Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Big is your Faith?

There is a tree that is only mentioned once in the bible, the Mulberry Tree.
(If you would like to see a picture of a Mulberry tree you can see one here)

Luke 17:6 records the words of Jesus... "If you have faith as a mustard seed you can say to this mulberry tree,'Be pulled out by the roots and be planted in the sea' .. and it would obey you."

Jesus spoke those words in answer to his disciples request... "Increase our faith."

A friend of mine called yesterday with happy news. She had just become a new grandmother!
Almost nine months ago she called me telling me her daughter was pregnant -- and my faith immediately responded - I BELIEVED in nine months a baby would appear!

I thought about how often as I walk through a day do I exercise faith --- I plant a tiny seed and have faith that it will grow into whatever the picture is on the package it came in.
I need faith every time I sit down on my computer -- the whole thing seems like magic to me -- but I have faith that when I push on the little letter buttons my thoughts will be sent out into space and YOU will be sitting there reading what I wrote!

So the question is not whether or not I have the capacity to 'believe' what I do not yet see.. but where do I direct my faith.

Every time Jesus spoke He always used words that were most descriptive of the truth He was presenting.

I love the contrast in the word picture He used to respond to His disciples qustion about faith.

The mustard seed -- the smallest seed of the herbs
The mulberry tree - a huge tree growing up to 130'

I did a little research on the mulberry tree and found more interesting details pertaining to this tree. It is very fast growing, it is very hardy - growing in most any soil caring little if the soil is poor or dry. Its root system spreads out ...and it is almost impossible to kill. You can cut it down, drill holes in its stump, fill the holes with Roundup concentrate and it will come back without missing a beat, bigger and better than before!

Two words intrigue me in this verse recording Jesus' answer regarding 'faith'.... "OBEY YOU" . That is something we don't often consider , do we? We bring our requests before God ...and hope that God will hear and give us -- the thing we have asked. And we are told in scripture to pray in this way ....
But this verse , it says that we can speak and the 'mulberry tree' will obey US !!

So what is Jesus saying? If we have a tweeny bit of faith, we can uproot the biggest problem and transplant it in the midst of the sea where it is - not just cut down threatening to grow again - but removed to where it is gone forever!

I will not be going around speaking TO my 'Mulberry Tree' problems or concerns, but I am reminded that when I pray, things happen !!!
God said so!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Wise Plan for the Future

The following story appeared in the London Times.
A Well-Planned Retirement
Outside the Bristol Zoo, in England, there is a parking lot for 150 cars and eight coaches, or buses.

It was manned by a very pleasant attendant with a ticket machine charging cars £1 (about $1.40Cdn) and coaches £5 (about $7).
This parking attendant worked there uninterrupted for all of 25 years. Then, one day, he didn't turn up for work.
"Oh well,", said Bristol Zoo management, "we'd better phone up the city council and get them to send a new parking attendant."
"Err, no", said the council, "that parking lot is your responsibility."
"Err, no", said Bristol Zoo management, "the attendant was employed by the City Council, wasn't he?"
"Err, NO!" insisted the Council.

Sitting in a villa somewhere on the coast of Spain, is a bloke who had been taking the parking lot fees, estimated at £400 (about $560) per day at Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years. Assuming seven days a week, this amounts to just over £3.6 million ($7 million)!
And no one even knows his name.

(as pointed out by Elsie in the comment section ..this is an Urban Myth but is a good parable none the less)
There is something in that story that brings out in us a grudging admiration for the self-employed parking attendant, isn't there ? Even though what he did was ethically wrong, we have to smile at his resourcefulness!

It reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the unjust steward. The story is found in Luke 16:1-13.
Jesus tells the parable of an unjust steward who was accused of wasting the master's goods. The steward upon being told by his employer that he was fired, immediately had a plan. He quickly went to each of his master's debtors and slashed the amount owing on each of their bills. Knowing, he would soon be without any income, he reasoned that to have people gratefully indebted to him would ensure him of having a roof over his head and food to eat!
The master, when he heard of what his steward had done, commended him for his shrewdness, saying "the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generations than the sons of light".

The point Jesus was making in this parable was that the people of this world are shrewd and single minded in in preparing for their future, while the sons of light are often so concerned with the things of this world that they neglect preparing for the next!

"No man can serve two masters." We cannot have one foot in this world and one in the next... because if we do we will soon find that we cannot serve both and will make our choice as to which we will hate and which we will love! The default is that we will love the world.

Here is a good lesson to be learned from a negative example ..... "Be wise and have a lay-away plan for your eternal future and the things of this world will be taken care of !"

Saturday, June 13, 2009


My husband's photographic eye was delighted by the 'frame' nature provided for the cabin cruiser in the above photo.

How carefully an artist frames his work. The frame can make or break the picture - it can bring out certain aspects or color..or play down another part. The frame directs the eye to what the artist wants to draw attention to.

I read a quote recently by Dr. John Allen Lavender, " ..Everything you say and think and do is governed by your own 'frame of reference'. Actually, there is not a single phase of life which isn't colored to some extent by the approach you make to it."

An interesting quote isn't it ? And how true !

If , for example, your frame of reference is an easily offended spirit, then you will view everything from within that 'Frame' and look for any intended or unintended offence directed toward you.
Or, if you have a frame of thankfulness, it is easy for you to find the good where ever you go.

I think we are often quite unaware of how what we believe 'frames' our judgements and on what we base our decisions and opinions.

There is a verse in scripture that has the word 'framed' in it.. Reading the verse with this understanding of 'framed' suggests a very enlightening concept.

Heb 11:3 "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."

We understand that God's creation was spoken into being by His Word... but envision what this verse articulates. That God did nothing, created nothing, except it fit within the FRAME of His Word. God's work and being is 'framed' by His Word.

Should we not also take care that who we are, what we 'create' in the world around us, is framed by God's Word? That all we say or do or think is consciously kept within the frame of reference of God's Truth and God's directive for our lives as revealed in the scriptures?

What is your frame of reference for viewing the world around you? Your frame of reference not only determines how you view your world but also how the world views you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Are you Afraid ?

Life is not always a friendly place.... we are confronted on a daily basis with things that are out of our control.

Does your life look like an uphill climb of twists and turns ??

Do you see a bend in the road up ahead and you can't see around the corner ?

Does everything look beautiful today, but you are afraid of what the tomorrow you can't see, might bring?

Do you see signs of the times, read the dismal news reports? see the smoke and fear the fire?

Do you feel you are living in an "under-construction" zone and you are too tired to climb up through it ?

I think we all identify with the above anxieties and have felt the emotions. We have all struggled through such times, sometimes better and sometimes worse for wear.
Finally we breath a sigh of relief that we have survived a crisis, but we've barely exhaled before the next one looms on our horizon.
How do we cope? How do we live joyously when our world is crumbling ??
On the same day that I snapped the above photos (randomly, not knowing that they would fit into a pattern of life) I also snapped the photo below that gives us God's answer for living in difficult times.
This little bird is sitting on a perch high above the world.
Gravity could dash him to the ground but he is unafraid, because he has no fear of falling.... his wings will bear him up!
What a beautiful picture God put into His creation to show us His care for us, His children.
Look back to the time of the Israelites living in Egypt.
They were oppressed, living under harsh conditions, forced to work long hours under a blazing sun. Their precious, beautiful baby boys were brutally killed to prevent a future rebellion.
They had prayed for 400 years for God to deliver them.
Was God deaf to their cries?
Oh no..... He was listening and waiting for the perfect time. The perfect time to send them a deliverer to take them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.
Look what He said to them when it was over....

"You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." (Ex.19:4)

He carried them on eagles wings .... out of a horrible situation.... to bring them close to Himself.
That is God's promise to us today too. We can trust Him to carry us through every situation, every difficulty, every trial. He will carry us on His wings - unto Himself.
In hindsight, aren't we faced with the realization that the trial that caused us such pain and agony, in the end brought us closer to God? And looking back we see that God was there with us all along, bearing us up on His wings.
Let's keep the picture of the little fearless bird in our minds...and remember the same God that gave it its confidence, has promised to spread His wings under us and carry us - up out of our troubles and pain - closer to Him where we are safe!
Our trust in Him will never be in vain!

Psa 91:4 "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Worse/Best Moment of My Life

It began with a typical Sunday afternoon in 1959 when I was 12 years old.
We had company and the house was bustling with noisy children playing and adults talking - women's voices in concert with the men's.

At some point amid the fun and laughter, I suddenly froze with the sickening realization that I had forgotten about an essay that was due in the morning ! A character study from the book Treasure Island - an assignment that I had put off and now was facing the consequences of going to school with my homework not done!
I knew I couldn't do it after our company left because staying up past bedtime was not allowed.

So I did the only thing I could do . I got a sheet of paper and a pen and sat down at the kitchen table. Trying to ignore the noise and movement and interruptions around me .. I dashed off a character study of Long John Silver.

I didn't have time to polish it or edit it and I felt guilty handing it in the next day, knowing how little time I had spent on it.

On Tuesday I sat in my English class, waiting for our teacher Mr. Robert Robertson to come in. The minute he stepped through the door, the class hushed its chatter. We could see we were all in trouble. Instead of his usual smile, there was a set jaw and a very stern expression on our teacher's face.
He strode into the room and dropped a pile of papers on his desk - we recognized them immediately as our essays.
Without so much as a 'good morning' - he started in berating us for our lack of effort. He was a loved teacher and his keen disappointment in us was deeply felt!
After scolding us until we were all shrunk down into our seats, he paused and picked up the top paper. Without changing the tone of his voice he said, "Let me read you one of your essays!"

He began reading and to my utter humiliation -- it was MY paper he was reading.
I hardly heard the words I had so hastily written ... I wished the floor would open up and swallow me... I wished I was invisible... I wished I had never been born! I felt ill, my head was filled with ice - my emotions washed over me in sickening waves!

When finally he finished reading, he slapped the paper back down on his desk and exclaimed,
"Now, if ONE of you can write like THAT .. there is NO excuse for the REST OF YOU !!!!"

I could never put into words the emotion I felt then.... from utter humiliation to bewildered exaltation ??

It was a worst/best moment!

I was reminded yesterday of this childhood experience ..... and the teacher I loved, who taught me more about writing than any other!

and I thought ...................................

One day we are all going to be waiting in another 'class'. Waiting for our name to be called to stand before the Judge on the Great White Throne, knowing He is about to read our 'works' aloud for all to hear.
I know we will wait , full of trepidation, wishing that we had put more effort into our 'works of righteousness'. How we will wish that we could boast of great and mighty accomplishments!

Our hearts will faint within us when we see His glory and majesty ... and our hopes will be dashed in humiliation knowing the small offering we have to bring before Him. We will hang our heads in shame that we did not put more effort into our earthly walk... that we did not focus more on what was of eternal value - on what great things we could have accomplished for Him!

But I have a feeling ... That the things we did that seemed praise-worthy in the eyes of men - even the things that gave us a feeling of satisfaction or pride of accomplishment are not the things that will be praiseworthy in that Divine Courtroom.
I believe that it will be things that we did out of who we are, the things we said and did that we forgot as soon as the moment passed.
I think we will be astonished when God looks at us and says... "This , THIS, - is what I praise you for! THIS is what pleased me ! this is what made YOU a good and faithful servant!"

That moment truly will be the worst/best moment of our life!!

2Co 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."