIR HANDS.
         INSTEAD OF THE THORN SHALL COME UP THE FIR TREE, AND INSTEAD OF THE BRIER SHALL   COME   UP THE MYRTLE TREE; AND IT SHALL BE TO THE LORD FOR A NAME, FOR AN EVERLASTING SIGN THAT SHALL NOT BE CUT OFF.