In a previous post I touched on the subject of the human heart or soul as being the source of our actions, whether for good or evil. I also mentioned the theological concept that all of humanity has been separated from God through sin, i.e. we have all missed the mark of God’s highest standards for our lives, as individuals and as nations. Finally, I referred to the historical life and death of Jesus Christ as God’s way of reconciling Himself to all of humanity.
You won’t be popular as you step out of line
To befriend the lonesome slightly out of step with time
You see the world is full of people like you and me
But those who are alone are the ones we do not see
Show some compassion and reach out like a friend
You never know where this will end
I see tears of gratitude in my new found love
God sees their heart from far above
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So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV
Exactly one year ago, I was confronted by a rather likeable young man (a Pastor) concerning some of my posts on FaceBook about specific individuals and their relatively novel theological positions on traditional Christian teaching or doctrine concerning the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, and the positive role of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel in both the past and the future.
We had a long and somewhat stimulating conversation concerning our very different points of view on Eschatology (final events of human history). I think part of this stimulation simply was the result of drinking too much coffee! Nevertheless, we came away from the conversation with an agreement to disagree with each other’s point(s) of view, yet agreed to demonstrate tolerance and acceptance for one another regardless of our somewhat polarized positions, different perspectives, and life experiences.
Now, I wish I could end this story by saying everything was just peachy, however, it was not. Many young people can reason and formulate an opinion very quickly. Sometimes, for no other reason than having less life experience to incorporate before making an opinion. As a middle-aged adult, sometimes one has to ponder and think about things a little longer before we can formulate an opinion and/or come to some sort of conclusion.
The gist of this story is that I had felt, somehow, I had conceded and/or given up my constitutional right to freely adhere to my own beliefs, and practice of my Christian Faith without interference or coercion from another group and/or individual’s idea(s) of what I should believe, who I can or cannot disagree with on matters of theology, and whether or not I will be accepted into this particular group if I do not “submit” to their particular authority(s).
Been there, done that. I have experienced for many years what it is like to be truly free to worship God, as I understand Him, without some organized group or individual attempting to control or dominate my personal life with their particular ideas of God, the Bible, and the inevitable system of rules and regulations so prevalent to religious groups.
And yet, I still felt somewhat insecure in my position. Even now, I marvel at the aforementioned statement. After all, I was a trained Pastor with an undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies, and a graduate education in ministry, with a life experience that literally dwarfed that of this young man. Yet, the need for acceptance was dominating my common sense and experience.
It took my loving companion of 35 years, my wife, to remind me that I was indeed free to choose to follow my own conscience without interference. And I am continually grateful for her kind and insightful advice.
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An interesting story of a young man’s struggle with his own sexuality, discovering the Love of Jesus Christ, and his willingness to share the good news of God’s agape love for humankind.
“Aim at Heaven and you get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.” — C.S. Lewis
The sound of the band next door filled the room. The small bar served cocktails named after different literary figures and the usual party drinks. All of Sydney’s literati, fine arts students, and writers were there. I remembered some of the faces from political meetings on campus. One of them was an artist I had dated who obligingly avoided eye contact. Everyone’s eccentric outfits blended with the music and people started dancing. This was Oxford Street, the central strip of the Sydney gay scene and I was at one of the alternative clubs. I used to carry a small journal with me for occasions like these. I would write a philosophical question in the journal and then pass it around to everyone to collect answers. I had my Charlie Chaplin pen…
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This post is dedicated to the Caregiver – life would be cruel without you.
In another post, I began my journey of writing about the most difficult experience I have gone through in my life. The crisis was two years long and we, as a family, waited over ten years for my wife to be finally pronounced as “healed” by the numerous medical doctors involved.
I wanted to write openly about how I felt as a long-term caregiver to my spouse, as she lay there dying in the hospital. The stress that my three girls and myself went through was unbearable and almost unspeakable, I could only but imagine what my beautiful wife was going through.
After discussing some of the details of my intended post with my beloved sidekick, I agreed with her that I would respect her privacy and “leave things in the past where they lay“. That alone was a difficult agreement for me to make. But, because I love her deeply, I will respect her wishes.
I can say this though, sometimes the trials and tribulations that we go through, especially if they are chronic and long term in nature, can take a big chunk out of our hearts and lives. We are never the same afterwards. Granted, one discovers who their true friends and family members really are. We become intimately acquainted with suffering and learn the important elements of patience, persistence, long-suffering, hope, faith, and so forth. We draw close to God, and He draws close to us in a very real and tangible way.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. James 4:8a NLT
Yet, our heart still cries out in agonizing pain over the tragedy we are experiencing. We need someone to pour our heart out to, but nobody is really listening or even appears to care. We need “God with skin on“. A healing balm of tender human companionship and a listening ear. Tears continue to well up as I write this…
As a male in North American society, it is often implicitly expected, at least culturally, that we be strong and silent when we face the aforementioned. Taking care of business, trying to be emotionally detached or compartmentalized until the necessary job is finished. When the crisis extends over a multiple year period, we simply get worn out.
A part of us is gone now, perhaps never to return.
It is with this in mind that I want to extend my friendship and a listening ear to all those who have literally carried the weight of being a caregiver over the long-term. I deeply respect your commitment and your heart felt love to care for someone you cherish.
If I can be of any help to you, through my many life experiences, both good and not-so-good, please feel free to contact me. You are an intelligent person – you will figure out how to do that.
God bless, and thank you for your understanding 🙂
This post is dedicated to the Caregiver, the person who was present to help a family member or a friend in their greatest hour of need.
I have found WordPress to be a very interesting community, perhaps unique amongst all other current forms of social media. The reader is not bombarded with all the ranting and raving of Twitter or the often childish memes of FaceBook. There is something very special about a core group of people on WordPress. If you tap into that group, you will understand what I mean.
I cannot speak for the two-thirds world and how individual families raise their own children. However, as a Canadian citizen living in a western nation, I can write about my own experiences and convictions as a two-parent family of five.
Shortly before we had our first child, a little girl, my wife and I made the decision to raise our own children. Neither of us felt that is was absolutely necessary for both of us to be working full-time and pawn our children off to a daycare, a nanny, or perhaps their grandmother to raise them. This was a difficult social and financial decision to make in the 1980’s as much as it is today. We had to make choices that, although they may affect our financial future, we wanted to be intimately involved in the everyday affairs of our three girls throughout their formative years.
Frankly, I do not understand why some Canadian families even decide to have children, especially if couples have no real intention of caring for their children, in the true sense of the word, by investing their time and energy into loving, caring, teaching, and guiding their children through the most formative period of their lives – childhood. Quality time is a misnomer – a child needs their parent or parents more than we think or assume.
I understand how expensive it is today to raise children in Canada. But, the cost of living is relative – given the wages, cost of food and shelter, etc., it was equally expensive to raise children in the 1980’s. In my opinion, some parents in North America invariably sacrifice their children for their own careers and pursuing material possessions like a new $750,000 dollar 3500 square foot home with a three car garage filled with a top-of-the-line Chevrolet 4×4, a BMW SUV, a 40 ft. travel trailer, a boat, and an assortment of quads and snowmobiles.
Of course, those same couples rarely use any of their shiny toys, outside of perhaps the automobiles, because they are just “too busy” chasing the American Dream of materialism. “Family time” is the equivalent of perhaps a few short hours in the evening and the weekends, assuming both parents are fortunate enough to have a 9-5 weekday job. Meanwhile, their children are being shaped, molded, and influenced by relative strangers.
Canadian society is just beginning to see the negative social aftermath of the “daycare” generation and latchkey kids.
By now, some of you are feeling indignant and your blood is beginning to boil. Good for you – you are angry, and I am fairly certain you are not even entirely sure why. After all, your career is so important to you, the government has provided you with all kinds of subsidized freebies for your children including subsidized daycare, sport subsidies, pregnancy leave subsidies, child tax credits, etc. You enjoy your lifestyle – you work hard and play hard. And absolutely no one, and I mean nobody, come hell or high water, is going to take that away from you!
Congratulations…you have achieved the American Dream…and your children have essentially been flushed down the toilet.
It doesn’t have to be this way. My wife and I, like you, had choices to make in the big picture of life and living. We have never regretted any of our decisions to pour our love, time, and energy into the lives of our children.
By the way, I never mentioned which one of us was the homemaker or domestic engineer. The truth is, both of us, individually at one time or another, stayed home full-time to care for our children. The deciding factor was always dependant on who had the better job (or a job, for that matter), not just based on monetary gain, or benefits, but a job that allowed for more time with our family.
It was NEVER financially easy, but we made many creative choices to find fun stuff to do as a family that cost little to nothing to do together. Museums, library programs, outdoor recreation, school events, etc., all provided avenues of entertainment, education, and even exercise for our family of five. We were frugal in our choices of housing, food, clothing, and transportation. And yet, our children were always fed well, clothed well, attended good schools, participated in music programs and individual and team sports, and travelled all over Canada and the US.
Today, all three of our girls (now adults) are well-adjusted, well-educated, hard working contributors to Canadian and American society respectively. We are proud of their accomplishments in life. Our eldest daughter is pursuing vital health research in the US as a proficient and published research scientist with a doctorate. Her husband has sacrificed his six figure income in Canada to raise their two beautiful children, and our grandchildren. They actually outright own much of what I described earlier, but they have set aside the importance of all that in order to raise their children in a relatively small Montana community immediately adjacent to the beauty and wonder of nature. A chip off the old block? Maybe, but their children will be blessed because of their choices. And we are blessed as parents and grandparents.
Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3 NLT
The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow.
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