Monthly Archives: January 2012

Conviction of Faith : Believing Without Proof


 

As you now know, I recently read Day 289 from The Message//Remix:Solo which was entitled “Getting Our Way”.  This was a reflection on Galatians 5, more specifically 5:16-17, 19-23.  Following the Bible text are suggested ideas to think about, pray about, and ideas for living out the message.

“LIVE

Hold one of the following words in front of you today; exuberance, serenity, willingness,compassion, conviction.  Let the word permeate what you do.”

Conviction.  If you do a search on the internet for conviction and hit the news filter you will get 82,500 hits.  If you narrow the filter to “conviction of beliefs” there are 5,040. If you change the filter to “conviction of faith” there are 29.  In a society where our TV channels seem filled primarily with crime solving and detective stories, it is little wonder that our first thought with this word has to do with the legal term and not faith.

“Word Origin & History

conviction

late 15c., “the proving of guilt,” from L. convictionem, noun of action from convincere (see convince). Meaning “mental state of being convinced” is from 1690s; that of “firm belief, a belief held as proven” is from 1841.”

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

“A firm belief held as proven.”  Note that it does not say, “proven” but rather, “held as proven.”  In an ever more secular society we seem to be all about proof!  One of my kids’ favourite shows is Myth Busters and they have been heard to state, partly in jest, that if something isn’t proven on the show, it is not true.  As a corollary to that, of course, they believe that if something is proven on Myth Busters then it must really be true. 

My point is not to judge this television show, but to reflect the pervasive disbelief in society.  If you compliment someone they are likely to correct you, or try to figure out what your motivation was.  We are suspicious of motives, actions, and people themselves.  With all the people showing us all the good reasons why God doesn’t exist, they are missing the point completely!

If God was something you could prove, like the theory of gravity, then it wouldn’t be God.  Sometimes I think to myself that I must be losing it intellectually to believe in creation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, etc.  But I will stick with my conviction.  I hold the existence and goodness of God as proven even though I have seen no empirical proof. After all, I believe that all humans are equal and there is certainly little in our world at the moment that would prove that!

We all have to set our own benchmark for belief.  Many people, like C.S. Lewis were, at one point in their lives, confirmed atheists until they came to faith.  Some event, series of events, or influences allowed them to take God as proven even though they all knew the good reasons why he couldn’t exist.  If we live out our conviction, then we may just be a part of one of these events or influences who may help another come to faith. 

 

Note : If the word conviction was not in use until the fifteenth century and not used to refer to a firm belief until the nineteenth, obviously some other term was used in the Bible which Peterson interpreted to  refer to conviction.  Of course the Bible was not written in English at all so that all are translations.  In the King James Bible the word is faith.  The NIV uses self-control and The Message says, “…a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.”

Compassionate Faith :


As you now know, I recently read Day 289 from The Message//Remix:Solo which was entitled “Getting Our Way”.  This was a reflection on Galatians 5, more specifically 5:16-17, 19-23.  Following the Bible text are suggested ideas to think about, pray about, and ideas for living out the message.

“LIVE

Hold one of the following words in front of you today; exuberance, serenity, willingness,compassion, conviction.  Let the word permeate what you do.”

The word compassion can be found in thirty-nine verses in the Bible (KJV) and if you add a common synonym or two the number would increase greatly.  There seem to be three circumstances of compassion; the compassion of God on those who have strayed or sinned, the compassion of people shown to people (the least common), and the compassion of Jesus to his fellow humans.

I think most of us automatically associate the word compassion with Jesus.  He healed people for whom he had compassion, he felt compassion for children, for widows, for gentiles, as well as those who could not see his message through the haze of their own dignity and piety.

Simple to explain and possibly impossible to fully live out, living with compassion before us means to go through out day with our first thoughts on others and doing as Christ would do. 

Willing Faith : “If Ye Know These Things, Happy Are Ye If Ye Do Them”


Getting Active For The Climate

As you now know, I recently read Day 289 from The Message//Remix:Solo which was entitled “Getting Our Way”.  This was a reflection on Galatians 5, more specifically 5:16-17, 19-23.  Following the Bible text are suggested ideas to think about, pray about, and ideas for living out the message.

“LIVE

Hold one of the following words in front of you today; exuberance, serenity, willingness,compassion, conviction.  Let the word permeate what you do.” Willingness seems to be an easier focus to handle than either exuberance or serenity.  It brings to mind years and years of hearing my father quote, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them!” John 13:17  It was basically his way of telling us to get off our butts and get into action. It isn’t enough to know what the right thing to do is if you don’t then go ahead and do it!  If we know that smoking will kill us then clearly we should not do it.  If the traffic light says to stop then you had better stop.

Most of us watch, listen to, or read the news.  We know about a great many things going on in our world.  We know there is great famine in the horn of Africa, we know that there is discrimination, we know that there are people in our own towns who do not have adequate shelter.  We take great pride in educating our children.  We learn about history so that we see the paths to avoid based on the results of prior civilizations.  And yet…how do you get from knowing the right thing to actually doing something about it?

One of the ways is to find a group of people who are on the same page as you are.  It is much easier to stand up and say no to something like hydro-fracking with a group of people than to be a lone voice.  Social pressure on a single person to sit down and shut up can be immense and too much for most of us.  Luckily there are organizations whose purpose is to help people to go from outraged to willing. To mention a few:

  • KAIROS Canada

  • Green Peace

  • PWS&D Presbyterian World Service and Development

  • 350.org

  • One Campaign

  • Amnesty International

 For every international or national organization there are usually two or three local groups, either branches of the larger cause or working for more specific local issues.   “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead  Be willing, be one of the few!

Serene Faith : Not Resting On Your Laurels, But Not Spinning In Circles Either!


 

The other day I wrote about exuberant faith after having read Day 289 from The Message//Remix:Solo which was entitled “Getting Our Way”.  This was a reflection on Galatians 5, more specifically 5:16-17, 19-23.  Following the Bible text are suggested ideas to think about, pray about, and ideas for living out the message.

“LIVE

Hold one of the following words in front of you today; exuberance, serenity, willingness,compassion, conviction.  Let the word permeate what you do.”

Serenity for most of us probably sounds like a distant dream, so much so that when we meet serene people we may be inclined to think they are on some kind of drug.  In my mind, serene people don’t raise their voices, lose their temper, lose their self-control in crisis, smile calmly but maybe not energetically.  It would seem to be the opposite of exuberance.

Serene is what I was not a moment ago while fighting with the dictionary trying to get it to stay open while I typed from it!  According to the Winston Canadian Dictionary serene is an adjective meaning 1. clear and calm; 2. placid:composed.  The dictionary would apply the first definition to a description of an environment or circumstance while the second would apply to a person.  In an action oriented and fast paced world, placid seems to imply a lack of energy or drive which is barely acceptable.  Composed sounds good as it speaks to being in control of yourself, emotions, actions, thoughts and all.

I remember when my children were first-born and I was on maternity leave.  When they were sleeping, theoretically, my environment was serene and quiet, and I had an opportunity to relax and gather strength and my own serenity.  Things just didn’t work that way for me.  I needed to get out, be around other people, and be active.  Even in the quiet of a room by myself I am rarely comfortable to just sit.  Serenity is something I pray for.  At night, to help calm my mind and clear the way for sleep, and in the morning to help me face whatever challenges await me calmly.

I used to belong to the Women’s Institute (remember the movie Calendar Girls?)  My group never made a nude calendar to raise money for a cancer ward.  But at the beginning of each meeting we repeated the following Collect for Women written by the founder of Women’s Institute, Mary Stewart.

Mary Stewart Collect

KEEP us O Lord from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word and deed …
LET us be done with fault finding and leave off self seeking…
MAY we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self pity and without prejudice…
MAY we never be hasty in judgement and always generous…
LET us take time for all things: make us grow calm, serene, gentle…
TEACH us to put into action our better impulses straight forward and unafraid…
GRANT that we may realize that it is the little things that create differences; that in the big things of life we are one …
AND may we strive to touch and know the great human heart common to us all, and …
O LORD GOD let us not forget to be kind …

Exuberant Faith : Let Your Faith Bubble Over And Touch The Lives of Others!


Last night I read Day 289 from The Message//Remix:Solo which was entitled “Getting Our Way”.  This was a reflection on Galatians 5, more specifically 5:16-17, 19-23.  Following the Bible text are suggested ideas to think about, pray about, and ideas for living out the message.

“LIVE

Hold one of the following words in front of you today; exuberance, serenity, willingness,compassion, conviction.  Let the word permeate what you do.”

I got stuck on the very first one.  While many of you don’t know me, I think even you might get from my writing style that exuberant would not normally be a word used in my description.  I mean, how many of us are really exuberant even a fraction of the time?  I can only think of one or two people on our staff of almost 100 who might be described as exuberant.

I thought maybe I had the wrong idea of the words meaning, so I looked it up.  One of the sets of definitions was;


1.
 abounding in vigour and high spirits; full of vitality

2. lavish or effusive; excessively elaborate exuberant compliments

3. growing luxuriantly or in profusion

others mentioned unrestrained enthusiasm and joy.  Taken one at a time, the first meaning above is the one I immediately thought of  and basically wrote off as a potential for my day.  The second one makes my skin crawl a little, it reminds me of people who gush about how wonderful everything is and thus make the compliment moot.  Whether or not it is fair to think of this as being sickly sweet, if I had thought of that meaning it would have been off the list as well.  This brings us to the third meaning of growing luxuriantly or in profusion.  This meaning gave me a different idea of the word.  If our own growth in the spirit is truly abundant it will overflow to others, and that is something I can aspire to.

When you get up tomorrow morning and head off to another week of work or whatever you do, think about having faith so exuberant that it can’t help flowing out to those around you! 

 

 


Noah was 200 years old when he finished building the ark.  At God’s word he loaded a huge number of animals and presumably food for each onto the boat, then he, his wife, his sons, and their wives, all boarded and the doors were closed.  The rains began and it was the beginning of one whole year of confinement on board this big, noisy boat.

 

Think about that year a little bit.  Have you had your kids at home for the last week?  How has it gone?  In my experience, even as few as four or five days trapped together in the house will have siblings at each other’s throats… imagine a whole year!  On top of that, of course, there were the in-law interactions to consider.  The animals all needed feeding, their living spaces needed to be cleared of  manure, and as I listen to my dog barking upstairs while I write this, there would be noise!

At this time of a new year people often stop to reflect on the coming year and make resolutions to make the most of this time.  Imagine with me what Noah may have put on his list of resolutions for the year after they stepped back onto dry land… 

 

  1. I will remember that scorpions, giraffes, and lions do not make good house pets.

  2. I will give thanks every day just to be alive

  3. I will appreciate the feel of the earth (sand, grass, stones, even mud) under my feet

  4. I will spend some time alone with God each day

  5. I will remember that my family members need their space, but appreciate any time they want to spend with me

  6. I will thank God every time I see a rainbow in the sky

  7. When God speaks, I will  listen!

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.