Thursday, March 27, 2008

To Dream of Severe Mercies

I worked for several years at an In-Patient Treatment Centre. The patients were some of the most hurt and afflicted people that I’ve ever had the honour and privilege of counselling. Many of the adults had never learned to make a bed. If they had a sleeping bag while growing up they would have considered themselves rich. To be touched in a manner that wasn’t threatening or demeaning was an experience that was beyond reach of their memories. To these people, the dream of a better life topped out at a room with fewer rats and needles that weren’t so dull. Anyone who is able to read this can't imagine such stifled and diminished dreams.

And what are my dreams? Or yours for that matter? Do they top out at having just a little more money? An enviable home and a good looking partner? Would you consider yourself “blessed” if you could retire at 50 and spend winters in the tropics? Do you think that God would be astonished at how low we dream?

We, as Christians, are citizens of Heaven. The King of Kings, our Creator and Saviour loves us. For pagans, this life is as good as it's going to get. For us, this life is as bad as it's going to get. So why is our focus so low? Why are our dreams so drained of wonder and glory?

A dear and much younger friend of ours just got married. She has complications that will make getting pregnant significantly more difficult than it would be for “normal” people. Anyone who has wanted children but has been unable to conceive knows that this is nothing short of a tragedy. So what is this young woman’s attitude? She said that she is aware that God may have brought this about because He might have other children for her to raise; children that have not been born to her. This is a woman with a strong and mature faith and a solid trust in God. This is a woman who has learned that our deepest blessings most often come to us through God’s severe mercies. She knows that the surest pathway to a closer walk with God and the pathway that is most frequently used by Him to that end is through shattered dreams.

I think God must shake his head in despair and amazement when we “know” that a close relationship with Jesus is most vibrant in the midst of chaos, when we know the comfort that He brings in times of trouble and tragedy and yet we so often neglect to seek His presence, first and most, in times of crisis. Rather than seeking God’s presence in times of emotional or physical or relational pain, far too often we grab the nearest God-substitute and indulge to the limit. To God, our dreams of health and wealth, as though these things were the ultimate that we can experience, must make Him roll His eyes and groan.

O Lord help me to be open to Your desire to lavish Your love upon me. Help me to search for Your Love “As a deer pants for water.” Help me to remember that times of seeming hopelessness are designed specifically so that I can have a close and intimate relationship with you. Thank you most of all for Your severe mercies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

O Woe Is Me

What a terrible start to the year! While you’d never guess it by looking at her, one of our friends has Polynesian Ovaries. It’s a disorder that makes getting pregnant more difficult. I know it’s hard to believe since Polynesians cover a good portion of the earth. And how Polynesian Ovaries wound up in a Canadian woman is beyond me. It must be some kind of evolutionary mutation or something. Isn't it weird how some women find it so hard to get pregnant and for others getting pregnant is easier than falling off a piece of cake. What’s even weirder is that when I mentioned this during a yearly meeting in a group for the intellectually gifted that I belong to, my membership to this group, known as Menses, was cancelled. Even though there must have been three hundred people in the room when they announce my removal you could have heard a hat drop. And if that wasn’t enough, my counselling load is way too high. I’ve encouraged several clients to seek happiness by moving to a distant city, all to no anvil. My wife is remaining obstinately oblivious to my marvellous sense of humour (“If you have to tell me that it’s a joke then it’s not that funny”). I’ve had a chronic Post Natal Drip since November causing me to cough all night. My kids don’t want to eat anything but Krap Dinner. I guess my parenting ‘best-before-date’ has long since expired. Let me just say that my mood has soured of late and I now look, to borrow a phrase from Israel Shahak, for “encouraging signs of polarization” where ever they may be found. I’m ready to fight at the drop of a pin. If it wasn’t for the fact that I haven’t recently given birth, I’d swear that I was sliding into a Post Mortem Depression. The best thing to do is go flip on the TV and watch “The Young and the Breastless.” If there wasn't such a stigmatism for watching the soaps I'd invite a fiend over to watch it with me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

From Love to suffering to Love

What an awesome Christian Easter service! The music was great. The message was great. The lead-up to communion was terrific. It always brings tears to my eyes to contemplate what Jesus did of His own volition.

What an incredible Love!

Not only is suffering part of God’s redeeming plan, HIS suffering is part of His plan.

What an incredible Love!

Jesus experienced the full penalty of all humanity's accumulated sin, past, present and future.

What an incredible Love!

Jesus is Love personified. There is no love without self-giving. There is no self-giving without the experience of pain. Therefore there is no love without suffering.

Suffering is a prerequisite for the development of agape love. Love comes with a cost, even for God. Love that does not voluntarily accept suffering is no love at all for real love is the moving of one’s focus from self to others.

There is no moving of focus from self without the voluntary acceptance of suffering.

There is no character development without suffering.

There is no such thing as a loving saint who has not suffered.

Before we suffer we have the pity (mercy) of God. After we’ve suffered we have the compassion of God.

What an incredible Love!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Elliot Spitzer

In Time Magazine, the idea was proposed that Elliot Spitzer chose to screw around on his wife because of an evolutionary rise of testosterone, dopamine and serotonin. This, it was argued, caused him to adopt a thrill seeking lifestyle.

What a bunch of bunk. We don’t have to break the law, nor do we need to break the hearts of those who love us in order to have a thrilling life. It’s a sinful nature, pure and simple that makes us stupid enough to do what we shouldn’t and it’s a sinful nature that allows the atheist mind-set to propose an even stupider excuse.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Greatest Sinner Ever

I was reading 1st Timothy 1:15,16 and something struck me as important. It says,

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."

Familiar enough passage, but what struck me as interesting is the line, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance" The passage in context is talking about God's grace that was shown toward Paul the former killer of Christians. Fair enough, but why should we pay special attention to the fact that he was the chief of sinners, or more specifically, why does this require our full acceptance? I mean, sure he wants to make an important point for those who don't know the love of Jesus, the mercy of Jesus, the grace and patience and salvation of Jesus. But couldn't the case be made that we need to fully accept that WE are the worst of sinners? Don't we need to fully accept the fact that had we been the only person on earth, Jesus would have had to die for our sins in order for us to apprehend the salvation that he offers? And surely if you were to closely examine your motives in your relationships with family members, co workers or those you meet in passing, wouldn't you have to say that you reek of sin?

I don't have any problem believing that when motives and thoughts are taken into account, I could give Paul a run for his money any day re: being a trophy of God's grace as it was shown to me, the worst of sinners.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Screw the kids - Let's make money!

1 in 4 teenaged girls in the States infected with an STD.

“High STD rates among young women . . . are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk,” We've got to pummel them with more videos that promote casual sex. We have to inundate them with movies that make risky sex seem cool. Monogamous relationships or the use of condoms must never be shown as the norm in movies. We’ve got to produce more and more songs and confront our kids with magazine covers that make them think that if they aren’t in a sexual relationship there is something wrong with them. And by all means our teens must not hear an abstinence message because that smacks of religion and religion is too confining and stifling; far more stifling than cancer or infertility or giving one’s child HIV, or having the feeling of being used and abused. With only 25% infected and only 40% sexually active, we have to do more to reach this age group because we could be making way, way more money off their bodies than is currently the case.

Friday, March 7, 2008

You just have to love American politics

After calling Hillary Clinton a "Monster" Samantha Power, expressed "deep regret."
"Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton. The trouble is, those oft-stated remarks are at marked variance from my true feelings about that filthy witch. Now I'm going to have to go into rehab in order to keep my job as a professor and it's all that monster's fault."