Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Our hands have handled"

my family - daughter, granddaughters and son-in-love

We recently celebrated the wedding of my son in law's sister.  My granddaughters were bridesmaids and my husband took the above photo of our daughter and family.  We have always lived near enough to each other that our close relationship was one we have treasured but also taken for granted.

Now things are about to change.
My  older granddaughter, who graduated from high school this summer and just celebrated her eighteenth birthday has chosen to go to school in Australia and will be leaving in a couple of months.
 I am happy for her to have the experience attending a Christian music school,  but my heart is also painfully aware of what separation from her will feel like.
I was thinking about it the other day and thought how fortunate we were to have so many ways to stay in touch with someone far away - e-mail, Facebook and Skype that allows voice/sight connections.   Yet somehow it didn't feel 'enough' in my emotions and I questioned myself, "Why not?"
The answer came almost immediately -- because as much as our technology offers, it does not allow 'hands on'.    I won't be able to touch her, hug her, kiss her, see her 'face to face'.

And suddenly I had a deeper insight into one of my favourite verses. -
I John 1:1 -  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled..... "

This verse speaks to relationship with Jesus.
For some people it is only a very vague sense, or none at all, of some historical figure named Jesus.
For some, they have heard of Jesus' and  have some knowledge of His story.
Some have actually 'seen' Him as in recognizing that Jesus was born as a baby and grew up to give Himself in death on a cross to provide forgiveness of sin.
Then some have actually 'looked upon' Him, accepting Him as their personal Saviour so they can go to heaven when they die.
But then, there are those who 'handle Him' - they make Him their 'hands-on' focus on a daily basis. He is their go-to source of wisdom, of comfort, the one they depend on and trust  for guidance and direction. Their fellowship with Him is real and intimate.

None of the progressive levels of awareness of Jesus are enough  until there is the 'hands-on' relationship. Nothing less will satisfy.  Even so the beloved disciple, John, articulated in his letter. He 'handled' the Word. The Word took on flesh, became Jesus, like unto man, and John had the privilege of being so close to Jesus that he could touch Him and love Him and know Him in an intimate way - heart to heart, mind to mind, Spirit to spirit.

I am not satisfied with anything less either.


Friday, November 14, 2014

"And Jesus Stood ..."



Last Sunday, we had as invited guests in our morning church service,
 the veterans of a local Legion,
 who came with the pageantry associated with Remembrance Day. 
What stood out to me and played over and over in my mind was the part of the presentation when someone was instructed to read the names of the Legions' veterans who had died this year. 
The names were called out one by one, and then these words were spoken ..
"They do not answer, they do not answer."  

The words haunted me and in my mind I visualized a very different scenario. 

Every day there are estimated to be as many as 450 Christians who are martyred for their faith. 
Every day!
That is one every three minutes.
Are they forgotten? 

In my mind I see each one as they step over death's threshold into Life. 
Jesus rises to His feet, 
even as He did for the church's first martyr, Stephen, 
and He calls out their name. 
No need to turn to His Father and say ...
'They do not answer."  
For there is a joyous, victorious, answering cry,
 "I am here!" 
before they fall to their knees to worship the one for whom they  died. 

This Sunday* is International Day of Prayer 
for the Persecuted Christians.  
Will we remember those who die for their faith?
 Pray for those are are living in danger today, 
knowing that if they testify of their faith 
it could cost them everything they hold dear in this earthly life?   
Will we remember their families who are left trying to survive without their loved one - 
spouses left to be a single parent in difficult, even impossible situations, 
children who must now grow up without the love and guidance of one or both their  parents. 

We enjoy our freedom in the lap of luxury, how easy it is to forget the privilege that is ours.  
It is not our right, it could one day change and we too called to be faithful  in the face of martyrdom.  
Will someone pray for us ? 

   "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them
—those who are mistreated—
since you yourselves are in the body also." 
Hebrews 13:3

* There are several days in November given as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted church, but the day we pray is not so important as that we remember to pray - every day. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An Error Scan


I was running a software program today,  that searched my computer for errors causing my computer to not run as fast or efficient as it should.
My computer looked fine ... no problem on the outside.  It looks the same as the day I bought it, my monitor screen looks great - so by looking I could not see anything wrong.   Yet, the functions of my computer had become less than satisfying.  My screen would occasional freeze, the 'slowness' of my computer was to the point of being annoying.  I knew that there were errors that needed to be 'fixed'.

As the software searched for and found 'hidden' errors, it then revealed  the errors on my screen where I could see them.  There were many more than I would have guessed!

As I watched , I saw a spiritual lesson.

David said in  Psalm 139:23,24 
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there be any wicked way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting." 


Pro 20:27 says, 
"The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, 
searching all the inward parts of the belly." 

If you read the above verses through the lens of a  computer scanning for errors, you can easily see how the two parallel.

We look good on the outside ... we might think all is well, and we along with others might be totally unaware of what  is 'invisible' deep within our heart.
However, if we invite God to search our inner being, the same way we run an error scan program, God will do it.
As He finds things, He will bring them to our mind's ' monitor screen' where  they are revealed for us to see.

The error scan's purpose was not to just show me what was wrong but also to enable me to fix what was wrong.
In the same way the Holy Spirit does not reveal or convict us of the hidden things of our heart to condemn us but He reveals because He desires  to restore and to heal and to forgive.
After the errors were revealed on my screen, I was shown a button I could click that said 'Fix Now",
God too has given us a way to 'fix' what is wrong in our heart.

Sin repented of is instantly forgiven/deleted, 
guilt can be washed away, 
anxiety/fear can be reprogrammed into love,
 'bugs'  that hinder us from running well can be eliminated, 
 weak links can be made strong, 
a shield can be set up to alert us to a virus (sin/temptation) attack.

"Thank you, Lord, for cleansing my heart, that I might be fit for your use!" 



Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Japanese Name

I spent some time recently with my granddaughters and their new Japanese student, Sumira.
The girls were practising Japanese 'letters' although Japanese writing looks more like art-strokes than that we would call 'letters'.

I asked Sumira how 'Julie' would be written in Japanese.   She wrote it out phonetically like this.

I learned that the Japanese have a very interesting, unique custom in how they choose/determine the written form of a given name at birth.  
Sumira explained that that the above phonetic writing of my name is not how I would write it if I was 'Japanese'.  Seeing my name written phonetically would tell the reader  that I was a foreigner. 
If I was born Japanese and my parents named me 'Julie', they would then choose from pages and pages of possibilities a Konji name.   If I understand it correctly -  it is like Julie having multiple ways of writing it each pronounced 'Julie' but each having a different meaning. 
Japanese parents with great care search out just the right Kongi name that will perfectly fit their child. 

I asked Sumira what my Konji name would be and she immediately showed me, on her iphone,  pages of Konji possibilities for 'Julie' and wanted me to choose one. I had no idea how to choose - they all looked complicated and meant nothing to me.  So I smiled and said "You choose one for me!"  
She thoughtfully searched the list going up and down.. stopping at one here and there, considering but then moving on.  Suddenly, she highlighted one, clicked on it and said confidently, "This one!" 
She showed me how to write it. 
 I asked her, "What does it mean?"
And she said, "Tree"  and "mountain".

I gasped...  She of course could not have known,  but those who know me well know that I have a deep love of trees! My son-in-law teases me that I take more photos of trees than anything else.
So it was very meaningful to me that Sumira, not knowing me at all, would choose for me the meaning of 'tree' and of course I live on a mountain... surrounded by mountains so that too was fitting.

One of my favourite scripture passages is the first Psalm where verse 3 says ..
 "He (she)  shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, 
That brings forth its fruit in its season, 
Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper."

Jeremiah 17:8  adds details to this picture comparing the one who loves God and His word to a tree.   
  For he (she)  shall be like a tree planted by the waters, 
Which spreads out its roots by the river, 
And will not fear when heat comes; 
But its leaf will be green, 
And will not be anxious in the year of drought, 
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. 

What a beautiful picture this is !

We are planted -                God planted us and we are meant to grow !  
We are beside the water -  we are planted beside the water - so we can always drink deeply of the 
                                          Water of  Life 
We bring forth fruit --------fruit of the Spirit in character , and fruit as in  adding to the kingdom harvest. 
Our leaf shall not wither----in Christ we thrive in all areas of our life - nothing about us, nothing in our life is                                            in vain or not useful in God's hand for good! 
Our leaf will be green ----- there is no detail of our life that God is not concerned about and providing for -                                             not  one 'leaf 'will lose it colour!  
Our roots are spread out --what security we have when our faith is rooted deeply - no matter what                                                          happens we cannot be 'uprooted'. We will STAND.
We do not fear even when heat comes -- we have our roots in the Water of Life...  The heat of circumstance                                            or sorrow or persecution holds no terror for us. 
We will not be anxious in times of drought -  we are not anxious no matter what happens around us, it is no                                              threat to us. 
We do not cease yielding fruit -  God's purposes in us and through us will not cease - in Him we continue to                                             grow and be blessed and be a blessing to those around us !