Category Archives: Thought for the Day

What does it mean to call yourself a “Christian”?

This morning, I read we are called to be Christs in the world, not Christian. (Madeline L’Engle). Today Madeline’s words spoke to me like thunder and lightning in the darkness of the night. Too often, I hear about “Christians” speaking words of hate and taking actions that are violent, disrespectful, harmful, destructive of other human beings. Over my lifetime, I have learned to love, respect, accept and forgive others, regardless of faith, race, ethnicity, wealth or lack of it. For me, that is the calling of a Christian.

I hear “Christians” quote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” and smugly say, “I’m in; you’re out.” I hear those same Christians quote John 14: 6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” and say, “You don’t believe exactly as I do, therefore God doesn’t love you or care about you. You are a sinner.” From this self-righteous judgment, it is a very short step to fearing those sinners, condemning those sinners and trying to eradicate those sinners from God’s world.

If that is how “Christianity” works, count me out. My faith and those scripture passages have taught me some very important lessons:

  1. God loves God’s world, the whole world, not just the people that I judge worthy.
  1. God loved every person God created so much that God came in Jesus and endured the hatred, the violence that we seem to love so much, and laid down his human life in love, to teach us what love is. God did this, not because I’ve said some special words, or experienced God’s Spirit in one particular way. God did this because I am God’s child and always will be.
  1. I am humbled to think that Jesus loved me enough to come to this world to teach me how to be his “hands, and feet and heart,” and love the world as he did.
  1. When I hear Jesus words, “I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I hear Jesus’ call to love, value, respect all of God’s children. I hear Jesus’ call to love God and love others as he has loved me.
  1. Neither of these scripture passages call me to hatred, fear, violence. Jesus’ Way, Truth, Life was to heal, love, forgive not to destroy.
  1. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ.

I feel as if the word “Christian” has been desecrated. I need a new name, a new identity. Let’s find a new word, a new way to identify ourselves as followers of Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  (John 13:34 NIV)

How Do I Invite God Into My Life?

Last week, I spent time with Psalm 15. It inspired the following .

Hospitality

 

God welcomes all,
All people, all faiths, all races.
We build the barriers
Around our hearts.
We wall God in.
We slam the door.
We turn away.
God waits.

Our loving, forgiving God waits,
Hoping, guiding.
It’s only one step.
Just one short step.
Open the door.
There is no lock.
Pull down the barrier
It’s merely an illusion.
Sink into God’s love.
God is waiting.

I Can Share! Hallelujah!

Aung Soe Myint (11yrs) I really happy for the Christmas time because we got presents and also we have school holiday. In this time we can play together we can eat together and we share our presents to each other. ( left to right Khin Myat Thu  (13yrs), wai Zin Phyoe (12yrs),Ei  Myat Maw (12yrs), Si Thu Aung (12yrs), Khant Paing Oo ( 12yrs), Aung Soe Myint (11yrs).
World Vision – Opportunities for a community’s children 

Today we received the annual report from World Vision for our beautiful foster child Layslla. In her picture we see a sweet young girl with a long ponytail. She looks much like any young girl here in Canada. Our Layslla is growing up. The letter tells us about the things she has learned because of our support. We are truly blessed to be able to be part of this program.

The best part of the World Vision Foster Child program is that the money we send benefits the entire community rather than just one child. When we write letters to Layslla, we are allowed to include little things like small note books, pens, pencils etc. We always send enough for Layslla to share. Sharing is important.

Many of us find it easy to give. We want to share our abundant blessings. We are not as good at receiving. Our culture teaches us that it is not good to be indebted by someone else’s gifts. “I’ll make it on my own, without help,” is a code we often live by. When I received Layslla’s letter today, I was reminded of the gifts we give when we receive help from someone. Our Layslla, gives Tom and I the blessing of being able to share. I am grateful.

Faith and Fear Walk Hand in Hand

Courage
Courage

I’m not sure what is happening. I know only that I have been reading Psalms, traditional and modern, something new. And now poetry is flowing from my pen onto paper, my fingertips onto the keyboard. I’ve been listening to the confusion, the fear, that is filling our hearts as we hear words of intolerance and isolationism shouted at us through the media. Today, as we approach the first Sunday of Advent, I have two poems for you.

Prayer
Prayer

Lament

Hate is spreading.
Intolerance growing.
The icy fingers of fear
are creeping in
through the cracks of our being.
What can I do?

I teach your love.
I write. I speak.
Some listen.
Your love touches a few.
Hatred has gone viral.
Money and knowledge lead the way
Manipulate the media.

One at a time
That was Jesus’ “way”.
A finger in the dyke.
Can that hold back the flood?
Of evil unleashed.
Destruction, murder, genocide
It’s happened before.
It continues to happen.

God says,
“Only love can defeat evil.”
I know from experience,
God’s love can overcome.
God’s love is stronger than death.
God’s love does bring new life.

Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer,
Help us! Please!

Trust
Trust

Advent/Christmas?

A baby is born?
Bringing Wisdom, Compassion
Is there time?

Intolerance grows.
Fear festers.
Evil’s response to love.
A last gasp.
A last grasp for total power.
How big? How long?

I will trust in God,
who walked on water,
healed the sick,
brought sight to the blind.
I will trust in God,
who died in love,
defeated death
brought new life.
I will trust in God.

I will continue to love,
to love this world into new life.
I will trust in God.

This is my faith.

“A Tip for Grace-Filled Living”

love-699480_1920Your Life  Is New Every Morning.

Like many of you, my days are busy. Over my life time, I have developed a daily discipline, beginning each day with God. Last week I picked up Joy Cowley’s “Psalms from Down Under,” and read,

“God, I am awake, this I.
My eyes are open.
My heart beats. My lungs work.
Here and now I have
this sacred gift of me
which is about to unwrap a second gift,
the gift of a bright new day.”

Joy reminded me that even though the weather is grey, my worries remain, my knees and back still grumble with pain, I have been given the precious gift of life for another day. Twenty-four hours to be the best that I can be. Twenty-four hours to do random acts of kindness, to send out thoughts and actions that will bring goodness into this world.

Joy finished her Psalm with yet another reminder. I chuckled as I read:

“If it so happens
That I am clumsy in the unwrapping (of this day),
If I drop or break something,
Then remind me, God,
To be gentle with myself.
There will be another gift tomorrow.”

Yes, Lord, I thought. I can be gentle with myself and with others. I can live this day with gratitude and forgiveness.

My morning reading and prayer-time blesses my day with joy and strength. I recommend you try it. On the internet, at the library & stores, books of daily reflections and bibles abound. As you wait for and drink that first coffee, or tea, or water each morning, read and pray. Ask God to speak to you through the words you read and the events of your day. Over time, you will be surprised at the difference this intentional focus on spiritual learning will make in your life. I call it gathering “Tips for Grace-filled Living.” Remember, you will live through your days regardless. Why not seek wisdom for your living?

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

A Sunday Dinner

summer-still-life-783347_1920

Last night, Tom and I sat on my daughter’s deck with family and friends. Some of the circle were missing. Sickness, work, life had led them to different places at that moment. We ate well from a simple and delicious meal prepared with love. We shared stories of the past and present, and we shared dreams for the future. I felt love’s mantle enfold us and with it came inner peace.

It was just a Sunday dinner; a rare occasion in today’s world; a quiet gathering. For me, it was a glimpse of heaven. I could have missed it. We could have gone home early or been too busy to come. I could have been focused on my own concerns, but last night, my heart was open – open to God’s special gift of love. In Biblical terms, “Last night, I joined Moses as he saw the burning bush, took off his shoes and walked on “holy ground.” I’m truly grateful.

I’ve been practicing. Just as a child needs to learn to stop, look and listen before he/she crosses the street, I have been learning to stop, open my heart, look and listen for the moments of joy that God offers us daily.

I recommend you start this journey for yourself. It means letting go of whatever is going on in your mind – plans, frustrations, fears, worries –  letting go for just a few moments so that you can become aware of the love and joy around you.

All God needs is a crack in our armor, just a crack. Open your heart to the love that surrounds you. Whether it’s the joy that comes with a stranger’s smile, a child’s laughter, or a dog’s cold nose on your arm, let it in. These moments will stay with you. Their memory will give you strength in your darkest hours.

Remember, God’s “holy ground” is where you are at the moment. And…Don’t forget to give thanks.

My thought this morning is, “With moments like last night as part of God’s heaven, I have no fear of death.”

Thought for the Day – “May I Enjoy It?”

prague-226869_1920

I woke early this morning, sat in the brilliant beautiful sunshine and prayed. When I picked up my journal to write, the following words flowed from my pen. Maybe they will speak to some of you.

Tom and I have committed to taking a river cruise in Europe. We’ve read the brochures, discussed it with friends and are excited about our trip of a lifetime. This week we paid the last and largest installment. Wow!

I am struggling with the extravagance of this holiday. Over my lifetime, I have had only three other holidays that were not connected with visiting family or friends. Each of those were as inexpensive as possible.

This river cruise is totally different. It will be fifteen days of living in “the lap of luxury.” A trip designed for total enjoyment. As always, Tom and I will see and learn new things – but this time do it “first class”.

I feel like I am living the scripture story about the woman pouring expensive perfumed oil on Jesus’ head and feet. I can hear some complain, “What a waste – extravagance. That oil could have been sold and the money used to buy food for the poor.”

Today, those words are marching across my mind. I’m aware that the complainers’ words in this scripture passage have guided a great deal of my thinking over the years. Caring for and sharing with others has always been more important than caring for me. In fact, I believe that is Jesus’ “Way”. Yet, in this particular story, Jesus says, “Leave her alone. She has done something good. I have received a blessing. The poor will always be with you but I will not.” In essence, he says, “Let me receive this luxury, this blessing. (Mark 14:1-6; John 12:1-8)

Today, I’m focusing on Jesus words. The money for this trip has come as a family gift through inheritance. It has not been earned by either of us. We make this journey not because we’ve worked hard and deserve it. We make this journey because it is a blessing of love. Our task is to enjoy, to learn and to know we are valued. We don’t know what the future holds, but for sure we know we are called to be God’s committed servants striving to be the hands and heart of Christ loving the world.

Even Jesus had times apart, times for renewal and times of luxury. I give thanks to God for the love of family that has enabled this wonderful opportunity. May this extravagance equip us to serve God more faithfully every day.