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Grace.  Say this word to me and I generally thing gift.  We are blessed by Christ’s gift of grace.  It isn’t something that we, flawed people that we are, can earn.  Nope.  It is truly a gift.

But it is also a prayer.  And, in all truth, prayer is also a gift.  Through prayer, we can converse with God.  It is one of the ways we have to connect with Him.  But it too is a gift.  When Christ gave people the Lord’s Prayer it was a revolutionary idea.  People going directly to God in prayer?  Not going through the priest after presenting an offering?  Christ gave us this gift, this connection to God.

But grace is also a way to live every day if we so choose.  We can carry God’s grace into the world.  We can help other people understand that they don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love.  They don’t have to be perfect to have a place.  All they have to be is human.

No matter how you define grace at this particular moment it is a remarkable gift.

–SueBE

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Knowledge and wisdom.  They aren’t quite the same thing although I was probably a teen when I figured this out.

That was when my friends and I started playing role playing games. We’d have to create a character to use in a series of adventures.  We had to note how high, or low, our character was in a variety of traits including both intelligence/knowledge and wisdom.

It was the first time in my life that I realized that you could have one without the other.  As an adult, I realized that this wasn’t just true of games but life as well. When I worked in an academic department at the university, there was no doubt that the professors I worked with were all very intelligent. They’d earned PhDs in a wide variety of topics and published papers and books.  These people were smart.

But wisdom?  That wasn’t something all of them could claim. This was obvious as I one professor drug me down the hall to count the floor tiles in another professor’s office.  Who had the most space?  A wise person would not there were differences and let it roll.  A smart person?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  They also had to be wise.

One professor in particular was both.  He had degrees in divinity and anthropology.  He had been a minister with his own church.  He had also worked with Vietnamese Buddhist refugees in Hawaii and Texas as well as Buddhists in Thailand.  He was a man who could note the facts, get down to what mattered and let the rest go.

Intelligence and wisdom.  They are both gifts from God.

–SueBE

 

Whether you are working for social justice, environmental awareness or simply trying to ease a friend’s burden, you are shining a light into the darkness.  Some will appreciate it.  Others?  Not so much.  But that’s okay.  Keep carrying Christ’s light into the world.  The world oh so badly needs it.

–SueBE

 

Sometimes we need to hear something more than once for the point to be made.  Today, I watched a TED Talk featuring Teresa Njoroge titled “What I Learned Serving Time for a Crime I Didn’t Commit.” (I’ve imbedded it below.)

Teresa started her talk by telling her story.  She worked in Kenya’s financial district in a job she loved.  She had studied hard to make it in this booming sector.  Then one day she was told that she had participated in a fraudulent transaction.  She was scared, but she hadn’t done anything.  By the time she was sent to prison, she has been asked several times to pay out large sums of money to make the problem “go away.” She didn’t so, in spite of her innocence, she went to prison for a year.  Her 3-month old daughter went with her.

In prison, she heard the stories of women.  Women with no educations.  Women from the poorest backgrounds.  Women who couldn’t pay bribes even if they didn’t trust the system.

By the time her one year sentence had been served, Teresa was determined to help women like these make better decisions and also have the resources needed to defend themselves from false accusations.  She founded Clean Start Kenya.

Teresa has since been exonerated of all charges.  She has also worked in the incarceration capital of the world – Louisiana, USA.

Yes.  The incarceration capital of the world is in the US.  Not North Korea.  Not Iraq or Afghanistan.  The US.

Thank God for Teresa Njoroge who refused to pay the bribe, who refused to write off her fellow prisoners.  This forest needs more trees like Teresa.

–SueBE

Sometimes I have a hard time looking forward.  What can I say?  I’m a writer.  I want to rewrite the bits that didn’t turn out so well.  If only I had done this instead of that.  

But God doesn’t want us to constantly look back over our shoulders.  I’m convinced that that is the lesson we are supposed to get out of the story of Lot’s wife.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Lot and his family are allowed to leave Sodom before the city is destroyed.  They are told to hurry and not look back, but Lot’s wife can’t resist a look back over her shoulder.  She is turned into a pillar of salt.

I think that God knows what looking back constantly does.  It freezes us in place.  We are unable to move forward.  Instead, our focus remains in the past.

Look forward.  Listen.  God will show you the way!

–SueBE

 

There are times we just don’t want to face the facts.  Sometimes someone we have idolized says or does something ugly.  Or someone points out something we’ve said or done that doesn’t jive with Christ’s commandments.

Whichever, whenever, wherever, our human tendencies are always the same.  We deny.  We excuse.  We try to shift the blame.

Does that change reality?  Not in the slightest.  We are human and we don’t have that ability.

Take a deep breath.  If that doesn’t work, take another.  Pray for strength if you need it.  Remember that humans are flawed from one end to the other.  Perfection belongs to God and God alone.

Now open your eyes.  The facts will still be waiting for you but so will God.

–SueBE

A few weeks ago, Pastor Sean told a story on himself.  “When I start something new, even something big, I only plan so far.  I spot the first few stepping-stones and start to make my way across the river.  And then, when I’m part way across, I realize that I’m not 100% certain where to put my foot next.  I have to have faith.”

I immediately got what he was saying.  As anal as I am about some things, I’ll set off on a project with only part of the plan figured out.  My husband thinks this is crazy.  He researches and researches and researches some more.  Than he thinks about it and researches again.  All the while, I’m whining and antsing around in the background.  “Let’s do it.”

He’s the safety net.  I’m the innovator.  We make a great pair.

Sometimes I fuss at God wanting to know why he matched me up with someone who is so stubborn.  But I know that truthfully he matched me up with someone who is solid.  Someone who can act as the anchor as I leap into a project with something like 3/4 of a plan.  My husband?  He’d quote Guardians of the Galaxy and tell me I only have 12% of a plan but don’t believe him. He’s just being funny.

–SueBE

 

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