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Archive for July, 2020

I Am …

I was reminded the other day of a characteristic of Christ that I had not read or heard of lately.

I am gentle
and humble in heart

(Matthew 11:29)

The characteristics of God, of Jesus, are woven through the New and Old Testament. There is narrative, story, behind these characteristics, both to show us who God is, as well as to teach us what characteristics we should aim to attain, in an effort to follow the model of Jesus.

This one caught my eye, because … it is so not what we often portray, what we teach, how we live.

The more proper translation is “I am gentle and meek of heart” but in our world the word ‘meek’ is often viewed as weak word … describing a negative nature, rather than humble, describing a chosen approach to life.

It is in that idea of a chosen approach to life and leadership that I can appreciate, respect and follow the example of Christ.

Jesus is not weak. For anyone who works to live humbly knows the efforts … selfless efforts, it takes to live in the direction of humility as opposed to the opposite, pride.

Proverbs 16:18 reminds us that “pride goes before a fall/destruction.”

Whereas Proverbs 15:33 tells us, “before honor is humility.”

Then, in Proverbs 3:34 we are given the contrast of the two, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Pride is the complete opposite of humility. They are incongruous to each other. One cannot be humble of heart, if pride lives there. The only inoculation that exists for pride, is an increase of humility.

Pride says I.

Humility says you.

Pride whispers we.

Humility speaks of they.

Pride shouts mine.

Humility says yours.

Pride speaks to the individual.

Humility speaks to community.

Pride keeps.

Humility shares, gives.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself;
it is thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. Lewis

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As a child I loved it when my mom would hand me what was once a tidy ball of yarn that had gotten loose in her knitting bag or scattered across the floor. She would ask me if I could untangle it for her. Or my grandmother would do the same with a necklace, whose chain had knots.

I would eagerly take on these problems, these messes and straighten out what was knotted. It was a game, a challenge for me where I usually had success and I loved it.

Problem solving has become my life. I have used this skill in my profession, helping students learn in unique and creative ways. In the running of a home, utilizing form and function. In childrearing … in so many ways. In helping in so many situations and circumstances.

Give me a problem, a puzzle, a challenge, a mystery. Invite me into your struggle, your situation, your sorrow. Let me untangle that knotted mess of yarn that is that part of our life.

What I am not good at is acknowledging when I cannot solve the problem, when the mess is tangled beyond my problem-solving capabilities.

Recently I ran into a snag … problems that I simply could not untangle. This failure of ability (for it was not a failure of desire to solve the puzzles) was getting to me. I looked at it from every side, tried to see if moving things would help. Yet, I was quickly faced with the reality that all problem solvers hate to face …

the tangled mess was out of my ability to straighten it out.

This self-acknowledgement wore on me, for that which I love to do and do well, I was powerless to accomplish.

Besides, I am a follower of Christ, a believer in the power of Christ in me … I mean doesn’t Matthew 7:7 say “ask and you will receive” … and Mark 11:24 says, “whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you”?

Of course I am taking those one-liners out of the context of the Word, as a whole … rubbing my Bible-Genie making my one wish. But, what I ask is so desired, so good, so sincere …

Then I saw an image. It was the one at the top of this page. It was the mess of the first screen that got me … as soon as I saw it, my eyes did not see a pile of letters, but a pile of yarn, twisted and knotted … a problem waiting to be solved.

That was the problem I was dealing with.

Then the reminder … the God-response … not the I love you, for I simply do not have the capacity to not know that God loves me, or others. It was the two words,

I know

He knows.

He knows the knotted, tangled, ugly messes of our human lives. He knows that situations that break our hearts, that mess with our confidence, that even make us question if we are still in his will.

He knows.

“Be still, and know that I am God”
Psalm 46:10

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O Canada
by Fran Alexander

Today may well be the quietest Canada Day in our one hundred and fifty-three year history.

Though provinces, cities, towns and even villages are slowly opening up, large crowds are not gathering, fireworks are not happening, nor will we stand shoulder to shoulder and sing O Canada.

And that is because we are Canada … a vast land filled with leaders from coast to coast.

I don’t mean elected officials or public health offers. I mean the over 37 million individuals who call Canada home. We who recognize that the whole is of more value than the individual, that self sacrifice is for the greater good. That the greatest way to attain freedom as a citizen is by looking out for others.

During this pandemic we have done what the public heath officials have asked of us … kept our distance, stayed home, washed out hands (again, and again and again), worn masks and, when we didn’t quite feel well … we stayed home. Our united goal was to flatten the curve, stop the spread of Covid 19, protect others … our families, our neighbors, others who have never met.

In our following of their health orders, in our others-centered living, we, the citizens, have become leaders in the world … in our home and native land.

“This is one country. We’re all playing for Team Canada right now. Making the announcement as we did today was just part of getting Canada back on its feet and healthy again.” (CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie after the league postponed the start of its regular season)

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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