Say Yes to 2018


Almost everyone I talk to says 2017 was the most stressful year of their lives and for our world. Not to be an Eeyor, but I doubt that the number of crises that the world will face in 2018 will diminish. One would hope there will be less crazy weather, but signs point to an increase. Scientists no longer have to prove we are at a critical point when it comes to Global Warming, we all get it, (except for the Donald)! And wouldn’t it be great if the terror attacks decreased as well? But humanity has a penchant for finding excuses and new ways to bring terror to the earth. And though we’ve always had poverty, it now touches all parts of the world, even where they have long lived the American dream.eeyore2

In the real world scores find themselves in a continual crisis mode, just  providing for their families is more than enough to bare. Where and who to lay blame  for the negative stress caused by today’s definitions of true success? We are being stretched to breaking points.

And, while we are still at it, the sexual liberty so long vaunted, too, is being challenged in the same way the AIDS crisis of the 80’s did, maybe more. Women have risen up in unison wanting, and may I add, deserving the respect that is their due. So “No” to your stupid little games of lust! “No” to our “body parts’ as your “plaything”. And we are just touching the surface on a malaise ignored for too long.

As we enter a fresh New Year, 2018, know the same old problems continue breathing down our necks. Though we try to be upbeat as the music at our parties, we cannot but know this new year will have more than its share of new fears. It begs the question, “Can there ever be a true revolution of thought and action on how we relate to the earth and to each other? Can there be peace on earth? Can we live our way into a new reality? Should we even try?” I’m just one person here writing, but I say, “Yes!” Just because our track record of late doesn’t seem promising, we cannot, must not, give up hope. I mean that. Just because politician’s promises have fifty shades of truthfulness, there has to be something true to believe in. If the universe is not against us, nor the gods, and if we humans can still do beautiful things, generous things, how much more, enamored by “unconditional hope” and new thinking can real change come to us.

As a believer in Christ, I hang on and pray daily the little “as-it-is-in-heaven” prayer and never forget to repeat the best part, “so let it be on earth!” I feel sometimes like shouting that last part as though the earth needs this reminder too! Heaven is not just a pretty idea, if it is anything, it is about dignity, worth, beauty, sharing, peace, and ultimately, LOVE. Heaven begins on earth when we discover our own beauty and worth. It continues when we see it in others. That’s a good step to understand that our neighbors to the east, west, south and north carry the same divine image or DNA or worth as we do. We are not that different. We really are “our brother’s keeper.”

“So do not say I am not able Yes!
That’s a lie, a kind of fable
All you need is a willing heart,
just say, ‘yes, and do your part!”

Recently someone said that we all need to find our deep inner “yes”. Although saying “No” to the evil impulses in our being is a step in the right direction, more powerful yet is a resounding inner “yes”. For sure, say “No” to the “Us and Them, mentality” and to bullying in all its forms, great, but better is a deep “yes” to “You’re my brother, my mother, my fellow human being and I see you.” Because we all want the same thing in 2018… the why we were created: to enjoy each moment in friendship, family and community on earth.

 

I invite you to let go of anything that keeps you from including, sharing, reconciling, and growing in love. I invite you to say yes to heaven, that is, heaven on earth.

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Christmas Conspiracy


He sees the violence in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Myanmar… and beyond. He sees the blazing fires in America and famines in Africa. He sees the systemic greed of big corporations with so many of the super rich hoarding wealth while the poor drown in despair. He sees the nuclear warheads being tested and others positioned to strike. He sees the destruction of the earth’s resources and many beautiful species of animals dwindling. He sees, not like Santa, looking to punish ‘the naughty’ with a gift of coal and ‘the nice’ with sparkling toys under the tree. He sees our planet, believe it or not, not through the lens of disappointment, but through eyes of hope that mankind would embrace an alternative world.

It is our belief that something cataclysmic already happened, a beginning of a new earth and a new heaven became a reality when some angel woke some sleepy shepherds in a field with an unbelievable proclamation….

“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a saviour…”  (Luke 2:11)

What? A saviour! Call us believers gullible, or worse; no worries we can handle it. Call God a ceaseless romantic, a subversive strategist, a lover who will not relent and you have a better picture of who He really is! The merry message of Christmas is a divine conspiracy of hope and true peace for our threatened planet and for all those who live in it. It’s the greatest turn-around of all times.

In a tiny place called Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for a pregnant young Threewisemenwoman and her fiancé, they found a spot in some stable. It began. The birthing of something so alternative that not many could believe. It went almost unnoticed but for a few. The unexpected, as described by Isaiah hundreds of years before, was birthed, (Isaiah 9:6). A new kind of King of a new kind of Kingdom, with glorious outcomes. Yet as Isaiah foretold, it was a study of the unobvious: He grew up as a tender healing plant, like a root out of dry ground, (Isaiah 53:2). His beginnings so fragile, a solitary voice with a message so radical that few recognized his beautiful revolution or took to his message of a generous benevolent forgiving God.

But some did and some still do. We were not hoodwinked by an institution threatening us with hell-fire. No we saw the beautiful reign of a prodigal-welcoming Father running to us, come to make all things new. This is the hope for mankind. And lo and behold, the turn-the-other-cheek-go-the-distance-Son-of-God/man brought it to us, an alternative way to bring about an alternative world. It is at hand. It is available to where we are and as we are in the ‘here and now’.

Christmas, it’s not over yet. Not even near. He sees all the chaos in our world bent on destruction and despair, but it doesn’t faze this Saviour. He has the patience and kindness to show us the folly of our tired old unworkable ways and bring us closer to His generous heart. This is the Christmas conspiracy. Do you believe it?

The Storm Called Dying


My Dad has always been one strong man. I can hardly ever remember him being sick! On the top of his game he seemed to have an answer for most things, even if his answer wasseed-podn’t quite right! Now at the age of 78 he still can be found out in the garden in spring or piling wood in the cold fall for the wood stove. Yet I’ve seen a softening, perhaps a tiredness in his bones. He cries. He is at a loss for words. I would be too. His wife, my Mom, once a real beauty, is losing life slowly from the ravages of cancer. Today they took Mom out of her home of 40 years and put her into a hospice.

I was there this past September for Mom’s 75th birthday. We actually tried to light all 75 candles, give or take a few. The cake looked like an inferno as we sang her birthday song a little quicker than usual! It was a precious moment. The moment I will cherish most, though, was the night I said my deepest goodbye, I held mom in my arms and wept, wept like a baby. I knew she was not getting by this storm, not this time.

People go through storms all the time. Some are deadly! A few days ago an Air Asia plane with 162 people on board flew through what was thought to be a storm-filled cloud. They wanted to ascend higher but permission was denied by the air traffic control tower. The plane disappeared soon after. I’ve flown on countless Air Asia flights, I cannot imagine how frightening it was to the passengers to feel a powerful storm rock their plane. My heartbeat quickens when turbulence barely lifts the plane in that jumpy up and down motion. The only mercy for the people on board of that Air Asia flight was that the storm would not last long. For all the relatives and friends unfortunately the ‘sad winds’ won’t taper off for awhile. I don’t think this was the ‘will’ of God to take that plane down. I know so. It’s just weather patterns and human decisions and untimely happenstance.

Yet I have toyed with this idea of the ‘Allowing’ of God. Seriously, God does allow a lot of awful stuff to happen on this planet! So it makes sense that God allows us to go through storms for reasons beyond our comprehension. Can we bypass a lot of the storms that life throws at us or that we bring upon ourselves? Probably, but not all. Do they always make us stronger or simply prove that we have weak shallow roots? Only we can answer that one for ourselves.

Oswald Chambers says, “The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside?” The question at the end of the quote was meant to be a warning, but strikes me as somewhat shocking.Jesus talked a lot about seeds, including the mustard seed, and once said that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it cannot produce anything anymore. How sad it would be to have lived out life and at the end of it have nothing inside, nothing to release into the final wind. What exactly is the DNA of our seed we need inside of us, that when planted in the ground will produce more seeds and bring forth yet more beauty on the earth? Could it be the smallest seed called the mustard seed of faith?

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I sit here in my thoughts and wish that this slow unrelenting storm called death was shorter for my Mom and for my tired Dad. I hate to see my Mom unable to respond with her mind or with her swollen legs to life’s needs and challenges. I hate to see Dad frail with caring each day and night, for the love of his life. I know, however, enough about seed planting and how the pod dries up and cracks open to release new life and the winds serve in blowing these seeds to new places. For me, Mom and Dad, helped to inspire a faith in us kids. Mom planted seeds, man! I had faith in the goodness of God to get me through to where I needed to be, to grow, to be fruitful. Their faithfulness was an example to me in Asia and now Europe.

Wherever you may be now, whatever you are going through, and I do know there are people feeling the blowing storms even now and it doesn’t take much to cause tears to drop for you. I want to encourage you to have even the tiniest tad-wee faith in your life-whirlwind. His eye can see you there where you are and He will see you through somehow! You’ll also be one of those saints planted by God right where you need to be! And when the final storm comes upon you, you will have given the world something to thank the God above about.