But What Will People Think?

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Sensitive people are often keenly aware of the feelings of others. Too keenly, sometimes.

For many of us the first question that comes to mind when faced with a decision is, “What will people think?”

I read a lot of opinions. You probably do too. Sometimes I feel intimidated by the fashion ranters and political pundits and scientific prognosticators and religious worriers and outrage-of-the-day promoters.

I used to spend lot of time trying to create a persona that would be acceptable to people in the various communities I was involved in — or at least tried to avoid their ire. But one day I realized I was letting people who I did not particularly admire set my standards.

Then I asked myself, Seriously? Do you want to be like this person? Is this someone whose life illustrates who Jesus called you to be? Then why does their approval mean so much?

There are some people I do admire. I would like to be like them. One  of their main characteristics is that they look to Jesus Christ as their model and allow him to be the author and finisher of their faith.

What will people think? What does it matter? Some people will be irritated or critical no matter what you do. They don’t even like themselves let alone anyone else.

I’m not there yet – not by a long-shot – but I hope, that when all is said and done they will think, there goes someone who knows the Creator of the Universe, the God of love. You can tell. 

For the Lord Will Be Your Everlasting Light

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The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.

(Isaiah 60:18, 20 ESV)

I often hear people say, “I’ll be happy when this is over.”  Then the next thing happens. They are not happy yet.

Jesus is our light in the darkness now. Our everlasting life is not dependent on physical circumstances.

There is a hope that only the light of eternity can illuminate.

There is a joy in seeing the glory of the Lord even when the sun and moon withdraw.

Donkey Tales


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My grandchildren are visiting and we decided to do “home church” on Sunday. They remembered doing that last time they were here because somebody had something potentially infectious that was not wise to share at Sunday School. They thought the experience was worth repeating.

It’s interesting to observe what little kids consider essential to a church experience. According to the eldest, one must, apparently, have decorations on the wall, a theme, a sign on the door posting expectations re: starting and finishing times, music, snacks, crafts, and story time. They loved being in charge of “church time” (although one was clearly more in charge than the others.)

We had a great time, especially after I gave the only boy real drum sticks and a real drum and the girls my box of craft materials. If only Michelangelo had construction paper, toothpicks, butterfly stickers  and tape. Who knows what he could have accomplished.

The kids chose the stories. They asked me to read as they dramatized: King Saul going pee in the cave and sneaky David cutting his robe, David (with rolled up sock stones and uncle’s old plastic slingshot found in the bottom of the toy box) and Goliath (holding a badminton racquet and pot lid shield and standing on a chair with Mommy’s long skirt covering the legs), and The Talking Donkey with a blanket saddle.

Silly me, I failed to notice the escalating violence in these scenarios until the final re-enactment needed to be cut short by a bribe of watermelon and granola bars. Balaam had the donkey in a strangle hold while the menacing angel of the Lord wound up for a good smiting from the top of the sofa back with the re-purposed badminton racquet sword. Good will was restored with juice box communion and then church was dismissed.


For some reason seeing the wrestling match in the middle of our home church reminded me of a few unexpected agents of grace in my life that have frustrated me. I think I may have attacked and tried to wrestle messenger donkeys to the ground myself when I didn’t recognize their purpose.

In the story the prophet Balaam hears the Lord accurately but imposes his own agenda. He misses the fact that a big old angel bringing the message of “No! Not this way” is terrifying the wits out of his mount. The donkey collapses under him, then smashes his foot against a wall. When an upset and hurting Balaam starts beating the animal, it supernaturally starts talking saying, essentially, “Sheesh! You really don’t get it, do you?”

I wonder if sometimes when the Lord speaks dramatically to people through crazy, unusual, dramatic, out-of-the-ordinary manifestations it’s not necessarily a compliment or sign of how super-spiritual they are. Maybe it’s not so much an experience to be bragged about as much as  Sheesh! What-does-it-take-to-get-your-attention moment?

Anyway the prophet and donkey who were thrashing it out on my living room floor reminded me of something I read years ago about anxiety attacks and depression and stress-related illnesses and really annoying relationship problems being agents of grace. We are traveling down the road expecting our plans to go smoothly when the things or people we rely on fail us.They collapse under us, or ram us into a wall, or yell Sheesh!  loud enough to scare the wits out of us. The usual reaction is to become frustrated and fight rather than listen to the message – at least mine is.  (Balaam was so defensive he barely noticed it was a bloomin’ donkey talking to him.)

By the time a dramatic attention-grabber shows up we have probably been ignoring the Lord or justifying doing thing our own way for quite a while. It’s the goodness of God that sets up circumstances that get our attention. It’s as if he is saying, “Stop! Yes, you have a gift. Every body in the family gets at least one. No, you may not use it in a way that will hurt others.”

A good tool is one that performs its job well. A knife that can slice through fresh hot bread without squashing it is a good knife. A knife sticking out of a friend’s back — not so much.

Here’s the thing about using the gifts (tools) that Father God gives us: they come with instructions on their safe use. The most essential instructions are found in 1 Corinthians 13 right in the middle of the discussion on the gifts. Without love it’s all a gong show.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing…. 

Love never fails.

Without love, “church” is in danger of turning into a chaotic pile-up on the living room floor.


All Along

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This is a photo taken by my three-year old granddaughter. I think it’s rather good. Her subject is something important to her: her dancing feet and her ruby slippers.

We watched part of The Wizard of Oz together. In the story the sparkly red shoes the girl was given had the power to take her home but she had not realized it. My granddaughter was enamoured with Dorothy’s shoes because they looked just like a pair I bought her for Christmas. No whining and crying in the store asking for the latest movie merchandise. She already had them. She had been dancing in them all along.

Yesterday I read something Jesus said about the generous father’s heart in the story of the prodigal son.  He went out to his oldest son, the one who was upset that Dad threw a party and gave honour to his self-centered, self-indulgent, immature younger brother. The Father appealed to him to be gracious to his brother when he complained that he had never had a party. “Don’t you know that everything I have is yours already?”

I also read something Jesus said about his cousin, John the Baptist, the guy who had set the entire country on it’s ear.

“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

As those who have who hold the Bible in high regard do we take him seriously? I have skipped over that verse so many times because it seemed too good to be true. But Jesus appealed to us to believe him. Truly I say…

Sometimes we fail to notice that the ruby slippers, and the power they have, are right there on our feet already. We can travel for miles looking for someone to rescue us without realizing that if we have been adopted into God’s family we have access to everything He has for us already.

We can feel thoroughly put out when we see those who have not worked nearly as hard or shown even a fraction of the self-control we have exerted receive visible signs of God’s grace and favour. Like the resentful older brother and the frightened Dorothy we have not yet begun to imagine everything we need has already been provided.

Do you know who you are?

Truly. Do you have any idea?