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Showing posts from May, 2009

The Launch of Searching for Love

After asking five different bookstores to help me launch my book, two of them refusing because the point of view of Searching for Love might offend their customers, I decided to organize my own launch. But how? Where?

Thankfully my church, Winnipeg Centre Vineyard (what a community of supportive people!), was willing to let me use the building and the planning began. Invitations: to everyone in and near Winnipeg whose e-mail and/or postal address I have—about 300; Posters: in Christian bookstores, churches and parachurch ministries; Announcements: in Facebook, Winnipeg Free Press’ Faith Briefs and The Tab (a weekly insert listing what’s happening around town). I became well acquainted with the printing services of the UPS Store my son’s friend owns.

Who would come? I had no way of knowing. How many should I prepare for? I didn’t have a clue; it could be two hundred or it could be only five. I decided to be optimistic and plan for 200—it’s always better to have too much than too little.

O…

A Leadership of Powerlessness and Humility

“Jesus has a different vision of maturity; It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go.” Think of the last time God was calling you to make a change in your life. Was it difficult to let go of your own wishes and follow God’s direction?

It is difficult to let go of my own wishes and desires to follow God’s direction—sometimes it’s more difficult than others, like leaving Pearl. But even the smaller choices can be hard: Do I come down to my prayer room today or play on the computer in the living room? Do I invite Tom to join me on a trip or to an event when I’d rather go by myself? Do I speak what my tongue is itching to say or do I keep quiet? Do I take the homeless man out for lunch when I’d rather go home and nap? Do I allow myself to be conspicuous when I’d prefer to hide?

“...maturity...the ability and willingness to be led where you’d rather not go.” How willing am I to be lead by God’s Spirit in all things. Last night I wasn’t and already I’ve paid th…

Walking with God--Noah, George Whitefield and George Fox

What does it mean to walk with God? Is this something we can do or is it relegated to giants of faith? I've been reading "Walking with God" in Connecting with God by Renovaré (HarperSanFrancisco). It points out some interesting and thought-provoking ideas.

Noah... ...had an unshakeable faith in God....was obedient...when God asked him to do something that would make him look like a fool to the rest of the world....was steadfast and patient....had to be completely reliant on and secure in God. (p. 117)For Noah, walking with God meant relying on God, trusting God, and most of all, believing in God. (p. 118)George Whitefield (1714-1770), influential in the beginnings of Methodism in Britain, a significant part of The Great Awakening in North America and founder of the Evangelical movement* spoke of four implications about someone who walks with God:
Her hostility toward God and man is gone.She is reconciled to God.She interacts with God.There is noticable and on-going impro…

Revolving Church Doors

A blog I read observes that as people come through the front door of a church, others are leaving through the back. The author asks its readers some questions about this:
Have you left your childhood denomination for another? If so, why? (move to different state, went with spouse's denomination, better youth group for your kids elsewhere, change in theological understanding, problems in the church, etc)

Is the church in general not concerned about retaining members, but in evangelism of the lost only?

What can churches do to stem the out going tide?

Do you tend to see yourself as a Baptist, Methodist, Nazarene, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian, etc. or as just a "believer"? I am choosing to answer here.

I was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. While I have great respect for the biblical training I received growing up, am grateful for the love of God planted early in my life and stay connected to some of the people there, I do have issues with some of their theology. I left the …

Retreat Feedback

The following are unchanged except for spelling, punctuation, and the removal of names:
You have been such an inspiration and your depth of relationship with God is so helpful and confirming. Keep sharing your faith. May God richly bless you and I'm so glad you chose God over Pearl. It was a very wise choice and helps free the captives.Thank you for sharing from your heart. Thank you for being so open. It helped me to understand a bit more of the individual I told you about. I will continue to show him love and pray for him and trust God with the rest. God is using you in a beautiful way. God bless you."Thank you." These words don't seem adequate for all you gave to us this weekend. Your transparency and vulnerability are treasured. You have challenged me and your story will influence my Christian walk till I walk hand-in-hand with Jesus in heaven. God with God, Sister.Your first session was so freeing. Thank you for your willingness to obey Jesus. He ha…

God Showed Up!

I didn't really know what to expect during the prayer time I introduced to the ladies. We sat in still silence for only twelve minutes but would they find the time wearisome? Would any of them encounter God?

When the alarm rang, the first thing I heard was a woman commenting in amazement at how quickly the time had flown. I asked them to share what happened and about half the group responded--each having had a personal and meaningful encounter with God. One reported something that seemed puzzling to her but as the nurses in the room acknowledged the truth of what she'd heard, we were all encouraged by that confirmation of God's presence.

I think that's what made the weekend so wonderful: God showed up and met with us. Being a facilitator of that has got to be one of the best things in the world.

I decided to return home Saturday night, so I could attend my own church in the morning. It was hard saying good-bye to the women I had grown to love over the previous 30 ho…

Focusing on, Intimacy with and Listening to God

I was a bit nervous about my Saturday evening session. Part of the group included silver-haired women who looked like they've walked with God all their life. Would they think my talk too elementary for them?

My third talk at the retreat:

Have any of you ever tried to quit a bad habit, an addiction, a sin you keep returning to? What happened? You don’t have to reveal what it was you tried to stop but what methods did you use? How successful were you? How long did it take?

Last night I told of my struggle between same-sex attraction and wanting to honour God. Through an amazing process and series of events, God freed me from the control these attractions had on me and enabled me to make choices in my relationships that honour him. My struggle was same-sex attraction, but we all have issues, problems, compulsive behaviours, sin that we know dishonour God.

What is the answer? How do we get free? It’s easy to say, “God!” but how does he help? How do we make ourselves available …

A Spirited Horse, Please!

The rest of the day was for us to relax and do what we wanted. One option available was to take horses out on a trail ride. I hadn't ridden for over thirty years and before that it had been only a handful of times, but I was eager for the adventure. Many of the women were asking for gentle, quiet horses but something in me wanted one that was more spirited. I wanted to ask but was afraid of what people would think. Finally I overcame that and decided I had as much right to ask for a spirited horse as those who were asking for something more gentle. I was given the horse immediately behind the trail ride leader.

Truthfully, I wasn't sure if my bad knee would allow me to get up on the horse and ride, but I wanted to try. I was given a milk crate to stand on but I was still so low I had no clue how I'd get into the saddle. The girl brought a small step-ladder and that was better but my mounting skills are seemingly non-existent. While one girl behind me tried to push …

Pain

My second talk at the retreat:

I wasn’t sure what I was going to speak on this morning but while we were praying for ___ and ___ last night, it came to me: PAIN! No one likes pain and yet so much of it comes into our lives. What should we do? It’s something I’ve wrestled with a lot as I’ve faced one pain after another. Barbara Johnson titled one of her books Pack up Your Gloomees in a Great Big Box, then sit on the lid and laugh! Pain is inevitable. We can’t avoid it.

I love the book of First Peter because of the hope it gives me. Perhaps more than most books of the Bible, this letter talks a lot about suffering.

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV
...now, for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 2:19-23 NIV
...it is commendable if a man bears up under the pa…

An Unplanned Session

I had prepared two talks for the retreat as requested but Friday evening, when I was given a schedule, I discovered I was down for the next morning as well. The second talk I had prepared flowed naturally from the first, I thought, so what could I put in the middle that would fit? The topic came to me while we were praying for a woman whose daughter was in Emergency. Pain! I could talk about pain.

I didn't have much time to prepare what I would say. My legs and feet were hurting a lot from standing and I was exhausted. I needed my sleep. So how could I write out what to say? Thankfully, I had my computer with me and, since I copy all I write online into Word documents, I hoped I could harvest a few things and string them together. When I did find them, I was too tired to know whether they worked together or not but I told God it would have to do because it was all I could do.

God was so gracious to me because it all worked out so well.

My Story

My first talk at the retreat:

I was born out of wedlock to a mother who was eighteen and a father who was nearly twice her age but still legally married to someone else. They eventually married and went on to have three more daughters but the marriage was rocky. My mom left my dad when I was eight and he killed himself when I was nine.

Needy for love, I didn't know how to refuse those who wanted to use me sexually. I married on my 18th birthday but the marriage seemed doomed from the start. I had grown up fiercely devoted to God and I thought my husband was the same but he soon lost interest in God and, in an attempt to save my marriage, I found myself adopting values that would have shocked me before. Books like “Open Marriage” and “The Happy Hooker” became my diet and, as our marriage grew more and more bleak, I began to look for an affair.

It wasn't as easy to do as I thought, but once I succeeded, the contrast between the ways I was treated was so stark, I knew I couldn&…

First Session--Homosexuality

The first session turned out very well. I told my story and we had a good discussion afterwards. What do we do about the homosexuals we love who need God but aren’t interested? Love them. They know where you stand, that you believe homosexual activity is wrong. What they need is to know is that they are loved. It is the Holy Spirit who will convict them at the right time. Let the Holy Spirit do his job.

Are homosexuals born that way? Well, the two sides have kind of squared off on this question, each firmly entrenched in their opinion and unwilling to budge, even if they are proven wrong. But in my opinion, it is a non-issue. The answer to the question is really irrelevant. Many people are born with problems that are less than God’s ideal. Does that mean God loves them less? Of course not! If a person is born with a genetic disposition to alcoholism, does that mean they have no choice but to become heavy drinkers? No!

The women seemed to appreciate the answers I gave an…

Driving to Camp

I love driving on the highway--there are always interesting things to see and driving to the retreat last weekend was no exception. The Red River has been flooded for about a month and is taking its time to recede. At the height of the flood, the main highway, 75, from Winnipeg to the US was 3 meters (over 9 feet) under water and a detour has been created--using the highway to Winkler. Highway 75 is divided, with two lanes of traffic in each direction--because of all the heavy traffic it bears. Highway 3, which is bearing all its own traffic plus the extra US traffic, is undivided with only one lane in each direction and gravel shoulders--dangerous conditions for those who like to speed (and those around them).

The traffic was constant and so, instead of trying to rush and pass people, I decided to follow behind the semi in front of me. Drivers behind me, however, were impatient with the pace—despite the fact that we were going a tad over the speed limit. What really disturbed m…

"Deborah the Courageous"

I saw "Deborah the Courageous" on a church sign last night, announcing Sunday's sermon. The word "courage" has been coming to me a lot this week. The biblical Deborah was a very courageous woman. During a time of male dominance, she was a leader of God's people. Referring to her as a judge, the Bible tells how she led the nation's army into war against their oppressors and won. That takes a lot of courage.

The sermon last Sunday at my church was also about courage. There is an organization called International Justice Mission. Mark Wallenberg, new director for IJM in Canada, spoke to us. The purpose of IJM is to rescue present-day slaves (I think I heard him say there are an estimated 80 million slaves in the world today), provide after-care to help them re-enter freedom, prosecute the slave owners and others who are complicit, and to encourage nations to adjust their justice systems so that slavery will be unable to flourish.

They do this by send…

Wrung out and Drained

What a week this has been! Speaking at the women's retreat last weekend was one of the best and most enjoyable times of my life. I loved it and had so much fun! I hope I can find other opportunities to speak.

I will share more about last weekend as I'm able. The reason I've been so silent this week is that despite how wonderful the weekend was, it took a big toll on me physically. I've discovered that standing still for a long period of time hurts my legs and feet a lot. After my first talk, when I went to sit down, I could hardly walk! By the end of the weekend, as I was driving the hour and a half to home, I was so grateful for cruise control because my foot and leg simply couldn't handle the gas pedal. I'm thinking there's a solution for that, so I'm not letting it get me down.

Aside from the pain, I was physically exhausted--wrung out and drained. It took three days for me to get back to "normal," and the fourth day, Wednesday, I w…

QQC—Did Joseph Lose his Job?

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 50:4, 5

When Jacob died in Egypt, Joseph wants to carry out his father’s instructions and bury him in Canaan. He was (or at least had been) the ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh and yet he asks Pharaoh’s permission to do so and instead of going directly to Pharaoh, he goes to Pharaoh’s court and asks those there to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf. Had he lost his status in Egypt? Why did he have to ask permission and why not go directly to Pharaoh himself if he thought he needed that permission?



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QQC—Joseph a Father to Pharaoh?

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 45:8

During the same conversation where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he calls himself a “father to Pharaoh.” Joseph was a young man. How was he father? I suppose some could argue that he had a father role because he was Pharaoh’s advisor, but I can’t help but wonder if the Pharaoh was indeed much younger. It’s possible and it would explain why he was so eager to give Joseph control over the country. Perhaps Joseph replaced the one who had been previously advising the child-king. I have no idea, but it’s an interesting thought.



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QQC—It Was God Who Did It!

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 45:8

When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, they were afraid he would retaliate against them for selling him into slavery. Joseph answers by saying, “...it was not you who sent me here, but God.” God sent Joseph into slavery? He was the active agent in what happened? He didn’t just ALLOW it to happen and brought good out of it? According to Joseph, it was God’s doing and no one else’s.



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Wrestling with God

I've been slowly making my way through the book Connecting with God: A Spiritual Formation Guide by Renovaré. Today I looked at three questions about Wrestling with God*. The context is set in three stories.

In the first, young Billy Graham senses that God wants him to be an evangelist but it's the last thing he wants to do. So he wrestles with God about his future and God's will for him.

The second is the story of Abraham. The Lord is telling Abraham of his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham pleads with him to save the city if there are enough righteous people living there. He successfully whittles the critical number from fifty to ten.

The third is about John Dunne lying on what he thinks is his deathbed, not understanding why God would do this to him just when he is in a place to do the most good for God.
The three questions are in italics below.
“What kind of attitude do you need to wrestle with God?”You need a humble attitude, a heart that wants to do wh…

Book Launch Location

Searching for Love: One Woman's Spiritual Journey through Same-Sex Attraction Saturday, May 23, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. Refreshments served (Music by Mons Chan)
Winnipeg Centre Vineyard, 782 Main St., Winnipeg, MB Southwest corner of Sutherland and Main, just north of the Higgins underpass. Parking and Main Entrance at the rear. Click map to enlarge

"Affliction is a Treasure"

In the same paragraph as his famous line, "No man is an island, entire of itself," John Dunne wrote a startling truth not nearly as popular in our hedonistic, narcissistic society as those first few words.

The context is Dunne, lying in bed with what he thinks is the bubonic plague, thinking he's going to die and questioning God as to why this had befallen him so soon after accepting the very prestigious position of dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London and thus able to do so much more for God. Why, God? he asks. When he hears the church bells announcing another death in the community, he thinks they are for him. They're for his neighbour instead, but suddenly he has a revelation: The man's death is as much a part of Dunne as of the man himself because we are all connected. When one suffers, we all suffer--something Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 12:26, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices w…