Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Modern Parable

On March 23,1994 - Aeoflot flight 593, on route from Moscow, Russia to Hong Kong was anticipated with eagerness by two Russian children.
They were taking their first international flight by special invitation from the pilot, Yaroslav Kudrinsky, who happened to be the youngsters' father!

Safely on it's designated flight path, the plane's controls were set on automatic pilot. Kudrinsky invited his son and daughter into the cockpit to experience the thrill of sitting at the controls.
His daughter sat in the co-pilot's seat first putting her hands on the control column. Then Kudrinsky invited his son to do the same, but something went terribly wrong after 15 year old Eldar took hold of the control column. The plane's wings began to dip at precarious angles and within a few minutes the hopelessly out of control Airbus crashed into a Siberian hillside killing all 75 on board.
What went wrong ?

Bit by bit the pieces were put together by investigators who understood the airplane and who listened over and over again to the information yielded by the recovered 'black box' flight data recorder.
I recently watched a documentary about this ill-fated Airbus flight.
When Eldar put his hands on the control column, he did not mimic the gentle touch of his sister's hands. Instead, he exerted force on it for a sustained 30 seconds. At that point the automatic pilot (as it was programed to do) partly disengaged and put the control of the airplane literally into Aldar's hands. The plane began to fly at crazy angles and the pilot and co-pilots began to panic, frantically trying to discover what was wrong with the plane before it was too late.
In the Russian -made planes if the automatic pilot is disengaged , an alarm sounds. In the American built Airbus there was no such alarm, only a small red light that went unnoticed by the men in the cockpit. They pulled as hard as they could on the control column trying to right the airplane but all their efforts were in vain, the plane was beyond human control and it went into a steep nose dive to its destruction and the death of all on board.

As I watched an enactment of the final moments in the cockpit, two pilots sat in the simulator going through every action taken by the real-life pilots. At one point, the plane now hopelessly out of control, the pilots suddenly deviated from the actions of the real life pilots ---- they simply let go of the control column. The plane righted itself effortlessly and returned to flying in a totally controlled flight pattern.
The Airbus was designed in such a way that no matter how out of control the airplane was , simply letting go of the controls would bring it out of the worst possible dive or tail spin.
Pilot Kudrinsky had not been trained nor made aware of this safety feature built into the plane he was flying and it cost him his life and the lives of those in his care.

As I watched, I saw this story as a parable.
We all are invited to sit at the controls of the life that God has given us. We enjoy life in our childhood, simply taking it as it comes. By the time we reach our teens most of us have reasoned that life would treat us much better if we lived it on our own terms. We grab hold of the control column and resist against the things that we don't like, the things that come against us, the things that stand in the way of what we want, the things that demand of us what we are not willing to give.
At first we feel great! We are in control. We are flying our life!
Even when our life begins to tilt out of control, we are not immediately alarmed, we believe we can bring it back under control !!
There is a red warning light but we ignore it.
We try harder and harder, scrambling, grabbing, pushing, but our sin, our rebellion against God spins us more and more out of control, and the harder we try the faster we fall to our destruction.

If only we knew ! There is a safety mechanism build into our spiritual DNA .... at any time in our life if we simply repent - let go of our own way and submit to God -- our life will right itself ... and we will find our purpose.
Even as Christians how often do our knuckles turn white on the control column when simply letting go and trusting God will put everything right!

"There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, and He shall direct your paths.
(Prov.16:25, Prov.3:5,6b)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


The first item on my packing list whenever we go away is a bag of books.
As many of you know, camping is not my favorite thing to do. I just happen to love indoor plumbing and a proper kitchen which makes me look longingly at the Motor homes or RVs parked in other campsites.
Not this year!
I started reading one of new books before we left for our yearly camping trip and actually finished it as we drove into our campsite.
It changed my camping experience.
The book was called "Captured" - Carolyn Paine Miller's true story of her family's imprisonment by the Vietcong in the 70's. For eight months they lived in deplorable conditions -- constantly moving in remote areas having to set up their own camps.... mud, rain, lack of food, unsanitary conditions that caused illness, dysentery and body sores. There was no protection against bugs, fire ants - all kinds of flying and crawling critters. Carolyn and her husband's 5 year old daughter was captured with them and they did not know if their three older children away at school had escaped capture - or if they would ever see them again!
Closing the book after reading page after page of surviving under unbelievable living conditions, I looked at my campsite and decided that since I would have a dry, comfortable queen-sized air-bed to sleep on, good food, clean water, flush toilets a short walk away, and FREEDOM to enjoy the fellowship of my dear family with the beauty of God's nature around me, I was living in luxury!!!
There were no side-long glances this year at Motor homes this year!

It was all about perspective !

My daughter called me after we arrived home and echoed my perspective. She said, "Mom, I realized that if we have a dry place to sleep, food to eat and the company of family and friends, the rest is just all fluff!"

The weather was gorgeous while we were there - the forest shade a refreshingly cool escape from the hot sun!
Below ,Vic helping my son-in-law untangling a fishing line! In the shade, of course!
The brave jump off the bridge into the cold mountain lake. My SIL is the one in the second photo.

The wild flowers always delight my heart ! In the photo below, my SIL and granddaughter.

So sad, the death of trees by the pine beetle infestation -- seen below.

Our group posing on the bridge .... my daughter taking the photo. I am second from the right. Our friends with their son joined us for an evening. (the three in the middle)

What's camping without a camp fire, and we enjoyed sitting around one each evening.

My SIL plays guitar and our friend's son brought his as well. A man from the neighbouring campsite came over to thank them for the music.
Playing the forest -- part of camping! my granddaughters
The deer were plentiful and unafraid.

The sky reflected in the lake turning it a majestic blue ! Again the dead trees ravished by the pine beetle.

Vic took this photo of the dragon fly -- He knows I love them and a good photo of one has been illusive -- until this one!!

The colors of the lake were so gorgeous..... and the little ducks enjoyed their swim....even if they were chased by little boys.

On our last day, the morning revealed a few fluffy white clouds in the sky. We took no notice, enjoying our breakfast. We had just finished when there was a surprising little shower, seemingly coming from a still blue spotted sky.
Thinking we should probably pack up, we did so !
We had just put the last of our 'stuff' in the car when the skies flashed lightening, thunder rolled and the torrent began just as we drove off!
Our planned canoe ride on the lake had to be left undone on our to-do list... but we were happy with our 'best ever' camping trip !!!
Even though I appreciated the blessings of our camping trip, I was happy to be home again.
The scripture verses talking about contentment took on fresh meaning for me !

1Ti 6:8 "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."
Heb 13:5 "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU." "

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Gentle and the Small

The day after the bear showed up for 'dinner', we had more visitors, but of a much more gentle nature.
We have lots of deer who help themselves to our flowers. My roses are already eaten - in the photos below they were dining at our friends' house who live just below us.

Big brother is teaching baby what delicacies are available. Mama is just out of snapshot range.

When you look at a baby fawn.... how would you describe the Creator of such a creature?

Gentle, kind, a lover of beauty and grace and innocence?

Last Sunday we were having lunch at home after church and suddenly my husband said, "We are going to do something very different today!"

Since I know the last thing on his mind would be to stay home, I tongue in check hopefully suggested "Stay home?"

"Nope," he replied , "we are going to do something really different!"

We talked about maybe taking my parents for a ride.
That wasn't very different, but I went to the phone to call them. As I picked up the phone I noticed there was a new message. It was from our kids telling us about the Western Toad Rescue going on not far from where we live. I called my daughter, and she said they had just come back from there but she thought we would find it quite interesting.

So we went.. I thought being a crossing guard for baby toads fit "doing something really different"! Wouldn't you agree?

While I was interested in the project to save the toads, I once again learned of how detailed God is in His creation and how He astounds us by the wisdom displayed by the tiniest of His creatures.
The toads being rescued were very tiny... as you can see in the photo below in comparative size to my finger.

We arrived at the Toad Rescue section of the road that was closed to traffic. In years past the toads had to be shoveled off the road by the farmers, there were so many.
Over the years, more and more were killed crossing the road until now the numbers making their yearly trek are much diminished in number.
This year the environmentalists are trying something new. They closed to traffic the section of the road the toads use for their crossing and encouraged parents to bring their children to help the baby toads cross the road.
The baby toads' lives began in a lake quite some distance from the road. (You can just see the edge of the lake in the photo below) As soon as they are old enough to live away from the water, they all get the same idea . Something turns on a Froggy GPS in their heads and they begin to walk (not hop) away from the only home they know. Somehow they know there is a forest far away on the other side of the road in the distance.
Over the period of a week, they make their journey.

This year their safety across the road is ensured by children with buckets and plastic gloves gathering them up and taking them to the other side of the road. From there their destination is but a short distance away.

They will live and grow in the forest for two years, until they are mature Western Toads. Then they will make the journey back to the lake, lay the eggs that will hatch into the next generation and start the cycle all over again.
Is it not amazing to consider the detail that God put into the design of our earth?

People are impressed with the wisdom of the frogs to know how and when to leave a lake and travel toward the forest they have never seen but know that that is the place where they will grow to maturity !
But it is the wisdom of the Creator who designed each living creature to play out its designed cycle generation after generation with never a slip.

Pro 30:24 "There are .... things which are little on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise..."

Friday, July 10, 2009

One of God's Creatures

We had friends over for dinner last night and since it was a beautiful evening we ate outside on the patio.
We had just finished eating and were lingering over our coffee when we had a visitor in our back yard !
A very big brown Black Bear! Vic ran after him and got some shots for the record!!

Bear are the biggest wild animals we have here where I live, and they have no predators.
There have been no reported incidents of a bear harming anyone here but I wouldn't want to corner one or get between a mother and her cubs !! We let bears have the right of way!
Bears are one of God's creatures and there are several bible references to them - in all of them the bear brings home a message from God!
God warns us of the predictable destruction of a fool in your life.... it is better to meet a mother bear robbed of her cubs !!
Pro 17:12 "Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly."
God says a wicked ruler does not have the good of the poor in mind any more than a charging bear!
Pro 28:15 "Like a roaring lion and a charging bear Is a wicked ruler over poor people."
God describes to us the peace and safety we will enjoy in the new earth ... Isaiah speaks of it as a time when the bear will harmlessly graze and its young will play and rest with calves!
Isa 11:7 "The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox."
When we saw the bear in our back yard he walked down the back country road that I had walked earlier by myself. I wondered if he had been watching me.
Jeremiah describes the afflictions of the Lord that come to all of us to test us, as a bear watching, waiting for opportunity to attack.
Lam 3:10 "He has been to me a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in ambush."
When God's mercy is exhausted because His people, instead of being grateful for His blessings to them lifted up their hearts with pride and forgot the Giver of the gifts! He then describes His judgment against them as a furious bear !
Hos 13:8 "I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them."
God's judgment cannot be escaped.... it is as if a man escapes from a lion and then meets a bear!
Amos 5:19 "It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him!"
And we all know the old testament story of Elisha, who was mocked by a group of youths. It was not Elisha personally they mocked but the very God whose prophet Elisha was. Such blatant rebelliousness could be not left unpunished! and two mother bears came and attacked 42 youths. 2Ki 2:24 "And he turned around and looked at them and pronounced a curse on them n the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the youths."
All of God's creation is meant to teach us and the bear was created to teach us the fear of God.
We all respect the brute strength and wrath of an angered bear --- yet that same bear feeds on berries and insects !
Just like the bear - our God can be to us the most gentle of Fathers.... caring over His children with the tender love we see in a mother ... yet He is also to be feared if we think we can live in disobedience and rebellion to Him!
Even in creating the animals we fear ... God's mercy is revealed. He put a fear of man in the heart of the beasts - to make them flee from us ! After Noah's flood, the earth was a different place and God spoke to Noah telling him .. "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth... " Gen. 9:2
Have you ever recognized that the reason wild animals are afraid of you is because of God ordered them to be afraid to protect you from harm ?
Let us learn the lessons the bear was sent to teach us ... Let us fear God and we need fear nothing else !!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Two Mountains - Plan A, Plan B

He "exceedingly quaked and feared!"
I love the descriptive KJV words.... do they not stir your emotions ?
And just who is this talking about ?
None other than Moses - the man who spoke with God face to face , the man who was closer to God than any one else, the man whose face shone when he came from God's presence.
And why was he so afraid ?

Let's go back. God had declared that He was going to show Himself to His people - that He was going to physically come down on Mt. Zion and speak with them.
I can only imagine the excitement in the camp as the people followed the directions they were given to ready themselves for this incredible event!
They were to wash their bodies and their clothes. A fence was erected at the foot of the mountain to protect the people. If anyone so much as touched the mountain when God was on it they were under penalty of death !
Only Moses would be allowed to climb the mountain .
When God came down .. His voice roared like a trumpet blast that just got louder and louder ! His Presence was veiled with smoke and covered the mountain. The glory of God appeared as a blazing fire ! The ground shook ! Thunder rolled and lightening flashed.
The people were terrified and instead of crowding closer to God they all fled backwards, away from the mountain and watched from afar!
They begged for mercy....and for God not to speak to them anymore - they feared for their lives!

God knew that if He revealed Himself, the people would pull back in terror. Showing Himself physically on Mt. Zion was His plan B. He knew all along that plan A was the perfect one!
He did not enact plan B to prove anything He did not already know... He enacted it to show US why He chose plan A.


In Hebrews 12 verses 18-21 is the description of the plan B Mt Zion!

"For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,
and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.
And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING.") "

The description starts out with the words... "For you have NOT come to the mountain that can be touched!"
We, of the New Covenant are not part of plan B !

What then was plan A ??


The writer of Hebrews tells us about plan A.

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,
to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. "

In plan A God does not come to us wrapped in smoke....He does not physically appear before us.
He has made Himself totally invisible and comes to us 'spiritually'. That way our physical bodies will be not terrified of Him!

We have come not to the physical Mt. Zion that is on an earthly map of Israel but the spiritual Mt. Zion that is the Lord's dwelling place among us. The Mt. Zion of God's Presence in His city... the heavenly Jerusalem and His angels.
If we don't understand the symbolism, it is spelled out for us ... We are part of the church, our names are registered in Heaven , we dwell in God and He in us, and we are joined with the saints of all ages. And best of all... we have a Mediator, a King who understands our flesh, He took it upon Himself to bring us into the spiritual New Jerusalem!

In plan A there is no 'fence' to keep us from drawing too near to God. The separation veil was rent in two when Jesus' dealt with the sin issue that kept us from God's Presence.

Spiritually we are not afraid of God ... not afraid to enter His Presence and not afraid to have His Holy Spirit live within us.

I often hear people say that it would be easier to walk with God in the OT where He revealed Himself physically. No, it wouldn't... we too would be terrified!
God in His gentle mercy has covered Himself, not to hide Himself, but so that His children will come to Him without fear.
One day when we escape these fearful physical bodies we WILL see Him face to face and be filled with awe at His Holy Majesty and Power. But then we will recognize the One whom, though we have not seen , yet we have known. He will not make us afraid - we will know Him as our Father!
Because of Plan A !!!