Tag Archives: choices

Hypocrites

It’s Advent and I have been out selling books at church craft sales. For me, it’s a struggle to sit behind a table, try to catch someone’s eye and say hello. I’m not a salesperson, but I do want people to read what I have written. Very often, people glance at my table, read the signs and keep right on walking. I can only think that they see the words “anchored in faith” and make the judgment – Don’t look at those books. They’ll be selling religion.”

One of the biggest heartaches for me as a Christian is the judgment of today’s world that all Christians are fanatics and hypocrites. As I talked with the people who had the courage to stop at my table anyway, I heard stories of difficulties experienced with “religious people”. One man said, “I used to be involved with a church, but the people weren’t helpful. They said they were being followers of Jesus’ way, but they weren’t. They spoke the words, but they didn’t live them. I didn’t leave God, I just left religion and the church.” He walked away his mind closed to my message of God’s peace and love because, in his mind, all church people are hypocrites.

Today, it is widely believed that church people should be able to totally live as Jesus taught. They should always be compassionate; never judge; always accept everyone. The list of “should” goes on and on. Christians should be perfect. When we’re not, our message is thrown away.

My suggestion, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31NIV) Christianity is a life journey. As Christians, we go astray at times, some of us further than others. We get tired; we are grumpy at times. We are passionate; we get lost in our enthusiasm and overwhelm others. We have all the temptations to greed, violence, whatever and we make bad choices.  We are not perfect.

What we have learned through experience is that together, we can more often make good choices. Together we can encourage one another. Together we are stronger, more able to live that unconditional love that Jesus taught. Together, we learn and grow in our understanding of Jesus’ message. Our religious rituals help us on the journey. Being church people helps us live the faith. Christmas is a perfect example. As we gather this Christmas, to hear once again the story of the baby born in difficult circumstances to ordinary parents, our hearts will soar at the peace, hope, joy, and love that fills our souls. Once again, we will be renewed and drawn back to the journey of a life of Christian love.

Which Choice Do I Make?

Which Choice Do I Make?

By Janet Stobie

Decisions, deccisions!
Decisions, deccisions!

This spring I turned seventy. I look around at my friends who have happy lives. They’re enjoying their homes, their families, their church. They have gardens and volunteer work. Their lives look good to me right now. I too have a life much like theirs, but with something added. I write – this newspaper column, short stories and books. At the moment, my supply of my latest book “Fireweed” is dwindling. It’s time to order another batch of 500. My website needs updating. It’s time to book speaking engagements for the fall and winter. I am poised between truly retiring and continuing my ministry.

I discussed my choices with Tom. I wondered if those greener pastures in which my friends live are what I want and need. I heard his encouragement for carrying on. He spoke of his willingness to continue being the supportive mate and his enjoyment of “our” ministry. I spent time in prayer. I wrote my daily letter to God with the pros and cons and the question, “God, what do you need of me?” I wrote some more and slowly the words came into my mind, “Use your gifts. That’s why I gave them to you. Enjoy, you’re not quite finished yet.”

I picked up a book, And Not One Bird Stopped Singing, by D. M. Jones, and read the words, “You cannot choose how you’re going to die, but you can choose how you’re going to live.” I thought, already, I’m the first customer in Greg and Andrew’s new website marketing business www.4hundred4.ca . OK, God, I hear you. Maybe next year or in ten years, maybe then I’ll slow down, actually retire. This is my choice, a good choice for me. Like many seniors, who keep on into their eighties and nineties, I choose to live to my fullest ability, to accept the joy of spreading God’s message. I choose to fly on God’s Spirit, to trust in God.

That’s how I make decisions. Try it.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”    (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Can These Bones Live?

He’s Lost His Way.

Last month, forty-four year old Jaye entered a treatment facility for drugs and alcohol. I have loved and prayed for Jaye since he was a little boy. He lost his way a long time ago. 

I’m reminded of the bible story of Ezekiel and the valley filled with the dry bones of people who had been dead a long time.

First, God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” testing Ezekiel’s understanding. When Ezekiel answers, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know ,” God asks Ezekiel to prophesy, to speak his belief that God can give those bones the miracle of life.

As I read the story, I hear my doubts. Can Jaye actually stay for the entire year-long program? Can he stay clean once he leaves? I asked the question of God,

“Can these bones live?”

Jaye didn’t make it. He was gone in less than two weeks. The prophesying by the leaders in the facility had barely begun. I’m disappointed.

I wanted the miracle.

The difference of course between Jaye and the valley of dry bones, is the gift of free will. Unlike the people in the valley of dry bones,

Jaye is alive and thus has the God-given choice between life and death.

Tonight I pray for Jaye and his parents.

Ezekiel said, “Sovereign Lord, only you alone know.” (Isaiah 37: 3)

Accepting some of the choices that our loved ones make can be the toughest thing we do in life.

Eventually, we have to let go of our dreams for them, and our responsibility. Eventually, we have to entrust our loved ones to God.

 

God alone can bring new life.

 

God alone knows when and how our loved one will choose to be transformed.