Tag Archives: The Message//Remix:Solo

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! 

 

 

Even when we get what we want…


Disbelief

The other night my reading from  The Message//Remix:Solo for the day was from Acts 16.  Paul and Silas had just been arrested and beaten and thrown in jail.  The following reading comes that same night.

 

 

Acts 16: 25 – 34  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.”

 

 

OK, I don’t know about you, but the first thing that made an impression on me was that after a really bad day, being beaten and probably still bleeding, sore, tired, and in prison Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns of praise at midnight!  Wow, now that is faith!  I would not even be finished whining about how much my wounds hurt, forget having moved on to singing hymns to God.

 

 

The interesting thing is that the notes in the devotional book focused on the fact that even after getting out of prison, Paul and Silas were somewhat unbelieving, they didn’t even leave at first.  Similarly, when the guard saw that the prisoners were still there and he didn’t have to do himself in, he still didn’t really believe. When he came to believe he was baptized right away, not waiting for morning, as if it might all slip away if he didn’t shore it up with the formality.  Does this happen a lot?  Do we get the things for which we prayed and then fail to believe that our prayers were really answered?  Do we just chalk it up to luck or even worse expect the other shoe to drop and take it away to the extent that we don’t take time to be happy about it or give thanks?

 

 

When we pray, ideally, we believe the prayer will be answered.  So, if we pray for something and then it then happens we rejoice and are glad right?  Our faith in God was a part of the efficacy of the prayer, so what happens then if the person gets better or we get the job and we fail to give God credit for the answered prayer?  Does that lack of faith in the face of proof mean that the person gets sick again or we lose the job?  Clearly not.  These issues are far more complex than that.

 

 

Notice that, after an interval of suspended belief, Paul and Silas do leave the prison and that after his initial reaction to the cells being opened the jailer moves forward to caring for the men and being baptized.  This seems to be the trick, move forward into belief.  It is never too early, nor too late, to say thank you to God for his goodness.


photo thanks to flickr.com/photos/ben_grey/3777024332/

Post 120: Are We Having Fun Yet?


 

flickr.com/photos/shanepope/2375499336

On Tuesday, June 7 I will have been writing this blog for five months.  Today’s post will be #120 and I got to thinking that I must certainly be repeating myself by now.  If this is the case, I heartily apologize.  I don’t go back in my post list very often and I write what comes to mind on any given day. 

 

Despite the fact that my teenage daughter gives me a hard time for doing so, I did a little checking on the stats for curlingupwithGod.  In those five months there have been 9,800 visits to my site, many undoubtedly directed by a search for something which led them to me erroneously.  The Footprints poem seems to be the most common search term which directs people here.  I have no way of knowing whether these people actually stop and read something or just scan quickly for the lyrics and then head on their way.  On my busiest day I had 245 visits which was really exciting!   I have been thrilled to have people write me notes occasionally and with those and my responses I have 77 comments.

 

Every time I write a post I have the option of tagging which may lead people to the post.  I didn’t do much of this at first, but have discovered how important it can be.   WordPress keeps track of the most common tags and makes them available to choose rather than writing them in each time.  I thought the list was pretty interesting.  When I see it, the words I have used the most are actually in a bigger font.

 

Bible blog bully change choices choir Christianity church cross details distractions Easter evangelism Facebook faith fashion forgiveness God help Holy Spirit improvement Jesus justice kindness leadership Lectionary Lent love music prayer preaching problems promise quiet reflection sin song stress students survival teachers The Message//Remix:Solo time Twitter worry

 

Back to the title question, are we having fun yet?  I know that I am enjoying the writing and any associated thinking and reflecting that is associated with that activity.  Some days I will have several images or comments pop into my head which lead to posts and I have to type them in before I lose them.  So far my feedback has been good and I’m assuming that for every person who goes to the trouble of writing a comment there are several who at least smile and nod at some point in their reading and that is great.

 

See you at 250 🙂

Dying to Live: What Do You Need To Let Go?


 

John 12:24-26

24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

These verses come at a turning point in the Gospel according to John.  Up until now Jesus has been waiting for the right time for, “the son of man to be glorified.”  Now it is time.  One might expect to hear plans for an anointing ceremony, a parade, a feast, and ascension to a throne.  With hindsight we know that all these things did happen, only not in the way his followers would have expected. 

 

For those who had been following him from the beginning these must have been exciting words!  But they were quickly followed by something very confusing.  What was all this about dead and buried grain?  Was the discussion of some losing their lives meant to mean there would be a fight when they reached Jerusalem?  This declaration of Jesus was totally baffling!

 

We know that in the coming days Jesus would be anointed with oil, but in preparation for death, not as a king.  He would enter Jerusalem in a parade, share the Passover feast with his disciples and ultimately his earthly “throne” would be the cross.  Following that he would be buried just as the dead wheat so that he might rise up and bear much fruit. 

 

What do you have in your life with which you are not willing to part?  In what area are you not open to growth and change?  I know I’m pretty darn comfortable the way things are.  I love my family and my dog (although less barking would be nice) and I like my house.  I have my own car which is important to me in that it gives me great freedom.  I have a good job at which  I’m fairly good.  I’m not really interested in change.  I have the impulse to learn more and grow in my faith, but not necessarily the guts to take the leap and start a new academic program which might jeopardize my economic comfort level.

 

Eugene Peterson suggests, at the end of the reflection for day 240 (see below), that we, “Try being reckless in our love”: let go just a little bit, with Jesus’ help.”

 

The Message//Remix:Solo is by Eugene H. Peterson published by NavPress and is an excellent devotional resource!

The Martha/Mary Quotient


Mary/Cathy

Martha/Cathy

Mary and Martha both heard my alarm at 6:00 this morning.  I’m not sure which one it was who turned it off, but I do know that it was Martha who dragged me out of bed and got me moving forty minutes later.  Clothing appropriate to the day was chosen, some semblance of breakfast eaten, lunch was packed, and it was off to work.

 

Mary made a brief appearance while I was driving to work.  She reflected on the Easter weekend that has just passed, the fact that this was a new day and as it says in a popular song from the 70’s Every Morning Is Easter Morning From Now On!  I think she even hummed a little bit of the tune.  Once in view of the school, though, Martha took over again with thoughts about what my students would be doing today and errands I needed to get done.

 

Last night the devotion in The Message\\Remix:Solo was about the familiar story from Luke 10:38 – 42 of a dinner party at the home of Mary, and Martha.  Jesus was the guest of honour and as he talked with his host and the other guests, Mary sat taking it all in with rapt attention.  In the meantime there was a meal to prepare!  Martha, unlike Mary, did not give herself the time to sit down and listen, she was busy tending to the preparations.  When Martha complains about Mary’s lack of help, Jesus tells her that Mary has made the better choice by staying with him and listening.

 

Martha is not the “evil twin” here.  If it were not for Martha, Jesus would not have even been in their home.  It states at the beginning of the reading, “A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him (Jesus) and made him feel quite at home.”  It takes a special talent to put someone at ease in your home when they are visiting, and Martha did a great job of that.  She then got carried away, though,  by the minutia of hostessing the party and did not sit down to enjoy her guest’s company.

 

We are all some combination of these two women, or if you prefer some combination of these two inclinations.  I started this blog with a representation of my day through the lens of the two women.  That was one part of the devotion last night, taking time to reflect and let Jesus tell us whether we are more Mary or Martha on a given day or in a given experience.  Some Sundays I am definitely Martha at church.  I have responsibilities, music to worry about, plans and issues for later in the day, and my Martha is on the job.  Worship is so much better on the days when my Mary attends and I am able to fully engage in the word and the celebration.  On the average day I am more Martha, although my house may not reflect that in its cleanliness and tidiness, and I expect that is true for most of us.

 

If we were all Mary all the time nothing much would get done in our homes or workplaces.  I’m not sure even a 50/50 split would be ideal, but we do need to beware of the dangers of slipping too far over to the Martha.  If we give no time to listening to God, the three-in-one, then we risk losing our way in a world just looking for lost souls of whom to take advantage.  So, look back at your day today.  What was your own Martha/Mary balance like?

These Hands Are Jesus’ Hands


The other night the reading I came to in The Message//Remix:Solo the reflection instructions following the reading said to hold out my hands in front of me, palms up, and to look at them and imagine that they were Jesus’ hands.  It said to consider what could be done with those hands.

In light of full disclosure, the hands pictured in this post are not my hands.  It is very difficult to take a picture of one’s own hands!  A friend at work and several students acted as my hand model for this and just as my hands are, or may be, Jesus’ hands, so are theirs.  Interesting idea isn’t it? No two pairs of hands are the same, and yet they may all belong to Jesus.

When Jesus left us to return to the Father, he left us with a mission. “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, and Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matt 28:19-20 “…they will place their hands on sick people, and these will get well.” Mark 16:18 “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16  We are called to feed, to clothe, and to give water to the thirsty in Jesus’ name.

What may these hands do?  When I looked at my hands I saw them typing my blog, or sermons, playing the guitar, my clarinet etc., digging in the garden, communicating through reins to a horse, testing my child’s forehead for fever, holding hands, giving a supportive touch on someone’s shoulder.  Some people’s hands will do heavy work, some will perform delicate surgery, and some will practice and become adept at releasing the strain in the muscles of  others through massage.

The body is made up of many parts and each has its own specialized task, but none is unimportant.  Look at your hands now, and ask yourself, “What does God want these hands to be doing?”  Then go ahead and do it!