Category Archives: God’s Power

Love Can Win!

 

Above the front door of our home hangs a simple plaque, a wedding gift from friends. At the time of our wedding, I hardly knew these people, but Tom did. They are ‘sort of’ family – cousins of a cousin. They travelled all the way from Massachusetts to our wedding celebration. Although they are people of deep faith, I am sure they were not aware at the time that they were bringing Tom and me God’s inspiration for our lives.

“May the love that surrounds you today give you the strength to face your tomorrows.” For nearly fourteen years we have experienced the Truth and Grace of that blessing.

Today is Good Friday. This morning I sat down in my favorite chair to pray, to reflect on this day in our Easter story. The sun blazed through our living room window, filling my soul with God’s light and warmth. The scripture readings presented the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion in vivid detail. I couldn’t avoid the cruelty. I didn’t want to feel the pain. Yet as I read, I could think only of the plague of torture, cruelty, greed, violence that seems to be sucking up the goodness in this world as quickly as it is created. Calvary happens over and over again. Family violence, workplace abuse, residential schools, war, cruel dictatorships. Yes, Jesus’ crucifixion happens somewhere every day.

Last night our house overflowed with love. Our daughter, two of her grandchildren and two of our most cherished friends enjoyed food, conversation, memories, hugs. Each one of us was truly surrounded with God’s love. This morning as I think about Jesus, Good Friday, and our world, I am drawing on last night’s love, on the love that God has showered upon us as a family. With that love as my foundation, I have the strength to face the supreme cruelty of humankind. I can give thanks for God’s endless love shown to us through Jesus’ forgiveness from the cross. That love gives me the strength to offer myself in the struggle for goodness and peace.

I read our plaque as I step through our door, and know God’s love has given me hope for tomorrow.

Help!

Can I Forgive?
Help!!

Harassment,
Pain
The guilt is endless
Relentless
I want desperately to help
I am dying.

I’ve tried escape.
His voice comes everywhere.

God says, “It’s time.
Give him to me.
It’s my turn.”

How Lord? How?
He has no one.
Only me.

You entrusted him to me.
I can’t close the door.
I can’t walk away.
He won’t let me
I can’t let me.

God says, “It’s time
Give him to me.
It’s my turn
Your work is done
I gave you love
Acceptance, loyalty,
Honesty, determination.
Holiness
You’ve used them all.”

God says, “It’s time.
Give him to me.
It’s my turn.”
Your work is done.
The foundation is laid.
Trust in me.”

God says, “Whatever happens.
He is my precious child
And I love him.”

“Come to the Mountaintop”

Yesterday, I had an incredible day. Almost two years ago, I was asked to be theme speaker for the Wednesday, United Church Women’s Day of Bay of Quinte Conference. What a fabulous honor. The theme for the day was, “Light One Candle”. I spent a great deal of time in prayer trying to decide the best way to deal with this theme. I believe God led me to speak about how Jesus ensured that his followers (disciples both men and women), felt energized and refreshed so that they could continue carrying God’s message of love and forgiveness to all the people they met.

As usual, God’s choice was on target. I flew on God’s Spirit as I talked. Afterward’s many of the 130+ women who were there told me that the talk had given them a “mountaintop experience.” Wow. This is my ministry. Today, I am so grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to speak and the words to say. As an added blessing, I sold $530 worth of books which included 18 of my “Can I Hold Him? Christmas Stories for All Ages” that is in it’s second printing. I am truly blessed. Thank you God.

Why Do We Think the Worst of God?

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In ancient times, people believed the gods to be in total control of everything that happened. If the weather didn’t co-operate for farming, the god of the fields was meting out punishment for some wrongdoing. If the harvest was abundant the same god or a different one was rewarding hard work with prosperity. Problem – it didn’t work. The good still had difficulties.

In Jesus time, the Jewish people transferred this same understanding to their one God. The goal was to please God and everything would go well. Problem: It didn’t work. The good still got sick and their crops failed during a famine.

Today, that simple belief that we can blame God for every problem is still with us. If we break a bone, we ask, “Why did this happen?” We search our hearts and our past, for the mistakes we’ve made that would cause God to punish us. We lament, “There must be a reason God would do this to me or let this happen to me.”  Problem: It doesn’t work. Just as in ancient times, good people get sick, greedy people sometimes do well. Why then do we blame God?

The 23rd Psalm tells us God is with us “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” (Matthew 28:20) Never does he say: “Believe in me and your life will be totally smooth.”

In my book “Fireweed”, the main character Renee learns that this fundamental belief in a “Mr. Fix It, God”, totally failed her. Her Mom was a good person who cared for others yet she was killed in a car accident. Throughout the book Renee comes to understand God, as her companion, her teacher, her guide, her support, her comforter.

As parents, we can’t fix our children’s life. As our parent, God doesn’t “fix” our lives either.

I invite you to let go of those old beliefs in a cold punishing God. Celebrate our wonderful loving God who travels with us, helping us to become the best we can be.

Out of Date? Not Possible!

Out of Date!
Out of Date!

On my kitchen counter, I found a cash register receipt that said, “Present this receipt with your next $20 purchase and receive a $5 discount. Good for two weeks. I checked the date – one day past the two weeks. Worthless, I thought, and threw it in the garbage.

That same day, my daily reading had carried the message, “You can never lose your value as God’s precious child.” Truth, I thought but difficult to believe. Some days I get busy and forget to return a friend’s call. or I discover I’m double-booked – I’m committed to being in two different places at the same time. On those days, it’s easy to say, “Worthless, I’ve done it again God. Are you going to give up on me this time? Guess I’m ready for the garbage.”

On the days when I wake up with my back hurting and arthritis complaining, I wonder, “Am I out of date yet, Lord? Maybe now it’s time to put me out to pasture.”

Those are often the days when I receive a positive comment on my blog, or someone buys a book, or thanks me for listening to them. God is actually very good at reminding me that I am a precious child, and my life has meaning. One of my favorite scripture passages is Isaiah 43:1-5. “I have called you by name. You are mine…you are precious in my sight and I love you.”

I suggest you pick up a Bible, find this passage, read it aloud, substituting your name for the pronoun you. Every time you have doubts, read it again. You might even want to learn it by heart, so that you can remind yourself regularly that you are precious, a precious child of God. Nothing you can do, say, or experience will change your status. Live with confidence in God’s love for you. It will never be out of date.

Thought for Today

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I Can Trust in God’s Extravagant Love.

My daily reading tells me to trust in God’s extravagant love. That sounds simple but I know it’s not. This Christmas, in our family, the fear that comes with serious illness is threatening to wipe out our joy. I know we are not alone. There are many among us who are afraid. Illness, loneliness, violence, grief – Christmas is often laced with fear.

Our precious Christmas story is filled with angels saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Over and over again in the stories of Jesus we hear his message, “Don’t be afraid.” Our faith tells us we can trust in God’s extravagant love. Yet as we journey to Bethlehem this year, many of us are afraid.

Years ago, I read these words in a tiny tattered book that has long since disappeared, “Pray as if.” At 3:00 a.m. yesterday morning I heard this message, “Listen to the angels of Christmas. “Do not be afraid. Come and experience God’s extravagant love in baby Jesus. ‘Pray as if’ you trust in God’s extravagant love”.

If fear threatens to take over your life this Christmas, I offer to you what I am doing. I am praying “as if”. I am leaning on the love and faith of friends. Some days, trusting in God’s extravagant love feels solid. Some days my faith feels based in quick sand. Still, I will continue to pray. I will pray “as if” I am without fear and wait. I can trust in God’s extravagant love. I will open my heart to God’s peace for today.

God’s Life Insurance – a Gift #life insurance #spiritual #travel #rivercruise

God's life insurance1

When Tom and I planned our “riverboat cruise,” the travel agent assured us we needed trip cancellation insurance. “Just in case,” she said. “When you book something a year ahead you never know what will happen.”

My mind slipped back two years. I was walking across my kitchen floor when my heel came down on a few drops of water. I fell and broke my back. In less than one second, my life changed drastically. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if insurance money could actually fix any problems that might crop up between now and August 2016? But of course there is nothing that can compensate us for the illness, accident or death that would cause us to cancel this trip. Still, we set up the insurance to protect our financial investment.

As Christians, we have something better than insurance, and it’s free. We have faith in a God who has promised to love us no matter what we do, when we succeed and when we fail. God forgives our mistakes and give us the gift of new life. We have faith that no matter what happens, we are not alone. God is with us every step of the way. God gives us strength and wisdom to carry on, if we choose to receive it.

Our insurance company sent us a package with a glossy brochure that carried all the details of our policy. God has given us the Bible. It too carries details of God’s promises for us with no limits to liability or escape clauses. Just as we seldom study the insurance brochure, we often neglect to read our Bibles.

And that’s the problem. Our faith is a free gift. As is often the case with something that is free, we can choose to leave the gift all wrapped up, sitting within us waiting for us to open it. Faith is a choice. For some of us a hard choice, because we don’t do well with mystery. When we take the risk, when we step out with the assurance of God’ loving presence and strength, we are amazed at the results.

God's life insurance - open the gift - accept the love.
God’s life insurance – open the gift – accept the love.

“and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:22)

Do You Love Fireworks?

Fireworks - Great Fun!
Fireworks – Great Fun!

Last month I had two experiences of fireworks: first for Canada’s birthday, then at a friend’s wedding. Both times, the light display was spectacular. Fireworks are fun. They delight young and old.  We hear the bang, lights flash in the black sky, and we “ooh” and “aahh.” I think it’s the surprise and the danger under control that fascinate us, as much as the beauty and the sound. In twenty minutes, sometimes a half hour, the show is over. We walk away, the excitement and beauty lingering in our minds and our conversation.

There are amazing light displays available to us most every night. On clear black nights when the silvery sliver of new moon shines, the sky is filled with stars. I’ve watched the blinking of Pleiades, the constellation that seems to be there, but when we look too hard, it disappears. The Milky Way’s millions of stars, light years away, make a path across the heavens. When the moon is full, the stars fade as the night sky becomes almost as light as the day. And there are more. Occasionally, we can thrill to the delicate dance of the northern lights and the excitement and fear that comes when thunder and lightning fills the sky.

When we’ve had enough excitement, we can soak in the peace of a magnificent sunset. Pinks, reds, mauves, spread across the horizon, sometimes feathering out to fill the entire sky. Like fireworks, sunset’s spectacular light show lasts only for minutes before it begins to fade.

On a much smaller scale, mystery comes to a dark night with the magic and surprise of flashing fireflies. They float around me and weave through the trees and long grasses. I can watch for hours, or at least, for as long as I can endure the mosquitoes.

God’s light shows are endless and free, and better than anything produced by Steven Spielberg.  All they require is that we open our eyes to see them. Use your mid-August nights to watch for the meteor showers that cascade through the black sky every year. Every night, when you return home, look up as you step out of your car, or better yet, go for a walk. If you like fireworks, you’ll love God’s beautiful world.

Northern Lights
Northern Lights

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of God’s hand. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

 

Is God’s Supply of Love and Caring Limited?

A sign of God's promise of unconditional love.
A sign of God’s promise of unconditional love.

At the dance last week, we applauded the couple who were chosen as winners of the “spot dance.” They had obviously managed to be in the right place (whatever that place was) when the song finished. I leaned towards one of the other couples and said, “Oh well, I wouldn’t want to waste my luck on such a tiny prize.”

When I think about it, many of us have the same attitude when it comes to asking for God’s help in prayer. Oh yes, we complain to God, and we tell God what we need, but we don’t really expect God’s help in the mundane everyday things, like finding us a parking place when we’re late. We wouldn’t want to waste God’s time and caring on such a little need. We sure wouldn’t want God to get tired of our whining and not be willing to help us when we really need help, when we’re faced with a disaster. We know that we can suffer from compassion fatigue. We don’t want God to have a similar problem, especially when it comes to us.

Does God have a limit to God’s supply of love and caring? I don’t think so. Jesus compared God’s endless and abundant love to that of parental love.  “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:9-11)

For me it is extremely comforting to know that God’s love is limitless. I can’t wear God out when I bring my concerns to God. Just as a mother opens her arms to cuddle a child with a scraped and bleeding knee, God reaches out and draws us under the safety of God’s care when we come with our daily concerns and fears. We can trust that there is nothing too little or too big for our ever loving God.

Can I Pray? Yes!!!!

Talking With God
Talking With God

Is praying a human rights violation? Our Canadian Supreme Court thinks so.

I have another question for the Supreme Court. As a person of faith, “Is NOT being allowed to pray also a human rights violation? Is this atheist’s right to NOT hear a prayer more important than my right to pray?

Since time began people all over the world have struggled to gain the right to pray publically without interference. In our country today we fight to maintain our right to freedom of expression. Somewhere along the line we have lost sight of the fact that freedom of expression applies to people of faith as well as people who have no faith.

Maybe the problem arises from fear of the power of prayer.  Over my life time I have learned that the power of prayer is real and effective. Consulting with God makes a difference for me and for the group.

One thing I know for sure. No law in our land can keep anyone from praying silently. Taking away the right to all outward signs of prayer, cannot take away our ability to pray or the effectiveness of prayer.

Try arriving early for your meeting. Sit in each chair around the meeting table. Pray individually for each group member (including the atheist) and for guidance for the group as a whole. If for some reason you cannot arrive early, practice your prayer at home. I have personally experienced the peace, the wisdom, the harmony that such a prayer ritual can produce.

Even with this Supreme Court Ruling, gov’t leaders can begin meetings with a time of silence, leaving members free to pray, or make a grocery list. The world can drive us quietly underground as we pray, but the world cannot keep us from praying. For that I am truly grateful.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18