A DIALOGUE ABOUT GOD…WHAT WE’VE BEEN MISSING… Some Dominican monks once asked Albert Camus (a Nobel prize-winning philosopher) to speak on the topic: What Unbelievers Expect from Christians. I love what Camus told them.
“What I feel like telling you today is that the world needs real dialogue, that falsehood is just as much the opposite of dialogue as is silence, and that the only possible dialogue is the kind between people who remain what they are and speak their minds. This is tantamount to saying that the world of today needs Christians who remain Christians.”
In that vein, the dialogue we had at the University of the Fraser Valley on the nature of God was all about what we’ve been missing! It took place in the Lecture Theater. Loved seeing you there!
I remember all too clearly the day my lovable 21-year-old brother died after a car crash that never should have happened. Too many families like mine have experienced the heart-breaking grief of losing someone they love in the prime of life due to alcohol. Although every situation is unique, the pain is the same. One mistake in judgment and it’s all over. Another young man also 21, died in a similar scenario. A police officer who coached his hockey team, once operated a radar trap when he pulled over the young man for speeding. The officer recognized the kid with the wild hair as one of the kids he coached. When the officer walked to the door, the young driver let out a huge sigh of relief. He had been sitting in his truck thinking “I hate cops . . . I hate cops,” but then when he saw him, he said, “I love cops . . . I love cops . . .” Humor … makes this world a better place. But alcohol – creates a sad waste. Time is too valuable and no person is an island. As a journalist I covered many stories where alcohol (and/or drugs) were a major factor in fatal accidents, senseless murders, marital breakdowns due to infidelity and disease– most completely preventable. No wonder the Bible warns: Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 NKJV. In God’s eyes, we are precious and He wants us to live life to the fullest and be wise. Here’s a few ideas on how we can make wise choices: Why health matters – Colson Centre — Live Life to the Fullest – Creation Health
Does it take discipline to take time to meditate? Yes, but it’s so worth it. In the Mother Heart of God, the benefits of exercising faith in God, prayer and having balance in your life is explored. One day, the patriarch Isaac went out into a field to pray and meditate. And when he opened his eyes, he saw a beautiful woman named Rebekah coming toward him. She would become the love of his life (Gen. 25:63). I can guess Isaac felt well-rewarded in his meditations! There are great physical and spiritual benefits in the pure practice of prayer and meditation, according to the Bible. We are rejuvenated when we become lost in the awe and wonder of God’s creative power and rest in His compassion and love! Scientists say meditation is like “rebooting” your brain. But they are just confirming what God revealed long ago to the writers of the Scriptures. In fact, Psalm 18:7 (NIV) notes that meditating on God’s moral law will make you wiser: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. That’s good stuff.
You just never know. When I speak to different people about the maternal side of God’s love, I get some very interesting reactions. I was paying taxes and bumped into a director for the prison system the other day. “Yeah, that actually makes sense to me,” he said. “God must have a maternal side, because women are made in the image of God, too.” Another man wanted to know if I call God mother? I said “No, I would never do that. Everywhere in the Scriptures, God is named as our kind heavenly Father, not mother.” The love of God is faithful like a mother’s love – but ever so much more!
A little girl was feeling worried and missed her mommy. I said, “it’s alright, honey, you, are well loved, your mommy will be back really soon.” But I miss her, she said. As I listened to her and hugged her, I was thinking about how much we tend to feel worried when someone we love has not visited us for awhile. Jesus comforted his disciples by reassuring them that he would one day return to Earth to gather all of his followers to a great homecoming in Heaven. In my book The Mother Heart of God, I was impressed by faith leaders who noted the great consolation in knowing how much God loves us. He knows us by name . . . Hang in there! He will be returning soon!
A LASTING LEGACY
Thank you Larry Krause, for introducing me to Brennan Manning, such an inspiring author! He died on April 12, at the age of 78, but he leaves a tremendous legacy in his best-selling book The Ragamuffin Gospel. Consider for a moment, this amazing gift: “Here is revelation bright as the evening star: Jesus comes for sinners, for those as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used car salesmen . . . This is the God of the gospel of grace . . . whispering forgiveness on us all.” Thank you Brennan for inspiring me and Larry, and even members of U2, and singer Michael W. Smith, and many millions of other people with your humble life. You have enriched all of us. May you rest in peace!
Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. Psalm 119: 27 NIV
I don’t know about you, but I need peace. I need to turn off the noise of the world and focus on beauty and I often find this while walking in God’s creation. Every morning, I take my Bible in hand, go to a quiet place in the forest, pray and read, and meditate on the wonders of God. I look forward to my morning meditation as the favorite time of my day. Today, the chickadees and winter wrens were singing all around me as I walked along the forest path and I saw myriads of dainty trillium popping their white blossoms out of the ground. Out of the dreary beds of gnarled dry leaves and death of winter, springs new life. What I could not see earlier, but what was there in the soil, beyond my view nonetheless, was the seed – that wondrous promise of God that there is life after death.
The “gender of God” is a hot spiritual topic as attested by millions of hits on Google.
I have to admit that question would have never struck me as interesting in the past. To me, it is a blessed assurance to know that God loves me as my kind heavenly father. But I started finding it fascinating that the Bible depicts the personality of God, metaphorically in the parental roles of a father and sometimes even as a mother.
So, why did the “maternal” side of God go missing?
As I interviewed leaders of faith from Ruth Graham to the Vatican for my book The Mother Heart of God, I discovered surprising harmony across a wide spectrum of denominations.The Bible, in fact, reveals a peaceful resolution to the whole “gender of God” debate. That’s a wonderful thing to me and I really like how Nicky Cruz puts it. During our interview, he tells me that he does not know the answer to the question of the possible gender of God. The question is of no great concern to me, he said, compared to the importance of knowing and experiencing the power of God. And, he makes this key point: Just let the Holy Spirit’s power change your life.That’s what really counts!
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The House of James is a bookstore I call home. Lando Klassen – the founder of the House of James – is an unsung hero with his trademark unassuming smile, balancing the ever-increasing challenges of selling books, with his keen deep-thinking mind, somewhere between prophet and entrepreneur.
Back in the summer of 2008, I walked into the House of James, feeling fairly fragile. I had written a book no one seemed interested in publishing. Instead of ignoring me, Lando got excited and escorted me into his office. Before I could count to 30, he was zipping an email to his friend in the publishing business, praising what I’d written. I was stunned. Wow! To be sure the book still got rejected. But, Lando did something priceless that day. He inspired me to believe in what could be.
And, what could be – is now my new reality!
Thank you hardly seems enough, but Lando, sincerely thank you! Your life is a reminder to give the gift of encouragement to inspire someone today. If you have a moment, check out: http://www.houseofjames.com/