Monthly Archives: February 2005


I just happen to be nearing the end of Matthew in my reading.  It coincides nicely with the Lenten period.  And it makes me think. 

The stories of denial and betrayal of Jesus by his closest companions, of those who for three years were his friends and disciples, are hard to read in the sense that they are difficult to comprehend emotionally.  They must have been hard to write.  Yet the authors of all the gospels record them. 

We bloggers like to record our thoughts – especially our brilliant ideas – or our interesting experiences, funny incidents; events happening in the world, politics and faith.  But our failures?  Not so often.  However that is just what the writers of the gospels did – they recorded their failures.  They recorded their blindness and incomprehension.  They recorded with an incredible honesty – even down to their words of personal betrayal.

“Oh, we will never betray you,” they promise.  “We will follow you to death.”  And then they turn and run.  They cower in the shadows.  They deny they know him.  They scatter. 

Some of the women follow at a distance – those insignificant women who could continue to follow safely because, being women, they were of no account as a physical or political threat to the authorities.  Maybe this is one of those paradoxes; their weak position in society provided the needed cover for their strength, their freedom to continue to follow right to the cross. 

The honesty of these accounts brings me hope on a couple of counts.  Jesus knows how to work with failures. These disciples who failed at the most crucial moment went on to be transformed into strong leaders.  The power that made the difference in them is also there for me – Jesus promised us that. 

The honesty also helps to validate the stories for me.  This is not an egotistical account of some people full of a scheme they had carried off.  No one enjoys exposing their faults to all.  This was really what happened, told by the ones who went from being total wimps to forgiven, honest, willing to die for their faith kind of men.


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On being a "Practitioner"

Leighton in talking about his experience in Australia at Liquid 2005 use the term “practitioner” a couple of times.  It’s not a term we use here very often – at least not in the context of the Christian faith so I had to ask for an explanation.  The word has always had a particular meaning for me – I am a general dental practitioner.  I practice – I do what I am trained to do. 

Just thinking of this word in the context of my Christian faith puts an unusual spin on it.  I guess being a practitioner would mean doing my faith in an active sort of way.  Practice of my profession does not mean just studying about it, thinking about it or watching other people do it.  If I’m practicing, I am by definition doing.  It is an active word. 

I’m not sure just how the faith practitioners in the world down under put their faith into action.  I guess there would be as many ways as there are people.  It would be good to hear some of their stories. 

I find myself wanting to claim to count myself as one of the practitioners but am not sure if I would dare claim the title.  So many times I sit and look.  I observe but don’t get involved.  I am a watcher not a doer.  And I know this is not what I am called to.  All my inward examination, all my study, all my knowledge of what should be done will not make me a practitioner unless some action is taking place. 

I could be content to say that my faith has been lived out in what I have already done.  And it has.  I’ve served God as a missionary and I have continued to look on what I do as a means of serving God through my interactions with people; caring for my patients, caring for my children, caring for my family.  But in many ways, I have just begun to know God.  He keeps making claims on the part of me that would like to sit back and watch; the part that would like to ignore him prompting me to take specific action, especially when the action involves me apologizing for hurt I have caused.  But if I really want to go to deeper levels of knowing God I realize that I don’t have much choice.  He calls me to practice – to actively live my faith.  And it is hard to do that in everyday living where we lash out at people in anger or feel justified in treating others as unworthy of our time and care.

Right now this isn’t just theoretical talk.  I have caused hurt to a person.  I treated him with arrogance and did not care.  I judged him and didn’t even know him.  Jesus wouldn’t have done that.  I would like the situation to just fade away and I could let it.  I don’t have to talk to him ever again.  But to do that would be a deliberate act of denying Christ – especially since He was the one that pointed this out to me.  It is always easy for me to justify what I did and said and focus on the wrong he did – but what I really must do is find a way to apologize.

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Learning to use my time

This house is big and very empty tonight.  It is strange how when everyone is around, I long for these kinds of days and when they come, the silence is deafening.  The kids all seem to have their own busy agendas.  Leo is off to the east – in Winnipeg tonight and then to Kingston tomorrow.  When it is so quiet I find it hard to get anything accomplished.  So I have been reading and dosing off and on.  That is maybe what I need anyway – to catch up on some rest. 

Maybe all this emptiness of the house is just a symptom of the empty nest syndrome.  I guess that is coming soon.  I need to change some of the ways that I do things or I will waste a horrible lot of time just sitting and staring at walls.  This change is going to call for more discipline.  Over the past few years I have been mainly trying to catch up to whatever is waiting for me to do next – always some activity, some task needing to be done.  I will have to design my day so that I don’t just sort of flounder about wasting time.  

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Excellent devotional site for Lent

Thanks to Brad for directing me here – Journey to the Cross

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Better than chocolate.

I have been mulling over the whole idea of fasting today; giving up something significant.  Chocolate would probably be a healthy choice. But my conclusion is that I need to deliberately give up some of myself.  I tend to value what I want over the needs of people around me.  I think I’ll work on that this Lenten season.  To start I think I will choose to deliberately serve another person instead of myself each day.  Not by accident but by choice. 

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Preparing – Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday; not a date most Protestants celebrate much.  But I feel more of a leaning towards taking the time of preparation for Easter that Lent is more seriously.  I need to prepare. 

I came across a meditation at Northumbria that spoke to me.  This is prehaps the fast we should all be called to observe – not some small token of repentance like giving up Big Macs for 40 days.

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
to loose the bonds of wickedness?
to undo the heavy burden?
and to let the oppressed go free?
that you break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?
that you bring to your house those who are cast down?
when you see the naked person that you cover them?
and not hide yourself from your own flesh and blood?

Read the rest of the meditation here

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Can You Drink the Cup ?

I just finished reading Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen.  It took reading it all the way through before I understood just what he was writing about right from the very beginning – drinking the cup of life.  We can choose to drink deeply, drink all that life gives us right to the bottom of our cups, living to the full the joys and sorrows that we find in it, savouring the taste of this life given to us by God, or we can struggle to drink it, never appreciating it’s taste; wishing we had some other drink.  Maybe it was for me one of those epiphanies where the light bulb finally switches on. Maybe I, at last, was able to hear God teaching me this in the silence. 

In one of the final chapters,To The Bottom, Nouwen talks about three disciplines that help us to drink our cup of life; our cup of salvation “all the way to the bottom.”  He says,”Living a complete life is drinking our cup until it is empty, trusting that God will fill it with everlasting life.”  The disciplines he speaks about will help us to “fully appropriate and internalize our joys and sorrows and find in them our unique way to spiritual freedom.”

The discipline of silence is where we face who we really are and “claim ourselves as a gift from God.”  Nouwen says that at first in the silence we may hear dark noisy voices that accuse us and make us want to run back to the things that distract us – our busyness.  But if we stay in the silence, those noisy voices will fade and we will begin to hear the “softer, gentler voices of the light.”

The second discipline he speaks about is the “discipline of the word”.  He says, “As long as we live our deepest truth in secret, isolated from a community of love, its burden is too heavy to carry.”  He goes on to say, “When we dare to speak from the depths of our heart to the friends God gives us, we will gradually find new freedom within us and new courage to live our own sorrows and joys to the full.  When we truly believe that we have nothing to hide from God, we need to have people around us who represent God for us and to whom we can reveal ourselves with complete trust… Nothing will give us so much strength as being fully known and fully loved by fellow human beings in the Name of God.”

This is a truth I am beginning to learn.  I am learning to trust the friends God has given me and as we share our struggles in life they become more bearable.  And as we share our joys, we are all blessed.  I don’t think God ever intended for us to live the Christian spiritual life alone.

The third discipline is action.  The world around us urges us to do things.  Being busy can distract us.  Nouwen says that we have things we want to do that may distract us from doing what we are called to do.   Being “committed to God’s will and not our own” will help us to discover that we don’t have to do everything that we see needing to be done.

This really seemed to help me understand some of the struggles I’ve had lately.   “In a world that encourages us to avoid the real life issues, these disciplines ask for concentrated effort. But if we keep choosing silence, a circle of trusting friends to speak with, and actions that flow from our call, we are in fact drinking our cup, bit by bit, to the bottom.  The sorrows of our lives will no longer paralyze us, nor will our joys make us lose perspective.” 

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