Category: love

The Baobab Tree

Written by yours truly:

 The Baobab Tree Paperback – December 10, 2015
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Pardon Me

Pardon me, kissing you like I’m afraid
But I know I’m being played with
And you’ll leave me when you get the chance.

Off you’ll go, in the darkness of the night
Like a bird in freedom’s flight,
You’re thinking only of deliverance.

Close your eyes, and pretend that you are me.
See how empty it can be
Making love if love’s not really there.

Watch me go, watch me walk away alone,
As your clothing comes undone,
And you pull the ribbon from your hair.

This song by Larry Norman has always been one of the eeriest songs I know.  I always wondered why he wrote it, who he was talking to, if it was literal or spiritual.  I have to admit it bothered me with it’s down beat, instruments and lonely tune.  I still don’t know who he wrote it to or why.

One day it hit me in the face what it means to me (not saying this is what Larry meant for it).  For the first time it held spiritual meaning and I wept as I listened to it over and over again.

God has poured His love on us and yet we turn on Him.  We pretend to love Him but love’s not really there.  We only pretend  hoping for deliverance.  We bow down on Sundays hoping that that is enough.  But how soon do we walk away?  How soon do we cheat?  How soon do we walk away in the darkness of the night?  Are we thinking only of deliverance?  Are we only thinking about what we can get?

Ezekiel 16:14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.

15 “‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution.

 

Love, Peace, Joy

My last blog for 2015 – a big shout out thank you to all of you who wandered through my thoughts this year!

Take a look at these commands:

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Facts: we will have enemies – get over it.  There is evil and good, righteous and unrighteous – you’re not going to stop the evil – it’s here to stay.  Anyone can love the loveable.  Go out and love the unloveable.

We are children of our Father in heaven.  Let’s try living like it.  Love someone.  Make peace.  Spread joy.  Be a light to your corner of the world.  Whether you affect one person or millions it doesn’t matter.  The fact that you are influencing is what is important.

Give a hand up.  Give a smile.  Carry someone’s bags.  Love like a child with innocence.

Love, peace, joy – they are very simple instructions.  See if you can make a difference.

syria

Refugee children in Syria/ wikimedia
Source
DSC_0871 (Syria 1, Emergencies 6)
Author
Trocaire from Ireland

 

Get what you ask for

Here is a fun message for today:

I typed in the words “Get what you ask for” in a Bible search.  This is what I got:

Jonah 1:11
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
It found a verse with all the words in it.  It just wasn’t what I was looking for!   Sometimes God gives us exactly what we ask for.  Sometimes He doesn’t.  Sometimes we need to wait.  Sometimes He gives us MORE than what we ask for.
The issue really isn’t about “getting anything” other than building our relationship with HIM.  If that’s what you get then you’ve already got more than what you asked for!
108

Person of the Year

This is my third year for presenting my “Person of the Year”.   I normally spend a lot of time praying about this and struggling through the choice.  This year was an easy decision and a very quick one.

This person of the year had lived the “good Christian life”.  By all standards she did everything right.  She went to college, met a guy, fell in love, got married, had two children and went to the mission field.  It should have been a happy and rewarded life.

The world can be cruel and life wasn’t happy, easy or rewarding.  On March 18, 2012, her husband Joel Shrum was gunned down and killed in Yemen where he was serving as a teacher.

I cannot begin to grasp the emotions behind that.  Beyond loss and fear, how does anyone justify that with God?

Fast forward several years.  This person meets a guy.  A single guy who has never married and has been frustrated in his own life for not finding a wife.  It would be easy to say, that they both got back on the “good Christian life” platform again.  But did they ever step off of it?

Happiness and “things working out” are no more a sign of living the “Christian life” than sadness and hardship being signs of NOT living the “Christian life”.  The reality is that they were both walking in God’s hands the entire time – giving Him glory.

Sounds easy doesn’t it – it’s not.  That’s why I picked Janelle (Shrum) Groff as my “Person of the Year”.  Not because everything turned out happy (which I’m glad it did!).  But because God is her redeemer and she has accepted His grace in her life!  It’s that testimony that we need to follow.

To read the beautiful story and engagement, please click to:

https://www.theknot.com/us/jamie-groff-and-janelle-shrum-aug-2015/our-story

Congrats Janelle!  You definitely deserve the Person of the Year award!

Ruth 4:11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah,who together built up the family of Israel.

janelle

A Heart for God

I wrote this four years ago.  I forgot about this experience until reading it again.  I hope you enjoy it again too.

Last night I was traveling home from Houston to Philly on a late night Southwest flight. I pulled a pretty high number for seating and I was afraid that I was going to get a middle seat in the back of the plane. It turns out that I sat in the first row (with extra leg room YAY) at the window next to a woman with her daughter. Our conversation somehow evolved into world religions and without being mean, this lady had less than a first grade education on the subject. After finding out that I was raised Mennonite, she wanted to continue talking about “Messonites”. I tried to correct her but she continued on her discussion of Messonites and what that means. She didn’t seem to grasp the whole concept and I didn’t want to get into a heated discussion.

You might think that I wasn’t impressed by this person but I was. She was traveling with a 20 year old daughter in a wheel chair. The daughter is paralyzed from the waist down from a car accident at the age of 16. They were traveling to Philadelphia to be a part of a medical study on exoskeletons. She went on to describe the procedure and showed me video clips of a prior fitting. Very interesting stuff. So interesting that I went home and Googled it at 3 a.m. to learn more about it. This mother and daughter are very close – it was obvious. They were affectionate and caring and clearly have a close relationship.

For what this mother lacks in knowledge of world religion, she definitely has a big heart for her daughter. That’s what I came to appreciate about her. That’s what God wants to appreciate about us. We don’t need to be a seminary scholar – we just need to have a heart for HIM. I’m sure He will celebrate Thanksgiving if we can do that. It’s not by outer appearance or by great things that we do but whether we love God with our whole hearts.

(Acts 13:22 NIV) After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

tree

Disagreements

What will we disagree on this week?

What will drive us to hate?

What arguments will be on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites?

Will it be new or a reborn issue from weeks or months ago?

Will anything be solved by our bickering?

Will anyone be healed?

Will anything improve?

Who will die and be mourned?  Who will die and be forgotten?

Will we find peace?

Will we find joy?

Will we find God through all the noise and distractions?

How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?

 

tree

Sing for Joy

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

We have so much to be thankful for.  We have so much to be joyful about.  The Lord is our salvation.  He alone is worthy of praise.

Raise your hands today and sing Hallelujah to our Lord!

hannahpraise

Guns and Church, part 2

You’re sitting in church and a gunman enters . . .Do you run? Do you fight? Do you stand? Do you defend the defenseless (i.e. children)?   In you faith world what is right?  What is moral?  What is Godly?  What would Jesus do?

Does “Turn the other cheek?” apply to physical violence and possible death or was Jesus referring to verbal insults?

Is it morally correct to stand by and allow a mad man to kill innocent people out of hatred?

Where does love come into the picture of protecting loved ones?

We wouldn’t allow a pediphile to harm our children.  Why would we allow a gunmen the chance to kill them?

Is it better to be armed in church to stop violence or to pray that violence never comes our way?

Is it morally correct to pray and worship in a house of worship while holding a gun for protection?

If a pastor or speaker wears a bullet proof vest for his/her protection shouldn’t he/she offer protection to the congregation?

Is carrying a gun into a church service with hundreds of people more dangerous than not having any protection at all?

Finally – Can a loving, forgiving, merciful, patient, carrying follower of Christ kill another human who is threatening to kill others?

Luke 22:36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  NIV

gun

Religious kids are meaner?

Not one of my typical blogs – please comment your reactions:

Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds

From the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/06/religious-children-less-altruistic-secular-kids-study

The moment of truth. No pressure, kid. Photograph: Allen Donikowski/Getty Images/Flickr RM

Children from religious families are less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious households, according to a new study.

Academics from seven universities across the world studied Christian, Muslim and non-religious children to test the relationship between religion and morality.

They found that religious belief is a negative influence on children’s altruism.

“Overall, our findings … contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others,” said the authors of The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, published this week in Current Biology.

“More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularisation of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness – in fact, it will do just the opposite.”

Almost 1,200 children, aged between five and 12, in the US, Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey and South Africa participated in the study. Almost 24% were Christian, 43% Muslim, and 27.6% non-religious. The numbers of Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic and other children were too small to be statistically valid.

They were asked to choose stickers and then told there were not enough to go round for all children in their school, to see if they would share. They were also shown film of children pushing and bumping one another to gauge their responses.

The findings “robustly demonstrate that children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households”.

Older children, usually those with a longer exposure to religion, “exhibit[ed] the greatest negative relations”.

The study also found that “religiosity affects children’s punitive tendencies”. Children from religious households “frequently appear to be more judgmental of others’ actions”, it said.

Muslim children judged “interpersonal harm as more mean” than children from Christian families, with non-religious children the least judgmental. Muslim children demanded harsher punishment than those from Christian or non-religious homes.

At the same time, the report said that religious parents were more likely than others to consider their children to be “more empathetic and more sensitive to the plight of others”.

The report pointed out that 5.8 billion humans, representing 84% of the worldwide population, identify as religious. “While it is generally accepted that religion contours people’s moral judgments and pro-social behaviour, the relation between religion and morality is a contentious one,” it said.

The report was “a welcome antidote to the presumption that religion is a prerequisite of morality”, said Keith Porteus Wood of the UK National Secular Society.

“It would be interesting to see further research in this area, but we hope this goes some way to undoing the idea that religious ethics are innately superior to the secular outlook. We suspect that people of all faiths and none share similar ethical principles in their day to day lives, albeit may express them differently depending on their worldview.”

According to the respected Pew Research Center, which examines attitudes toward and practices of faith, most people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. In the US, 53% of adults think that faith in God is necessary to morality, a figure which rose to seven of 10 adults in the Middle East and three-quarters of adults in six African countries surveyed by Pew.