Posts from the ‘Personal Stories’ Category

Less Load Love

I love my wife, and my family, and clan.

When extra pain enters our world an extra weight falls upon me. I care.

Today two things were given to me. The first I know and just needed a reminder, “Casting all your care upon God Who cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) is a decision and an action.

The second thing is that I love my family, but no matter how deep and wide that love is, it cannot compare to the love which Jesus has for each of those in my love bubble. The love I express falls short, and so in order to love them as much as they deserve, I have to love with God’s love, not my limited human love. It is human arrogance that says I will love and that will help. It simply adds a load, however if I let God’s Spirit love through me, it not only is bigger love, but Jesus is bearing some of the load for love and lightens my own weight and allows me to focus more on The One Who Is Love and less on my caring and, often, inability to cause a positive result with the ones around me.

Human love resides primarily in emotions. If I let God love I can care more deeply, more effectively act for the loved one, and not be drained by emotions that are usually magnified by seeing the pain and not having a ready fix.

At this moment I need this lesson to be carved on my soul. It is the only way to get through.

What Happened?

Like others who blog I follow blogs. But something has happened over time. Only 9 of the bloggers have posted anything in the last year! What happened?

So, O God, I pray for those people who have shared their thoughts and lives with me through blogs over the years. For those who no longer feel called to write, may they know they were appreciated. For those whose lives are in such a place that they no longer have the time or energy to write, I lift them up to You in Your mercy. If any have passed through the veil into Your heavenly arms, I pray for their family and close friends and colleagues. Jesus, I am grateful for the contributions that each made in my spiritual journey, and the glory they brought to Your Name.

Be Content

During our morning devotions today this came into my mind:

I am not spiritually weak because of this pandemic, and I am not obsessed with gathering in person with others who name Jesus as Saviour to get back to “normal”. God has not left me during this time, nor left me without an abundant supply of spiritual food. Indeed, I have never felt alone nor unattached to the people of faith in my life. A strong binding has kept my spiritual comrades close to my heart, in my mind’s eye and in thoughts and prayers.

And then this thought entered the process, one which has both intrigued me and encouraged me for 17 years:

In the Ojibwe language there is no word for “good-bye”! Whether someone is physically present or not, the connection remains intact over time and distance because being face-to-face does not determine the depth of affection and attachment to the people in our life.

The Words of God in the Bible are even more lively and penetrating (Hebrews 4:12) than ever before as I am given a clearer vision of the heavenly realm and reign of Christ on earth.

“So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!…Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!…The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable…I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:1-13 God’s Word Translation©, selected).

We do not need others in order to live with Christ, but we need The Spirit free in us to live with others!

A World of Gods

There is a common story across religions of humans wanting to be gods resulting in rebellion, pride and division. Still today there are people who claim to be spiritual, but live with a lust for personal power, not service. They show no respect to anyone (despite deceptive words to the contrary) and use personal perspective to judge everything and everybody. And they are so wrapped up in their infinite wisdom and unshakable “rightness” they have no room for empathy or humility, despite verbal claims of loyalty to these principles.

So, after decades of experience (including much formal training) and a history of victimization based on my race, gender, religious affiliation and economic status I have something to say:

Praying during worship in Tanzania

I chose, and still choose, heavenly love. I remain loyal to The Almighty, not to any religious institution, dogma or doctrine. Service to Creator and creation costs everything, but I would rather be tormented as a child of The One Who Made me than have an inflated public image of importance and power. I will continue to confirm the accuracy of my observations of others before I complain about, or condemn, people. Reconciliation with the Family who share this Earth is far better than humiliating others for personal advancement or “proving” superiority of personal ideology. To alter a famous line from a famous poem (“Paradise Lost”), “I would rather be the lowliest servant in the household of The Divine One than a governor in the world of evil and hate.”

I pray I would start hearing people tell me stories of humble collegiality instead of betrayal and self-aggrandizement. I would be filled with a soul-joy if I met more people who thought social responsibility was a higher ideal than personal rights and opinions.

The life I have chosen is to follow, without religious trappings, the Jesus of the Bible: Saviour and Only Judge.

Under an Evil Spell

I was in dialogue with a person about a present-day issue. I referred to one of the places in the Bible where this issue is addressed. The response was, “But what limitation do you put on it?”

In my mind I answered, “None!”

This person is one of the too many who have abandoned Scripture and live loyally to the interpretation their religious group places on the Bible. They were inviting me to accept their dogma, which totally negates what God says in The Holy Word. I could not join their heresy.

Several times recently Galatians 3:1-5** has been thrown into my view. It breaks my heart to think that there are so many people who have been “bewitched” into thinking their ideology, their efforts, their self-appointed heroism and their actions which are affirmed only by like-minded individuals (even though rejected by spiritual Christians) constitute righteousness. Alas, it is merely self-righteousness, the spiritual condition of the 1st century Pharisees who opposed Jesus.

Since the modern-day Galatians who are “under an evil spell” (and those at early Ephesus according to Revelation, also) have lost their first love they are called to “repent” (Revelation 2:1-7). If they do not repent Jesus will “come to [them] quickly and remove [their] lampstand from its place”. My call on them to repent has been met with a closed mind, so far, but I keep praying. They do not realize that their “everlasting life” (John 3:16) is at stake!

** “You stupid people of Galatia! Who put you under an evil spell? Wasn’t Christ Jesus’ crucifixion clearly described to you? I want to learn only one thing from you. Did you receive the Spirit by your own efforts to follow the laws in the Scriptures or by believing what you heard? Are you that stupid? Did you begin in a spiritual way only to end up doing things in a human way? Did you suffer so much for nothing? [I doubt] that it was for nothing! Does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you through your own efforts or through believing what you heard?

Ironic Success

As I was in prayer today thanking God for the day, I also had to confess my sins, expressing with gratitude that God keeps teaching and training me. I also said that I chose to be a good student.

At that moment God flashed into my mind’s eye the great irony of that. I am beyond retirement age, with 3 university degrees and 2 professional certificates and I am still a pupil in the Saviour’s school learning the most difficult career with the most-required continuing education of any vocation in the world, namely, being a servant of the Most High God Almighty.

I have taught courses in 3 different seminaries and 2 Lay Schools and yet I am only barely qualified, with many provisos, to be a servant!

May I ever revel in being the least to point people to Creator God Who is the Most.

Not much wonder the Bible emphasizes humility and holiness over works and achievements.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)” (Philippians 3:8 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition©).

This Week

It has been a week unlike any other.

Saturday my only brother died suddenly of a massive stroke.

On Monday into Tuesday morning we traveled the 10-hour round trip to the funeral home.

Only hours after we got home I was called to the hospital where our very good friend had spent hours very sick and they were sending her home. They were overwhelmed there in the Emergency Room with so many patients that she was not fully treated.

I stayed with her for 8 hours before having to call the ambulance again to return her to the hospital for overnight.

Wednesday I again drove her home, and even though it seemed they had treated her as needed this time I stayed for a few hours to be sure.

Thursday I made a list for 5 people and went shopping. (We do that, so that when we go to a store we can reduce the need for others to go to the same store, during these pandemic restrictions.) That meant delivering to 3 others right away both in town and out.

Friday, by the grace of God, I recorded a video of the chapel service which, since the pandemic, I have done weekly for the retirement residence where my Mother-in-law lives.

This is the stolen tree

Friday afternoon someone came up on the front porch and stole the light tree which my brother had given to my Mother this past Christmas. The police would not take a report because such minor incidents are to be reported using their online system. I did get it completed.

Then I posted the theft on social media hoping someone might know something. It was shared well over 150 times. Someone, a complete stranger, offered to replace it! (Alas, it cannot be replaced because it was a seasonal item and is no longer in stock.)

So here I sit at 11:30am on Saturday, exhausted, processing my grief, shocked by the emotional impact of the theft, drained from making the chapel video, drinking my third big mug of coffee.

In my spirit I am finding a peace that passes human understanding, but my body feels like it has been run over, stepped on and robbed blind.

I know we are not the only family stressed out like this. I am not asking for pity. I am saying if you can identify be assured we are praying for everyone who feels like they could be the one who wrote this.

But for you I repeat what I wrote to our dear friend in Africa, “God is our Rock and Salvation”.

Godly Protest

How do I know when to be a protester? I have protested against the government, very publicly, and this is the basis I follow for knowing when to protest and when to adapt. This is not theory, dogma or philosophical thinking. This is what I have lived, and God grant I will never lower this standard.

  1. If I gain any personal benefit from the successful outcome of the protest, it is wrong to proceed. If I gain then my actions may be (or become) selfish, and even if only the appearance is that I stand to gain, then my protest is not driven by God.
  2. If people affirm my object, and I am energized by that, I cannot proceed. Right is right, and if I need human compliments to be strong in the cause I have no cause that comes from God.
  3. If I gain fame or notoriety from my actions I must stop. The cause is not for me, and if I become the focal point of the protest I have lost the purpose. For example, during a protest I help organize the media wanted to interview me. I had to decline assertively as they did not want to take “No” as an answer. Another person, who had no role in the protest at all, came to the scene and basked in the media coverage, gaining brownie points for advancement. That was as it should be.
  4. If people oppose what I am doing this is to be expected. If I stand for a godly cause and purpose then evil people and religious zealots will become vocal and actual enemies. If religion supports my cause I stop. God does not work through religious institutions, who have power, but through The Spirit whose purpose is to bring glory to God alone, not through financial, political or cultural clout.
  5. If at any point I trade humility for pride in what I am doing, I am compelled to cease. Human pride, close-minded confidence and disregard for spiritual wisdom from Scripture mean I am off the rails.

I have never published this testimony before, but in the present age I felt led this afternoon to be vulnerable and make this known.

May God “receive glory and honour and power” (Revelation 4:11).

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Our second daughter, as a newborn, would let no one carry her or comfort her except my wife. This went on for a little while and then I refused to let it go on any longer because my wife was wearing out. Besides, I was her Father.

So I picked her up. She screamed. After awhile it turned to crying. A little later it transformed into a whimper. Finally she went to sleep. After that I could care for her.

My wife and I with our 3 oldest Grandchildren, 2005

During this ordeal of behaviour modification my wife had to leave the house. A nursing Mother not only has an emotional reaction to her crying baby, but also a physical one.

I was just sitting here remembering that incident because a life event triggered a different memory, and this flashed into my mind afterwards.

It is for me a picture of how humans treat God. We complain when God reaches out to care for us, because we want it the way we want it and there is no compromise. So God performs a transformation to open our hearts to the mothering of our Creator, and it is sometimes an ordeal. (Imagine, we fight being cared for by the Creator of the universe Whose love transcends all limits!)

What my wife endured reminds me of how we look on at God working and we judge it and condemn it and blaspheme our dear Saviour because we do not understand what is going on, yet in our humanity we assume we are all-knowing and can stand in judgment against the eternal, just and infinitely fair Judge.

Let God Do the Talking

What you get out of it is not what you put into it!

That is a deception from the evil one. Read more…