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a poem by Rubem Alves

God as father.
God as mother.
God as wind.
These are metaphors.
Attempts to put into words that which is beyond all words.
God as gardener.
God plants a garden.
The universe is destined for Paradise –
joy, pleasure for God, for women and men, for all beings.
God destined us to be partners –
put tools in our hands, pruning hooks and ploughs;
put words in our mouth,
and invited us to name all created beings in the garden,
so that they may become our brothers and sisters.
Words – they are of two kinds.
Some are produced by the brain:
they serve as tools.
With them we build boats, bridges, wings.
These are the words of knowledge, science, and technology.
We cannot survive without them. They give us the means to life.
Alone they have no power to create happiness:
Boats, but not the vision of unseen lands;
Bridges, but not the vision of the garden beyond the abyss;
Wings, but not the vision of paradise to which we should fly.
They can break the chains of oppression,
but cannot provide the vision of freedom.
For vision, a different kind of word is needed.
A word which no brain can produce.
It comes with the wind.
It is given to the heart.
It is grace.
When the heart hears it, it begins to dream.
It is power to see beyond the visible.
Those who dream are those who provide direction
to boats, bridges, and wings.
They give reasons to our lives.
They are the prophets, the poets, the seers.
The words the community of the spirit is called to give,
these words are of a very special kind.
They have the colours of the rainbow,
the music of laughter and crying,
the perfume of flowers,
the hands of a lover,
the taste of bread and wine.
God speaks and life blossoms.
God’s Spirit is constantly at work re-creating the world.
In Jesus, God dwells among us holding all things together.
To live in communion with the creative word of God;
To say the words which re-create:
That is the mission of the community of faith.

Women’s rights are human rights [Hillary Rodham Clinton].  Happy International Women’s Day.

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Happy birthday, Lincoln

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  [Ephesians 6:10-20]

Satan will not take my joy away!

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

   “For your sake we face death all day long;    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  [Romans 8:26-39]

Amen!

The Incarnation

by Odd Thomas

what good is the Christmas story
if it’s void of God and His glory
what’s the worth of the words “peace on earth”
if it’s not rooted in the truth of Christ’s birth
what benefit is it for us to discuss the joy of the season
unless we fix our hearts and our minds on the principal reason
that Christ has atoned for us

see, Christmas is more than just a story
about a baby born in a manger
more than a poor fiance engaged to a humble virgin teenager
more than a Magi
more than gold, frankincense, and myrrh
it’s more than a narrative of the nativity scene
there was so much more that occurred

it’s the coming of the Messiah
the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises
the prophecy of the suffering servant and all of His accomplishments
the second Person of the Trinity
commissioned to abandon His position
and literally set aside the independent exercise of His attributes
in full submission
the Word manifested in the flesh
the fullness of God expressed
the self-emptying Jesus poured out at the Father’s request
the image of the invisible God
the radiance of the Father’s fame
holy
but retained His humanness to emphathize with our pain

He was unjustly crushed
chastised
cursed
and shamed
mocked and adorned with a crown of thorns
disgraced
but He still faced the grave
to fulfill the Father’s will
to come and die in the place of sinful men
and receive the full fury of God’s judgment upon Himself instead

the most monumental mark for mankind
made in human history
wretched sinners being made righteous
only by the wounds of the risen King
the condescending of a holy God
made in the likeness of men
a child born to be the Savior
that would save the world from their sins
the offspring of the virgin’s womb
the Christ
God’s own Son
fully God yet fully man
the only theanthropic One

this is what we celebrate
Christ
the newborn King
veiled in flesh the Godhead see
hail! incarnate Deity

Christmas Must Be Something More

by Taylor Swift

what if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing
would the song still survive without five golden rings
would you still wanna kiss without misletoe
what would happen if God never let it snow
what would happen if Christmas carols told a lie
tell me what would you find

you’d see that today holds something special
something holy, not superficial
so here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives
it’s something we all try to ignore
and put a wreath up on your door
so here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something more

what if angels did not pay attention to
all the things that we wished they would always do
what if happiness came in a cardboard box
then i think there is something we all forgot
what would happen if presents all went away
tell me what would you find

you’d see that today holds something special
something holy, not superficial
so here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives
it’s something we all try to ignore
and put a wreath up on your door
so here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something more

we get so caught up in all of it
business and relationships
hundred-mile-an-hour lives
and it’s this time of year
and everybody’s here
it seems the last thing on your mind

is that the day holds something special
something holy, not superficial
so here’s to Jesus Christ who saved our lives
it’s something we all try to ignore
and put a wreath up on your door
but here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something
Christmas must be something
Christmas must be something more

there’s gotta be more
there’s gotta be more

My experience

I am glad to see you. I heard that —— suffered from some kind of depression and is recovering. I had experieced depression twice myself before. So I know the feelings. May be my experience can be helpful . In 1984, I worked in —— for almost 6 years. I liked my work there until a re-organization changed everything. The new situation made me very unhappy and eventually turn me into a depression. I was not aware of this kind of illness then. I justed always felt tired, no interest to do anything, had trouble concentrate to work, felt sad, helpless and hopeless. I quit my job and worked for —— briefly and did not work out. Luckily, I found another job  and moved in January 1985. The new boss was good and patient. But I was still depressed and barely holding on my job. It took another year for me to completely recovered. At that time depression was still not well understood and there were not many anti-depressent drugs available. The doctor only gave me transqualizers. If I took the anti-depressent drugs I’d have recovered much faster. The 2nd time happened in 1993 when I worked in ——. I did not like the boss there. Bit I hung on and became depressed. I eventually quit the job and moved to work for my current emplyer. The new boss was good and I recovered very quickly this time. My experience with the depression are:
  1. If you don’t like the job or the working environment, you need to change job or the environment very quickly. It could trigger depression.
  2. If you feel depressed, you need to seek medical treatment. It is an illness. Anti-depressent will help you improve your mood and recover faster.
  3. Whenever you feel better, you should find something you like to do quickly. This will keep you busy and your mind off the depression. This will help the recovery.
I hope my expreience can help you and —— to deal with the situation.

Ditto

Wow, how uncanny the similarities between my friend’s and my own family:

In less than 24 hours I will be leaving with my family on my first trip to Asia!  I’m excited and feel so blessed to finally have the opportunity to meet my extended family, many of whom I’ve heard about but never seen. At the same time, I realize that this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to witness to them, since we don’t go back very often and the majority of my relatives who are overseas are not believers and are at least as old as my parents. It will also be the first significant amount of time I’ve spent with my brother since he decided to tell me he’d renounced God. So, I would really appreciate your prayers for God’s love to show through in our interactions, even though there might be language, age, cultural barriers, and the usual family tensions.

I also wanted to say that I’m thankful and would love to hear how you’re doing or pray for you if you’ve anything to share; but since I may not be able to communicate as frequently while I’m overseas, I want to go ahead and wish you a very Merry Christmas and send you wishes for a wonderful holiday season!