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Bono on the difference between Grace and Karma


Resistance & Renewal

Bono_on_Bono_Cover“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…

You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news…

View original post 286 more words

Currents Of Joy


Dead plant in pots

Dead plant in pots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m changing the title of my blog from Connecting tha Dots to Currents of Joy.  Newer themes may reflect a difference in my points of view after years of struggle to reach a place of peace with where I am in this world.

The title comes from a book by Henri J.M. Nouwen, “Lifesigns“,  which our Little Fork couples group has just finished reading.

Here’s a quote: “Thus, celebration goes beyond ritual, custom and tradition. It is the unceasing affirmation that underneath all the ups and downs of life there flows a solid “current of joy“.

Last night was the point of change. A friend wrote that a Peace plant that I gave her several years ago had died after she’d been away from home for several weeks.

She felt sad, and I understood, but wrote back to say that the death was indeed sad, but the plant stood for much more which still remained. We could celebrate our friendship which is still alive!

At last, light at the end of the tunnel…God is love and there is no fear in love or change, even in the death of a Peace plant.

Gay Marriage Revisited


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd”

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sorry for the hateful rhetoric that comes out of people’s mouths about same-sex relationships. I realize that some of this garbage originates out of misguided Christian beliefs, and I would defend a Gay person to my death against a hateful bigoted Christian.

I also want my Gay friends to know that I am struggling over what the Scriptures teach.

I often talk about this with Christians who say,  “We know same-sex relationships are wrong: we love the person but we hate the sin.”

“God says it, I believe it, That settles it!”

But, somehow, I feel that just isn’t enough for our complex society.

I mention that Jesus hadn’t spoken about it…”Well, No.”

What does it mean that Jesus didn’t speak about same-sex relationships but Paul did?

I am one follower of Christ, who doesn’t separate  the Scriptures into “Red Letters” as my Social Activist heroes, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo tend to do. This means they are primarily followers of those words of Christ and leave to (?) the rest

But, since I began to follow Christ as a very young person, the Bible has been my guidebook. How else could I know God? Did He have a plan for me? We are guided by circumstance, by counsel, but the Bible is the best instruction manual I know on how to live and I’ve followed it my entire adult life and found it very practical and foolproof.

But, God’s ways aren’t always the easiest to figure out. (HA!)

I’ve found God’s love to be great and covering over a multitude of my wrongs and even, societal wrongs which I would like to wipe off the map.

I know God doesn’t condone injustice and ill-treatment of people who are helpless, and that He tells us to not judge others. We are supposed to leave that to Him. But, we are supposed to be discerning and make wise decisions about life.

So, I struggle with what the Bible teaches sometimes, and there are some Scriptures I just wish weren’t in there! I used to think people chose to be in same-sex relationships, because I didn’t think God would make “mistakes” about sexuality, but, I’ve changed in that.

I really don’t understand it, but I think our world isn’t perfect and few sexual relationships are either. So…I abandoned that theory.  But, why on earth would God allow things to become sooo hard?

Did He want people to remain celibate? That is, not have sex unless they were married? Then is Gay Marriage a part of His plan? Sounds good, right?

But, how can I say this boldly enough??? I CAN’T JUST IGNORE WHAT IS CLEARLY FORBIDDEN IN SCRIPTURE…SUCH AS ADULTERY, GLUTTONY, AND LYING WITH THE SAME SEX.

Maybe people like me died in prison in the past, because their religious beliefs didn’t coincide with what was politically correct. They could not change what they believed to be true.

I would hope that our society would be open to Christians and non-Christians who believe different things. But, you know, there is unprecedented pressure on us Christians to accept Gay rights, without regard to our own beliefs.  It’s like we have to go into the closet while Gay people come out.

Is that what is expected?

Hmm?

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2013/03/15/gay-marriage-revisited/

St Patrick’s Creed


English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, my mother would urge me to wear the color Orange to school on St. Patrick’s Day in rebellion against all the Green!

Yes, it was in direct protest against the Catholic Irish and in defense of William of Orange, 1650- 1702! I talked with several women in my church today who told me similar stories about their mothers, mostly Presbyterians from times gone by!

Surprisingly, in those days, we never heard about the wonderful stories of the real St. Patrick who was taken as a slave to Ireland, escaped and later returned as a missionary to the Pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

St. Patrick’s Creed:

Our God, God of all mankind,

God of heaven and earth, sea and rivers,

God of sun and moon, of all the stars,

God of high mountains and low valleys,

God over heaven and in heaven and under heaven.

He has a dwelling

In heaven and earth and sea

And in all things that are in them,

He inspires all,

He quickens all,

He is over all,

He supports all.

He makes the light of the sun to shine.

The light of the night and the stars he surrounds,

And he has made wells in the dry earth,

Placed dry islands in the sea,

And stars for the service

Of the greater lights.

He has a Son

Co-eternal with himself, like unto himself;

The Son is not younger than the Father,

Nor the Father older than the Son.

And the Holy Spirit

Breathes in them;

Not separate are the Father

And the son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Chinese Angel


A row of shopping carts.

A row of shopping carts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Can I help you with your Groceries?”  a tall, skinny, Asian girl with glasses called from across the parking lot of our local food store.

“Sure”, I called back, as I struggled with heavily loaded green bags, a backache and a budding Migraine!

“My name is Angel”, she said as she loaded the groceries into my car, “you look tired.”

“Yeh, I’m getting a headache,” I told her spotting the booklets in her hands and realizing I was about to be the object of a “witness”, her project.

“Are you selling those?” I nodded towards the pile, hoping to head off her sales pitch, “Who do you represent?”

Turns out she was from the local Seventh Day Adventist College and had been out in the parking lot on this sweltering hot day for several hours. No one had wanted to talk to her.

To be honest, I was so surprised and happy with this random meet up with an international student, I motioned her to walk with me to the shelter of the cart return area.  We leaned against the railing while she showed me her materials.

Then, to my surprise she offered to massage my sore neck and help avert my migraine.  I have seldom refused a neck massage and this parking lot was as good a place as any.

She then asked if she could “adjust” my neck. Migraines and achy backs lower my defenses, I willingly submitted.

“You’re a bit tense,” she told me.

“Well, you’re not really a Doctor,” I answered.

“Oh, but my mother is a Doctor back in China,” she told me with great confidence.

My chuckle must have relaxed me enough for her adjustment to succeed, and I felt better.

I purchased one of her booklets out of gratitude, a child’s story book about Jesus’ life. As we exchanged money, one of the store’s unsuspecting employees came out to retrieve the carts. Both Angel and I quieted, acting awkwardly as if nothing had happened. I thought this is probably the way drug dealers act when the authorities show up. After all, what had we done? Treated the parking lot as an illegal chiropractic clinic where she, a non-licensed, non-professional could have impaired me for life; bought and sold material illegally on their property???

I handed her a little extra money to get herself something to drink on that hot day and never saw her again.

Her good deed left me feeling better, though we were in somewhat different camps religiously, we left each other with good wishes.  I could have been tough on her, demanding to know exactly where she stood regarding particular articles of faith.  But, I felt no need to argue with her. In fact we found common ground in talking about Jesus and His love for the world. I’ll let Him sort the rest out.

Admittedly, I would not purchase materials from Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons because I believe they are cults. I used to think the Adventists were a cult but I’m not so sure, now.  My experience is limited to their hospitals in Indonesia. All I learned from Angel is what I knew already, that their Sabbath is on Saturday’s and they are very health conscious. Possibly, I am wrong about Adventists. I do need to look into it.

I found this website below written by a former Adventist who makes a strong case that Seventh Day Adventism is a cult. Read for yourselves below.

Sacrificing Everything: Victoria Soto and Jesus


A true #hero. News worth sharing... #VictoriaSoto

A true #hero. News worth sharing… #VictoriaSoto (Photo credit: ArtJonakT

This week many solutions have been presented for our problem of national violence.

Voices in the past have led America far away from the path of nurturing our little children, raising them to become kind, caring, competent adults.

We’ve allowed them to sear their consciences with violent cartoons, video games and movies during the years when they form their core values. Stress in the home and emotional distance have increased loneliness and isolation.

I am a Christian and this is the time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, called “The Messiah”,  who came to earth as a humble baby in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago.

His coming and his life presented a shocking change in world history, but it was nothing compared to his leaving! That’s what makes all the difference to Christians like me, and where we differ from other people of faith.

And here is where my faith and this tragedy at Newtown converge.

I think about the remarkable bravery of Victoria Soto, who gave her own life for her children.

We praise her for her great act of sacrifice as we should. Some of us may wonder if we could do the same thing, we hope we would.

So, here’s the thing, Jesus Christ did just that for you and me.

The sticking point for many people is that He came to our world to save “sinners”. I’m not about to argue about the word “sinner” and what it means. I think each person must be convinced in his/her own heart whether this word applies to them.

I know someone who believes they never did anything wrong “enough” to warrant Christ’s death on the cross.

The point is that Jesus did just what Victoria Soto did, but, unlike, Victoria, who left her home not intending to give her life, Jesus left a perfectly wonderful home to do this wonderful thing for us, willingly!

Did Jesus know that He would die and then rise again, according to the Bible?

We don’t know, but we do know that he suffered, a lot! His death wasn’t instantaneous, like being shot.

His being alive makes a big difference to those who follow Him. Why?

He promised to send His life and the Spirit, (called the Holy Spirit) to the people who put their trust in Him. I can’t explain it scientifically, but I am a personal witness that this does happen.

He can transform an unforgiving, vindictive person into a compassionate and forgiving human being; A Person who previously cared little about the poor can learn to reach out in kindness to serve their needs.

These are just two ways I’ve changed since I began to follow Jesus in 1968, calling myself by His name (Christian).  It has taken a lifetime of falling down and getting up again emotionally and spiritually and I’m still in need of more love.

But, there is evidence all around us pointing to the fact that many so-called followers of Christ, make different choices at some point in their lives. Again, the word “sin” might be appropriate here, but not my argument to make.

I seldom read Ravi Zacharia, but I agree with what he says in the article below:

“All the laws in the world will never change the heart. Only God is big enough for that.”

via Tragedy at Newtown | RZIM.

Divorce Can Hurt As Much As A Gun


Divorce Child, a work by Javad Alizadeh, Irani...

Divorce Child, a work by Javad Alizadeh, Iranian artist. A first prize winner cartoon at Ankara cartoon festival,2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

American citizens are calling for a change of gun laws after the Connecticut tragedy. It makes sense on a superficial level. I don’t understand why assault weapons are needed by anybody, but I hear the arguments.

Unfortunately, much of the publicity will swing towards the young fellow who did the terrible crime, and result almost predictably, in spawning others to do likewise.

I understand that most people don’t want an assault weapon, but, if you want to obtain one illegally, you’ll get one. It’s probably easy. Anger must be a compelling factor.  I’ve felt that kind of crazed, uncontrollable anger that has inexplicably driven me to say and even do things I regretted fairly quickly.  But, there is something in these murderers that fails to regret.

Once, my extremely agreeable husband asked me if I couldn’t “think before I became angry”. The introduction of this new thought sounded foreign to me; it has taken decades for me to put it into practice.

Some people will point to the fact that the killer’s parents were divorced. I heard one neighbor woman allude to it, already. I’m not going to dismiss this.

You know, my mom divorced, and I went through plenty of “trouble” and disturbance though I had a lot of support from my community and church and was an outgoing and charming girl. Now that I’ve been married for a long time, I know that it is “hell” for some of us couples to keep things together…(Jon and I are not soul mates like some others) But, divorce is worse for kids…unless the fathers are trying to kill them like mine was me~So, if people don’t quite “feel happy”, I say, figure it out! This divorce situation has been going on for generations, and makes each generation crazier!

How does it happen that we get married and become unhappy? Are marriages in other cultures so wrought with pain, with discouragement? Is abuse not a valid reason for divorce? What does abuse stem from? How do little innocent boys and girls become abusers?

How far back did our family neglect begin? Did parents escape their dreadful lives as their children do today? Is there a starting place where someone reached out and there was no one there? “If those who reach could touch.” Is Marriage becoming obsolete?

When I was a little girl, a playmate told me that she didn’t believe I’d ever had a father. She wanted me to “prove it” if I did. I was speechless and shamed as I ran and hid in the kitchen behind a large cupboard. My mom handled this just right,  as she did so many of my childhood and teenage problems.

I was very fortunate that I never felt that I was to blame for my parent’s divorce, though I was the primary reason for it. I’ve told that story in another post. But, I felt anger, especially at my mother, who closed down emotionally to protect herself and perhaps, me from the bitter truth.

I didn’t learn how to use my “words” to express my bad feelings; screaming and yelling were my comfort zone. I wonder now, if mom ever connected my volatile behavior with my father’s instability.  She never hinted at my being an “evil spawn”, and didn’t even tell me about my father until I was an adult.

Perhaps you can imagine the amount of learning I had to do to become a decent wife and mother and then a good one. Learning on the go as we traveled the world and offered our home as a place of comfort and counsel in many cultures only compounded the stress. But, that too, added to my growth in self-control, and my ability as a wife and mother as I learned valuable skills from women I admired around the world.

It’s not been easy for our children, I look at them amazed that they’ve turned out so well with issues of my doing and, to my surprise, some from their father.  These are compounded by their reactions to our imperfect marriage and their own wishes to live their own lives in better ways.

Is it better to stay together “for the children” and suffer unhappiness, or to leave each other and find happiness? I don’t think either alternative is a good one.

I’ll never forget one friend of mine, who complained constantly about her husband’s flaws (not a bad man, just not pro-active enough for her).  She divorced him to marry another man with whom she was very happy. Every Christmas she would regale me with how wonderfully happy she was now with the new husband. Finally, I told her I didn’t want to hear about it anymore. My own marriage was hard enough to live and work through without hearing how great it was that her (minor) problems had been fixed by divorcing a very nice man and marrying a guy she had (flirted) with while she was married.

Have I never been tempted? You bet I have. I’ve noticed those glances, those understanding nods, that sense of humor that “gets” me.

THAT’S WHEN I RUN, I DON’T WALK THE OTHER WAY AND MAKE PLANS TO NEVER PUT MYSELF INTO A SITUATION WHERE I WILL BE ALONE WITH THAT PERSON AGAIN.

It’s up to each one of us to read the warning signals of unfaithfulness and keep our marriages together if we want to help heal this generation and the next!

Yes, I guess I sound judgmental. If I meet you tomorrow and you’re divorced, you’ll know what I think. Nobody seems brave to say that breaking up a family is a serious problem, so, here I am to say it.

There are many reasons for divorce, and I’m not advocating people stay and be hurt emotionally or physically, but there are levels of hurt. There are mean people who behave cruelly and have no conscience toward their spouses and children. Get out if this is your situation. Don’t be dumb!

Divorce kills families, and societies.  Children have become conditioned to say that they would rather their parents parted than to fight all the time. But, what about another alternative?

If we can keep our marriages together by changing our attitude towards our spouse, we model working through difficulties this way and honor the original choices we made, the choice of a mother or a father for them.  We never know which child will be that fragile one who will not survive our changing our minds about those choices.

If you don’t get along well with the spouse you have, GET HELP or at least read!!! My husband and I got marriage counseling (much of it informal)  for over 34 years! (I can hear people asking…”I wonder if it even helped?”). Well, not much until recently, but we kept trying to gain entry to those core issues that kept us repeating our childish behaviors.

We had our faith going for us also, his and mine. Both of us felt a strong commitment to God, a conviction that He wanted us to stay in our marriage. At times that was the only thing that kept me going.

We’re at a better place now, 37 years and counting. It’s been worth the struggle. Forgiveness has had a large part. I wish it had been happier for both our sakes. Hopefully, the best is yet to come!