Sunday, October 5, 2014

a good God

weary soul, aching with hurt and loss.
trusting. but, deep inside, a question lingers.
confused. believing in a good God.
a powerful God.
a powerful God who allows hurt?

the puzzle pieces will not align.
what does it mean?

then, a glimpse. a little boy who doesn't understand.
but fully trusts the ones who choose pain for him.
pain with a beautiful purpose.

a good God after all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

a simple look at Leviticus, I mean really simple

I've been reading Leviticus lately for a "big picture" message from God - asking Him, " What did you want me to really get from all this?" All the conditions, loopholes, "ifs", and "thens" are overwhelming in their exactness. I know there are many reasons God gave this book and it is a prototype for creating laws, but for me...what does God have to say to me? And I'm only 6 chapters in, but I'm starting to think the answers may not lie in deep understanding and heavy word-study, but in my initial honest reaction to what I am reading. That reaction is simple: "Wow, controlling everyone's sin is complicated and overwhelming." And that reaction sets me up to really appreciate Jesus' teaching. "Guys, aren't you tired of all this sorting and finger-pointing? It's all about the heart. Follow Me"

Thursday, June 5, 2014

guest post - by Colin (my OTL)

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 

Matthew 5:19

“Peter, Andrew, James, John…let’s go for a walk.  You have been living your life all these years on the sea.  Come let me show you what you should see.” Immediately they left all and followed him.

Where did he take them?  Did they just stay on the well-worn paths?  Did they visit all the typical sites of business and commerce, trade and tourism?  Yes they went to all of the synagogues but it wasn’t to talk religion.  They went all over proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.  Jesus didn’t just talk about the kingdom; he showed them about the kingdom.  He got right down with the sick, the diseased, and the oppressed and healed them all.  He was more concerned about the marginalized than the rich and influential.  Untouchable leper?  The ugly and deformed?  The poor and hungry?  Mentally and spiritually oppressed and dysfunctional? He went to them.  He found them where they were and he healed them all.  He didn’t judge, he loved.  He didn’t see damaged goods that should be thrown away, he saw people who were hurting.


And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 

                                                                                                            Matthew 8:19-20

Jesus was street engaged.  He had no home.  Do you think that he understands what it is to be homeless?  The King of Kings could have had all that any man could ever want or need, but he chose the streets.  He knew that to reach the poor and oppressed he needed to be with them.  And so he walked.  He walked for over three years with his disciples.  He tried to teach them not to see the problem but to see the person.  Worn old woman with an issue of blood to be avoided?  No a loving child of God who needed but a touch.  A dangerous, fearful demon possessed oddity to be chained and left in the tombs for dead?  No a man who needed to hear the words of God and is now seated and in his right mind.


And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

                                                                                                            Matthew 9:35-38


I recently went on a street walk with Grace Street Mission.  It was one of the most impactful evenings I can remember.  We walked through a city that I thought I knew.  In amongst the high price condos, busy commercial streets and high rise business towers are some of the most marginalized people of Halifax.  Oh I have seen the homeless around, begging on the street corners.  I have passed the addict sitting on the side of the street.  This walk showed me that although I may have looked at these people, I had never really seen them.  Where do they sleep?  What do they eat?  How are they able to practice basic personal hygiene? What do they do for companionship, friendship?  Do they worry about their safety? In my little bubble world, I never stopped to see the addict as a person.  I have never tried to understand the mentally and spiritually oppressed and the challenge that is really theirs.  We are always taught to not give them any money…they will only spend it on drugs or alcohol.  Maybe…but what would they be willing to do to get the money they need?  When others look at you like trash you tend not to see the value that you have and are willing to do almost anything, no matter how degrading, to get what you need.  When I help them, I am giving them dignity.  I am saying that you don’t need to do what you were about to do.  You are a person and not trash.  The same people who taught us not to give to the addict always taught us the importance of leaving a tip at a restaurant.  Do you judge how your server will spend the money?  Does the clean cut, polite waiter deserve my money any more than the dirty unkempt guy on the street corner? 

I was challenged when I looked at how Jesus looked at the needy.  He looked with compassion.  People who are on the street don’t need our pity, they need our compassion.  That being said, I know that it isn’t possible for me to spend all my time down on the streets helping others.  With that in mind I started looking at others that are in need around me.  What about the lonely student away from home?  What about the single mother suffering from depression and is overwhelmed with raising her children on her own?  What about the husband struggling to find work to support his family?  Don’t just look around you…see around you.  The harvest is great and the workers are few.  In some small way I choose to be a worker of compassion today.  If you ask him, Jesus might take you on a walk today.  If he does, you will never be the same.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

one short evening at the MacDougalls

I always forget just how easy it is to make any meal taste gourmet - just add goat cheese. Tonight I arrived home from work an hour later than usual (about 730) because I stopped to visit a friend's mom who is in hospital after a heart attack. The girls had made a "snack plate" to hold them over till supper. A snack plate is any meat, cheese, veggies, and fruit they can find in the fridge. And pickles. Always pickles. When I got home, I put some bacon in the oven, mixed up some pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fruit. I also reheated some leftover burgers in the oven. (Ashlin's not a fan of breakfast-for-supper.) My burger was topped with goat cheese, bacon, mayo, mustard, and pickles. It was so delicious. Thank you, goat cheese; you saved the day again! After supper, it was bedtime for Laurie, Marcella got a shower, and Ashlin worked on homework at the table while I washed the dishes. It was a short but lovely evening.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

but I waaant it!

I feel like I think I should be able to do whatever I want and not have it affect my life in any way. Spiritually, I'm a Starbucks-sipping, Uggs-wearing white girl; petulantly expecting Daddy to pay for everything with no responsibility on my part. Sure, I throw him a hug and a "thank you, Daddy" once in a while. Then it's right back to frivolously enjoying privileges that cost me nothing. Privileges that I have come to count as my right. Who hasn't seen this spoiled child and thought, "She just needs a little hardship in her life. That would give her a little depth of character."?

Thank you, God, for the difficulties and trouble you put in my life. Thank you that, like a good parent, you allow some things in my life that will help shape me and give me depth of character.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

little lambs

Once a little lamb was born and the Shepherd could tell it was a feeble little lamb who would easily be led astray - who would not readily know the Shepherd's voice. So He slipped a bell around the neck of another little lamb; her sister, born only the summer before. This lamb would know the Shepherds call and would guide the little one in the right paths through the lush valleys and steep mountains. As time went on, the bell became a burden to the older lamb, but she bore it gladly because of her love for the little lamb. Only the Shepherd ever knew how effective and necessary was that bell. One day, when both lambs had grown into wise old ewes, the younger one realized what a gift the older one had been to her and how she had carried an extra burden for all those years, just for her. And she wept at the beauty and importance of the gift.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

whose sin?

John chapter 9 begins with Jesus and his disciples walking along together when they see a man who had been born blind. I assume they know this because they are familiar with the man - in any case, they are aware that he was born that way. Jesus' disciples/students are curious about the current issues facing such people and are trying to figure it all out using the leading theories of the day. Since, in their minds, it was a given that disability was a result of sin, they were curious as to whose sin caused this disability. I mean, it only makes sense that it wasn't the baby - he was born with the problem and could hardly have sinned before birth. And if it were the parents, why was their child struck with the disability, and not themselves? They knew just who to ask - Jesus was so wise and would be able to solve this issue once and for all. But that's not how it happened. Jesus hardly answered their question. They gave him both options - it wasn't a yes or no question - it was an "either/or" question, but Jesus' answer: "No, it wasn't." And then he went on to talk about God's work being displayed and about being the light of the world. Hardly the answer they were looking for. Sure, this man's blindness might have been just so Jesus could do a miracle, but what about all the other people who had disabilities? Jesus healed many, but he didn't heal everyone. And what about those people's sin? Surely that had to be addressed.
 The more I think about this story, the more I realize that Jesus said more by what he didn't say than what he did. When we give God a multiple-choice question, we rarely get an answer. We now believe that disabilities, whether someone is born with it or develops it later, are not a direct result of that person's or anyone else's sin. So we can see the foolishness of the disciples' question. But it wasn't foolish to them, and it was many years before those thoughts about disabilities were changed. This all makes me wonder what multiple-choice questions I am putting to God - not even aware that it is my thinking that needs to change. I believe Jesus' answer displays his infinite wisdom. He simply says it is not because of sin. He doesn't give an intellectual formula that explains all the sickness in the world. Rather, he shifts their focus to things they do need to know and understand.
 There are many things I don't understand - many "current issues" that I would love to sort out and have a simple answer for. Then I could easily state my beliefs and pick a side of the issue and take a stand against the wrong side. However, it's not difficult to see where that would lead. No, Jesus would just tell me, "No, you haven't figured it out. But remember, I already told you what was most important: Love God and love your neighbour."