Tag Archives: Faith

It all begins with an apple…

This July I thought I’d do something a little different.  Last year I did a mid-summer project that involved families and God.  It was great!  We loved it and I am glad we did it.  This year I thought we would spend the month of July dealing with food and faith.  A sort of quick glance at what the Bible has to say about the food we eat and how in today’s world we process it all.

Why faith and food?  Ultimately we all need to eat.  It’s an important function of survival but in today’s day and age when processed cheese has replaced the small batch cheese from years of old and cookies are bought instead of made it can be difficult to figure out how to relate to the gift of food that God has given us.  We are made to enjoy food {as we have all these wonderful senses} but perhaps we have taken things to the extreme with our extra large slurpies and low-carb diets.

This month I pledge to seek a more balanced approach to food as enjoyment and fuel.  I will endeavor to provide delicious recipes, healthy tips that I’ve found from reputable sources and food for thought as I dive into the Bible to discover a little more of what God says regarding food.

Every Monday throughout the month of July I’ll be writing about this and I’d love for you to join me.  This week our journey begins with Adam, Eve and Temptation.  After all it all began with an apple, didn’t it?

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Doubting God.

I was in the middle of writing a post about tomatoes, gardening and pruning {I bet you have an idea of where I was going with this} but then I ran across this article “Young Americans Losing Faith?  New Poll Shows 31 Percent Of Adults Under 30 Doubt God Exists”  This doesn’t surprise me.  Does it surprise you?

To put this another way, 1 in 3 Americans under 30 have doubt about the existence of God.  I would bet the Canadian number is higher if only because we might be slightly less afraid to admit it and we’re a more secular culture in general.

To me this means as a church we are dealing in an increasingly secular world.  A world that isn’t afraid to express doubt and acknowledge the possibility that God may not exist.  It means we are living in a world that is different from one we have in our church memory banks.

We have to change.

We have ignored this doubt.  We push doubt away and pretend it doesn’t exist.  It does.  It has to.  If we’ve never wrestled with our faith or really struggled with God, how can we mature and grow as Christians.  We need to allow doubt to be part of the conversation.

Things are not as they were 50 years ago.  People today see churches as places that are great for weddings and hold a great deal of nostalgia but are not relevant as a faith option.  Instead of coming to church people are turning to the internet, friends and celebrities for ideas on faith and God.  We’ve lost our influence.  We are no longer part of their conversation.

This loss of influence has frightened us.  Fear is not the answer, faith is.  In the Bible God constantly says ‘Be not afraid’ and yet we find ourselves living daily in fear.  We hide from the outside world and wonder what comes next.   The problem with this way of living is that we will never know what happens next if we do not do something to make the next thing happen.   We cannot show others light if we are hiding it from them.

Jesus called us to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world.

This is a heavy calling.  We are to live in the world and shine our light.  We are to add flavor and substance to our communities.  We aren’t doing this.  Our lights grow dim and our salt is losing it’s flavor.  In focusing on ‘not’ dying we’re not living.  In our struggle to stay alive we’ve forgotten our purpose and mission.

Imagine a church that lived according to the Gospel.  That was the light of the earth and recognized the need to live in community and care for others.  Imagine a church that could say the following:

We are Christ followers.  We gather together to worship and praise the Lord. We live in the world God created and care about it.  In our community we love, we laugh, we live. We long to serve and will find ways to help those in need. We know that our building is a resource but is not our God. We pray hard and fierce. We read the Bible and learn from it’s message. We are living a mission given by God to us in this time and place. We are Christ followers. 

I would go to this church.
Others would too…

 

My garden and a bunny got me to thinking…

This past weekend my family and I travelled up to see my brother and sister graduate from University in Sault Ste. Marie.  It was a wonderful weekend, we had so much fun and I’m so proud of them both.

Of course while I was away there was a heat wave here at home.  My garden sprung to life while I was away and so today I thought I would check out the progress in the clear light of day as we got home fairly late last night.  The change was phenomenal.

My clematis was gorgeous and in full bloom

My tomatoes exploded

My herbs were happy

…and the bunny was happy.

This bunny is one of a family of bunnies.  I know what you’re thinking.  Bunnies aren’t good because they eat your strawberries.  You weren’t thinking that?  I was.  They eat my strawberries!  Nevertheless they are in our yard this year more than any other and I discovered why.  While we were away this happened to my grass:

A patch of clover decided to multiply while we were away.  We’ve been battling this clover for a while but it’s gotten out of hand lately.  My husband has been working hard and removing it.  He is constantly outside digging it up, spraying some kind of natural iron compound on it, yelling at it and giving it the look.  So far nothing has worked.

The bunnies love clover.  They come into the yard and eat away all day.  It’s paradise for them.  Unbeknownst to us we’ve created a perfect paradise for bunnies free of dogs, quiet and removed from traffic with plenty of their favorite foods.

As I stood outside marveling at the determination of the clover to survive and the never ending stream of bunnies which seem to find their way into my yard I got to thinking.  Lately I’ve read quite a number of blogs by people in their thirties who are searching for a church and desperate to find a place where they fit in.  They long to find an environment they feel comfortable in.  They long to find a place that offers community, is recognizable to them and doesn’t exist simply for themselves.

Unfortunately they are struggling to find a place that they recognize as church and I’m not really surprised.  Church as most of us practice it today is unrecognizable to most people in their thirties.  There is no organization that they belong to, no place they go where people behave as the church does. Meetings are held at coffee houses or at a round table.  Gatherings are informal and relationship is the primary focus.  People come to church expecting to find relationship and connection but do not see it because we do not present it in a way they understand or can connect with.

My backyard is an accidental paradise for the bunnies.  A safe haven from the storms of the world.  A place where they are fed, nourished, protected and given rest.  Maybe we need to create an intentional paradise for the people of this world.  Maybe we should be creating safe places for people to escape the storms of this world. We should feed them, nourish them, protect them, empower them and allow them to be.

If we did that imagine what a ministry that would be, what opportunities we would have to serve others in our world. I’d love to know what you think.  What would your paradise look like? What do you need in a church?

I’m getting a little tired of 1 Timothy…

Women have always been a part of things.  From the very beginning Women have played an important role in the life and times of the people of God.  The moment that Eve plucked that apple {or some might say pomegranate} from the tree, women have definitely impacted the faith in good ways and in bad, much like the men.  As you travel through the Bible one encounters judges who were women, mothers who made choices, prophetesses who spoke the word of God, and countless others who impacted a people and helped shape their faith.

Lately it seems that the focus of much of the Christian blogging community has been placed on keeping women in their place.  On preventing women from taking positions of authority.  I wonder why so much emphasis and energy is placed on preventing ministry from being done?  Is this a good use of our resources?

There are so many blogs and so much passion surrounding this topic.  I’m pleased that people are invested in their faith but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of reading the same argument over and over again stating that 1 Timothy clearly indicates that I should not be an ordained pastor and women have no place in the church.  It’s interesting to me that things are so cut and dry for some people.  Life is rarely black and white.  Things are never that easy, at least not in the world I live in.  Jesus rarely spoke directly about anything.  His parables were told in such a way that not everyone would understand.  I just don’t think it’s as easy as picking one passage from the Bible to determine who’s in and who’s out as far as leadership goes.

When we look at 1 Timothy 2, there’s so much more than just the verse regarding leadership.  Shortly thereafter we see that the author of this letter declares women to be saved by childbearing after he forbids them from teaching. Do we honestly still believe that? What about women who don’t have children? Do we think a woman is only good with God once she bears a child?  I always thought that it was Jesus’ redemptive actions that saved us.

Understanding and interpretation changes over the years thanks to the infinite, complex and mysterious creator who continues to engage and enlighten us.  When we read the Bible we need to understand the context and the culture of the time it was written.  Reading the Bible through our own lens instead of that of a 1st century person risks skewing the meaning and the message behind it.  We must remember that 1 Timothy is first and foremost a letter written from one colleague to another addressing specific concerns relating to the Church in Ephesus.

These letters weren’t written as scripture or as a history for us.  They were written for a community, in this case it was from one colleague to another.  The author wasn’t thinking about the future, he was thinking about Timothy’s ministry in his present.  I think this is why we as a church tend to get in trouble with the Epistles.  The authors weren’t actually writing for us, they were writing for their communities.  They were writing the present, not the future.

I do accept the Epistles as scripture and see merit in reading them but I feel we must learn as much as we can about the context of the time and place we are reading about.  They are a large part of our history, a great part of our story and when we read them we must remember their original purpose.  None of the Bible can be read in isolation.  Everything comes from something. Everything has a story around it and all of that impacts the words we read on the page.

God has blessed us with a faith that is filled with mystery and wonder.  Our story has fear and hope, desire and passion.  We long to connect with God and that’s one thing that never changes.  Our history tells tales of men and women who’ve fought bravely for the faith, who’ve done what God asks and never gave up.  Women do play a part in this story.  We read stories of Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Esther, Mary, Martha and so many more who’ve made lasting imprints on the fabric of our faith.  Each woman played a role.  Each one was called by God into service.  Each one played a part in bringing us to this point in our journey as a people of God.

We all have a part to play, a story of our own.  My story was challenged and affirmed by the church as I wrestled with discovering what it was God wanted from my life.  I was called by God to minister to his people.  That’s my story.  I am called by God to do his work and I happen to be a woman.  Women have always played a part in the workings of the people of God, I don’t think God wants to change that now.

 

Stuck

I think we’re stuck in the same model.  You know what I mean, the model of ‘doing church’ that we’ve been using for the last 75 years or so.

I use the term ‘doing church’ instead of ‘being church’ because most of us really are just doing it.  We get up Sunday mornings {or we don’t} and we go to church to have worship done for us.  We might throw some money on the plate, attend a few dinners and help out here and there but in actual fact the church is something we expect to be there for us.  It’s a place we go when we want tradition, to be comforted or just as a habit.  It’s something that doesn’t really change.

We are stuck.

Stuck is not a good thing to be.  When I think of stuck I imagine gum on the bottom of a shoe or a door that just won’t open.  Not pleasant experiences and definitely not something that will entice or serve anyone in a positive way.
As a church we are stuck.  We are unable or unwilling to move or release ourselves from the holding pattern we have been in for years because of fear, because of tradition, because of a desire to maintain some control over the process.

The thing is, we are not in control or we shouldn’t be.  God should be the captain of our ship.  God should be the one who is in charge and if you read the Bible you’ll see that often times people who get stuck on control or who like things a certain sort of way get into a lot of trouble {I’m looking at you Ahab & Solomon}.

It’s time for us to vision.  Not those stupid visions that happen when you throw 7 people on a committee and get them to draft a new statement of who we are but actual real life visioning.  We need to throw the people of God into a room and ask them where they want to be in 10 years.  We need to hear what they are passionate about and find ways of making ministry real and vital in our world.  We need to make a choice to work with God.  We need to seek out who God wants us to be.

Who does God want us to be?
Where is God leading us?

I’d love to know what you think.

Frozen in fear

I have been accused in the past of having high expectations of people.    That I think they are capable of more then they actually are.  I’ve been told that I should just accept that some things won’t change.  I doubt God endorses this philosophy as God is constantly pushing people to change, to be better and to trust him.  This is seen time and again in the Bible and in our own lives if we’re honest.  God wants good things for people, for all people and that rarely lets anyone off the hook when it comes to change.

I think this is why I get so frustrated with the church.  Presbyterians in particular are notorious for halting any hint of change with debate and discussion.  We table absolutely everything.  We claim we are waiting on the Holy Spirit but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is dancing about in the room and no one is willing to see it. We are afraid of doing anything for fear that it might be wrong or it won’t work.

This fear is killing us.  It’s paralyzed us.  We aren’t doing anything for fear of offending or losing people.  We do this delicate dance around this issue of change and growth.  We never want to talk about what needs to be done because we are afraid.  In my reading this week I came across a passage in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the people of God that God is always with them.  That God in fact goes before them:

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 NRSV

We need to remember that God is going before us.  Our trust should be in God, not our processes.  We need to accept that movement is part of faith.  Movement and change are built into our history.  There is only one constant, God.  That constant is the thing we should cling to.  We need to push through the fear we feel.  God has moved on and is expecting us to catch up.  It’s time to let go of our attachments to what we know and move forward into the unknown believing that God will provide.

Do you think that’s possible?
Will we find the courage to follow God into a new {different} life?

Shadow Days

There was a time right around when my son was born that I like to call the dark times of my soul.   I was so angry.  So very angry.  I didn’t know why X. was created in a way that required him to have surgery.  I was angry at God, at everything in our situation and I didn’t know what to do.  There were days when I couldn’t pray, I just sat frightened and fearing the worst.

The prayers of others carried me through that time.  The prayers and thoughts and encouragement of so many of my family, my friends and throughout the community of faith carried me through.  As I stand on the other side I can see the hand of God pressed on me, carrying me, my husband and X.  We survived.  Some might say we thrived.

When I first heard the song Shadow Days by John Mayer I loved it {which should come as no surprise as I love everything by him} but I didn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.  This week however I happened upon the video and I was struck by one particular line.

“Had a tough time, had a rough start but I finally learned to let it go.”

We had a tough time and a rough start as a family but we pulled through.  I’m so grateful for the love and support of everyone.  The prayers pulled us in.  God was there with us.  We were truly blessed. This song reminded me of how far I’ve come.  How my dark days are indeed over and how blessed I feel right now as part of this family and in my ministry.