Sunday, 23 September 2012

Shaking my head

September 23, 2012

Warning: this is a bit of a rant.  It's political.  And "religious."  Etc.  You may not like it.   Anyway....

I am seriously shaking my head.

Reading all the "comments" to online news articles about the mid-East reactions to (apparently) the anti-Islamist film - and in particular to the $100,000 bounty offered by the Pakistani "Minister of Railways" ...

I'm just wondering...

Why are North Americans so surprised?  And shocked?  And outraged?

Do they seriously think that the film itself is the cause of the uprising (and the bounty-offer)?  Doesn't it seem a bit suspicious that the uprising started on the 9-11 date, when the film had been released long before?

Doesn't that film itself seem suspicious?  Apparently even the actors were tricked (perhaps).  Is the film itself possibly a planned act of terrorism (from people on our side of the pond, people who have their own agendas...), and of war... wrapped up in supposed "free speech."  If it is really free speech, why would the actors have to be tricked?  And why are the producers in hiding, if they really believe in it?  (And perhaps laughing with glee at how wildly successful it has been at getting such a response?)

Why are so many people talkng about how the Middle East is so "medieval" - unlike how we in North America are so "21st century... scientific ...  civilized ... democratic ... ad nauseum..."??  Are we blind about our own society?

If we're so awesome, why are our prisons so full, and our governments want to fill them more?  Why do so many of our citizens get through every day only with the help of "medications," both legal and illegal?  Why do we constantly have examples of corruption in our own governments at all levels?  Why do we still have so much racism?  Why do half or more of our democracy-loving citizens fail to vote?  Why do we have to fear letting our children play outdoors?  Why do we have to lock up everything all the time?  Why don't we get to know our neighbors?   Why do we have so many people in poverty?  Why do we have such a feeling of entitlement?

And why do we think our political and economic and religious and media (etc etc) systems are so superior and that everybody "out there" should be thrilled to make a 180 degree turn around and accept "our way"?  Especially when most of what they know about "our way" comes from living in the middle of wars we are waging supposedly for their good? (Of course not for oil, or power, or economic control...).  Oh yes, and from watching our movies and TV shows and news reports that all demonstrate what fine, moral, upright (dare I say "Christian"?) people we are in the west?

Why are people so horrified that Pakistan apparently allows one of their government ministers to make an offer like that -- in effect, out-front supporting assassination and terrorism -- when we know perfectly well that our western governments (and/or the economic and political power brokers that are behind much, if not most, of what the governments do) have always supported assassination and terrorism themselves, whenever it suits their purposes, whether it be through "secret" means like the CIA, or through so-called "just wars" that are always more about economic power and oil and whatever else suits the power-brokers at the particular moment?

And why are the commenters complaining about all the moderate Muslims who aren't standing up against the extremists/fanatics/terrorists?  As if the majority of us in the west stand up against the extremists/fanatics/terrorists in whatever societal groups we identify with?  (Not to mention that here in the west we are far less likely to lose our lives for so doing - so why don't we?)

Why do people lament about how ignorant and uneducated and poverty-stricken the majority of people in nations like Pakistan are -- and how wealthy the leaders are, and how their money must come from corruption or whatever -- and how "religion" is used by the powerful to keep themselves in power...  yet so many people in North America seem to be just as ignorant and uneducated, or at least apparently choose to blithely accept whatever they are fed by the media and government (oh yes, and by religion)?  And yes, by "science," too, and by "statistics" (egad!) and such ... doctored or dumbed-down to present whatever message those in power wish to inculcate at the present moment?  Are we really "more thoughtful citizens" than those poor, uneducated, ignorant people over there?  Especially since we have "21st century advantages" and "civilized democratic history" and all?

Why do we so easily forget the truths about our own political and religious past ... and ignore the truths of our present?  And why don't we see where that choice to forget ... and to ignore what is happening right under our very noses?  Do we really think that "radical Islamic threat infiltrating North America" would be so worrisome and powerful if we hadn't already abdicated our individual and societal responsibilities long ago, to dozens of equally dangerous threats that we don't even recognize?

Don't we realize that human beings who crave power will use whatever works for them?  Religion, political systems, science, media of all kinds, educational systems (or lack thereof), wars, terrorism, economic systems (no, capitalism is NOT "Christian" - nor is democracy nor free trade nor....), etc etc etc...

This is all nothing new.
This is human nature.

We can choose to rail against others.
Or we can open our eyes to see the truth about ourselves.  About all of us.  Humanity.

We can each choose to make small differences right where we are, that together will stand against those who would manipulate and destroy in order to attain and maintain power for themselves.

Or can we?
Will we even try?
(Some would say it's not worth it - or not possible)
(Others would deny we have any problems)
(Others would prefer to carry on the "them" blame game)
(And lots of us would prefer to just ignore the whole thing... as if ignoring will make it disappear...)
I mean, do we even care?

Do we even truly believe in what we say we believe?
Do I even truly believe in what I say I believe?
If I do, it will be enacted, worked out, lived out in my life every day.
Is that happening?
Do I really believe?
Am I making any difference at all?

And how many people would it take, I wonder, to reach "critical mass" to start to make a change?  And how long would we have to keep at it?  Could we ever relax and let go, confident things would stay the way we want them?  I doubt it.  People who really want power never give up.  What about people who want peace?  How much do they want it?  Are they willing to strive for it for the rest of their lives?  No matter what it costs?  (And yes, it costs.  Big time).

We know from human history that violence only breeds violence.  Violence is the road to power.

Violence is not the road to peace.
Are we really willing to turn the other cheek?  Carry the load the extra mile?  Hand out that cup of cold water?  Visit those in prison?  Share our food with the hungry until there no one is hungering (What would that involve?)?  Invite the homeless into our homes?  Joyfully suffer persecution for righteousness sake?
Give up our very life if it comes to that?

What does it really mean for me to follow Jesus?
What am I willing to sacrifice?
How far am I willing to follow?
Do I really, really truly believe in all that?
Do I even want to truly contemplate it?
Never mind actually live it ... for as long as it takes ...
As long as I live.
And willing to die.

Because if I'm not, then I'm part of the problem, aren't I?

(Shaking my head at myself right now...)

Sunday, 16 September 2012


September 16, 2012  (really!)

So thank You for that book, and what You showed me, through it, about faith...

How faith is not something we conjure (with great effort) from within ourselves... but comes out of our realization of our total helplessness (and sinfulness...) and our need for utter dependence upon You.

Only then can we cry out to You, "Help my unbelief" ... and allow You to provide that mustard seed that allows us the faith to turn to You with our supplications: earnestly, perseveringly ... "by prayer and fasting," yes?

And consecrated to Your work... not to our ideas, our efforts, our goals...

"...can alone avail to bring the Holy Spirit's aid in the battle against principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and wicked spirits in high places."

Oh!  And when we allow sadness, doubt, jealousy etc to take root in our hearts, we come into a state of darkness from which we cannot battle the enemy.  (We must be on guard to not become careless...  Carelessness leads to stumbling and unbelief and lack of faith and thus of God's power... right?)

It is faith that connects us with Heaven's strength... we must constantly realize our helpless unworthiness and cast ourselves on the compassion of the Saviour...  "Look not to self, but to Christ."

Okay, thank You.  That's clearer to me, now, for sure, than my past "understanding"...

Now... to act upon it.
What does it mean to understand my own weakness and cast myself at Your feet?
Is there a "method"?
Do I need to go through great difficulties and great emotions?
Have I ever been there - in truly seeking You, totally admitting and casting my weakness and unbelief at Your feet?
If I am asking that question... does it mean that the answer must be "no" ... or perhaps that I've become cold/ stone-hearted and careless... or that maybe I've known a little of it (though perhaps not in exactly the way portrayed in that passage) ... but You are calling me now to step out and go deeper with You ... into work of Yours which will require far more of Your strength than I've ever before dared think of, believe in, cry out for?

I find myself right now wanting more...

But still saying "Help my unbelief?" with a question mark... not with a desperate exclamation mark like that father in the story...

If You send along a circumstance that requires that depth of cry, am I ready to cry out to You that desperately?  I'm beginning to think I might be...

(But belief is acting, not just thinking....
Maybe it does take circumstances to find out ...  ?)

(It does seem that when things are going smoothly... or when I've had some kind of "mountain top" time...  or a prayer has been "answered" and I feel like I don't have to pray about it anymore ...  or even when "struggles" have seemed small enough that I probably can handle this myself, or at least mostly myself... that I get careless...)

(Another thing about "little struggles" is that I'm not "desperate enough" I guess...)

(But do I really want big struggles and attacks?)
(Is that You asking me that question?)

(It kind of seems like big struggles I obviously, totally can't handle seem to be about the only way I [might] let You really "get through to me" ... or let You give me the mustard seed of faith I need to believe You... which is where this started...)

(And if that's the case...
Yes.  I guess so.  Okay?)

(Am I sure?  No.  But how else can I know?  Why is it so easy for me to be careless and doubting... and so hesitant to really, really throw myself on You!!??)

Why is consecration so hard?

(Is it that hard for everyone?  Or am I especially hopeless... unbelieving...?)

(Whatever it takes...) (okay)

emotions and feelings

September 14, 2012 (almost caught up!)

Okay, so I again am struck by how little I seem to "emotionally" react to the story of the crucifixion.

I have heard it described (often graphically) over and over in sermons, books ... and the Bible...  I have seen it portrayed on film (The Passion of the Christ, Ben Hur, The Story of Jesus, etc)... sometimes extremely graphically.

I have seen others weep - and "fall to their face at the foot of the cross, repenting of their sins."

I've seen people run out of the theatre because they couldn't bear to watch any more...

I "know" that as followers of Jesus we are to "take up our cross daily and follow Him."  I understand that refers to daily "putting to death of self" ... and sometimes also to accepting persecution and even death.

BUT... I don't "feel" the whole "terror of the cross."  Does that mean I don't "get it"?  That I have never truly experienced or accepted or understood or known the cross - and the significance of Jesus' sacrifice?

Was it driven from me by repeated sermons and pictures and Bible stories from an early age so that I became number (or possibly put up walls? or possibly mainly saw it as "just another Bible story"?  or by the firmly taught belief that we as Protestants focus - proudly? - on the resurrection, which is why our churches feature "an empty cross" (while "those Catholics" keep Jesus hanging there, crucifying Him over and over, and never moving on to His resurrection power... and to grace... )???  oh dear.

Am I just stubborn and don't want to "take up my cross daily," don't want to "suffer," don't want to "stand up and be labeled a holy roller" (yep, that traumatic episode on the first day of grade eight still shaking me up...)?  Have I bought into the "just say the sinner's prayer and you're saved and will go to heaven" message that seems to pretty much ignore the real sacrifice involved - by Jesus on the cross... and then by His disciples for the rest of their lives....?

Or am I just not as emotional as some people?  (Or maybe brought up to avoid "emotionalism" ... though we'd get "doses" of it every year at Bible camp and sometimes from "evangelists" coming into town for a week or two of "special meetings.") 

I guess what I'm asking, Lord, is if my lack of emotional, heart-broken, "throwing myself at the foot of the cross" reaction to "the cross" is a problem?  Does it mean I'm not truly following You?  Or even that I really don't understand (maybe even haven't truly accepted and followed) You? and Your gospel?

... later ...

I just realized something ... there have been times when I have wept at the realization of my sin and inadequacy and pride etc ... and at the realization of what the cross really was about ... but those times were (mainly) in "corporate" settings (with others of Your church), rather than in my "personal devotions" or whatever.

Which I have wondered about, sometimes, about if I was just giving into "group hysteria" or something.

But I think it was more that that.  We are called to spiritual life together, as You Yourself set the example, Jesus.  And as the records of the early church illustrate repeatedly. 

There are times when we reach out to You individually.  But we are, by Bible example it seems to me, called to seeking and knowing You together.

It seems like in our society, which prizes "rugged individualism," we've made our walk with You as totally "personal" as possible.  And maybe we're missing out on some things because of it.

(Of course, maybe I'm also afraid of being seen as a "fanatic")  (and then there's tradition ...)  (and fear of Your Spirit ... as if maybe You'll turn out to be a fanatic, too ...)

poor in spirit

August 12, 2012 (getting closer!)

"Blessed are the poor in spirit (not spiritually arrogant - margin) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 5:2)

I'm beginning to think people -- okay, me! -- can be "spiritually arrogant" not only by considering myself to be "super-righteous" or "super-religious" ... but also by priding myself on "questioning it all" and being scornful/ judgmental toward others who think they already know it all, toward others who seem to be happy to just accept other folks' interpretations without question, toward those who don't seem to worry or care about "spiritual things" much at all (be they "believers" or "unbelievers" or "agnostics" or whatever...)  :-(

I wonder if "poor" doesn't also mean "humble" - recognizing one's own lack of understanding - and one's own true inability to really understand at all without the total (!?!) direction  of Your Spirit ... ("please help me to understand better" vs "please reveal so I can understand at all" ... are You "the Revealer" ... or just a "helpful hint-er" to turn to when we find ourselves a bit puzzled?? oh dear...)

Anything else?

What about grateful and appreciative and respectful (okay, in total awe, truly worshiping, prostrated before You! for Your salvation, Presence, Spirit, Love, Truth ... all ... for being All in All .. for Being!)

All areas in which I have so, so, so far to go  :-(

Yes, being spiritually arrogant (in whatever way(s) that manifests itself) just puts up a big brick wall against any spiritual growth, development, relationship building.  Sure does.  I know that from my own personal arrogance.  (Sorry, Lord.  I've really only seen that very recently... how much of a "Pharisee" I am myself....)

So what now?  "Repent"?  ... but how?  What does that really mean?

"I'm sorry."

(I'm a good Canadian!  People make jokes about Canadians and how they are always apologizing.  Well, I'm for sure an apologizer... and hedger.  I mean, have you noticed all the "perhaps's" and "maybes" and similar hedging expressions in my writing?  "Keeping the peace."  "Not offending."  Being "reasonably tolerant"  (now isn't THAT a double-whamming hedging expression!!!).

(When my kids were teens, they'd get mad at me for my constant "I'm sorry"s everytime something happened that upset the family "peace."  They'd inform me that I really wasn't sorry...)

It seems that really being sorry demands a big change (total, turn-about, 180 degree type change).  It seems tears and "I'm sorry"s aren't enough.

So what IS repentance?  What does it mean?

Let's go back to John the Baptist's message for a minute.  What did he say?  Confess sins (really desire forgiveness!), be baptized, not just fleeing from the wrath to come but bearing good fruit here and now, sharing your extra tunic with someone who has none, same with food, not taking things by force, not falsely accusing (oops... does that include embellishing stories... and gossip...)...  yep, all major life changes for the people he was talking to....

And what happens without repentance?  Winnowing and threshing ... and the chaff burned up with unquenchable fire....

Poor in spirit?

If I want to be that, obviously my life will change.  My motivations will change.  I will turn away from my prideful, judgmental attitudes...  (I'll stop any kind of gossiping, too...) (Etc...)

But how?  Lord, please help me to see where I am NOT poor in spirit ...  Help me repent ...  Help me to depend totally on You instead of on my own self-reliance and "goodness" or whatever ...

(Do I really want all that?)
(I think so...  yes...)


"Confess your sins."
List them.  Individually.  So you really see them ... and their impact.
And do it every day.
Keep your eyes, ears, heart open to see yourself... as others see.  As God sees.  (Yes, God "sees you through Jesus" and you are "no longer under condemnation" on the basis of Jesus' salvation) ... but now go on to LIVE in that ...  live as Jesus lives, live as/who you now ARE.  Be grateful, be joyful (surely you have reason to be!)...  Flee from the life of arrogance and pride you've been rescued - saved - from.  Why would you even want to stay there?  Don't!  Move on into the life Jesus has provided for you!

If you don't want to live Jesus' life ... if you "can't" ... have you really repented after all?  Do you truly believe?  Do you really "get" the wonder and awe of the gospel, of what Jesus has done for you?  Really?



September 10, 2010 (catching up again, yes)

I decided to do Sunday Sabbaths (no, I don't mean religious days; I mean days of rest ... and Sunday works well, because I have to "go to work" Monday to Friday, and often need to help family or do other things like that on Saturdays.  So Sunday made sense from the "resting" viewpoint).

But I kind of forgot what that can mean if I don't get everything done (chiefly tutoring preps, editing, and other "work-related" stuff due Monday morning, you know) by Saturday evening.  So I wasn't feeling well on Saturday ... spent time sleeping, not able to focus well, etc ... but maybe also focused on some things that could have been done later...

I guess I wanted my Sabbath days to be "holy" in that I'm doing this because You set the example by resting (I wonder what You really did that day?  Took an extra long stroll in the garden, just enjoying the new creation and its "good"-ness?  Or?)  Anyway, I was pretty sure that the time I spent yesterday at the "church gathering" and the journaling/ Bible time with You ... maybe that nice little stroll in the park too? ... might "qualify" ...

(Did I really think that???)

... but did watching a movie with my hubby in the morning fit it?  (a kind of violent kung-fooey sort of movie actually)  (but it did make him happy to have me sit with him sharing in something he enjoys...)...

... and what about the time I spent looking at facebook (which I intended NOT to do on my "Sabbaths"!) ...  well, I did post a link to a couple articles on "grace" ... in a slightly hesitant manner, I must admit ... oh boy, why am I so scared about posting things I find interesting .... I guess I just don't like all those pictures and posters people put up that have "religious" sayings splashed over them... though I do like -- and admire -- when people post up their own thoughts, and links to actually thoughtful blog posts and stuff.  Especially when posting those thoughts are going to make some people mad, even though the posts are thoughtful and gently worded and all. 

(LOL When I want to "stir the pot" a bit, or just want to say something I'm kind of afraid some folks won't like, I generally do it here!  Why?  Because almost no one reads it?  While I have like 700 "friends" on facebook?  ha!  One day, I was shocked to see that almost a hundred people read one of my blog posts ...  probably more than my fb statuses even with all my friends.  Oh my.)

Anyway, why am I so scared?
Am I "ashamed of You"?
Old habits die hard?

I wonder how many of my "friends" on facebook even know I'm following You?  (And if they don't, am I not really following You after all?)  :-(

carrying bricks

September 7, 2012 (yes, still typing a week later...)

On facebook, I read:

If you carry bricks from your past relationships to the new one, you will build the same house.  The bricks consist of fear, jealousy, control, anger, doubt, lack of trust.
Leave the bricks behind!
(Xylang Jaad Xyla's status)

Do I do this in my relationship with You?  :-(
And with others?  :-(
I mean about carrying the bricks from the past with me?

Please help me leave those bricks behind.

do methods help

7 September 2012 (yes, yes, a week ago)

So I was "studying" Matthew 4.  And I only got half way through, when the "plan" was the whole chapter.  And I found myself asking, "Can I stop half way through the chapter, and pick up the rest later?"

I DON'T "HAVE TO" ... or "SHOULD" ... follow a set plan or method ... or make a "habit" of "devotions" or whatever.  Do I?  (And yes, we talked about this at the gathering this morning, too).

I DO want to hear You, though.
All the time.
But I'm not a very good listener.
I want to be.
A "method" might be helpful....
    Or maybe not.

Maybe just practicing.  Listening...  Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling (?), tasting [you know, "taste and see..."] Your Presence...

Maybe there is something "sense-ual" about the Common Meal, the Eucharist, that makes it important for us (besides the "spiritual sense" ... and no, I wasn't referring to transsubstantion or whatever ... which I really don't know much about by the way)...
And about being out in nature...
And listening to and singing/ making music....
And about sharing a cup of cold water...

A kind of "physical knowing/ sensing" of You that we very flesh-ly creatures need?

"When you did it unto the least of these, You did it unto Me."

Enough.  For now.

gathering thoughts and word ponderings

September 9, 2012

(Yes, I am typing this a week later!)

Had a specially ... special ... gathering this morning.  The eating and visiting part just morphed so naturally into discussion about a lot of things...

especially grace ... (amazing... God!)
and what the "gospel" is really (grace, I'm thinking)

Yes, even the conversation was grace-ful :-)

And then I read a couple "grace" related blog posts this afternoon  (here and here) ...

And just now I've been reading in Matthew 4.  I cannot get over how, despite a lifetime of reading and memorizing and listening to and studying and being taught/preached to about/from/in this Book, I seem to have missed most of what it's saying.  You know?

Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.  Oh.  Is that what we think of when we talk about being led by the Spirit?

Jesus became hungry after fasting 40 days and nights?  Really?  (It takes me about 40 minutes ... or just thinking about it :-( ...)

Jesus responded to the tempter's "If"s with "It is written"s:

"Man lives not only on bread ... but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."  (Who are we - who am I - listening to?  ... one of those things we were discussing this morning...)   (every word: sola scriptura?  or?  Spirit?  (Father, Jesus, through the Spirit?)  creation?  other believers?  truth (given through all kinds of sources, some totally unexpected and even seemingly unbelievable?)  or?

"You shall not put the Lord your God to the test"  (Was Jesus speaking only of his own response here?)  (Or perhaps Satan's actions/ words/ temptations too?  I mean, seeing as He was/is Satan's Creator and God ... and Lord ... whether Satan likes it or not...)  (or am I just nit-picking here?) :-(

(Do I put You to the test on a regular basis?  What does that mean?  How am I doing that?  Do I even know I'm doing that?  Yes, sometimes... )

(We talked at the gathering about how we beat ourselves up about things... about the rules and regulations we set up for ourselves ... about how it seems easier for us to have those checklists ...  about how so many things, in themselves, aren't good or bad - but it's what we do with them, where we take them, how we interpret them and use them ... and focus on them instead of on You..._

(Nothing "wrong" with a lot of the "church rules and regulations" and "doctrines" and "statements of faith" and ways we "traditionally worship" and such...  eyes closed when praying... kneeling...  set liturgies ...  that I've been running from - not really wrong - they can actually be good and helpful ... IF they point to, help me focus on, You ... but if I allow them to become the focus?  Oh dear...)

"You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only"
Why do I (we) find that so hard?
(We were talking a bit about who we listen to.  And someone suggested that if we are wondering where the voice we're hearing is coming from, maybe we need to pay attention because chances are, it isn't You)  (Unless, I suppose, we haven't listened to You for so long we don't recognize Your voice either...) :-(

Is that right?  I mean, someone else pointed out that if we have been born again, we have Your Spirit in us, so when we are wondering, maybe it's Your Spirit nudging us.
(Why is it Your voice is so small and still?  And gentle?) (Well, most of the time...)

(And whose other voices are we hearing?  The enemy and his forces?  Our "flesh"/ "old man" / "natural man" trying to come back to life/living? [I suspect those aren't exactly the same thing, in this context...?]  Our parents and teachers and churches and media and society and friends and education and... and... and...

And how do we pick out YOUR voice amid the din?)

(Someone pointed out that we aren't expected to figure it all out.  That listening to You is a process of "little bits at a time."  That You don't expect us to get it all figured out right away.)

(That maybe we aren't ever meant to get it all figured out).  (That's kind of a relief, isn't it?  And here I was thinking how safe and comfortable it feels to think we have have it all figured out.)

(We were talking, too, about how, in North America at least, in the past century or so, the church seems to have followed two main paths ... one of intellectual knowing/ doctrinal systems ... and one of emotional knowing ... and the two ways have seemed far apart ... and maybe each has seen its own "way" as the most "spiritual"...)

(But it seems like we forget that You are The Way).

(When You first left us... physically, You know...  Your followers said they were following The Way... which makes sense, since You are the Way - and the Truth and the Life) (Following You.  Accepting and living in Your grace.  Loving God and loving others because that is Your Way.  Because that is Who You Are, right?!)  (I feel as though my understanding is so small.  I have such a hard time expressing in words the very small amount I know... or at least think I know...)

(Maybe it IS "easier" to be able to just memorize and repeat a "system").

(But it does seem to me that even then it isn't easy.  Because there are so many unexpected circumstances and questions that the system - however many subpoints it contains - doesn't seem to have a ready answer for.

What?  Oh yes...  "Love covers a multitude of sins."
That certainly does seem to be a lot more comprehensive.
And, oh my!  A lot more demanding!
And yes, a LOT more grace-full.

"Angels came and ministered to Jesus."
(Do angels come and minister to us when we've been going through temptations? 
What if we have screwed up and given in?
There's a song that says, "Even if you do it wrong and miss the joy I've planned, no matter what may happen, child, I'll never let go of your hand."
Is that true?  I mean, missing the joy?  Is there hope for more joy down the road?
And do ministering angels bring comfort and healing ... and joy?  Or is the joy from You alone?
(Angels ... well, there's an area I sure don't know much about.  Just enough to know they are real (from some experiences I've had) ... and that they care ... and help...
But maybe I'm pretty "leery" of some thing "popular culture - "Christian" or otherwise - attributes to them).

Saturday, 8 September 2012

make-up and girly-girls and tom-boys

September 7, 2012

(Yes, this is a bit of a rabbit trail.  But maybe not so much as it sounds).

Yesterday on facebook there was a discussion by some young women about allowing 2 year olds to wear nail polish ... especially little girly-girls who love all things frilly and pretty.

And while these young women came to the conclusion that it was pretty much just a "cute" thing, and probably okay, they weren't (generally) so sure about letting young girls, even girls in their early teens, wear make-up in attempts to make themselves look like ... adult women? or something worse?

It seems that a certain mom of some of them (who shall remain unnamed, ahem) had not taught them about wearing make-up - or anything girly for that matter - even in their teens.  Which apparently had caused some of them to become tom-boys or some such.

Anyway, I had to laugh.  Sort of.  Because how was this mom supposed to teach her daughters what she'd never been taught?  See, this mom had a couple problems.  For one, in her own teen years the "hippies ruled the earth," and looking natural was cool.  Second, and probably more to the point, she had been brought up in a social group (aka church/ denomination) that frowned deeply upon make-up as a mortal sin, in the same general category as smoking, drinking, going to the movies, playing cards, swimming on Sundays, wearing skirt lengths above one's knees, and missing church services for any reason other than being deathly ill.  (It was no doubt a fortunate crossing of fates that one could, at that point in societal history, be both hippy cool, and religiously square, at least in the make-up department, at the same time).

Deeply seared into this mom's memory is an incident which happened in her 14th year.  In a moment of foolish rebellion, she had tremblingly dabbed the tiniest bit of blue eyeshadow in the crease of her eyelid.  And worse, she had dared to wear it to church.  Walking into the foyer, she was accosted by a "sister" who no doubt considered herself the keeper of young women's morals (she was also the women's matron at the local jail).  Marching up to the rebellious youngster, this noble woman grabbed her by the elbow and dragged her downstairs to the ladies room.  There she proceeded to treat the girl to a protracted and loud speech about the evils of make-up, and how by wearing it, she was turning herself into a hussy, and was on a one-way road to ending up on the streets, and ultimately in jail with the prostitutes with whom this matron regularly dealt.  When the terrified young rebel showed sufficient sign of repentance, weeping many tears, she was allowed to go to the sanctuary and join the rest of the congregation.

At any rate, this mom has never done very well with make-up, or even nail-polish.  She actually dabbled with it for a time when her children were young, and the family desperately needed extra income.  No, she wasn't trying to attract men!  She had become an AVON representative, and her supervisor had suggested she should be "modeling" the product line.  But every time this mom put the make-up and/or nail-polish on, and looked in the mirror, what she saw peering back at her was the "burned out jack-o'-lantern" she'd been warned about over and over in her growing up years, via an LP record for "Christian teens."  (The same record had also informed her that she'd "smell like a Camel" if she smoked, among a number of other similar dire warnings). 

Thus she seems to have grown up rather tom-boyish herself, disdainful (and perhaps a little fearful) of "prissiness," and has unwittingly passed on her lack of feminine skills to her daughters.  She simply does not know how to be "girly" herself.  And, I suspect, she might not have become very girly even if she had been taught how, seeing as she's always been rather tom-boyish at heart.  Witness the fact that, well after reaching a half-century of maturity, she's still happily jumping off bridges into rivers and engaging in other rather unwomanly activities.

It also does seem that somehow her daughters, despite their unfortunate lack of training, have, somewhere along the line, learned to apply makeup in a most attractive manner - and the fact that they are naturally beautiful girls doesn't hurt!  Perhaps they need to give their dear old mom some lessons.  If she can get over her fear.  And her natural tom-boyishness.  You think?

being a disciple

September 6, 2012

We use the term glibly, I think.

We say, "Oh I am going to disciple that person.  I'm going to meet with them once a week, and we're going to do a real indepth Bible Study for an hour.  We're going to work our way through this great devotional workbook.  It will be awesome!"

But was that the life of Jesus' disciples?  Was that what it meant (still means) to follow a rabbi?  Being with that teacher 24-7-365.  And being with the other disciples 24-7-365 too.  Going where he goes (everywhere).  Doing what he does (everything).  Learning what he teaches (all of it) and putting it into practice.  24-7-365.

I've been thinking I really want to be one of Jesus' disciples. 

But.  I'm already finding it's not as easy as it sounds.  10:55 am and already today I've been screwing up on things He teaches, the way He lives.  Things and ways I was pretty sure I knew.

I'm realizing how very little I really do know. 

It's one thing to be able to answer "trivia questions"  (always been good at that)...

But quite another to apply His principles ... even His direct commands ... to even the simplest everyday life situations.

Okay, here's an example of something that I'm struggling with.

On one hand, I get offended, get my back up, when people suggest that I'm being "co-dependent" with the street people when I go out and feed them without question...  that I'm supporting their bad habits and laziness... that I'm giving them a good excuse to keep living "that lifestyle" ... that I should be "preaching the gospel" everytime I hand out a sandwich or a cup of coffee....

On the other hand, I find myself being a hypocrite ... or something like that...  I invite a family to my home for a meal, and some of the family don't come (for some reason... they don't explain... but I find myself surmising that they've chosen drinking instead - or they'd rather stay home and play video games - or some other "excuse" as I imagine it to be).  I find myself feeling offended when the ones who do come want to take home food to the ones who clearly (in my befuddled opinion) don't value my friendship and hospitality enough to come to my home (especially when it happens repeatedly).

What to do?
What would Jesus do?

How far does "giving a glass of cold water in Your name" go, Lord?  What about the whole "co-dependency" thing?

When Jesus fed the 5000+ ... and the 4000+ .... He fed all of them ... even though He undoubtedly knew that some were spies sent by the Pharisees and Scribes ... and that many others would desert Him the moment He made it clear He wasn't an earthly king out to rout the Romans.

It seems to me  that the ones Jesus did "stand up to" (and offend), when He did, were the ones who were already convinced they were "the righteous."

(And after writing all that down, and thinking about it ... why do I have this "but... but... but..." ringing in my head? And why does my heart ache?)

I'm also disappointed that just because I want to "go deeper" it sure doesn't mean others want to join me.  Last night several of us watched a short video together - about disciples - and right away after it was turned off, some little thing happened (can't even remember what, it was so inconsequential), and immediately people started on a train of "Ha! ha!  That reminds me of when...."  And on and on it went, rabbit trail chit-chat.  And when I tried to bring the conversation back to discipleship, people mostly hemmed and hawed (only one or two made any kind of serious comment) and everybody seemed pretty relieved when I gave up and dropped it.

Again.  What would You do, Jesus?
Am I just being self-centered? selfish? boring? irrelevant?

(We'd already had a good hour or two of food and friendly, miscellaneous conversation.  And they'd seemed happy to watch the video, and at the end said it was "so good."

But when I asked how can we really be disciples, really live like that?  and how can we disciple others if we're not really being disciples ourselves? ... well that seemed to be asking too much.

Am I asking too much?
Am I too serious?
Should I "enjoy the video" and leave it at that.

I imagine Jesus must have been disappointed (though not surprised...) when the crowds "ate and ran" ... happy to have their bellies filled ... but not their spirits? 

Oh dear.  Am I saying that about my friends?

(Ha!  It is sure enough true about me, myself, a lot of the time)
(But I'm not to judge others, right?)
(And is pointing out, encouraging the Jesus way, in a positive, "let's do it!" kind of way, the same in the end as judging?)
(How tolerant and politically correct - or not - are disciples supposed to be?!?!?)

Father? Jesus? Holy Spirit?
Dear God?

broken promise!

Yes, I know I promised that I was "caught up" with my postings of the past year - but just discovered one more, scrawled at 3 am, August 18, 2012, inside the back cover of my journal.  I have to admit, it is kind of "3 am-ish" ... but thought I'd share it anyway :-)

We are out of the rhythms (of nature, of creation) that God has created ... our rush, our seeking for success, our "self-reliance," our "independence" in our western society - our "progress" - our "urbanization and technology" ... are not God's way...

We have lost our sense of community with each other, our connection to the land and to creation.

We are driven to succeed and be responsible and "do right" (do lots of STUFF, keep the rules, be "righteous" ... in a Pharisaical way ...

And what does it result in?  Feelings of failure, guilt, hopelessness, depression, anger, blame-laying on others, insecurity, self-loathing, relationship destruction....

We must get back to God - to Jesus - centered - "trust and obey" Him - there's no onther way to be happy, content ... to be who we are meant to be - to be whole - shalom!

It's not just incidents in our own past we need healing from... it's the "beliefs," the "self-talk," the deceptions of the enemy (the false "righteousness" etc) that are passed down to us through generations... that are ingrained in us, that we really have believed, and that have affected our whole lives in all their aspects.

God help us! (we can't...)


Complex is beautiful.
Complicated is messing up.

It's action/ living/ relationships that we need...
Not just talking/ reading/ explaining/ info-giving

Love in action...
Living love.
Life and love are one.

God is Life, Breath, Spirit, Ruach.
God is Love.
God is Holy.
Love is Holy
Life is Holy.
Holy is God's love, God's live.


Remember that song?

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord...
we pray that our unity will one day be restored...

we will walk with each other...
side by side...
guard dignity, save pride...

walk with each other...
hand in hand...
and spread the news that
God is in our land

and they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Monday, 3 September 2012

okay, caught up!

3 September 2012

I'm caught up!
I promise.


God calls me friend?

(Written September 2, 2012, in my journal)

The grass is so green.
The clouds are so cottony-fluff against their pale late-summer clear blueness.
The breeze is so gentle.
The creation is indeed good.  Your creation.  Good. Because You are.  Good.

The song on now: "I am a friend of God.  He calls me friend."
That is so amazing.  Hard to comprehend.

"What a friend we have in Jesus" ... that's hard enough for my little human heart and mind to really "get" in any real depth of meaningfulness and acceptance...
But me a friend of God?

"Amazing love, how can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"
Or call me friend!

glorify Your name?

(written September 2, 2012 in my journal)

"'Father, glorify Your name' (John 12:28), was the keynote of Christ's life, and if we follow Him this will be the keynote of our life." (p 435 The Desire of Ages)

Do I glorify Your name?
Or am I still mostly fixated on me?
More of the latter.
Every time I think I've taken another step closer to "arriving" You show me how much farther off I really am than I ever before imagined...

So anyway, I was just listening to a song, "I want to be like my Jesus" ...
and the guy talks about what that looks like...
and I was just reading the "sermon on the mount" and wondering how I can possibly live up to that - or even if I really want to :-(
I'm afraid there's still a lot of "me" rising up ... dead, but still kicking?  Is that possible?  How does that work?
"Believe it! The 'old man' is dead - and the new you, the real you, the newborn you, is risen and alive in Jesus!"
(I guess maybe it's like B's marriage advice: start acting like it, even if you don't feel that way, and it will start to happen in reality.  Is that right?)
(What about depending on the Spirit?)
(But belief isn't belief unless it's action, isn't that right?)
(What about the people who "follow the rules" and are "good" and "pious"?)
How DO You decide who is "in" and who is "out"?
Or are You really "drawing ALL men unto Yourself?"

(Oh boy.  So much to learn about You.
Or is that, so much to knowing You ... a never ending process ... journey ... adventure...
(What IS "never-ending"?)

love in relationships... and goodness... and Truth...

(Written on September 2, 2012, in my journal)

Something that occurred to me this morning:

When one considers how  much difficulty we have in relationships with the one (or few) we love most (spouse, children, parents, dearest friends)... it really isn't surprising how much difficulty the church has in its relationships with one another ... and yes, with God (individually and corporately).

If God was not constantly present and active, there would be no hope... and no love (because no love means absence of God who is Love)...

There is good ... and some degree of love... in almost everyone (maybe even everyone?) and everything...

And in fact there is a great degree of good!  Far more than we "deserve" because God in His mercy does not withdraw His love.  Yes, we suffer the consequences of our (personal and corporate) choices... and in that sense we bring judgment upon ourselves.  Is that what "God's judgment" means?  Or is His judgment more direct and personal, straight from Him?  Or is it a combination?  Is God's love and mercy greater than His judgment - or is His judgment an aspect of His love and mercy - calling us to turn to Him, saving us from ourselves, warning us ... somewhat as parents discipline their children "for their own good"?

You are Truth.  I do want to walk as Jesus walked.  In truth.  (Okay, well at least some of the time.  I know I have a long way to go in that department).
So You are Truth.
Yes. Focus on You.
The "details" will sort themselves out ... somewhere in eternity ... though I'm pretty sure we'll never "arrive" at understanding all about God.  Being creatures, after all.  And not God.  Creator.)
(Still, it will be pretty awesome to "see You face to face" ...)
No fear there!  (Well, I am pretty convinced of Your love and mercy and forgiveness and goodness, anyway.  Most of the time!) (Yikes!)
Everytime I think I'm convinced, or think I've got things figured out, You toss in a whole other set of circumstances/ questions.  It's an adventure, all right.
Overall, I'm good for the adventure.  Though I sometimes get scared/ puzzled in the middle of it.  But that's okay.  Good, even.  :-)


(Written September 2, 2012, in my journal)

Thank You, Father, for the great conversation at the gathering of Your church, Your family, this morning, out on the deck in the late summer sunshine :-)  (And for the excellent food!)

What I was thinking about on the way home:
If hate is the absence of love...
If dark is the absence of light ...
If evil is the absence of good ...
If falsehood and lies are the absence of truth ...
If injustice is the absence of justice ...
and so on....
And if God is love and light and good and truth and justice (and so on)...
Then all those negative things are the absence of God
(which does fit in with sin being choosing independence from God, eh).

And also means God is real  [Does that follow ... or  does one have to assume God first?  Oh boy... logic...]... anyway, if God is real, then those things which are Him are reality...

And if all that is darkness and evil and absence of God, then they are also absence of reality ... which means (I think?) that they are a false reality, a chosen "reality" which in the long run can only exist as long as people choose it....

And when all people "bow the knee" and acknowledge God, then that non-real reality will cease to exist...

And all things will be renewed, brought back to the "good" they were created to be, the "good" that is God's image.

(Some people would say that eventually all things, all people, all creation, will be swallowed up into God Himself.  I remember a guy who was studying to be a rabbi trying to explain that to me a few years back.  And in a "spiritual" sense I suppose there is something to it.  But can I believe that God is going to uncreate - even destroy - His own "good creation"? )

an amazing mix of reading

(Written 2 September 2012 in my journal)

Thank You, Lord, for a most interesting - and illuminating, if sometimes puzzling and pondering and wondering and even a bit scary - set of reading materials the past month or two.

The Desire of Ages (Ellen White) - "old time" beliefs - wrapped in Your love
Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell) - new perspectives on old-time beliefs - wrapped in Your love - in action!
Every Knee Shall Box (Thomas Allin & Mark Chamberlain (a newly dug-up old perspective - again with a big emphasis on Your love)

and an old acquaintance's postings on Facebook - interesting questions that shake me up ... yet also make me want to go deeper with You - and make me even more certain of Your reality and Your love!

And most recently - but not least - listening to old cassette tapes (especially one from the Vineyard and one of Don Francisco) - the former emphasizing heart love and worship; the latter emphasizing Your love in action.

We need to consider and converse about all of it, together - with You.  We are so liable to choose a narrow view of You and focus on that ... and end up not only losing sight of Your vastness beyond our comprehension, but also losing sight of You as we focus on "our viewpoint."

I've been thinking the past few months that You had to let me "lose" so many things - my parents, the church I was so involved in (and sadly, a lot of friends lost to some degree in that process), and then the "street ministry" group that took its place for a season, and a couple jobs, and my moving-to-Vancouver-Island dreams, and this summer, much of my savings for my travel dreams... and more.  Oh yes, and the loss for a time of my "mind," my old mental sharpness as I went through depression (and the suspicion I'll never get it all back).  And ongoing realization that my old youthful energy and strength (and smooth skin!) are also wrinkling away :-)

And, big time, loss of my confidence in "what I believe" ... and in the "emotional" aspects of my relationship with You.  Along with the loss of music from my heart and life.  And the loss of other creative endeavors I'd so much enjoyed - quilting, drawing... even writing.  Even my love of nature to a large extent - and/or opportunities to really get out into it.

Oh! And then there was Bible reading and study and prayer.  Where did those go?  How did they get so difficult?  Well, prayer was never "easy" for me ... but I was more or less "disciplined" about it, You know.  And I read the Bible through year after year after year.  But now ... well, occasional hit and miss would be more where I've been at for quite a while.

Lord, I feel kind of gutted.

Yet I believe it is a good thing!

Because when it is all taken away - I find You are still here with me!

And I'm finding it easier to hang on to You when the other things I've always trusted in are gone.  So their loss is turning out to be a gift.

(Still, I find myself constantly not trusting You.  Old habits die hard?  Or, perhaps, when all that other stuff isn't clutter the view anymore, I realize more and more how untrusting I am.  I am sorry, Lord.  Please help me. To trust. And yes, to believe in You ... which I suppose in many ways is just about the same thing, eh?)

I'm sure seeing "belief" from a different aspect/ perspective these days.  As simple action.  Day by day walking with You.  Keeping my heart open to see what You're doing, and listening to Your voice reminding and prompting me to love my neighbor every time, every moment You give me opportunity.  (Though I sure still miss picking up on - and responding to - those promptings...  And sometimes I hide because of fear.  And stuff like that).

Away back, I was all enthusiastic about "church as I knew it."

And then I went through some really traumatic stuff related to "church as I knew it" and I went way the other way - not wanting anything to do with it, thinking it would be awesome to just re-create the "church as it was in Acts" - and disappointed to not find that happening - and frustrated to see so many people still loving the way I had come pretty much to despise.

And that pretty much left me alone.

But You were still there.

And slowly I'm coming to see that it really is about You.
And You draw people to Your love in all kinds of ways.  Ways I'd never suspect or imagine.
And You love all of us.
And You want us to love each other.
Plain and simple.
With all our differences.
Just wrapped up together in Your love.  In You, who are Love - Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit ... God.  And all Your people, all Your creation, bringing us back into the oneness and unity You created us for - in You!

Thank You, Lord.

(Great mystery: God doesn't need us - at all - but He desires and loves us!  Wow.  We have such a limited concept of love - as we also have such a limited concept of God.)

when I was a child

(Written on 22 August 2012 in my journal)

I think for me, as a child, the Bible was stories (theoretically true, but still... stories) and lists of facts and lists and rules to follow...

I was a Bible "Reach for the Top" contest winner.  The only thing that would really "involve" me was "saying the sinner's prayer" (and when young, I really didn't see how that related to me since I knew - and mostly followed - the rules).

For me, "living" it was following the rules ... which as I grew, seemed more and more arbitrary - even unbiblical! - like no dancing, and no swimming on Sunday (did I also mention how negative the rules were?).

I enjoyed the feeling of "winning" (sword drills, memory contests, Christian Youth Crusaders and Pioneer girls top badges and top awards, etc etc), and enjoyed the sense of community/ social and "spiritual" (religious? I wonder?) "in-ness" and the summer camps and the missionary stories and the music and such...

but I couldn't seem to "get" whatever it was... that look in the eyes, that conviction in the voice, that tenderness and compassion (and humility - and even some "not-sureness" about every detail) in people like Grandpa and the Ts and my mom. 

I knew that for some people there was a "reality" I couldn't grasp... but I had no idea of how to get there... and maybe I just thought that somehow the rules would take me there eventually.  Maybe I was like Data on Star Trek, longing to be human (or in my case, longing to be connected somehow to God)... and having to just keep on living and experiencing, instead of trying to find it with a chip implant.

My view of the Bible - and Christianity - as a child, became, I think, an ingrained habit - yes, my belief!  But always I wondered about those few people for whom the Bible and God and Jesus and the Spirit were real!

I wonder what Sunday morning sermons were about when I was a child?  I heard hundreds, but I don't remember.  Though I do remember that evening services were all about "evangelistic" songs and sermons (and sometimes missionary presentations, which I still can picture quite vividly!).

I just didn't know there were any other dimensions that those that I had been taught....

stamped in gold beliefs

(Written 16 August 2012 in my journal)

I wonder - just because a "belief" was held by the "early church fathers" (or "the reformers" or whoever) - does that make it "stamped in gold" for all time, just exactly as they wrote down their thoughts about it?

Or the way the early church did things - like house gatherings (or catacomb gatherings, for that matter!)?   Do we hang onto that - exactly like they did it?

How far and wide dare we let our conversations go?  How big is God?  What is included in Him?  In what ways?  What happens, what does it mean, really, that someday evil will be destroyed, completely, and that You will finally (once again) be "All in all" (as if You ever stopped being that?  Did You? Could You?) 

(It seems to me that good and evil are so intertwined, tangled together in our world... how does one know when one ends and the other starts?   How can one pull apart the tangled strands to separate them?  Or does the whole thing have to be destroyed (like chemo kills good cells as well as cancerous cells...?)

See, that's something only YOU can figure out... and You have dealt with it by the death - and LIFE - and LOVE - and TRUTH - and, yes THE WAY - of Jesus.... but can we really sit down and write out a definitive, pat theology about that, that will stand as "ultimate truth" forever?

Which also reminds me about what the "Velvet Elvis" book says about "the Trinity."  A "doctrine" which "all truly Orthodox Christians" (why do we capitalize like that?  it is a way of saying we've got that concept all figured out, carved in stone forever? oh dear...) "accept and believe" ....

and which really wasn't "defined" in its "creedal form," so to speak, for a few hundred years after Christ. (And which a lot of people, including some otherwise pretty "Orthodox" Christians still wonder about, and struggle with, and beg You to reveal more clearly about ... me included, from time to time ... quite a lot... maybe pretty much all the time, even...)

And if it took the church that long to "figure it out," what does it say about the apostles?  About Jesus, even?  Who is more "right," the "Church councils" hundreds of years later - or the "hints" we get from the Bible?  Or is this yet another example of You slowly but surely revealing Yourself to mankind as You've been doing since the beginning?  And if, then, the "revelation" about "the Trinity" as expressed in the pages of the Bible is in some sense "incomplete," at what point can we say that we have "got it"?

Maybe we need to pay more heed, when we glibly say, "Well, it's a mystery."  Indeed.  And if so, maybe we need to be more careful about being so "sure we have it right."  And maybe we need to be a lot more open - and focused - on listening to You, reaching out to You ... growing in love, in relationship, in knowing You. 

Being awfully humble in Your Presence.  And viewing You - and everything to do with You (which is a lot, if You really are All in All, Creator, Alpha and Omega, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Saviour, Mighty Counselor, Good Shepherd... and on and on...) - with a great deal more awe - and wonder, and wondering - and much deeper longing and desire (You are the Desire of Ages, after all...) than we do.  At all.

Yes, Lord.

Thank You (head bowed, knees bent, laid out on my face before Your majesty...)

about love

(Written 16 August 2012 in my journal)

Lord? How does "feeling" fit in with everything?

Sometimes I wonder if "feeling" is one of the most shallow aspects of "love" as we see/ experience it humanly.  Yet we clamour for it, and if we don't "feel it" we think that love is "gone."

But maybe "feelings" are only the "wrapping paper" - and quite possibly pretty cheap, gaudy paper at best - and the real thing, real love, is to be found deep inside by peeling away layer after layer of wrapping and stuffing ... kind of like that "hot potato" game we played as kids ... 

Hints of the real thing, the gift itself, YOUR LOVE - keep coming through as we "sense" weight, sound, scents, and so on... but we have to stick to the game, live through both excitement and disappointment and new hope and dashed hopes and sometimes little "minor" gifts tucked in along the way, which we enjoy for the moment, but which we realize are just bits of encouragement along the way, meant to be enjoyed, and enjoyed best as we share them and pass them on to others; not to be held on to and hoarded and wept over if they break or slip out of our grasp....  because they are just shadows and inklings and preparation for the real gift that we are coming closer to ... And which in the end we will find forever in You.

You've given us relationships in life - family, spouses, friends - to learn us learn to keep moving deeper and never give up ... and wonderful (and difficult!) as those relationships can be, all of them - all true love - is ultimately wrapped up in You.  You are the goal.  The point.  You are Love.  That's.... awe-some.  wow.

I suddenly realized

(Written August 16, 2012 in my journal)

It suddenly occurred to me (Your voice, Father!  Thank You!) ... anyway, it realized there isn't a single book (and right now I'm focusing on "Christian books" but it holds will all human-written books) that doesn't have something I wonder about or question or have my current understandings/ perspectives challenged in some way, or have "my understanding" broadened or firmed up... or shaken up... or whatever.

I believe the "Velvet Elvis" book is right when it talks about how our understanding of our faith is always growing, deepening, developing - and sometimes changing quite radically - as You reveal more of Yourself to Your various children - and yes, as they toss "their" ideas into the mix, too - and the conversation grows and develops, and as we remember to open ourselves to hear Your voice and direction in the midst of our conversation... which is ultimately Your conversation ... revealing Yourself to us ...

And revealing our selves too, in the process, if we're willing to see "us," in truth.  Ultimately to mae us more like You, to draw us back into...

Well, it's a funny thing... I don't feel it is wrong to ask questions about what is in the Bible (though sometimes I get "guilty feelings" about questioning "interpretations" I've accepted - or others accept ), because, I suppose, deep inside I know that it is a book of such deep spiritual truth (Your truth) (Your living word... You revealed in our thoughts and words, maybe?) that no matter how often I dig into it, I'm never going to "get it all," and things I thought I'd "got" are going to be seen as only a beginning, or maybe as a "view from a distance" - or maybe even wrong.

But that all just makes me want to keep exploring, keep learning, keep digging, keep questioning... in order to know You more and more and more - to Your honour and glory!" - which I'm slowly but surely coming to realize is the "point" of it all - of life - anyway.  Because YOU ARE it.  The point.  The only I AM.  And my existence, the existence of all life, makes no sense unless it can be bound together with the Source, the All-in-All, the LIFE - You!

And oh! Thank You! for providing Jesus so we can start to get back to that point.  (Awe - quiet, deep - not so much "wow" ... I used to "wow!" a lot ... but now it seems, after a time of almost no "feeling," that maybe a deep "awe" is slipping in, filling up the cracks and crevices, seeping towards my core ... even as my "intellect" doesn't seem to "get it" (or maybe even "want it"?). 

stripping away

(Written 13 August 2012 in my journal)

Okay! So...

I have the same feeling in my stomach that I had just before I stepped off the bridge over the river at the camp ground this summer (and Red Bridge in the past) -- and I just need to close my eyes, take a deep breath -- and step off....

What am I feeling like this about?

Basically, I haven't written for a long time.
No blogging.
No story writing.
Well, okay, a bit of email writing - and suggestions for other writers, etc.
It has felt like I have nothing to say.
(Or draw)
(Or sing. Or play).

But suddenly, I want to.

Maybe because I see God working in our lives.

Maybe because I have felt so lost - like God has been stripping away so much of ME ... I mean, of my SELF, my independence, my panic, my doctrinaire approach to Him... (even my travel money savings... Lord?).

I have found this whole "relationship with Jesus" thing so hard to step into... even to understand.  Like I just somehow "don't get it."

The "doctrinaire stuff" ... so many things I thought I "knew" ... and lately they've been challenged.  Challenged.  Well, Father, You know what things....

And then You send along this book... and suddenly, through the eyes, the words of this author, I'm seeing You... yes, comprehending! feeling! longing for! .. You in a whole new way...

Seeing YOU! in a whole new light.  "Facts" - even "doctrine" - I've "known" all my life...
and suddenly it seems to be alive - YOU seem to be alive!
And I want to be wrapped in, infused with, integrally part of, fully engulfed in and living in - Your life.  In You!

Why oh why has this always been such a problem for me?

Mom used to say how puzzled she always was at how I could "know" (intellectually) (I guess) so much about You...
and yet - somehow - not "get it" ... not "get" You...  :-(

Yes, there have been "moments" of sudden "illumination" - like when I read "The Shack" and suddenly understood that yes! You do really, really, truly love me!

And I do "love You" ... but still... I have felt so far away from You.
I have felt so ... flat.  Like I'm in this gray, 2D kind of place.
No emotion.  Or at least very little.  Momentary bits ... "surprised by joy" ... but so short lived...
Okay... no music.
(I'm even afraid of music, maybe?  I think...) (and art... and  color... and writing!!!)

But now...
I want MORE!
I want YOU!
I want what I saw when my Grandpa prayed...
and when my mom had tears rolling down her cheeks in church (and I was puzzled - and curious - and wondering)...
and the glow on the Ts' faces when they sang...
and Pastor B when he prayed and praised and preached!...
and other people I've met who...
who really know You!

I look at G and he seems so ... content.
He's interested in what people "believe" ... and I think he's really seeking Your truth...
but he doesn't seem to get "knotted up" about it like I do...
he just seems content to wait and listen
and hear Your voice, Your Spirit...
whenever You are ready to chat with him about it?
(is it irreverent to put it that way?)

I think I have a lot of fear.
I'm afraid to get it wrong.
Afraid to be punished if I do.
Afraid to disappoint... You, of course... but others, too
(but the funny thin is, as I just wrote that,
I suddenly realized that the ones whose opinions really "count" to me,
probably wouldn't be disappointed in me at all...
because they really do love me!
And so do You!
And if I'm still open to You, and longing for You, and reaching out to You...
no matter how weakly, slowly, "stupidly" ...
You are pleased... and happy!...
and so are they (if they even know, there with You)....

Tomorrow morning is Tuesday street breakfast.
Am I - are we - really "reaching out for You"?
I hope so.

Please help me to love You.
Really love You... (and to really love others too). (Please).

Thank You.

questions and sorrows and such

(Written on July 30, 2012 in my journal)

Yes, well over a month since I last wrote in my journal.
Of course I did writing for the PWAP newsletter.  And business emails and such.
But not real writing.
Not writing directed to - and listening to - You.

You know where I'm at, Father.
You know my questions (like that book about "Christian universalism" and such...)
You know my sorrows.
You know my wonderings.

You know I want to give everything over to You, and trust You, and take life one day - one moment, one step ... or even long waiting ... - at a time.
And You know how hard that is for me.

You know how I keep dabbling in things.  Like in that old poem:
As children bring their broken toys, With tears, for us to mend,
I brought my broken life to God, Because He was my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him, In peace, to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help With ways that were my own.
Finally I snatched it back and cried, "How could You be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "What could I do? You never did let go."

I'm sorry.  I'm afraid.  I'm hurt, too, and angry, probably.

Please, please, please help my family.

And forgive me for being such a failure ... as a daughter, as a wife, as a mother, as a grandma, as a teacher, as Your child.
I know You love me.
Do I turn from You sometimes?
But You at least know what's going on.
It's hard for me to not know.
But maybe it's for the best, too.  Maybe some things are better not to know.

And I can't fix everything.

(And my back hurts.  And I'm so tired.  And uncreative.  And don't even feel like reading anything that takes any thought... like Your word.)
(And everything I read lately just seems to go in one ear and out the other, anyway).

I am tired (and sad).
But not really discouraged.
Amazingly, I do believe You have it under control.

But I can't seem to just leave it and not think about it.
Because I am lonely.
And sad.
My heart hurts so much.


(Written on June 10, 2012 in my journal)

2 months later ... what happened?!?!  (Well I did produce 16 "Easy to Learn" booklets, and several brochures, and have started a new edition of my cookbook...)

Thank You, Lord, for reviving poetry in my heart (and in all of me!) through...
- K and her poetry unit - and her eyes being opened to poetry!
- M and her handwriting - copying R L Stevenson poems!
- K and her love of writing poetry
- C's encouraging words... and R's... and J's....
- and my own copy of that wonderful poetry book for children I was finally able to track down
- and Proverbs and Psalms (etc)
- and the "mystic" chapter in Generous Orthodoxy (and much of the rest of that book, too)
- and my "prayers and meditations" from way back when on my Pen and Paper Mama 2 website - and my poetry there, too!
- and the inspiration to decide to do a booklet (or 2 or 3) of my stuff
- and the longing You've given me to really write - with You! - again!

Wow! Thank You!

Did I just hear a smiling, "You're welcome!"?  Yep!  Thank You!  Praise Your Holy Name!


(Written 26 March 2012 in my journal)

10 days since I last wrote - but it feels like a lot more than that.

I have had the feeling that my "creativity" has evaporated.  I feel blocked to write - or even to sketch or make (or even listen to) music.  I don't even want to read.

I can do "what I have to" for preparing lessons etc - but there's no sense of freedom or flow or creativity.

And yes, I've not been trusting God!  I got in such a flap about our finances/ income - when, truthfully, God has completely faithfully met our needs all along! (Sorry, Lord).

Maybe some fear... what if hubby never is able to work regularly again?  What if I have to work more and more ... and don't have the strength?  And what if I have to give up my dreams of travel (and/or my little cabin by the ocean)?  What if... What if... What if....

Anyway, thank You for this past restful week.  Thank You for hubby being able to work 3 12 hour shifts.  Thank You for the sunshine that got me taking photos again.  And the nice little outing with L up on Munson Mountain.  And for the chance to knock lots of things off my to-do list.

Thank You for a good night sleep last night, with few dreams (and no upsetting ones).

Please, please help me to live in the moment with You.  Please, please help me abide in You.

Father God, dear Jesus, Holy Spirit - I love You!  Thank You so much for loving me, no matter what.  Good or bad!

contentment? holy discontentment?

(Written 16 March 2012 in my journal)

Opening my heart again to growing awareness of Your Presence.

Emphasis on the "growing."  Seems like maybe I got "content."  There is a good in contentment with our life, in general, but I think there is a "holy discontent" needed in our relationship with You, else we grow stagnant and self-righteous and/or fall into a kind of fatefulness.  I believe You place within us a never-ending "dissatisfaction" with our minutely human level of relationship with You ... we don't just "need You" but we need more and more and more of You.  We can never have "enough" of You, really and truly.  In an eternity of knowing You, there can never be "enough" - You are Creator, we are Your creatures... and Your vastness is unreachable, unsearchable - and yet in growing love relationship we cannot help but reach out for home - and in that is truly found joy!

(And yes, that applies to human relationships of love, also, does it not - for all love, true love, is from You and is of You: there is no true love that is not wrapped up in, conceived in, nurtured in, grown in You - whether we recognize it or not - for You are Love).  (A pretty strong argument for Your reality, I'd say!) :-)

feeling defensive

(Written February 10, 2012 in my journal)

Oh Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit - Dear God - I'm feeling guilty and sad - and defensive too, about what I read in the commentary on Luke about Jesus praying all night before choosing Your disciples, and how You are our example, and we should regularly pray all night....

Defensive especially (period!) ... like - when have I ever had the energy and opportunity to spend a whole night in prayer? (especially when I had kids at home...) - and what about the busiest times of my life, like when the kids were teens in Keremeos and I was raising them much of the time alone, while helping at church, orcharding, tutoring several students, etc etc etc - and yet I "faithfully" (and I really did do it out of devotion - and yes, love - to You, and a total belief that prayer is essential [in a truly positive sense] - every morning, early, for a good hour or two - all those prayers I wrote out and repeated day after day, as well as the new ones I added every day as needs occurred...

And Father, oh Father, what became of them?  Yes, I see answers in my childrens' lives for sure - though at the time it only seemed that things got worse and worse!  In retrospect, of course, I see that You work through the "worse and worse," but I sure didn't see it at all clearly at the time.

And what about my prayers for the community, and for the churches, and for the teen friends of my kids (so many of whom have already died tragic deaths, or whatever) (thank You that __ seems to be happy ... but oh, Lord - did You plan for him to follow You and be a might preacher? or was that just "my" hopes? or is it yet to come? or ? and what about his little sister who died alone in tragic circumstances? what about __?  what about? what about? what about all those prayers I thought You were leading me to pray?)

You do hear our prayers, of course.  Right?  Don't You?  And You answer.  Sometimes "yes" - but rarely, it seems to me, in the way we'd do it (thank goodness) - and usually with a "long wait" attached (I can see why some people believe "miracles" ended after the "apostolic age" ... ha!  I believe in miracles - and I've seen and experienced some instantaneous ones ... but "waiting" seems to be a lot more common (and, in the end, a lot more comprehensive, including healing/ perfecting in far more ways than the narrow way we were asking for - spiritual, emotional, physical, etc - and often eternal and perfect, when the illness or whatever leads to physical death but at the same time to joyful perfect eternity with You face to face!)

(What kind of "perfecting" could possibly come out of things like my mom's long struggle with dementia?  Other than the amazing joy she must have experienced coming out into the brightness and perfection of Your glory after the long darkness in her progressively failing body and mind?  Well, that in itself is something truly amazing and glorious, isn't it? And then what about how it has drawn others - like me - closer to You through the struggle?  But what about those who "turned away from her" because they "couldn't handle it"?)

(Yes, I know... I'll never know all that You have been doing behind the scenes... the beautiful tapestry You've been creating with all the broken and tangled threads of our lives ... the old hurts and pains in others' lives that You've been heaing through that time/ process, that I'll never know about, that I could never imagine... even the changes in me - I trust - that I can't see!)  (Remember The Shack!)

Wow, prayer is so much deeper - and necessary - than we can imagine!

And no, I wouldn't have "made it through" those Keremeos years without it - without that focused time early every morning.

And surely that same thing applies to me right now, right here, with You :-)

I do suspect that "all night in prayer" doesn't necessarily mean, for every person, a set time frame in the night-time hours.  I suspect it's more about seeking You, drawing to You, casting my cares and decisions and questions upon You, in whatever times and places - moment by moment - in whatever situations, You bring into our individual lives.

I suspect, too, that "fasting" and other "disciplines" are different for different ones of Your children ... I suspect it may even be dangerous to say "my way is the right way" or even that the superficial details of your life on earth, Jesus, are the exact ways we should follow - it's much more complex that simple rules and rituals, isn't it?  Much more individually (and corporately!) relational!

Even how Your church should be "set up."   It really isn't about the exact contents/ order/ liturgy/ etc of each gathering, but about the family relationship that is focused on and wrapped up in You, Lord!

thank You for loving me

(Written Feb 10, 2102 in my journal)

Thank You for loving me so much - totally undeservedly (PS I have a hard time saying that - my pride getting in the way) and really truly in total grace (ie nothing I can do can make You love me more or less... though justice must be served, and consequences of my actions/ thoughts/ attitudes must - usually? - occur - is that right?? oh boy.)  (Do justice and consequences negate Your love?  Obviously no - in fact, Your love is shown through those things, even as Your discipline helps me to repent and turn from evil, and grow in Your righteousness - and draw closer to You and experience/ live more closely/ fully in Your already-existing and unchangeable and perfect love!) (Much as parents discipline their children because they love them and care about their lives, present and future, right?!)


(Written February 9, 2012 in my journal)

I read this morning Lk 5:16 "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."

I've always tended to think of prayer as getting strength, guidance, healing, direction - but it occurs to me just now that maybe it's more about just being with You, in close fellowship, friendship, love, relationship ... directly in Your Presence, focusing on You, with You, seeing/ experiencing Your love, Your glory, Your greatness, Your care, Your truth, Your reality, Your closeness.... You! 

Jesus must have been so lonely for You, Father; his earthliness/ humanness had to be a kind of shock because our fleshly existence with all its business just to "survive," to make it day by day, does "drive a wedge" in some ways.  Our sense of Your Presence, our focus on You, is so easily distracted - by ourselves as well as by the demands of life and of others.  Jesus perhaps didn't have quite the same problem with his "human nature" as we do (or did he?), but He sure had the world and people and all their distractions.  In big ways, more than I've ever had, I'm sure.

asking questions at the gathering of Your church

(Written 30 January 2012 in my journal)

Yesterday I asked some of my questions at the church gathering.  Thank You - for the courage and situation to ask - and for the responses.  Lord, they all feel safe in You, secure in You ... and yet they all want more of You, and they are all to some degree "discontent."  I think with where they are, and struggling with how we live out being Christians, how we live out being Your church in the world without being caught up in religiosity, how we respond to Your love with love in return and don't get sidetracked with out very human drives to "make You happy" so we'll receive Your "approval" and receive - what?  What makes us happy, perhaps?  How do we even recognize when we're actually being self-serving (which is our "natural" state)?

Oh dear God, why is it so complicated?  Why is it so hard to be a Christian?  Is it because we are trying instead of trusting in and relying on You?  Are we working at it in our own strength?  Are we not being "contented"?

What is holy contentment? peace? rest? trust?  Where does "carrying one's cross" fit in?  Is that just about negative reactions from others, or does it include the daily tension/ struggles of living Your Holy Spirit infilled life in a world that is so full of much darkness and opposition?

Oh dear God, aren't we supposed to be like children to be in Your Kingdom?  What does that mean?  How does that work out?

Will there be a time when the enemy will be taken out, and the world will spend 1000 years living by the influence of Your Spirit?  And then what?  The enemy is loosed again for a little time, and we really do have Armageddon?  And final victory?  And - what? heaven?  (Why are there so many theories about all this? Is it really so important?  I mean, compared to just walking with You now?)

spare time and blank slates and such

(Written January 05, 2012 in my journal)

I am seeing that I "fritter" a lot of time.  Back in the day, when I was super busy with my big family - and before that, when I was in school/college and/or first teaching, and had deadlines and a heavy workload I had to accomplish - I made good use of my bits of spare time.  (Of course, I did have more energy then, too).

But now, when I have "spare time," I tend to twiddle it away - yes, partly I am tired ... but I have a hard time choosing.  Or settling down to fcous.  And I am way too easily distracted by fb, email, etc.  And by TV; even by radio at night.

Father, I want to "walk with You" ... and I have sometimes thought that means leaving my "spare time" open for You to fill.  But I'm wondering.  Maybe I should just move ahead and do things and let You work through/ with/ in/ along with those things?  Or does it work the other way around?

The trouble is, I guess, is that when I get wrapped up in things and focus on them, I have a hard time focusing on You, too.

It seems like my "depression" and/or "exhaustion" time kind of created a "blank slate" in a way.  Maybe that's a good thing, even a very good thing - from You!  Maybe it kind of took away some of my old (bad) habits, perspectives, etc.  But I feel kind of lost now.  Maybe it is a chance to be a little child again?  Kids don't have big schedules and try to "make good use" of their time, and worry about how faithfully/ fully they follow You.  They mostly just enjoy life, take things as they come - and love You and feel secure with You and enjoy Your Presence - like they do with their grandparents.

Hmmm.   "Independence" and "responsibility" and "maturity" aren't all they are cracked up to be - at least not the way we usually think of them.

defining priorities

(Written on December 12, 2011 in my journal)

It is time to define my priorities...  I think my focus now is tutoring, teaching, editing, blogging, and other writing ... in practical ways, not just researching (enough of that already!)

I also also want to be (first of all) an active part of Your church - and really be in relationship with You, of course, the primary step.  I don't know what that will entail, but You do.  I don't really know what my "gifts" are, and maybe that's a good thing, as I can just do whatever You bring to hand/heart to do.  I think You had to bring me through a time of "losing" my presuppositions (and even abilities and/or gifts) about my "place/role/position" in Your body/ church/ family.

more about choices

(Written on December 2, 2011 in my journal)

Matt 17:5 "...a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him.'"

So - it's You who speaks, right?  I'm just the "messenger."  The words, the message, are Yours - and of course You plant it and nourish it in peoples' hearts (as they allow You - and/or as You choose ... I have to admit I almost put a :-( referring to either option.  Oh dear.  I can accept (understand) that people often make wrong/evil choices... but I sure find it hard to accept (understand) that You would simply choose to reject many people outright - capriciously even, is how that seems to me.

Yes, I admit that it "doesn't seem fair" to me - and I admit also that my understanding and sense of fairness, and even of righteousness, is probably way too limited, as well as way too self-centered - because when I think about these things, almost always it is in terms of my kids!  But also, it just doesn't fit with either my knowledge and/or my experience of You as the God who is Love, and One who died to save the world so that "none would perish, but all would come to repentance."

(And no, I'm not a universalist.  I'm much too realistic about mankind - though I keep hoping) (for my kids and my grandkids and my kids-in-law, and their families and friends and all) (Maybe I'm a "realist" because I know I'm so hopeless myself....)


(Written December 2, 2011 in my journal)

Thank You for all the people You bring into my life.  Please give me boldness to proclaim Your gospel.  Yes, to live it - but to speak it too.

I feel as though I am wasting time :-(   It's not enough to just "do good things" is it?  Without the proclaiming of the Gospel, are the "good works" wasted?  I want to proclaim - but I seem not to know how.  I mean to look for "proclaimable moments" (like I watch for "teachable moments" in teaching and tutoring) but I seem to miss them, and/or clam up and/or bumble and stumble.

There was a time when I wanted to "get up and preach" - but it seems so, well, "churchy" ... and on the other hand, the idea of "street preaching" (since I spend a good deal of time on the street feeding the hungry and spending time with the street family) seems so "quaint" and "un-PC" - but maybe that's because, nowadays at least, it is usually done by "quaint" people - though I sure did enjoy listening to the "Pastor Micaiah" guy - despite his quaint pointy cowboy boots :-)

And Mrs. W was awesome to hear (despite her interesting little group of helpers and their squeeze-box and trumpet music)... man, she could really preach!  Better than her husband, IMHO.

But maybe it isn't about "better" or "worse" or even "quaint."  Maybe - okay, for sure! - it's really about obeying Your call and Your command, and about loving others and not wanting to see them lost, and about listening to and heeding Your voice through Your Spirit and proclaiming whatever words You give.

It just occurs to me that passersby probably think R and I are quite quaint, too, with our little outdoor breakfasts for the street people! LOL!

more on making choices

(Written on December 1, 2011 in my journal)

Father, how can people who grow up in totally messed up, screwed up environments, be expected to make "right choices" (spiritually), especially when the supposed purveyors of the "right choice" (like the government and churches and clergy and all who ran the residential schools) seem to have ultimately been the causes (or at least deeply complicit in) the mess?

It really does seem to me right now that, in practical terms, a lot - maybe a majority overall - of people don't have a real "choice."  But You said You came to save the "world." 

And so many other "buts" ... on both sides of the free choice/sovereignty issue ... which suggest that neither "side" holds the whole truth.

Am I right (a bit anyway) about that? Maybe? Father?


(Written December 1, 2011 in my journal)

G was telling me how he's struggling with the ideas of "free will" vs the "total sovereignty of God" - and also struggling with how the more extreme views on sovereignty can reconcile with what he now knows of You, from his relationship with You...  And how "open theism" almost offers a solution ... on the surface ... but not where it leads to.  (And he admits he'd no longer be acceptable as a "Baptist" minister!)

Boy oh boy.  Do I ever understand his questionings/ponderings.  I don't know the answers...  But I do know You are amazing, beyond our comprehension ... and as G said, You haven't told us everything.  Just what we need to walk in faith with You, I think.  I suspect that if we knew everything, in our fallen human state, we'd immediately turn to total intellectual "knowing" and completely desert YOU.  We do that too much, as it is, even with our little knowledge :-(

Speaking of intellectual knowing ... I think that when people create an interpretation based on one scripture, and then build a doctrinal system around it, they spend the rest of their time trying to cram other scriptures into that systems, instead of seeing how the different scriptures complement each other - or how they show short-comings in the proposed system.

"Systematic theology" - I guess its value depends primarily on whether one ultimately seeks for the truth of the theology (and is willing to dump it if it turns out to be wrong) - or if one ultimately seeks to "prove" the proposed system.  ??

Why is "discovering the truth" - as a clearly explainable system - so important to us?  ... to me? Yikes!

What if we're just going to go on and on and on?

(Written Nov 29, 2011 in my journal)

Just read Matthew 13 about Jesus' parable of the sower and the seeds and the various yields - and the wheat and the tares and other parables about the kingdom and about the end of the age.

And I feel sad, even hopeless, about my own fruitlessness - and unrighteousness.

And I continue (every day) to be so disturbed by the "full preterist" interpretation that guy presented in that book.  It feels so wrong to me.  And yet, what if it is right?  To be honest, I'm actually feeling scared to read the scriptures in case some of his more radical conclusions seem to work out there.

Father, are we humans actually destined to go on and on and on forever, messing up (destroying) this earth and each other?  Have You really already come and separated that righteous and unrighteous (which I can understand from an "outside of time" basis, yes) and now humans are just meant to keep reproducing ad infinitum, and the righteous of each generation will meet you after death (though of course live with You in them while in their earthly life)?

And what of the unrighteous?  What does death bring them?  And do they really have a choice? Do You actually close whose eyes and ears will be opened or closed? 

And how do we know if we are "the chosen" if that is the case? 

It seems pretty clear to me that membership in the kingdom - here on earth as well as eternally - is more than just "repeating the sinner's prayer" - though there is something comforting about that viewpoint I suppose - and though there is also something comforting about the "we are the chosen" viewpoint too - as long as you see yourself as chosen - or as having said the sinner's prayer - or as being a regular church attender - or whatever "gospel" one has been taught....

And yes, Father, what about devout Muslims, and non-Christian Jews, and people of other religions?  Especially those that know nothing of the gospel of Jesus?  Is that part of the whole "chosen-ness" thing?  Or do You indeed "judge the heart"?  Is it not possible that at least some of the people who love and worship "Allah" really are seeking - and following, walking with - You, as much as they have knowledge? 

Some of (okay, a lot of) what You say in the Bible, Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, seems to me to be hard.  People (some people) say, "Oh, it's all about love.  Jesus loves everyone.  He died for everyone.  Eventually everyone will come (be brought to) the Father." 

But You sure didn't say that.  I mean, it seems pretty clear that "the way is narrow and few there are who enter."  (I think...)  Honestly, Father, I could maybe handle that if people had a choice, but really, a lot of people apparently don't.  And yet, even the scriptures say that the creation around us tells us of You (but what about children born and brought up in concrete jungle slums, or picking a bare living in huge urban garbage dumps or... or... or...)?

Oh yes.  Evangelisze.  Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel.
And if we don't - oh dear.
Maybe it is we who make "the choice" for others.  Not just for ourselves.
Oh dear.