Thursday, 8 December 2016

Only God Never Fails

(journaled April 16, 2016)

"...on any venture of faith ... Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fears, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you." (Streams in the Desert, April 16)

I have not been able to "summon up" feelings of faith. I often have not been able to overcome my "reasoning," whether that means to believe in promises or to accept troubles or whatever. I have often been unable to "just stand on the promises of the Word of God."

But even in my darkest moments, I have known God is real, He's with me, and along the way, I realized He really does love me. I can trust Him to do what He knows is best--and let Him go ahead because I have finally learned (most of the time), that all my best reasonings and feelings and actions are short-sighted and based on narrow vision and erred perceptions, while He sees all and knows all and loves perfectly. I can trust Him. Period.

Sometimes (too often) it does seem to me that His "promises" fail ... but that's what comes of "standing on the promises" instead of standing on Him. He knows all. In the end, His promises do not fail. But in the short term, with my limited vision, they "appear" to have failed. He sees all and fits all together into His perfect will.

Oh, and thank goodness He doesn't always "answer my prayers" or respond to my "claims upon His promises" in the way I had hoped--because I am so often wrong. Yes, hindsight is 20-20, and I've lived long enough to understand how wrong I can be, even as I think I am "standing on the Word" or whatever. Only God never fails. Only He is perfect love, judge, light, bread--and yes, reason.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Trials are the Food of Faith

(journaled April 15, 2016)

"Trials are the food of faith. O let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children.
There is [also] the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost souls, the more ready we are to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us." --George Mueller

I find myself more and more willing (though I have very far to go) to "leave myself in God's hands"--to the point that in my prayers I don't want to specifically ask Him anything but "Your will be done." Even when I pray for others, it comes down to "Your will be done." I'm even getting to that point when it comes to the potential of getting dementia. Thank You, Lord, for increasing my faith (And thank You for the troubles that have got me here).

But on the other hand, for some little things I kind of panic and ask something specific, something I think would be the best way for things to go. But even so, I don't often panic the way I used to. Because when it comes down to it, I've become quite convinced--and comfortable and accepting--that God does love us and does know what He's doing, no matter how it looks to us.

I am more concerned about people who don't know Him well enough to feel that way themselves, because I've been there, and I know how doubts, and even anger, can build and come between a person and God.

But on the other hand, maybe that's good because it pushes away false expectations and does open the possibility of seeing God as He is rather than what we have pictured or wished Him to be. The new picture is far more complex and mysterious and hard to grasp, but oh, I have far more rest (faith) in Him now. Thank You, Lord.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


(journaled April 12, 2016)

"Extraordinary afflictions are ... sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces .... for the polishing of His jewels; and those He especially loves and means to make the most resplendent, He hath oftenest His tools upon." --Archbishop Leighton

I agree with the first half--up to "jewels"--but is it true God loves some more than others, and wants to make some more "resplendent" than others? I don't think so. I think He loves all his children, and indeed loves and longs and grieves for those who do not accept him as their Father. And I think he wants to make all his children resplendent, each in his or her own unique way as he has lovingly created them and guided them, to be a part of his body. Even, as the scripture says, we are to give extra honour to those parts that are hidden from sight. Every part has a vital role to play to keep the whole body united and healthy, and in God's plan and sight, all God's children are thus to be equally resplendent. If there is a dimming of resplendency, it is our own choice, not God's. And we are called to equally honour both those who are resplendent in the perspective of earthly viewpoints and also those who seem "less" in earthly terms. Each one has an equal seat of honour in the sight of God--and an equal portion of humility too: the least shall be greatest and the greatest shall be least.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Perfect Passivity

(journaled April 7, 2016)

"There is a perfect passivity which is ... a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety." (Streams in the Desert, April 7)

I have experienced both. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell which state I am in. I think, though, that over the past few years since my "great depression" You've been moving me out of the "compressed anxiety" which I forced upon myself to preserve myself, into the "living stillness" which is only from resting in You. A stillness which I cannot "psyche myself" into but which comes only from You as I finally start to "lay my burdens down" and "rest in You" and trust You. Bit by bit, moment by moment: it surely hasn't been an instantaneous experience for me. And I doubt it is really for anyone. I worry about stories where people say they "laid it all at the foot of the cross" and their burdens rolled away and everything has been lovely ever since. Maybe that happens for a few people, but is that really how we get to the depths--by one glorious momentary experience? I am pretty sure it's a journey....

Even after death, and resurrection to our new eternal life with God, will we know it all instantly, know Him totally in a moment, or will we be growing in Him for all eternity? God is so great, and we are only creatures. I think there'll still be so much growing into knowing Him to do. Forever. Well, that's what it seems like to me, anyway. Lord?

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Comfortable Words

(journaled April 7, 2016)

"Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him."

I have to admit I love the old-fashioned words and expressions in the old Anglican Common Prayer book. "Comfortable!" It does mean "comforting" but it's more than that--it has the sense of being with a beloved family member you are totally comfortable with and totally trust. And it even has a shade of meaning similar to how I feel about the cozy old blue chair ("my" chair!) that I'm curled up in right now, where I feel safe and warm, and have spent many happy hours reading and writing and visiting.

Anyway, some of Jesus' comfortable words: (and they truly are!):

"Come unto me all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." Matthew 11:25

"So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

And Paul's words:
"This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." I Tim 1:15 (My grandpa's favourite verse)

And John's words:
"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 2:1

Comfortable words indeed!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Disappointed Prayer

(journaled April 6, 2016)

"There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God, without watchful expectation on our part." -- C.H. Spurgeon

I know I don't "expect" enough: a lot of the time I don't really expect anything at all, do I?

So many prayers "unanswered" it seems--especially prayers for and by my children. It is not so hard for me to accept "later" or "no" or "different" (which I know from experience means "better") for my own prayers and needs ... but oh, Lord ... It has been hard to see my children disappointed in their prayers and trust in You.

And in their trust in me--so much so that I stopped, as much as possible, "making promises," knowing how little control I have over life's circumstances, not to mention my own weaknesses and forgetfulness and all. But I guess I assumed that when little children come to You, in faith, You would always take care of them, and answer "yes," simply and clearly and lovingly and all. "God answers prayers made in child-like faith." But I'm coming to realize that You don't always answer "yes" even to little children ... because You do love them, and You know what is best--just like I, as a mother, don't always answer "yes," because I know some things are not good for them.

And yes, I am glad that I can say, "Your will be done," because I've learned that my will is usually off track to some degree, no matter how "right" my thoughts seem to me. Though there are some people who say that praying "Your will be done" is a cop-out because I should be "storming heaven's gates" and "claiming God's promises to deliver on prayer requests" and such. But I do want Your will!

Lord, please overcome my children's disappointments (and yes, mine too), and help them learn to trust in You again. Help them to understand that You do know best. Please help them. And me.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Confession and Absolution

(Journaled April 6, 2016)

I think "confession" is something that way too many churches skip over during their gatherings. I think it is really helpful to include prayers of general confession (especially during communion services, but even generally), so people understand the necessity of repentance, and have an example or pattern of how to confess individually. And it does serve as an extra warning, too. It also reminds us of the awesomeness of God's forgiveness and mercy, when we contemplate the truth of our wickedness. I wonder if it gets skipped because it takes too much time, or is considered too "liturgical" or too "ritualistic" ... or perhaps there is a concern that such a confession is too "in your face" and might offend some people. If Communion is really so serious as scripture shows it to be, I think prayers of confession are really helpful, as in this prayer from a past edition of an Anglican prayer book:

"We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we from time to time most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

And then there is "absolution." Now maybe some people might think this is too "liturgical," but I think it is very comforting and assuring, especially for those who fear that they are too unworthy of God's forgiveness and love and acceptance.

"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Monday, 17 October 2016

Launch into the Deep

(journaled April 5, 2016)

Every day for the last few weeks I have been praying the "Launch out into the deep" prayer from Streams in the Desert for Feb 29.  And it is building a longing to dive, launch, access the "deep waters" of the Holy Spirit, the deep things of God, the deep of God's Word, of Jesus and His Atonement, of Father's will, of the Holy Spirit, of God's purposes and coming kingdom, of joy with Jesus and his glory.

"Into all these things, Jesus bids us launch. He made us and He made the deep, and to its fathomless depths He has fitted our longing and capabilities."

Yes, dear God, I do "this day claim afresh to be immersed and drenched in these waters of life." Please take me, meet me, fill me, overflow me. Please efface my self, till my eyes are turned and fixed only on my Lord and Savior God--Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Please. Amen. Thank You.

Please help me fully give up the shore.

Please clearly show me my own weakness and my need for You completely (and please help me overcome my fear of mankind's disapproval, and my fear of losing my control, and my fear of the pain through which I may well have to pass on this journey with You).

Please help me apprehend the possibilities of my life lived in the deeps with You: please give me your heavenly vision

Please show me what my needs really are. I can be--I am--so blind to my own weaknesses and shortcomings. Please show them to me--and give me Your vision of how all of them, each of them, can be, will be met in Your deeps.

Please, Holy Spirit, open up Your Word to its "crystal fathomless ... ocean meaning."

Please, Holy Spirit, illuminate "Christ's precious blood [so] it becomes an omnipotent balm, and food and medicine for the soul and body."

Please, Father, take me into the depths of Your will, until I "apprehend its infinite minuteness and goodness, and its far-sweeping provision and care for us."

Please take me "into the deep of the Holy Spirit, until be becomes a ... fathomless summer sea, in which ... we lose ourselves and our sorrows in the calmness and peace of his everlasting presence."

Please take me "into the deep of the Holy Spirit, until He becomes a bright, marvelous answer to prayer, the most careful and tender guidance, the most thoughtful anticipation of our need, the most accurate and supernatural shaping of our events."

Please take me "into the deep of God's purposes and coming kingdom, until the Lord's coming and His millennial reign are opened up to us," until my heart is overwhelmed "with inexpressible anticipation of its joy with Jesus and the glory to be revealed."

Oh dear God, dear Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit--into all these things You bid me launch--and today, now, this moment, I am climbing into Your boat and looking forward, asking You to cast off and take me with You into the deeps--no matter what it costs in worldly terms. Please calm my fears and help me place all my trust in You. In Jesus' name, Amen. Thank You, Lord.

Friday, 14 October 2016

God's plans prevail

"Cease meddling with God's plan and will. You touch anything of His, and you mar the work .... you may hurry the unfolding of God's will, but you harm and do not help the work.... Leave all to Him. Hands down. Thy will, not mine." --Stephen Merritt

Good advice as I work on my new business schedule and direction. "Many are the plans of a man, but God's purpose prevails!"

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

We need Your Hope

(journaled March 19, 2016)

March 19, 2016

Sometimes I feel so depressed. The world seems to get worse day by day, minute by minute. What is the matter with people? Why don't they think? Why don't they care about anything beyond their own happiness in the moment? Where is community? Where are lofty goals and ideals? Where is love--for God and for humanity?

And what is the point, I wonder, of all the stuff I've been studying? I want to help people succeed in their education, and in their writing and publishing. But what is "success"? I don't want to be one of those teachers who is just adding to the "self-affirmation" illness of our society. And illness it surely is; rot from deep inside; and encouraged by those in power who see the truth: that "entertaining the mob" is the way to keep them happy and in control--and empty, vacuous, stupid. Like the Roman mob in the Gladiator film, the fall of the Roman empire, and modern nations and global empires. Trouble is, too, that "dark ages" and chaos come after such falls; and sadly, the rediscovery, the renaissance that then follows seems only to lead to another round of the cycle.

I'm tired. My brain hurts. What, I wonder, will be the positive effect of any of my efforts, of my thinking, my encouragement of others, and my own enthusiasm for learning, exploring, wondering, challenging?

Is there any point, Lord? Are we doomed to endless cycles of hope--and failure? How long does this need to go on? Your mercy and grace is amazing ... but sometimes I wonder if allowing this world to carry on and on is really merciful? I know You see the big picture and I don't. I know scripture warns of things getting worse and worse. I know that the end will come when we're not expecting it, not looking for it.

Yes, we need Your Hope. There IS light at the end of the tunnel! :-)

Monday, 10 October 2016

More thoughts on prayers about war

(journaled March 2016)

Last night on CBC radio I heard bits and pieces of a discussion on war, and whether it can be avoided in all situations. It seemed that all agreed that, no matter how abhorrent the killing may be, there are times--mainly in self-defense against an evil, violent, warring adversary (Nazism was given as an example) who will not back down or change their ways--when wars must be fought. I really wish there were better strategies, but I'm afraid that short of "pure pacifism" (which one of the panelists said was, in reality, "indefensible") war is going to be here because of man's nature. Any yet...

I think far too many wars are wrong on every level: wars for territorial expansion, for greed, for power, for imperialism and colonialism, to attain control over oil or other goods, for prestige, for patriotism, to force changes in forms of government or changes in government leaders (especially when done by one nation to another for the reasons just mentioned), religious fanaticism, powerful nations messing around with less powerful nations for personal gain, and so on. Syria has been at it for five years and Assad is still firmly entrenched while the country is ruined and the world is in upheaval with refugee crises, while more and more nations are drawn into the battle and major world powers take sides. Is it worth it? Of course, there are those who would say diplomacy would not unseat Assad. But really, who knows if it isn't tried?

Well, I wrote all the above, because I just read a prayer called "Thanksgiving for Victory" which includes, among other statements, "We bless and magnify thy great and glorious Name for this happy Victory, the whole glory whereof we do ascribe to thee, who are the only giver of Victory ... to thy glory, the advancement of thy Gospel, the honour of our Sovereign, and, as much as in us lieth, to the good of all mankind..." (and more such expressions which make me shudder).

And if "we" don't get "the Victory" and "the other side" does, what then? Did God give them the victory, for His glory and the advancement of the gospel and the good of all mankind? Was our side wrong? If we get the victory, is the other side wrong?

Here's another prayer that is maybe a bit easier to swallow: "O Almighty God, who art a strong tower of defense unto thy servants against the face of their enemies: We yield thee praise and thanksgiving for our deliverance from those great and apparent dangers wherewith we were compassed: We acknowledge it thy goodness that we were not delivered over as a prey to them...."

So it seems like this refers to one of those wars of self-defense against an evil enemy seeking to overtake us (assuming we accept that as a reasonable cause to respond in warfare). But even so, are we ourselves convinced of our own purity and innocence in the whole matter? And if not, if there is a chance that we, too, are in some degree evil, and/or in some degree "to blame"--did we, before going into war, seek God's face in repentance, and determine that after the war is over we will not return to our own evil ways?

Oh, by the way, the prayer ends, "that all the world may know that thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Are we really following You, to start with? Were our reasons for joining in the war effort really pure? If our reasons were tainted (and there are many underlying reasons and motivations we go into apparently "just wars" beyond truly altruistic, just reasons), what message does that send to non-believers when we claim that You are our deliverer? Is it even possible that war points people to Christ?

Is winning or losing war even always about "good vs evil"? Is it? Does God jump into every situation? Does God "weigh the balances" in every war? Does He? Really? I believe that, in the end, every knee will bow before Him; but I don't see that in the present world every victory is from God. I do believe, however, that relationship with God can and does grow out of pain and loss. Spiritual victory in physical loss?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Prayers about war

(journaled March 2016)

Today I was reading some prayers from the Anglican Common Prayer book (1950s Canadian version) which are related to war. I have become more and more ambivalent about war, and really find myself getting quite deep into the pacifist camp. At the same time, I am realizing that war is pretty much "human nature" and also beloved by the ruling elites because of the power it offers (and who rarely send their own sons and daughters to fight). I just am having a really hard time wrapping my head around Christians who seem to love and support wars (well, they love and support the war-loving political parties, too...)

One of the prayers reads: "...strengthen and protect ... shelter ... keep them safe from all evil ... and grant that in all things they may serve as seeing Thee who are invisible, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."  But should we not pray for those caught up in the fighting on both sides, those "conscripted" or convinced by their respective sides that their side is right? Not to mention the civilians caught up in the middle of it.

On the other hand, I sure don't feel like praying for those who create and support the wars, due to their desire for power and wealth.

I kind of understand about praying for those who stand up against tyranny and evil ... if only wars were that simple. But this prayer invokes Jesus' name, he who taught "turning the other cheek."

And oh my goodness: what would happen if all militaries actually "served as seeing Thee who art invisible"? If they looked up from the battle and all saw You looking down on them, what would they do? Keep killing each other, thinking You're approving them (and that You're opposing the "other side"?)(as Constantine apparently did, and the Crusaders, and, yes, lots of military leaders today). Or fall with their faces to the ground and throw away their weapons in shame? or?

I think a lot of the "just war theory" appeals to the Old Testament militaristic record. (And what's with all that Old Testament war and mayhem anyway? And how, oh how, does it line up with the New Testament record ... and then back to the final battles of Armageddon and so on?)

I think that under the power of evil, war is inevitable ... and if no one fought, would the evil power just get stronger? Could "turning the other cheek" really stop it, in a world under so much of the rule of the enemy (yet which, thankfully, is still itself under the rule of God ... how that must gall the evil powers).

But even if war is inevitable in this world, does that mean believers should agree to take up arms?

What about all those gun-lovers, including so many civilian ones? They LOVE their guns! What is with that? (And so many of them claim to love Jesus, too...)

Well, the next prayer has some good points ... but I wonder: if God judged the "other side" to be more in the right, what then? If God is asked to judge--rescue--in OUR wars--would He even be willing? And if so, would we accept that judgment, really?

I suppose, as long as the enemy chooses to war against righteousness, war is inevitable ... even for the "Lord of Hosts" -- and His angels --- and His people?  I don't know. I wonder how God sees war? I'm sure for Him it's about righteousness vs evil--but what does that really mean?

"Lord of hosts, that rulest and commandest all things: Thou sittest in the throne judging right, and therefore we [ask] ... that thou wouldst take the cause into thine own hand, and judge between us and our enemies .... O let not our sins not cry against us for vengeance, but ... be a defence unto us against the face of the enemy. Make it appear that thou art our ... mighty Deliverer."

What if God judges against our side?

I think this prayer means that we want to win--and when we do, we want people to be able to say, "See? It's obvious--God gave the victory to us. He really is on our side! We are God's favoured people!" (Kind of like when football players kneel on the field after a victory to give thanks--or throw down their helmets and yell in anger when they lose).

What if it is our own sins that have brought us to this point of war? Of course, it always is to some degree. And what if both sides are crying out to God for mercy (so they can win, presumably--though I doubt there is any true victory in man's wars ...). What is the righteous Judge to do?

"God ... to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to them that truly repent: Save us and deliver us ... from the hands of our enemies...." BUT: Do we truly repent and turn to God when war arrives on our doorstep? Do we? And if we did, would not our response to it be different? Would we still march proudly, patriotically, enthusiastically, "righteously" into battle?

"....abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices...." But what about our own pride, malice and devices?

" glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory ..." Do You really want to be glorified for stepping into our wars? Unless we are truly your people--but in that case, would we be warring in the first place? Spending huge amounts on our military capabilities, etc.?

If "conscientious objectors" offered to "pray for God's will" during battles (instead of fighting in those battles)--I wonder if the military leaders would even want them to do that? I suspect God's will is not man's will--and the military would be wise to fear His will.

Do You honour those who really are pacifists on account of following and believing in You? I think so. But I am also pretty sure they will face dishonor from the world, just as Jesus did. Even torture and death. But oh, to be in relationship with You through it all, forever. That makes it all worthwhile, right?

Monday, 19 September 2016

What is Your Truth?

(journaled Feb 24, 2016)

Lord God--what is your Truth? Many writers/preachers/etc. nowadays seem to have their own "take" on Truth, and seem sure that they are right and others are wrong. There seems to be a pride in "being right" . . . and not much love, care, concern toward others . . . except being concerned to show, in minutest detail, how others are wrong. We can see others' shortcomings--or outright wrongs--but not our own, it seems.

And yet, lately, I have become concerned that I have been wandering off the path, becoming too "liberal" (or neo-liberal?) in my ways of thinking, wandering from the basic teachings of scripture. So I find myself retreating to  a "back to the faith of our fathers" ... and I find I am linked to the "Protestant" tradition. Is it because of the way I was brought up?  I am also becoming more wary of the kind of Christianity that is strongly mixed up with metaphysical approaches.

I don't want to get caught up again in a fundamentalism that is cold and "doctrine/law" based, and pushes relationship with You--love of You--away. But I also don't want wishy-washy-ness. I feel scared right now, because I don't know where to turn--other than to You. I feel like I don't trust anyone other than You.

And then I worry very much that my perception of You may be just that--my perception--and I might be all wrong. O dear God, please guide me to Yourself--to You, the Way, the Truth, the Life.  I don't expect to find "pat answers" exactly, because You're far more than the "pat answers" of human understanding. I believe that. But I also believe (because You said it, Jesus) that there is a simple faith, a child-like faith, that is available to us--and that we are to use and follow as we follow You.

I really, really would like to find that core of faith in You that is clear, and straight, the narrow path that provides a clear road to You, so I'm not so easily led down other paths--or intrigued by them. I absolutely need to keep my eyes fixed on You, Jesus ... and not distracted by the approval of others (so that I listen to and absorb their ideas that are not centered on You, the Truth).

I find myself in an awkward position where I've said so many angry--and arrogant--things against "traditional church" and people who are "shallow" or "easily led" ("sheeple") and so on ... and I've prided myself on getting out, getting free ... and now I find myself wanting to pull back, to find that which is  good and true and stable in "traditional church." And fear that my whining and my questioning and my arrogance may well be responsible for leading others astray.

Oh dear God, please guide me to see where I've been wrong (but also where I'm okay), and encourage others to follow You faithfully.  Not to get so caught up in "side topics" that they lose sight of You the way I have done.

Monday, 12 September 2016

clergy and lay people

(journaled Feb 16, 2006)

I am thinking more and more that our "problem" with "leadership/clergy" is actually more a problem with "lay persons"--who have little or no role other than to turn up and agree with the leaders.

Okay, of course it is more complicated that that, but really, creating a large class of "non-ministry" church members is a big problem, because by putting the "focus" in the hands of a few, it tends to take the focus off Jesus as Lord; it discourages the "lay people" from really being involved as part of the church body, growing in faith and grace and relationship with God, from doing their part--using their gifts--for the health and edification of the church, from spreading the gospel, from loving God and others, from being valued equally as Jesus values all equally.

There is a place for "leadership" (though, oh, I have disliked the "L word") but it must be a place of humility and serving, as in "the greatest must be the least," as Jesus Himself has shown. There is no place for "human" honor and trappings, though certainly there is a place for respect and love, and yes, even obedience when the leader is walking close with Jesus (and if he/she isn't, they are no longer actually worthy of leadership).

There is also no place for those who would say, "My church," or attach their personal name to a "ministry," as that path can so easily lead to a man/woman "being in charge" rather than Jesus. It does seem there are occasional people who are very humble, and yet have their name attached to their ministry (like Billy Graham, perhaps), but there are far too many cases, especially in North American ministries with the leader's name attached, which have become far too "leader-centered" (man or woman).

Such a fine line, but I am inclining to give more value to clergy/leaders than I did a few years ago when I became so discouraged at what I saw happening in churches focusing on a human leader. At the same time, I am still wanting all members of the body of Christ to be valued, and recognized and encouraged for the roles God has called them to.

Something to think more about...

Monday, 5 September 2016

Connection to Creation

(journaled Jan 6, 2016)

"The stars sang for joy" at creation, didn't they? Why have we--at least the evangelicals I've known--focused so much on people praising the Lord, but basically ignored, or even been afraid of, thinking about how all the other aspects of creation are called upon also in scripture, to praise the Lord.

It certainly is a reminder to us that we are only a part of creation and that we are to be united with the rest of creation in the basic purpose of our creation: praising, magnifying, blessing, worshipping our Creator. Maybe it's partly our smugness, even pride, about being "a special creation," or "the pinnacle of creation," or the "only thinking/reasoning creatures" or whatever. Maybe we don't want to admit that God enjoys and is praised by the rest of creation too, each in its own way.

Scripture is actually pretty anthropomorphic about the ways it does that! Like mountains skipping and stars singing, and so on. Maybe we don't want to be humble enough to realize our position in creation isn't as exalted as we'd like to think. We are IN creation, rather than ABOVE creation, for the most part, aren't we?

Yes, our "special relationship" with God is special. But we are still created beings and we also have a very practical and real "relationship" in so many ways with the rest of creation, to which we are intimately connected, and which we literally depend upon for our very breath and life. We are "animals" in that sense--and too often, in our behavior and attitudes and such, we have to admit that we act like "lower beasts" despite our potential "special relationship" with our Creator.

I guess maybe people are also nervous about getting "off the straight and narrow" and getting caught up in "New Age" or "metaphysics" or "paganism/ druidism/ animistic" beliefs held by those who try to be more closely connected to "Mother Earth." Maybe recognizing that all of creation praises God is seen as being on the edge of a slippery slope. But nonetheless, it is scriptural. And God clearly sees all His creation is "very good" and appreciates His connection to it and its connection to, and praise of Him, its Creator.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Which is more evil?

(First journaled Dec 15, 2015)
Dec 4, 2015

It sure makes me wonder. If we would feed and care for the poor in the first place, instead of going to war against them, and then sometimes offer to help "rebuild"--if we would demonstrate love instead of war and oppression--would it not have a much more positive outcome in the end? Whatever happened to the compassion and forgiveness You lived and modeled? Where does the true evil lay?

I'm thinking: In actions designed to build and maintain empires and greedy wealth and oppressive power structures, no wonder oppressed people rush to embrace (or in fear accept) religions that use and encourage war and oppression.

What is more evil? A religion (or at least a sub-group of that religion) that claims to strive for a worldwide theocratic kingdom by having the whole world converted to it, by using warfare when necessary ... or a religion (or at least a sub-group of that religion) that calls for peace through love and non-violence and self-sacrifice and a heavenly kingdom: but then glorifies "patriotic war" and also strives for world domination, using the same methods as "the enemy" (and calls down the very "enemy" whose actions it emulates to a large degree).

At least the former religion is doing what it believes in (whether or not we consider those beliefs to be evil), but the latter religion is being totally hypocritical, saying/believing one thing and doing the opposite. And people buy into it, hoping for their piece of the pie, of the "Capitalist-Christian dream," which more and more looks to me like a total nightmare!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Praying properly

(Originally journaled January 18, 2015)

I should be reading my Common Prayer book and my Bible. I wonder why that seems like such a big job? And I really, really, really should pray properly! I've been doing little "arrow prayers" when I think of it--or when I feel guilty about forgetting to pray, or when people ask me to pray. But I'm afraid those prayers--tiny and short, and with bad attitude too often--aren't very "acceptable"--not a fragrant and pleasing sacrifice, as the Bible puts it. I feel I'm letting people down. Not to mention letting myself down, regarding my relationship to You. And, of course, letting You down.

But all I can think of is those hours and hours and hours I used to pray for my children and the community and the churches and lots of individual people. And I do believe You're still working in my kids' lives for sure. But I'm realizing more and more how tangled and complicated our world is and how you're dealing with the needs of over 7 billion people (never mind the needs of the earth itself)--and I'm also realizing that people really do have a free will.

I guess I was hoping that my earnest prayers would lead to "miracles" like those ones we hear about (the English guy with the orphanages; revivals here and there with bars turned into churches--and giant veggies growing and stuff like that. But with all those prayers of mine it still didn't seem like I could see much of anything happen. Yet maybe that's the point: like Hebrews 11: faith--things not seen--but still hoped for, trusting in You.

The other thing is that I don't really know what to pray, because I'm more and more convinced that a lot of our "wishes" are awfully short-sighted. And what we beg You to do might not be best at all.  Only You can see the big picture.

Scripture says "the prayer of faith (along with elders anointing with oil) will heal the sick"--but all I can think of is King Hezekiah begging for healing because he didn't have an heir. And his request was granted, and then he had a son--and that son turned out to be one of the most wicked kings ever.

So all I want to pray is "Your will be done." (And no, it doesn't have to do with "lack of faith"--it's because I'm really becoming convinced that "my will" is so often destructive and short-sighted, blind even).

I could just pray "The Lord's Prayer," I guess. That pretty much covers everything. In the Anglican Church they pray the Lord's Prayer, and a couple other sort of "general" prayers--and then they have the "prayers of the people" and they just give names, not details--and that makes a lot of sense to me because, after all, You know all those people, and You know all their needs, and most of all, You know what's best for each of them, so your people are doing the right thing (I think) by praying those people's names to You--and leaving the path and results up to You. (Right? I think ...)

What's included in the Lord's Prayer? Honoring You. Your eternal purposes (you know best). Basic human needs. Relationship with you and others, and salvation. More of Your eternal purposes and relationship with You and others. So may your purposes, your love and righteousness prevail.

Yes, that pretty much covers it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Terrified by disapproval

(Originally journaled on February 6, 2015)

I read this morning an article that said the best writing comes out of really emotional experiences. Maybe that is true, because since I went through my "Great Depression," I've been trying to live in this smooth unruffled way, not getting overly excited or upset, avoiding things that are scary for me. And I know I've lost my drive to write in the way I used to have it.

Approval. That's a big hurdle for me. I crave it.

And I'm terrified by disapproval. This morning I wrote a highly complimentary response to an article someone shared on FB--then removed my comment when I saw another article explaining why some people hate what the first article talks about. Good grief! Why am I so scared of ruffling people's feathers?

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

But I don't. I hide it under a bushel till it flickers almost into nothingness.

Let it shine till Jesus comes? He's here and I'm still hiding it. When he comes physically will he deny me? Because I act--maybe I am--ashamed.

Don't let Satan blow it out. Well, I could blame him, but really--isn't it just me? Why, oh why, am I so afraid of disapproval?

All around the neighborhood ... I fail to let it shine. Only in "safe" spots where it will be approved, and even then, only shine minimally :-(

I really don't know when and where my fear of disapproval began. And I'm afraid of it from all sides. Afraid to be too "bad" ... afraid to be too "good" ... Afraid to stand up and speak out, live out what I really think. (Believe? If I really believed, would I be afraid?)

Why am I so afraid to rock the board? To be disapproved of? Lord?

"May our sitting down and our rising up contribute, Lord, to your kingdom's work."

Does mine? Maybe in some ways. "Quiet action" ways. But "speaking up"? No. More likely embarrassed back-peddling, even denial.

If only I didn't keep screwing up by trying to "keep the peace" and by "denying you."  Tears ...

"Lord, remind us that it is not always agitated uprisings and nonstop activity which leads to justice, but that change often comes through the quiet commitment of a small group of people. Help us raise our small body of people to set about quietly becoming the change we want to see in the world. Amen."

But maybe that is the key: "a small group of people."

I spend way too much time alone. I need others. Not just on Sunday morning church gathering and Tuesday morning street outreach and occasional other "events." We need to live our lives together.  Maybe there was a good reason for all the "church" we did back in the day.  Somehow, deep down inside, I miss it. I want to be part of a big family, an intentional community. I still want to be a grandma teacher-facilitator.

I need that! How? Father? Show me, please.

Psa 33:13 "The Lord looks down from heaven and beholds all the people in the world.... He fashions all the hearts of them and understands all their works."

Is that what you've been doing? Fashioning my heart? Do you "understand my works"?  Yes, I sense You do ... that this is a message from You ... that You see my heart. You know my fears, where they came from and all. You understand, and You are working in my heart. Thank You. That's a comfort. A great comfort. You still love me, don't You, Papa? Thank You. Amen.

"...Through Jesus Christ, we have become the children of peace."  Maybe all this "time-wasting" on Fb and internet hasn't been a total waste of time. Maybe you are softening my heart, driving me to long for true peace.

I know that my heart is truly in pain when I read or hear about all the horrible things that happen in our world--the war, the grabbing for power, the oppression, and cruelty. And I don't see any hope except through You!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


(Originally journaled October 8, 2015)

"Forgive us, Lord, for stealing the land: Have mercy and set us free."

I don't get this--set us free? We are the ones imprisoning those we stole the land from--shouldn't we be setting them free? Inviting them back onto their land? Giving them rich, useful parts? Maybe giving up our own homes? Are we asking, in this prayer, for God to set us free from our guilt? If so, doesn't that mean we need to do more than just say, "Sorry." How can we adequately show we accept our guilt, and want to truly reconcile? Doesn't that involve restitution? And deep relationship sharing all we have, including our personal time, energy, active love ...

And how do we do that?

Maybe start on a personal level, with small steps. Ask what we can give, do, whatever.

Maybe that would be a really important Lenten practice (repentance ... leading to restoration, even to "resurrection and life"...)

Lord? How can I start? Today?

(We've taken so much more than the land--and yet that taking of the land does represent and underlie all who indigenous people are--their life, their soul.)

Chief Seattle of the Suquamish: "We know that the White Man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on."

Conquering the land is conquering life--it is darkness and death.

"Lord, show us that reconciling [is] to train us more deeply in the faith that honors everything created by your hand. Help us see that reconciliation leads to deeper knowledge of you. Amen."

Wow. I guess I never saw biblical "reconciliation" quite that way before. So reconciliation with indigenous people is in a sense a picture, an example, of us being reconciled to God. What we have done to our Creator is really in significant ways similar to what we have done to indigenous peoples.

We like, I think, to focus on God's merciful grace in giving his Son. We like that He chose to take the initiative, to suffer the pain. But should that "free" us from the "pain" of truly repenting (and doesn't that mean giving up all we hold dear, putting our very life, our heart, and soul, in his hands, to do with as he wishes? That's hard--but is it not necessary? Is it not part of truly loving? He loves us--are we not to love him (and deny ourselves) in return, as he as done for us? Are we willing to do that for others we have wronged, as well? Oh my goodness.

How much are we really willing to give up to achieve reconciliation? How far are we willing to go in repentance ... and restoration? What does that really mean? Can little lessons in schools, however well-meaning, accomplish that? It's one thing to intellectually (and even emotionally) understand. But is it not another thing altogether to reconcile, whatever it might take, however long it might take, no matter how much pain and loss we might incur in our own lives (because, after all, aren't we the ones responsible for their loss and pain?).

What, I wonder, does it really mean to "walk in another person's moccasins?" How far does that go to achieve true reconciliation--with God, as well as with "them"? If we don't go there, have we really reconciled? With them? With God? Can we really expect forgiveness (I know, I know--"freely given with no expectation of anything in return except the freedom of letting it go?"--would we be willing to do that if we were in their place? I bet not ...).

"Teach us to number our days aright." We have a very limited time, so we need to do what is righteous.

Our view of land is an "ownership" view. The First Nations view is that people are part of the land--so taking the land and pushing people off and refusing to truly share is to cut a piece out of a people. (And residential schools, cutting families and communities apart, is, of course, more of the same).

So much of what any people do is about segregation--me vs you, us vs them...

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Je ne suis pas...

(Originally journaled January 14, 2015)

I want to write poetry again.

Maybe it's the appropriate way to express how I'm feeling about this whole "Charlie Hebdo" thing. The thing is: "Je ne suis pas Charlie!" The reactions--millions marching for the cause (while no one even pays any attention to other simultaneous massacres--way worse ones--like that in Nigeria by Boko Haram... because they're "just black people" maybe?) is really so "secular" at heart. So much of it is all about "my human right" of "free speech."

But just look at where our "human rights" and our "me-centeredness" has got us in this world. It all runs so smack-dab in the face of the Jesus, God, Spirit rule of "Love the Lord Your God, and love your neighbor as yourself." (And when people dare to point out the hypocrisies of the whole situation--and there are many--they are slammed for being non-PC or too religious or whatever...)

Of course, part of the "me-ness" of secularism is the inbuilt intolerance for any way of thinking that is not the way "I" think--despite secularism's proclamations about creating a tolerant society. Tolerant, that is, for anything that doesn't personally annoy me, or challenge or threaten my individual way of thinking. Good grief. And of course, Jesus' way "threatens the empire," as yesterday's Common Prayer quote points out.

I am certainly not in favor of radical, fundamentalist approaches of any stripes--religious, scientific, educational, political, or any other "institutional" radicalism, be it left or right or any other extreme that is willing to cause pain and oppression and even death to further its agenda.

However, there is a fine line in issues like "free speech" or any other "freedom." At what point does "my freedom" begin to impinge on others, to the point at which I am demanding they lose their freedom, to the point at which, in my zealousness, I am oppressing others myself through my "free" demands and reactions, denying them the same kinds of rights and freedoms I demand for myself, in order to gain and maintain those I wish for myself.

Jesus told us we must "deny" ourselves in order to live his way--the way that seeks to love and honor and respect and help others--and no wonder this is a "way" that so many hate...because it does demand self-denial of the "extremisms"--the "radical religious fundamentalist approach" of personal goals and demands, no matter how rational and "humanly right and free" they may appear on the surface.

Enough for now.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Words of Assurance

(Originally journaled November 3, 2014)

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit ... what do You have to say to me today?

My child--Our child!
We love you.
We truly do.
Sing. Praise. Lift your heart, lift your eyes, lift your hands upward to us. Reach out, take hold of our hands which are reaching down to you. Let us lift you up. Cling to us.

Take your eyes off the ground, off the world, and see us.  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the 'things of earth' will grow more and more and more dim--gone!--in the light of his glory and grace."

Remember, child--the darkness you feel and fear is simply the absence of my light. Draw close to my light, closer and closer. Let my amazing glory drive away all the shadows and darkness and tiredness and fears. "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey."

Love Your Father. Love Jesus. Love His Spirit. Love God.

Lay down your little burdens. Lay down your little fears.
I will be with you. I will never leave you alone, not even for a moment--even if it be my will that you follow me into the path of dementia your mama trod. I was with her every moment. I really was. And you, too, I will never let go, not for an instant. Whatever path I call you to tread.

I Love you! You are mine!

[And my husband, children, spouses, grandchildren? Are they Yours too? Can I trust You for them, too?
What about all the people who are seeking You, even if they don't know about You? Father?
Father? How can You let Your creatures, who You died for, perish? What about the ones who haven't had a chance to hear of You? Father? Jesus? Holy Spirit?
You do reach out to everyone, right?
Please help us all to choose You! Help my family, please! Help all people, dear God. Please? ]

[You do care...
And each rejection by one of your created children does break Your heart ... doesn't it?
You love us ... and long for--but do not force--every one of us to come to You.
Okay. Guess I'll just have to place that one on Your shoulders, in Your hands.
Thank You. Amen. In Jesus' name. Thank You. I love You.]

Friday, 13 May 2016

What am I bringing into the world?

(Originally posted Jan 7, 2015)

I hope, as it says in today's Common Prayer, that I've brought a "little more love and kindness, a little more light and truth in the world," and some peace, too.

I know I'm not being patient with Your ways and timing. There's so much time for You--but so little for us. You know that, Jesus, for You had a very short time here on earth--and an infinitely more important mission. You really saw the "big picture," far more than any of us are capable.

But I'd still like to help open people's eyes ... and hearts.

I like the vision of that guy who is working on a way to inspire peace and caring and stuff among the youth in our town.

Me? I'm just writing "learning themes." And helping out my family a bit (but maybe that's just because they are "my" family). I want to help others, and encourage them, and in some way make people's lives more "community" and peaceable and sustainable and caring.

A friend who has a street ministry in our town says he thinks I'm like him--and in some ways I am, but not altogether.  I'm really beginning to see that each of us is different--which is why, without a doubt, You need, call, use all of us. And each of us has something good and worthwhile and useful to bring to Your purposes and plans for Your creation, Your world, Your beloved children.

I'm just not sure what mine is, to bring. I'm such a "Jill of all trades, master of none,"--but maybe that's needed, too.

And you've taught me to care and to maybe even to listen a bit and to long for people to find peace--your peace, real peace, please? Maybe that's enough?

I've written and written and written my thoughts and questions and wonderings (and even some challengings) in the past. But who has really listened, except for a few "members of the choir," so to speak? Maybe people whose hearts and minds You've been preparing ... and yet it seems to me that a lot of people you lead me to be friends with, and share my writing with, don't even know about You. Some aren't even interested or seem to actually be antagonistic against You (or, at least, antagonistic against their "idea of You").

That's what I was thinking when R. was saying he doesn't even know if You're real. (And yes, I felt his pain. And I've felt the same, sometimes ... "Doubting Norma" ...). But I was thinking--or maybe You were whispering in my ear because I really did feel like You were just telling me to keep peace and not argue or try to explain in "doctrinal ways" ... that maybe he's not ready? or he just needs to rant before he can listen? or doctrinal explanations just seem too pat ... or? And maybe You were telling me to realize that he has to work through this with You there at his side even though he doesn't realize it's You just now, because he's looking for, or expecting, a "You" that isn't really You.

"Keep us from trying to rush peace."

Help me see the big picture, Lord. Help me see the world with Your eyes. Help me to speak only the words You give me to speak. And meanwhile, help me to do a lot of listening and gentle caring. (Jeremiah 13:14: pity, mercy, compassion).

And Lord, what about "God's Kitchen" outreach? Has it really gotten too "institutional," or is it just me not willing to change? Or what? It's supposed to be Your kitchen, Lord. Your table.

"He brings me to his banqueting table, His banner over me is love."

You came and invited the poor and the wretched and blind (and the rich and successful and leaders rejected You).

What do You want us to spread at Your table? Just lots of warm, healthy, physical food? And a quiet, peaceful spot for a few minutes? And a few prayers and counseling? And? Or? Lord? Your will be done.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Slipped moorings and feeling adrift

(Originally journaled October 27, 2014)

I've been wasting so much time in my life. Way too much TV, radio, newspaper, and certainly way too much email (subscribed to too much!) and facebook. And way, way, way too little time with You. I did start listening to Christian music for a bit, and I've been Bible reading very sporadically. But very little prayer--just little "arrow prayers" I guess, when people ask for prayer. Or maybe when I'm feeling desperate, occasionally.

It's been so long since I "longed" for You. I have wanted to, but I've just been so adrift. Yes, I did seem to slip my moorings when I was depressed. And then I was so "negative" about "church" and stuff. And I was "embarrassed" about "Christianity" and let that slide into being embarrassed about admitting to belief in You--and that led me to slide into really not following You actively.

I've gone through times when I really wasn't sure--intellectually--what I believed any more. Yet I never stopped knowing You are real, knowing I want to know You. (Even when the enemy--and maybe even my "brain"--questioned Your reality. The thing about that is that when it happened, I found myself defending Your reality because I know, in the deepest part of me, that You are REAL, and that I want, most of all, to be in relationship and to remain in, abide in You).

Yesterday we were reading John 15 at our church gathering.  Reading about You, Jesus, being the vine--and how apart from You we can't "bear fruit." Indeed, apart from You we can do nothing! And we certainly can't be "in the Father" unless we "remain in You." (I was concerned about the "bearing fruit" part because all my life I have felt a failure and guilty for not "bearing fruit" because I don't seem to be able to "count" anyone who I've "led to the Lord" to "say the sinner's prayer" or whatever (unless I "count" some of my kids when they were little--and yet, have my doubts during their teen years driven them away?).

John 15:9ff "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love.... My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.... You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."

Do I believe this? So many seemingly unanswered prayers back when I was so energetically "following" ... and oddly enough, so much protection and care in the past few years when I have not been trying to, working at, following hard ...

There's one thing of which I'm now convinced: Your love doesn't fail. But I'm still a bit puzzled about the "whatever you ask" part. And I'm scared to ask anything except "Your will be done"--but maybe that's the point! After all, Jesus, You Yourself said you did nothing, said nothing, except what Father said. Maybe prayer is listening--and asking only, "Your will be done." Could it be?

Yes, it is time to get back into some discipline in my life, to make sure I have time set aside especially for You. For Bible reading and study, writing (journaling with You most of all), praying (and in that, really listening) ... and making the best of the rest of my time. Not frittering it away.

But most of all--I want to HEAR YOUR VOICE AND DO WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO ... and trust You to take care of the things I really can't (which is a lot).

Archbishop Oscar Romero:  "We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.... We cannot do everything.... It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the results... We are prophets of a future not our own."

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Hanging onto reason and fearing dementia

(Originally journaled March 4 and April 9, 2014)

On CBC last night, I heard someone talking about dementia, and they said the reason we have such a hard time dealing with it, and why we dread it so much is that we've really bought into what Descartes said: "I think, therefore I am."

But what if that isn't true? What if our ability to reason is only a small part of who we are? And if it is only a small part, can dementia then actually be such a terrible thing after all?

I was recently visiting with an American friend and was so amazed at her "American sensibilities," the way she sees life and society and all. And then I began to doubt whether my own ideals, beliefs, thoughts are really "right" after all. I keep catching myself doing and saying and thinking things that I am sure other people think are pretty weird,  inconsistent, hypocritical--or just plain wrong or evil. Things based on what I've been "taught" rather than in what "is." Based on my white-middle-class-Judeo-Christian-Canadian upbringing and "values."

And so much of the time ... NOT coming "from the inside of God" but rather "from within my own sensibilities and capacities." (Jack Bernard)

These "capacities" include my "ability" to think things through, to reason. It's an ability I have often prided myself on. I see more and more clearly now how limited my thinking capacities are. I see so many other viewpoints. I state my case, and then others point out theirs--and I can see their side, too, and I try to integrate that as well. Sometimes it works; their thoughts add to mine and seem to make mine more complete or accurate.

But sometimes it seems to me that I must be wrong after all and I may well have to toss out my dearly held thoughts (and actions). And sometimes I just find myself confused. I am more and more convinced of my weaknesses and limitations--which is not always a pleasant realization.

Sometimes (often!) I worry that I am "losing it" too. I hate when I can't think of the "right word." It terrifies me! And when I hear or read things, and I can't immediately remember all the details, or worse, I'm not even "sure" of the "gist," so I read and re-read, and come out still wondering. I used to just think, "Oh that's right!" or "Oh, that's wrong!" But now it's never so simple. Sometimes I think that's because I'm getting "older and wiser" and seeing that life is not nearly so simple, but then I fearfully think that maybe I'm just "losing it."

And You know I don't want to lose it.

Of course, if I were a "good Christian" I'd find it easy to lay that down at the cross, too. (Another fallacy, I think! It is never easy, in my experience, to lay down anything that we value. To let go, realizing that in many situations, there really is "no hope in me" solving a situation.)

And I already know that there's "no hope in me" as far as there being any final "choice" in "losing it or not." But what I'm really terrified of is being CUT OFF from You. It's cruel enough to be cut off from other humans--but how can You let us be cut off from You? Maybe we aren't, but how do I know that? HOW DO I KNOW THAT?

"Just trust." That's so difficult because I want evidence, not just promises. Do You even promise that? "I will be with you, even unto the end of the world." Okay. Even if I can't respond? (Isn't "responding" essential? Or maybe not? Maybe resting is more needful?)

Fear: Will You still love me? I guess Your view of my identity and value is different than mine.

(Even from birth, some people never have--apparently--the ability to think or respond, and we assume You love them. So I guess You'd still love me anyway ... maybe even more. (Okay, I know that's not possible, Your loving "more" or "less" ... but I'm thinking in a "mother hen" protective way, I guess.)

A friend told me that her mom, who has dementia, was yelling at You. I really don't blame her one bit. I wonder if  my Mom felt like yelling out at You, too, when she had dementia--or if she just trusted You? Or?  I guess there are some things we'll never know ... and maybe that we don't need to know ... IF we can trustingly live in and for You who art LOVE. (It would be nice to be able to trust You like that. Can You help me do that? Please?)

"Lord, reveal to us all that makes itself an enemy to the life You want for us. Amen."

I've thought of dementia as such an enemy. But maybe it isn't. Maybe dementia just "is what it is" ... but my reaction is the enemy.  Open my eyes, Please!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Little White Lies

(originally journaled April 3 2014)

Father, I feel sick. Feeling bad because the next door neighbour told me it wasn't neighborly (and he's right) to trim his tree on my side of the fence without asking him first (though it is legal).  I told him we mentioned it long ago, but he says he doesn't remember. The thing is, I don't remember either... though L says I did ... the thing is, I should have told/asked the guy... and I should not say things that are untrue or even that I'm not sure of. This is a big problem that I have--telling untruths--even if they have some truth to them (which I can't even be sure of in this case!)--to cover my butt!

O dear God, please help me have the courage to tell the truth. All my life, pretty much, I've been concocting little half-truths and little lies to cover myself when people accuse me or when I think I'm in trouble. And I tell myself they're just "little white lies." But there is no such thing. Lies are lies. Maybe it was because there were so many "rules" growing up--and so much fear of getting caught: spankings, other punishments, shame, "sin."  Getting "caught"--even for things I did not do--was not acceptable to me. Better to stretch the truth--even lie. Ha! Wrong. But it sure seemed safer at the time. And still does. Yes, it's a long-time bad habit. But it also still comes from fear. And instills guilt and feeling sick.

Okay, so in this instance, guilt is good because it's pointing me to sort this out with You. Please forgive me. And please help me work this out with the neighbor. Your way (and Your courage). (Doing right is not always easy! Often it isn't...) (You know!)

How is it that I fear the anger, disgust, disapproval of the world so much? Why can't I seem to get it into my mind and heart and being that You are infinitely more precious and worthy and awesome--and that You love me! Help me, please!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

A Year and a Half Later and Has Anything Changed in the World?

(originally journaled Aug 11, 2014)

It has been a depressing round of news this summer. Starting with the teacher strike in May/June, which could now extend into Sept/Oct); all the wars in the Middle East, mostly with Muslim extremists taking over big areas and beheading children and forcing young girls into marriage and forcing FGM on girls and women and killing Christians and other kinds of Muslims etc. en masse; and the civil war in Ukraine and the Malaysian airplane shot down with almost 300 dead (and the other Malaysian flight that went missing over the Indian Ocean a couple months earlier); and the foolish stuff that media spends big time reporting on, while they totally ignore way more serious stuff (because ratings are important of course; and also because of who the media are run by, both corporations and government); and all kinds of horrible environmental issues, like the ongoing pipeline disputes; and this past week the big mine tailings disaster up by Likely, BC.; and on and on and on. And it all makes me feel just sick.

I probably should just "ignore it"--but how can I? I just cannot understand how human beings can be so evil. (I've started reading through the Bible again, and it seems that the world has always been a cruel, cruel place. And yet there have always been pretty decent people--but the bad ones generally rule the roost. It seems like in the "western world" I was "privileged" to grow up in during the second half of the 20th century, there was a brief time of relative peace and calm (I think the atomic bomb and 2 world wars kind of scared folks for a while). But really, even during this seemingly peaceful and calm time there have still been lots of horrible things happening--Vietnam, Middle East, Rwanda, Congo, Sierra Leone, the Balkans .... Maybe we just managed to ignore it since we've been pretty "safe" here in North America (until 911 anyway).

But meantime our own country is being torn apart environmentally for the sake of $$$$ for big multinationals who don't care about anyone or anything except their own  base profit line. And when people do try to rise up (Idle No More; the 99% vs the 1% uprising, etc.), how can we really fight big government and big corporations? Watching some documentaries on Auschwitz last night--and wondering how much longer till we ourselves fall into that kind of evil? After all, it's happening in places all over the world right now, especially the ISIS (or IS Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria.

There are people who say that the elites are happy about it, supporting it, so that large populations can be wiped out and the elites can have even more control. But control over what? Who wants to be in control of a devastated planet, with the few remaining "regular folks" in dire circumstances? I've heard the elites are buying up all the remaining decent lands and plan to set up their own little enclaves and let the rest of the world just die (and yes, what about climate change and all the other "natural disasters"? Earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Are there really more than in the past? Is this different than before? Is "mother nature"--and/or God!?--rising up in judgment?

Why, why, why do people want to be so rich? What's with that?

I am sitting here looking at all my learning supplies. I want to give free lessons. I still would love to live in an intentional, cooperative community where others could make whatever minimal amount of money is needed to survive--while I could be "grandma teacher" and help with gardening, etc.

I read all the comments on the news items--there are so many good, caring people, people who want a world of justice--but there are also so many rude, crude, racist, selfish, ignorant people out there.

How can anyone continue to support the neo-Con policies of Harper and Christie Clark--and, south of the border, the American Republicans and Democrats, both?

I wonder if President Obama had any idea at all what he was getting himself into? Did he really have all those dreams (or was it just political rhetoric)? It's been just--what? 6 years or so?--since he first became president, and he looks like he's aged 20 or 30 years.

And whatever happened to "democracy"? What we have now certainly isn't democratic in any traditional meaning of the term, and it's getting farther away from it day by day. (And Christianity isn't "democratic" either, despite what some politicos and their followers seem to think...)

(And "free market capitalism" is so not Christian, despite what a lot of "Christian" politicos--and their voting followers--claim. It's all about greed and destruction and power ... evil!)

Okay, well ... I just had to get that out of me.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Your truth, Your church, Your dreams

(originally journaled Feb 20, 2014)

"Every truth without exception--and whoever may utter it--is from the Holy Spirit." --Thomas Aquinas

Jesus promised to send the "Spirit of Truth"--and we sing--with truth--"All over the world the Spirit is moving, all over the world, as the prophet said it would be; all over the world, there's a mighty revelation of the Spirit of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

Yes, there is a mighty revelation, if we--if I!--open my eyes and ears to see and hear it--open my heart and mind to You!

I'm afraid many times we are far too narrow in defining "truth," wrapping up our private version in a neat little box and holding on tight to it, sharing it only with a few chosen, "trusted" others, those we believe will agree and hold on to it tightly with us. We do the same with You, of course--or rather, our personal version of You, because we can never wrap You in a box of our making. How presumptuous that the created thinks it can contain and determine access to and control over the Creator--or even truly know and understand more than a small part of You.

Yes, I do believe all truth comes from You...

And that much of what we call "truth" is only partly so, corrupted and condensed, summarized, simplified as truth is when it is held in human hands, because our sinful nature does corrupt all it touches. And yet You, THE Truth, can never be corrupted--it is just our version, our understanding, that is corrupted.

You shine bright, always.

"Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked." (Frederick Douglas)

And yet You love Your church--but aha! It is the people You love, Your people, Your children: Your children are the church. Not the physical buildings and programs and systems that we physical beings seem to need. Just You and Your children, washed in the blood of Jesus--and in Your eyes good, pure, and holy.

It is so hard for me to imagine that!

How different You are from us! How amazing!

"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen"

"Lift us by awe at the things we see: To set our minds on none but thee."

I've been struggling with the concept of dreams--maybe because "my dreams" are simply too small--too much me!

"Jesus, even in our waking, grant us dreams by which to guide our lives. Make us dream of justice for the oppressed, reunions for those torn from loved ones, hospitality for immigrants, and the healing of all wounds. Amen."

And yes, You use us to work out and fulfill these dreams in human lives--if we are listening to You, and are willing to walk alongside and be conduits of You!