Category Archives: God’s Power

Will I Get It Right?

 

God is part of the equation.

Last week a lady picked up my book, “Can I Hold Him?” She held it close for a second and said, “God touched my heart as I heard you tell one of these stories tonight. She bought two copies and handed one to me to sign. “I’ll read this one before I give it away,” she said. I watched her walk away bubbling over with her experience of God’s Spirit.

Too often we think that everything in life depends on us. We tell ourselves, “I’d better get that presentation right or God’s message won’t be heard. I’d better use the right words in that prayer or God won’t hear it. I can’t be a visitor for the church or serve on the board, I’m not good enough, or I don’t know enough.” I’ve heard people also say, “We can’t baptize that child, her parents never darken the door of the church. It will just be an empty ritual.”

Everything does not depend on us. God is our partner. God doesn’t just stand by and watch, waiting for us to make a mistake. God works with us using our efforts, however great or faulty, to bring God’s peace and joy. When God asks us to tell someone about our faith, God doesn’t abandon us to flap around trying to find the “right” words. God uses what we do and say. When we baptize a child, God’s Spirit reaches out and touches that child in a very special way. The belief and commitment of both parents and church family is important but the ritual will never be empty no matter how faulty we are. God acts and the child is blessed.

As you go about your daily tasks, at work, at school, at home remember you’re not alone. God is right beside you bringing forth God’s love and plans from all you do.

Jesus said, “I am with you always…” Matthew 28:20

 

 

 

How To Avoid Power Failure

My laptop computer is getting old and cranky. The battery power lasts for only an hour, and then it fails. I almost always try to find an outlet where I can plug in.

As the years pass, I too feel as if the battery that supplies my energy is failing. Although I know a good diet and exercise will help, what I really want is a power outlet. I’d like to plug in to a life source and get a dose of new life. I’m just like the rest of humanity that has searched for that “fountain of youth” for centuries.

This week, in my Bible, I read Isaiah 40:27-31. “They shall rise up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” The message for me was that when my battery gets low, I can plug in to God. I know that God does not promise a new young body, but God will ensure that I have the energy I need for the tasks that God has for me.

How do we plug in to God? The first step is prayer. When we take time to talk and to listen to God, we are opening ourselves to God’s power. Step two is to pick up our Bibles and begin to read. Start with the book of Mark, the shortest of the stories of Jesus’ life. Don’t just zoom through it. Read a short section. Think about it. Read it again. Focus on what God is saying to your life in that story. Talk with God about it. Step three: Talk with a friend about what you need and what you are learning. You’ll be amazed at the renewed strength and energy you will have.

“God gives power to the weak and to those who have no might. God increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:29)

Held to Account

This week’s Old Testament reading and the daily news have led me to write the following:

The last few weeks, Pennsylvania State Universityhas dominated the news. An assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, has been convicted of sexual abuse. The administration of the university knew what this man was doing, and took no action. The glory of their sports program took priority over individuals. The team assistant eventually had the courage to reveal Sandusky’s behaviour, Confronting the powerful is not easy.
            Our Bible tells a similar story of King David using his power to steal Bathsheba and manipulate the death of her husband. The prophet Nathan had the courage to confront King David for his behaviour. (2 Samuel 12) Hopefully, most of us will not have such a difficult task. Still there is a lesson to be learned from both of these stories.
            In many congregations, work environments, schools, there are people that we class as cranky. Because we know that underneath their often brusque manner and harsh words is a generous and hard working individual, we don’t want to hurt them. Instead we rush in to assure the victims of the sharp remark or negative words with: “Just let her words roll of your back, that’s just who she is.” Or “Just ignore his tone, he means well, he’s just passionate about that issue.” We make excuses and hope that the timid and sensitive among us learn to give these people a wide berth. In essence, we cover-up and make excuses, just like the head coach at Penn State University.
            Our lack of action facilitates the person in their dysfunction, and it is not loving. I’ve met too many lonely people in nursing homes, who all their lives have rode roughshod over others. Now in their final years, nurses struggle to be compassionate, family and friends come grudgingly to visit.
The story of Nathan and King David tells me that God would like us to hold up a mirror, as Nathan did. Giving someone the opportunity to see and understand the damage he/she actually causes, opens the way for transformation.
Yes confrontation requires courage. Yes, it requires love. Yes, it requires prayer. When we seek God’s help, we can give our “cranky” friend the opportunity for new life.

Just Plunge Right In

Living close to SturgeonLake means that I can find relief from hot weather with a daily dip in the lake’s cool water. On busy days, it can be nine at night, before I think, “Oh yes, I haven’t yet had my swim.” Still, I grab my towel and trot down to the beach. At night, the mosquitoes make sure I don’t stand on the shore cautiously dipping my toes to see if the water’s cold. With their help, I plunge right in. As I stretch out in that cool refreshing water, all the cares of the day recede. I turn my eyes to the stars glistening in the sky, and the moon’s silvery path across the water. God is good, I think.

In some ways, our attitude to God’s call is a lot like my attitude to swimming. We know that doing God’s work daily will bring joy and refreshment, but far too often, when God calls on us with a leadership role, we hang back. Whether it’s chairing a committee, organizing the strawberry supper, teaching Sunday School, or joining the church visitation team, we’re afraid. Will we be able to do it? Do we have the skills?

God doesn’t use mosquitoes or any kind of force to get us to choose God’s way. God does promise to be with us, giving us the strength, the wisdom and the help we need. When we set aside our fears and plunge in, we’re often amazed. Before long, we’re doing the job and enjoying it.

The bottom line is that we cannot enjoy the cool refreshing water as long as we stand on the sea shore. We cannot receive the joy of growing and learning with God without conquering our fear of what lies ahead. We can say yes to leadership. We can plunge right into the water because God is with us. Remember God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called. Thanks be to God.

 

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 6-7)

Graduation

Last Sunday, graduation pictures of church members, a congratulations sign, streamers, and balloons decorated our church sanctuary as we celebrated all the young people of our congregation who were graduating from Senior Kindergarten, grade eight, high school and university. During our minister’s conversation with the children, one young Mom announced that her son had just graduated from diapers to using the potty.
The scripture that morning described the confrontation between the shepherd boy David and the Philistine giant Goliath. Throughout the story, David declares that, strengthened by God’s presence within him, he can use his God-given talents to do God’s work. David needed only the courage of his faith, his ordinary slingshot and five smooth stones to complete the task.
            Although I have never liked this violent story, it carried a message for me and, I hope, for our graduates. During our lifetime, we will be faced with difficult tasks. Sometimes, like David, we’ll be aware of the importance of the task for ourselves and the world. Much of the time, we’ll think that our efforts will go unnoticed. But all of the time, we can draw on God’s strength. We can have courage because we know that God is with us, and has provided the gifts God knows we need to do the job.
            Last Sunday, as we congratulated our young people, I hoped that their time among us had helped them know four things:
1.      They are God’s precious children.
2.      God is always with them, giving them strength and hope.
3.      Their church family supports them with prayer and love.
4.      God asks that they live a life of love for others, for God and for themselves.
 The Lordwho rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  1 Samuel 17:37

Worry

I’m good at worrying. At night, sleep eludes me as I conjure up scenario after scenario. What if this happened? Or that?  I’m like a dog chewing at a bone, a relentless and determined worrier.
            Friends tell me to “let go and let God.” I know that’s good advice, but it’s not easy to follow. How can I trust God? God has given us the gift of free will? Free will means that my loved one can refuse God’s help. What then?
Because we love, we envision chaos that may never happen. It’s hard to accept the fact that we can’t make all the decisions for our precious child. When children are little, we can rush in and fix things.  Once they are teenagers, our fixes are unwanted. Teens, in their desire for independence, can be cruel as they reject our well-intentioned efforts. They leave us with no alternative but worry. But we don’t have to worry alone.
            I get up in the middle of the night, harassed by my fears and write a letter to God. I dump on God all my worries and all my wise solutions. The page full, I sit quietly waiting, waiting for help. It amazes me that God always answers. I hear. “Keep on loving. Love that child or friend, no matter what. You may have to declare some behaviour unacceptable, for it won’t help to be walked on. Still, keep on loving. Entrust the future to me, your God. I have a plan. Trust in me to work out that plan. I will never leave your loved one.” So I return to bed. In the morning, I may pick up that worry once again, but at least for a few hours, I have received God’s peace.
I give thanks to God that my worries draw me to prayer. The cycle of worry-prayer-peace has value for it keeps me in contact with God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)