How to define “ordinary”?

At Small Group last night, someone reminded us how God gives us gifts/abilities, not to use for ourselves, but for others. He gave the example of how you don’t, if you have the gift of preaching, preach to yourself.

For some reason, it came to my mind how I enjoy myself right here. I have several tabs open for reading this blog–one for reading the post on this day two years ago, one for reading the tag “quotes” (all my posts where I included interesting quotes), one for reading my tag on “notes” (including sermon notes, etc.)… and so on. And I haven’t been posting at all, just reading myself. :S  I figure I’m making good use of all that blogging and note-making, but…

In fact, I used to say that “I’m doing this for me”. That doesn’t sound quite right, somehow. Not that anyone needs more stuff to read!

Back to the Small Group study, which is actually done on each week’s sermon. Pastor Tim shared several Life Principles with us, and my favourite was about God using the ordinary to do extraordinary things. He asked Moses what was in his hands–a staff. The very staff that was used in so many miracles in the Exodus story. It started with something that Moses used every day, in his particular profession, looking after sheep.

We discussed in our group how it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t base our own experience on someone else’s–just because Peter walked on water, doesn’t mean that we can do it every time we try. It was Jesus who called Peter to come, and we need to follow God’s leading about those things. Also, Tim included the fact that things like housewife & mother are also a “high and holy calling”. So often we miss the fact that miracles and extraordinary things are happening around us all the time.

Like my parents’ 60th anniversary this weekend!! :)


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If you don’t want to miss new posts from this blog, you’d better click on my “Home” tab at the top, and then scroll way down to the bottom and enter your email address, then click “subscribe”. Because I’m pretty sure most people are like me: when they see that “so and so shared” something, they just flick right by it, hit delete, whatever. It’s impossible to read everything, that’s for sure, or even to read all the headlines.

Speaking of this “modern-day water cooler” (social media), how about some notes on an excellent Compassion article about How to be an Effective Social Media Slactivist?

Slactivism, hashtag activism, vanity activitism–these are a few different terms for the same thing: expressing support for a cause solely through social media. Sometimes it has little impact (e.g. #Kony2012 and #BringBackOurGirls); and sometimes it gets people to take action and actually can raise a significant amount of money (e.g. #BlackLivesMatter and ALSIceBucketChallenge).

So here are the hints Compassion gives, if you want to get on the positive side of it:


  • Of course, as Christians we always want to start everything with prayer. And as Compassion says “meditate on your motives”, and ask yourself a few questions. It seems to be natural to just do things to look good, and social media certainly encourages that.
  • Inform yourself. I try to not even click “Like” unless I’ve actually read the article. Did that once, learned my lesson! Being educated about what you’re advocating, goes a long way towards success at motivating others.
  • Not all opinions need to be shared. There is someone on my newsfeed who always has a lot to say–I’ve learned to skim by her. On the other hand, there are friends who hardly ever Share something, and don’t really update their status that often: when they do, of course it grabs my attention! As Compassion says, sharing “opinions about everything and anything is a sure-fire way to lose credibility”. There are SO many good causes! Pick something you’re passionate about, and research it.
  • “Don’t be an alarmist. [this point copied complete] Speak intelligently, not angrily. Speak with passion, not with vitriol. Speak with compassion, not hatred. Point people to accurate information to support your passion.”
  • Share your story. This is where you can be personal, and vulnerable. Adds weight to the issue.
  • Pray again. Double check what you’ve written, before hitting that “post” or “send” button!



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My One Word isn’t being updated as often as I’d originally planned, but good enough that it gets done as often as I can find something, or come across something that fits. “Done” usually means a Facebook status update, sometimes with a photo. Now that there are “Facebook memories”, you know you’ll always come across them again.

However, one wants to be careful about those updates–I’m always stopped with the thought: “Do I really want to read this again next year? Or in ten years?”

My hashtag for the One Word is kind of weird, but that’s to make it only show up the things I’ve tagged, since other versions are things other people have used as well (#oneword, #myoneword, etc.).

The “thread” I’m noticing this morning, is something that’s running through my morning readings, the Sunday sermon series, and what I’ve been teaching these days to the three-year-olds: “obedience”.

  • The kids’ stories are examples of obedience from various Old Testament characters;
  • the sermon series is based on Malachi, where God is “fed up” with ritual obedience, but wants worship that comes from the heart;
  • of course the Old Testament is full of obedience stories, and I’m using some summary-videos that are excellent in helping one understand the Torah, as well as following along with a ministry of one of my students, who is a Jewish Christian (also chaplain to the Ottawa Champions) and writes a short narrative about the week’s Torah readings (“Torahbytes”). The one I read this morning (I’m way behind on these), talked specifically about obedience.

You really should check out those videos!

EDIT Later: I watched the last video that they have, Deuteronomy, “the epic conclusion to the Torah”, and just need to add some notes here! This is where the “shemah” (sp?) is, “Listen oh Israel… love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength” (“shemah” means “listen”). It’s all about obedience, starting with listening, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to teach the kids lately.

The key words are “listen” and “love”; the Hebrew for “listen” including the idea of responding–obeying. And of course, “love” should always be the true motive for obeying, which is exactly what we’ve been talking about in Small Group. “Israel won’t obey without love, and they don’t truly love if they don’t obey.” Of course, they don’t seem able to obey, which speaks of the human condition, and the need for a Saviour to transform our hearts.


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even a little bit

The main reason I want to make these notes, is because it’s what I would like to say myself, to people. Thank you Steve T. for giving me the words!

One thing that jumped out at me that day, was “You can’t really know with certainty until you commit.” So even it you’re a little bit sure, God will honour that. Think about the things you’ve “always thought”, and be open enough to doubt your doubts–see what the reasons are behind your thinking. Be honest about your bias.

We always want to tell people that they should do some research, “check it out”, and weigh the evidence–concerning the truth of a particular “man” being able to rise from the dead, etc. Of course we know that being objective about these things is not enough, that it needs to be personalized.

Hunger is proof that food exists. The deepest longings of the heart (for example, our sense of injustice) are proof that God exists. I’m so often reminded that ordinary human beings just cannot love the way those same human beings desire to be loved–we are prone to error. But God can, and does love us that perfectly.

If God is not a judge, than there is no hope for us–we cry out for justice. But law and love come together in Jesus, who met the requirements of God’s law out of his love for us. And as we respond to that, we are released from being driven by other things–those things that will, in the end, crush us. Every other religion says “DO”, while Jesus says, “It is DONE” (one of his final words from the cross).

Hope these thoughts are not too disjointed to follow!


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breathe, cry, sing

Time to put something down, to keep the memory: our first trip back to our previous “home” of 35 years. And it took almost 2 years before we did it!

The quote at the top of my home page these days is: “If you do not BREATHE through writing, if you do not CRY OUT in writing, or SING in writing, then DON’T WRITE”. (It’s to keep me from writing too much.) Not sure if this memory is breathing, crying, or singing. Maybe a bit of each!

First of all, if we had ever thought that we were just imagining that Ottawa has less traffic than Toronto, we were totally confirmed on that score: incredible how much traffic, how much people, there can be in one area on a Saturday afternoon! No wonder I used to take such a deep breath every time we’d come to Mom & Dad’s for a visit!

Sunday morning we caused quite a disturbance at our old church, and couldn’t get by without a hug for every single person of course! The funny thing was, the other couple who moved to Ottawa (years before us), who called Good Shepherd home years ago, were also there! We joked that we had to come to Toronto to see each other, even though we live a short bridge-distance away in Ottawa. But that wasn’t really a joke. ;S

Yes, that was the crying time. So many beautiful people that used to be in our lives every week, and more, for soooo many years! When I felt myself losing control, the thing to do was remind myself that the purpose of that place and time was worship, more than to see people. Not about me.

But it was certainly wonderful to see two more people being baptized there, and both of them crediting our sweet friend Lisa Li, being also thankful for the church, but mostly thankful for God. Their pastor was so good, that I’ll have to make sermon notes. You know I haven’t done that in a long time!

We waited at the back of the church afterwards, until almost everyone had gone. Weird to see them for such a few minutes, and some only a hug during communion. They were so happy to see us, but, I wonder if it was mean of us to drop in?

Monday we saw our financial advisor, and then visited old friends for dinner, having a wonderful time sharing new things (seeing their new home & land, talking about our new churches) and remembering old things. That would definitely be the “singing”!

Tuesday we returned the 407 transponder (more terrible traffic), and then (crying part again): watched the Blue Jays lose! One could say they were good seats, just above 3rd base, but wow–so uncomfortable! When did they shrink the seats??! :/

Somewhere in there I made a quick trip to Michael’s (siingiing), which was practically across the street from where we were staying at Rej’s brother’s place: one (kind of) advantage to living in a big city–good shopping SO close by!

Oh, and speaking of CRYING… our poor cat, didn’t stop–the whole way there, and the whole way back! It was kind of David (Sam’s friend), to be so willing to keep her while we were there. Our plan was to get her used to travelling; we remember friends who always took their cats with them camping, or to the cottage. Maybe when we go on a shorter trip, we could let her out of the cage, on her leash. Maybe that will work better. Maybe.

Wednesday we finished things up with our lawyer (so many things to think of when you move), and then went to a friend’s birthday supper, then off home the next day. It was all great fun, but definitely felt good to get home to Ottawa!


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after Good Friday

Just thinking, about sacrifice. Since it is the end of Lent, when lots of people try to give up something for 40 days.

I’m often feeling challenged about that, because I do have so many comforts. Then I comfort myself by saying that every time I have to work to cook a meal, or clean the house, etc., it’s a type of “sacrifice” that I do for my little family. Or, it’s important to “sacrifice” to keep myself healthy (exercise, proper nutrition, proper sleep), so that I can do the work that I’m supposed to do and be the help that I need to be. True to a point I suppose. But I know it’s kind of a cop-out.

Of course, there is no doubt that we can never ever, even try, to match God’s sacrifice for us. And he took the punishment so that we wouldn’t have to. Also, you can see how over-thinking this could lead to the kind of extremes that people in the past have done, like mutilating themselves, or putting their bodies through other extreme physical things. I love to point out to myself how the Bible says that God gives us “all things to enjoy”.

But I just want to think about it. What are all the comforts I enjoy? Too many!

  • this soft chair I’m sitting on
  • the fact that I get to put my feet up every time I sit in it
  • the fact that I get to sit here quite often
  • a very comfortable bed to sleep in at night (actually two of them, HA!)
  • a beautiful home to shelter me (much, much more than is really needed)
  • much, much more food than is really needed–and so much to choose from, and so many ways to cook it
  • lots of water to keep me clean and hydrated
  • peace from the noise of the outside world, rooms to escape to if I need to
  • all kinds of recreational activities, hobbies, etc.

These are general, kind of “basic” things, but many of them I would feel like I was dying, if I had to give them up! Some of them I couldn’t even try to. I wonder if I could only sit on hard chairs for 40 days, or sleep on the floor at night? Nah, not going to be that silly!

Lots of missionaries DO give those things up: I heard of one who lives in a hut the size of her bedroom at home, and uses a type of “porta-potty”, etc. I remember thinking, when I was a young kid who was just coming to Christ, that I was afraid that God would ask me to be a missionary in Africa, or something like that. And then I realized that he would not ask me to do that… Now I know that original feeling is quite proper: we should begin by assuming that we ARE to go, until we know that’s not what God has in mind for us particularly. Of course, these days I would not be so afraid of going to Africa, except for physical, health-type of reasons (I’m old!)

Anyway, I have no idea where this is going! :P Nowhere, really. Just wanted to jot down my thoughts.


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waste your life

It was such a waste! All that perfume, just poured out, and it was expensive enough that a lot of useful things could have been done with the money obtained by selling it–lots of help for the poor, etc.

Jesus didn’t see it that way. Because it was an act of worship. (See Mark 14:3-9)

“Worship the wrong things and nothing else will come out quite right. But worship the living God who has given himself for us in the sacrifice of Jesus and you have a new sense of what matters and you will prioritize your life accordingly.”

“Waste” you life on the one who “wasted” His life on you. Love comes first, and then you will care about his agenda, which includes the poor. Radical generosity “flows from worshiping God.”

“Put God ahead of all else as the only one worthy of your worship and you will find you are pouring yourself out in all sorts of beautiful ways in service to the world.”

(Great devotion today from my YouVersion plan–by Redeemer Presbyterian Church.)

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Case for Christ posts in order

Having checked all over my settings and not finding a way to make posts show up in the order they were posted, when you click on a tag (or category, for that matter), I’m putting links in this post, in the right order, for all the posts/notes I made on The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. (But as I said often enough–it’s great reading, if you can get hold of the book yourself!) It should be easy enough to skip over the other stuff that is sometimes in these other posts. A lot of the titles have nothing to do with the Case for Christ content in them, lol.

Settle in, there are 95 of them!!! (Too bad I didn’t/couldn’t make a Page for it, way back then!)

  1. segue
  2. you, the juror
  3. appetite for bananas?
  4. the whole truth
  5. that’s my story
  6. what’s YOUR agenda?
  7. we saw it happen!
  8. EH!!!
  9. you said what?
  10. are you able to do what you intend?
  11. truth takes the tests
  12. portion problems?
  13. I’d prefer not to tell
  14. I was here
  15. combobulate
  16. copies of copies of copies
  17. Impressive Numbers
  18. all i’s dotted
  19. the most traveled roads
  20. intrigue!
  21. mythical
  22. little things are important
  23. history lessons
  24. take a deep breath
  25. interpolations
  26. jello, popsicles,
  27. exciting times
  28. stubborn?
  29. The Day the Earth Went Dark
  30. Wow, and wow
  31. Faith and Hope
  32. checking it out
  33. since Easter is near
  34. so many stories
  35. mixed
  36. evidence, evidence, evidence
  37. For fun
  38. theological agenda?
  39. just because
  40. fluffiness
  41. yay for may!
  42. based on symbol, or
  43. can faith and history
  44. who do you think you are?
  45. just breezing by
  46. are You mad?
  47. Stir it up!
  48. When the Doctor needs help
  49. fun and madness
  50. transcendent, unprecedented
  51. Jesus the Hypnotist
  52. mistaken for a demon?
  53. Preposterous!
  54. the questions continue
  55. Today is a singing day!
  56. blow away the chaff
  57. Christology
  58. Can you enjoy a mystery
  59. a lesser god
  60. Hell!
  61. Who’s got the POWER
  62. paint-a-picture
  63. time keeps on slipping
  64. You can know
  65. Are you for real?
  66. Look into it for yourself.
  67. Coincidence? Fabrication?
  68. Intentional Fulfillment?
  69. Don’t accept my word for it!
  70. The Month of Hearts
  71. Rated X
  72. Are you suffering?
  73. slow death
  74. taxes and
  75. pathetic!
  76. from How to Why
  77. Hope!
  78. happy spring
  79. details, details
  80. Embarrassing
  82. See if this gets you
  83. Waiting, waiting
  84. Don’t leave your Mind behind
  85. God has
  86. Nothing is ever perfect
  87. grasping at straws
  88. distracted
  89. testimony
  90. Circumstantially
  91. Ten thousand
  92. Celebrating grotesque
  93. The explanation is the hard part
  94. Now what?
  95. We ourselves


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from Mentored to Mentor

Something I’ve discovered about living in a home with stone floors: they are hard on your feet! So now I’m in the process of  finding some good, thick, foam slippers to wear.

But yeah, hi! I’m actually posting, wow! Reading over 10 years worth of blogging certainly shuts one up. It’s made me feel like “that” person was totally different than the one inside me nowthat one talked waaaay too much! Sam said I should totally STOP reading them all over again, but I just want to go through and tag them a little better, so that it’s easier to pick and choose which ones to read again. (And someday, I’m going to make a post with links for all the Case for Christ notes, to fix the fact that they show up in reverse order.) Now that I’m up to mid-2011, it doesn’t seem quite as bad. Perhaps I improved?

Anyway, all that note-taking on sermons and Bible studies has perhaps finally graduated me: do you know, I’m now a “teacher” in three different areas?

  • The Wednesday morning 3-year olds, though one is constantly wondering (and sometimes being pleasantly surprised) if they’re actually getting any of it.
  • We host our small group, and I lead the Bible Study part–actually, we teach each other.
  • I’m a Marker for the Perspectives course! (So that’s only “kind of” teaching.)

In case you’ve forgotten, Perspectives is that missions course that we took way back in 2012, and there’s also a tag for it over there to the right. We’ve never stopped talking about it, and to actually be a marker–I’m still amazed that I’m doing this!! I’m “teaching” missionaries!!! This is one of those things that I never thought I’d be qualified for, and that just seems so valuable, it’s quite a wonderful privilege, to me.

Mind you, the other two things are also teaching missionaries, and missionaries-to-be! And both are also very valuable.

So there you go, I finally made another post. “See you next month!” Maybe. ;)

(Funny, 5 years ago I also complained about talking too much, etc.)


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My sermon words this week: “Remember=worship=joy”. The context is the Israelites complaining in the desert, and the title was “I’m sick of this!” They had just been rescued from slavery, for heaven’s sake–only a few days beforehand. Like the little boy the pastor mentioned, who was having a meltdown in Disneyland and said to his dad “Why did you bring me here?!”

We just need to remember: where we’ve come from, how God has been with us, how he is with us now, how mighty and amazing he is, how much he loves us, how many times in scripture the situation seemed so dark–but worked out for something wonderful (Joseph’s story, Ruth, Lazarus, the disciples at the Last Supper, etc.). When we remember, we can’t help but worship, and how often have I said that worship is so important!

Everyone uses different things to help them worship (to help the remembering), like music for example. Scripture is another good thing to use to spur you to worship, especially the Psalms. Which is what I’ve been up to with these number-title posts–making prayers from scripture, to read over again. This morning, I just feel like copying the verses right out.

WORSHIP (Psalm 66:1-6):

  • “All together now–applause for God!
  • Sing songs to the tune of his glory,
  • set glory to the rhythms of his praise.
  • Say of God, ‘We’ve never seen anything like him!’
  • When your enemies see you in action,  [enemies could be bad habits, temptation]
  • they slink off like scolded dogs.
  • The whole earth falls to its knees–
  • it worships you, sings to you,
  • can’t stop enjoying your name and fame.
  • Take a good look at God’s wonders–
  • they’ll take your breath away.
  • He converted sea to dry land;    [now here’s the remembering]
  • travelers crossed the river on foot.
  • Now isn’t that cause for a song?”


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