Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fiery Guidance - Part 1

Wouldn’t it be great to have visual confirmation of God’s presence?

Think of the Israelites.  From the day they set foot in the wilderness after leaving Egypt they had visible evidence, 24 hours per day, that God was with them.

“The Lord went ahead of them.  He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire.  This allowed them to travel by day or by night.  And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”  Exodus 13:21-22 (NLT)

How reassuring is that?!? Real proof of God’s presence.

I’m especially partial to the pillar of fire.  I grew up on a farm in rural Manitoba.  The closest city was about 100 km away.

When you live in the middle of nowhere outside the “urban glow” you understand what “dark” really is.  Your eyes strain to see, but a black void consumes your attempts.  You’re essentially blind. 

As a kid this was a huge problem for me.  I was afraid of the dark. 

Picture taken from
"Old Barn"
One of my chores was feeding the cats.  I know this doesn’t sound terrible, but the cats were housed in our old, ramshackle barn which lay on the opposite side of the farmstead from the house.

The walk to the barn was scary, but at least I had the furry comfort of cats milling around my feet.  The walk back was spine-chilling!  I was convinced hundreds of nasty monsters lurked in the dark recesses of the barn. 

I’d drop the food dish on the floor, turn, shut the door behind me, and sprint to the house, convinced that all the powers of hell were in hot pursuit!

I really could have used a fiery pillar lighting my way! In fact, I could still use one today.  It would be comforting never to have doubts about God’s presence. 

What about you?  Could you use some reassurance of God’s presence in your life?  Consider the following promises from scripture…

  • “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”    Matthew 28:20

  • “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.”  John 14:16

  • “The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call in Him in truth.  He grants the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them.”  Psalm 145:18-19

  • “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, “I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.”  So we can say with confidence, “the Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?”  Hebrews 13:5-6

  • “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

Still not convinced God is with you?  The Bible is full of promises of God’s presence.  Take time to dig deep into the truth of it and savour the promises you’ll find there.

Do you ever need reassurance of God’s presence?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moral Dilemmas

Last Thursday evening my husband and I went on a date night.  The plan was dinner and a movie.  Given my husband’s American background he wanted to see “Lincoln”, so off we went.

I enjoyed the movie but two uncomfortable thoughts burrowed into my brain and continue to gnaw rat-like away at it.

The first is this…

Does the battle against an evil justify blurring the lines between what’s right and what’s wrong?

Lincoln’s goal to abolish slavery in the Southern United States is the main plot line in this historical movie account.  A worthy goal, though not popular in his time in history.

We all know Lincoln achieved this goal, but the way the movie depicts the journey to get there leaves me wondering if it’s OK to blur the lines between black and white, or right and wrong, if the stakes are high enough.

In the movie Lincoln resorts to bribery, coercion, buying votes, and downright bullying to ensure the bill to end slavery is passed.

I sat with a sense of unease as I watched the story unfold.  Is it OK to use whatever means necessary to get the desired outcome?

What about the controversial torture scenes depicted in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”?  Can we conveniently turn off moral beliefs when the “greater good” is at stake?

You’re probably sitting there thinking, “They’re MOVIES you idiot…fiction…creative writing…get over it.”  Fair point.

But let’s be realistic.  We all know black and white turn to shades of grey in politics, in business, and in other venues.  And we turn a blind eye, making an excuse, “Well that’s just business.” Or, “It’s politics, what can you expect?”

Whether it’s fact or fiction it still begs the disconcerting question…is it OK to blur the lines between “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” when trying to rid the world of a greater “bad”?

The second thought is this…

The thirteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution outlawing slavery was signed in 1865.  Today we’re close to being 150 years in the future.  At first glance you think, “How far we’ve come”.  Perhaps a more accurate statement is, “How far we have to go.”

Hate crimes and prejudices are still all too common, not only in our own back yards of Canada and the United States, but around the world. 

Granted, slavery no longer exists openly on the North American continent.  But we’re still slaves to our own biases that prevent us from seeing and treating people from other races and religions as equals.

At first glance it’s easy to throw out pat answers to these thoughts, freeing our minds to move on to other seemingly more important questions. 

If we do gloss over this type of thought process I think we cheat ourselves out of an opportunity to open our minds to consider different opinions and ideas.  In doing so we miss out on an opportunity for personal growth.

What do you think?  Do we need to struggle with questions like these in order to learn and grow?  Is it OK to blur the lines of black and white when it serves a higher purpose?  Do we still struggle with human equality issues around the world today?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.