Posts

On the Unbelievability of the Christian Message

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  The other night I was thinking about how unbelievable—incredible—ridiculously impossible the Christian message is.   It’s preposterous.   Am I imagining all this?   How could any rational person fall for the idea of a good God creating a good world, then creating human beings, and then giving them the freedom to choose whether or not to listen to Him when He tells them how they should live in that world?     Preposterous that a good God would give the persons He created the ability to destroy themselves and others and the good world around them. That he would allow them to be selfish, greedy and so dangerously careless as to refuse to choose to live by the owner’s manual He gave them?   And speaking of the Bible, that’s another ridiculous idea: that He would write a book, over a period of roughly 1500 years, using the minds and fingers of at least 40 of the very human creatures who messed things up in the first place—a book full of information about Himself, and about us.  

For All the Grads: What Life is About!

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Looking for help as you step out into the scary new world? Here's a Grandma's advice:   Wow!   So many places! Directions to go! Which path should you follow? How do you know?   You could go south, or go north, east or west. How can you be sure which direction is best? South could be sending you too far away. North might lead someplace you don’t want to stay. East might go nowhere and west be too tough. How do you pick when you don’t know enough?   Your head's in a whirl! There are too many ways! Yet you have to decide how to plan for your days. It's too big a problem. You're not fit to choose. It's too big a decision. There’s too much to lose!   But, wait. Here's the answer: You don't need to know. There's Someone else planning which way you should go. Someone Who’s smarter—Who’s been there before. And His plans for your path will give you much more Than anything you could dream up on your own. You jus

Dedicated to the Church Bells in Ukraine Tonight

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I was deeply moved by the response to the tribute I wrote about my mother on Facebook today on International Women’s Day.   Some of my friends said they’d like more of the story of my mother’s time in Shanghai after Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, so I looked up some notes I had written about her for my cousin, who was compiling some family records a few years ago. I edited my notes, added some more details, and am posting here for anyone who would appreciate a little personal insight into this bit of history from 80 years ago.    Mary Smiley sailed from Seattle to China in August in 1940. She taught English to Chinese children in Shanghai for a little over a year with a small mission organization called The Faith Fellowship. In December, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and soon afterwards moved into China. The Japanese occupied Shanghai and ex-pat missionaries were cut off from their sponsors in the States.   For many months contact was lost.   Mary spent most of her time

Learning to Lean

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  Here’s a message I just sent to a young friend I am corresponding with through a mentoring website I belong to that is sponsored by Power to Change .   It’s a message we all need to remind ourselves of right now, when it seems like the world is spinning out of control and we are uneasy with the uncertainty of it all. We want to do something to fix the mess around us but we don’t know where to begin, it all seems so impossible.   So I said to my young friend,   I feel sympathy for you in your striving.   I have always been a striver too--and have struggled with perfectionism. Now I am older and wiser and more at peace with just living from day-to-day.   The “need” to “do,” especially for God’s eternal Kingdom, still pushes at me, but more and more I realize that all I have to do is relax into His sovereignty and not worry so much.   A few years back I ran into a meme that changed my life.   It says:   All we need to do, as Christians, is to be RESTFULLY AVAILABLE and I

TWENTY LIFE HACKS FOR OLD PEOPLE

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     1.  If you want to put off accepting that you are old, avoid mirrors. 2.  Wear comfortable shoes.   Always.   No matter what they look like. 3.  Talk to yourself, especially when you need good advice about things like what to wear or what to eat or what movie to watch on Netflix. 4.  ALWAYS hold handrails when going up or down stairs. (Yes, you can fall upstairs.) 5.  Offer to take a grandkid out to eat if you want to chat. Also offer to give them rides when they need them. (NB, enjoy this while you can because it will not be as effective after they learn to drive.) 6.  Be very careful not to offend your friends by calling them “old folks” even if you think of them that way. 7.  Do something constructive every day before you read or watch TV. This is how you avoid feeling guilty when you sit down. 8.  Go to bed early and get up early. Your best sleep comes before midnight. 9.  Go out to run errands early in the morning, before all the young ones wake up and get i

A THEORY ABOUT CONSPIRACY THEORIES

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Today, for my quiet time, I am reading an ancient text, written over 2500 years ago, on the topic of conspiracy theories. Apparently, there was a plethora of them buzzing around when Isaiah wrote His diatribe, about and to, the rebellious nation of Israel just before they were conquered by stronger enemies and their people were disbursed into the far corners of the known world.   This is an ancient story, but it seems unnervingly relevant to us living in North America today.   I should not be surprised. This whole ancient collection of books that make up our Bible constantly surprises me with its contemporary relevance.   This may be because the Bible is full of stories that unflinchingly portray human nature, which seems not to have changed a bit since the beginning of time. But the Book portrays more than human nature. It also shows the nature of the God who created human beings and cares, deeply and doggedly, about them.   Isaiah’s book is a commentary on what God’s

Chess, Spider Solitaire and the Rubix Cube, or Deep thoughts on the meaning of the universe.

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  In this blog post I am going to digress, for a moment, from a pursuit of the meaning of my life in order to pursue the meaning of the universe.   I realize that's quite a leap--one might even say a significant one--but I can't help but feel there might be a connection between the two in the end.     My pursuit of the meaning of the universe came about the other day while I was pondering the meaning of my life and playing spider solitaire while I waited for inspiration.   I began to ask myself, "What do chess, spider solitaire and the Rubix cube have in common?"     There might be several things those games have in common, but the one that struck me is that they are all concerned with putting things in their proper places--getting things to their perfect final homes.   Finding meaning, order and purpose, you might say.   But even more than the pursuit of that ultimate goal, the solutions in all of these puzzles require--yes, require--that things be