Monday, December 31, 2007

Step by Step

New Year always bring to mind New Year’s resolutions. It used to be intrinsically important to personally make one …but I think the tradition has lost much of its impetus.
I do not hear people so much any more seriously making resolutions for the New Year.

I think that may be for several reasons...
1. Time passes so quickly we haven’t had time to even think of a resolution (tongue in cheek)
2. People are not as driven for perfection as they use to be. (We have lowered the standards we set for ourselves.)
3. It is not in our ability to aim with any accuracy most goals set in the distant future.

It is this last reason that I had some thoughts about that I want to share with you.

Being directionally challenged (as my faithful readers know) I do not like to take directions from someone who does not understand this weakness in my makeup.
They will say “Just go to such and there and turn right at the west lights and if you follow the straight curve around and turn left as soon you have turned right , you will be facing our house !”
And yes... that is just how confusing it sounds to me...and yes I have every problem reaching my destination.
I love people who say ...”Where are you now? Ok... then take one step, then turn right…and you will see a purple tower. At the purple tower take two steps left and you will see a green house… pass the house and immediately after you will you will see a sign with an arrow… turn in the direction the arrow points and go for several more steps. Then you will find yourself at a cross road… turn left and take six steps and you will hear a barking dog standing on a pink front porch on your right …You have arrived - That is our house!”

I can ‘follow’ those directions just fine !!! I’m being a little light hearted here on this last day of the year…but I think there is a truth here.

We are not called sheep without reason. Sheep don’t find their own pasture, they need a Shepherd to lead them and they will follow… step by step.
When we make our own resolutions or plan our own destinations… often we have no idea of the cards life will deal us along the way, how many unknown detours will block our chosen path, how circumstances will change … how the world itself may change. And so our resolutions and our plans fail because we get ‘lost’ along the way.

Let us determine that in this coming year we will be trusting ‘followers’ - step by step- through the year as our Lord Shepherd leads, beginning just where we are.
If we will do this, the end of 2008 will find all of us having arrived at exactly the ‘right destination’.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Amazing Hornbill

In Africa there lives a most unusual bird , the Hornbill, so named because of her large beak and the horn above her beak.

The natural habitat of the Hornbill is in the vaulted space high above the green canopies of the jungle. She loves to fly and is swift of wing eluding her would be predators. She swoops and soars in the vastness of her freedom.
But then comes the time to raise her young and this considered ugly bird plays out a beautiful ritual.

First she seeks and finds a hollow in a tree that is large enough to allow room for her large body.
She enters and does not come out again until her family is grown.
Immediately she and her mate go to work to close up the entrance to her nest with mud and dung until the entrance is completely closed off – except for a slot that is the exact shape of her beak. Through this hole her mate will pass her her food while she lays her eggs and sits on them . When they hatch he will have to work even harder to provide enough food for all of them .
Not only does the slot opening allow food to be brought in but it serves for another purpose as well. With perfect aim she passes her own waste out of the nest… thereby not only keeping her nest clean but also using her deadly aim as an effective deterrent to curious little monkeys who might try to reach into the opening for a quick meal.
Her children will be perfectly safe but their safety is also her prison.

And so she sits and waits in her self-imposed prison of darkness for her chicks to hatch. But once they have hatched she does the most amazing thing. One by one she pulls out all her feathers…her flying feathers.... and tosses them out through the nest opening.
Because in the small space of the nest her feather shafts would scratch and hurt her babies and in an act of extreme love she gives up the very thing that defines her nature – her ability to fly!

I’m sure you can see where I am going with the illustration this Hornbill mother portrays.

What a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us.
He gave up the glorious expanse of eternity and came down to a tiny place on the miniscule speck we call earth - so insignificant when viewed from the great universe of eternity, His natural habitat. He was held here, made captive by the dung of our sin – yours and mine.
And yet He came and stayed willingly --- captive and vulnerable yet there was an opening left --- an opening through which He communicated with His Father receiving the sustenance and strength that He needed.

He was said to have “no form or comeliness and when we see Him no beauty that we should desire Him” (Is. 52:3) and yet to those who loved Him He was beautiful.

Not only did He come to ‘sit’ with those He came to save but He limited Himself to their same space making Himself vulnerable in the same weak , human flesh we all are imprisoned in.
He gave up the freedom of His natural life , yes – the very glory He had shared with His Father.

And then He did the ultimate… He put off the very flesh that gave Him life… He put it off so that we could live. He gave His life that we might live - not hurt by the shafts of God’s judgment ‘feathers’ but rather comforted by the down on His breast.

Is it not an amazing God we call Father?

Isaiah 66:13 “As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you!”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wishing You a Blessed Christmas !

To all my dear readers...
I want to thank you for your encouragement over the last year!
I have so appreciated every one of your visits and your comments !!
I wish you and yours the most blessed Christmas season
May our Saviour cover you with His love,
fill your hearts with joy !!

So many years ago the angel spoke to a young teenage girl..

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God,
Behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son,
and shall call His name Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest
the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David,
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
of His kingdom there will be no end!! "

May we all pause this holiday season to give thanksgiving and glory
to the Giver of all good gifts,
and especially for
the greatest gift of all, His Son, our Saviour !!

Monday, December 17, 2007

What do you have to give?

The Christmas season is fast approaching and what to give to the loved ones on our gift list is uppermost on most of our minds.

We want our gifts to be the best we can afford and we put much time and effort into seeking out that perfect gift .

But it is Jesus' birthday we are celebrating ... Have you considered what you are going to give Him?

Have you ever noticed how you can't outgive God and how little He needs to do something mind-boggling in return?

He took nothing and created the world.

He took five loaves and two fishes and fed a multitude with 12 baskets left over.

He took a nameless widow’s few drops of oil and a little flour and fed her and her son for the duration of the famine !

He took Rahab’s willingness to help two foreign strangers and saved her and her family and made her an ancestor of Jesus.

He took a little shepherd boy’s sling and five little stones and killed a giant and raised up the shepherd boy to be the most beloved King of Israel.

He took Tabitha’s gift of sewing and raised her up from the dead…and put her in the pages of scripture.

He took Ruth’s willingness to leave home and country and put her into a prosperous, secure place, with husband , son and happiness.

Enoch gave God his whole heart , and God took him to heaven bypassing death !

A poor woman dropped two tiny coins into the temple box and Jesus declared it to be the greatest gift anyone gave.

He took a little boy’s willingness to hear His voice in the middle of the night and made him a great prophet.

He took a little servant girl’s tender heart and healed mighty Naaman.

God took what was in Moses’s hand, a rod, and used it to destroy the might Eyptians.

“What is that in your hand?” (Ex. 4:2)

Be it ever so small, be it ever so humble, if you give it to God He can do mighty things with it.

God can do little with a man’s ‘much’ , but He can do much with a man’s little!!

It matters not how small your gift is , it matters how big your God is.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Gift Game

We have all played it. The Gift Game.
Everyone sits in a circle and the gifts are placed in the center. There are several variations but basically the game is based on each person choosing a gift from the pile or choosing to steal a gift someone else has already opened.

One year at my extended families Christmas gathering, we were playing ‘the game’ as we had many other years.
My granddaughter, who had just celebrated her third birthday, was playing with her cousin on the other side of the room. As the game progressed I noticed her leave her place of play and make her way over to me. She came to stand in front of me and placed her little arm over the gift in my lap. Looking around the circle she said, “Nanna, this is your present. I don’t want them to take it away.”

I opened my mouth to tell her it was alright, that we were just having fun but the words died on my tongue.

We had taught her to be kind, to share and not take toys away from someone else. Now how was I to explain to her that it was okay for adults to behave as naughty children?

The game suddenly lost its appeal for me as I viewed it through her eyes.

Someone said that if it is wrong to do it, it is wrong to imitate it or to watch it.

Think about it.
How often do we indulge in double standards?
What do the things we laugh at reveal about who we are?
What about the TV shows we watch? Are our sympathies pulled to the side of the one committing adultery?
Do we allow violence, bloodshed, coarse language into our home through the media and yet teach our children it is wrong?
Have we been desensitised by images we see everyday, by opinions we listen to that are in conflict with God’s Truth?
Do we refrain from speaking out against something we know is wrong because we don’t want to ruffle feathers or be caught standing alone?

I understand why God said, “Except you become as a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)
Not childish, but childlike! Innocent and trusting, without guile, honest and true.

“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart!”
(Psalm 15:1,2)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You've Never Seen it All

I received this photo in my e-mail today and was once more amazed with wonder at God's creation.
This is the Atlas moth; the largest moth in the world with a wing span of almost a foot.
Its protection from small mammal and bird predators is the frightening snake heads on the tips of its wings. I think it is enough to scare me away !!
The Atlas moth of course emerges from it's cocoon in its adult form. As an adult it has no stomach and no mouth , for it has no need to eat; it lives off the fat it stored while it was in its cocoon.
During the two weeks it spends as an adult it is focused on mating and laying its eggs and then dying.

My first thought in looking at this amazing moth was that God delights in confounding the so called wise of this world. How could evolution ever figure out that to frighten away predators snakes heads on the moth's wing tips would do the trick ?

I Cor. 1:27-
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise..."

I love it when science is baffled by the things God does with ease!!

Then I thought about this moth who is born with only one purpose -- to procreate and then die. This moth is totally equipped to fulfill its purpose.... it is protected from harm, it is unhindered by distractions, (with no mouth it is not tempted to eat) it takes no notice of the fact that its short life will be over when its self-less purpose is fulfilled.

I thought how we could learn from the example of this moth.

We too have been born to fulfill a specific purpose.

We too have a very short life to do it in - compared to eternity . I am reminded of a little verse I learned when I was a child.
Only one life- twill soon be past... only what is done for Jesus will last.

We too are protected from harm "... it shall by no means hurt them.." Mark 16:18

We will be unhindered by distractions if we "lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us..." Heb. 12:1

And truly we are equipped , prepared "for every good work!" II Tim. 2:21

And we need to remember that the things of this world will never satisfy -- our focus needs to be on the eternal "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.." Matt. 6:33

Isn't it a shame that a moth is more faithful and true to the purpose to which it is called then many who call themselves Christians?

credits - the above photo was taken by Robert Perry and will appear on front cover of the Dec.07 - Feb.08 edition of Creation Magazine

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hot or Cold

We were invited out to dinner at our friends’ house yesterday.
It has been cold here the last while but pleasantly so, the air crisp and fresh and a delight to breath. But last night it was bitingly cold with a wind to drive it through your bones.
We just caught our breath and rushed from car to house and from house to car. No loitering or looking around … just a mad dash with head down – focused on getting out of the cold.

I thought of the opposite extreme when the sun is unbearably hot. Again people are focused on getting out of the heat… and finding a cool spot in the shade or preferably near water.

I was reminded of the verse in Rev. 3:15, 16 where Jesus says, “I could wish we were cold or hot, but because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, will I spew you out of My mouth.”

A person who is cold or hot is very easily motivated to move from his uncomfortable position. In fact he is quite focused on movement.
I was thinking of how the longsuffering of God, motivated by His desire that all men should be saved, brings ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ applications to our lives for the purpose of moving us toward Him.
Often the things that make us uncomfortable are the things that spur us toward change. It is our choice whether the changes are good or not, but our attention has been alerted, the opportunity has been presented.

Lukewarm is like a pacifier. It makes us lazy, happy to stay where we are, unmotivated and unwilling to give up our half-asleep ease in our comfort chair. It makes us unaware of our need, unaware of our spiritual lack and the fact that our ‘chair’ is drifting out to sea.

Have you checked lately if you are hot or cold? Are you rushing toward the shelter of God’s arms to find the security, the answers you need? Is God your focus? And pleasing Him your delight?
Or are you lukewarm, sitting in your easy chair, drifting along, happy with your own answers and doing that which is right in your own eyes?

Rom. 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

Ps. 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect, the word of the Lord is proven, He is a shield to all those that trust in Him.”