Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Advent -- Love

(photo - morning view of the fog-covered valley from my patio)

For God so loved ..... LOVE is the reason for the season. Because God so loved you and me He sent His only begotton Son that we might have eternal life!

I am reminded of the year my granddaughter was a four years old in pre-school. In her class was a little girl who could only be described as a bully. My granddaughter had determined that she must have a broken spirit and needed a friend. She would be that friend.

She tried and tried ..... sharing her lunch treats, inviting her to play with her, drawing her special pictures. My granddaughter even asked her Mom to take her shopping so she could buy her a very special gift that would certainly convince this girl of her love.

Nothing ever changed. While my granddaughter readily acknowledged that this little girl "was mean", she never referred to her meaness in a personal way - always it was with sadness that this girl did not know how to be nice.

So many times my little granddaughter asked me to pray for this girl, that her spirit would not be broken any more.

I wondered at the little girl that she could for a whole school year resist such persistent love and sincere offer of friendship.

While my heart ached to see my granddaughter's love so rejected, I thought of how it is a picture of us and God. We were hardly 'lovely' that God should have reason to love us ! It was "while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us !" Rom 5:8

And yet. even though we rejected His sacrifice, resisted His offering of Love and turned away from His incredible gift ... He loved us still.

Patiently He wooed us until we turned and recognizing His love let it melt our hard hearts.

Then we could say with the apostle John....
"We love him, because he first loved us." 1Jn 4:19

"Lord, when we see how great your love for us is , our hearts are filled with thanksgiving. As we celebrate this Christmas season with family and friends, may we remember that it is because of Your self-less gift that we are so blessed. May hope, peace, joy and love reign in our hearts and homes. Amen"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Advent - Joy

Joy ... What is Joy ?

A dictionary defines it this way ... "The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires -- delight"

I think that definition falls short of true joy!

I would like to define Joy as inspired by the little chipmunk in my photo !

* Joy comes from above.
* Joy is a gift that this world cannot offer. It offers fleeting moments of bliss, happiness, elation, delight -- but not lasting Joy !
* Joy must be received. God has offered us joy -- life in Him -- but we must reach out to take it!
* Joy is a focus. Not much can detract from real Joy. When Joy is the anchor of our life, we overcome our fears and distractions fade !

When I was looking through my photos to find a picture that depicted joy, I was not thinking about chipmunks but when I looked at the above photo I realized again how often God tucks a 'sermon' into His creation.

God wants us to filled with joy ! -- to live our lives out of a joy rooted deep into our hearts. A joy that is undisturbed, undistracted by the sorrows, difficulties, disappointments and frustrations of this world. Not that we don't feel those things -- but always we can be aware of the foundation of joy our hearts are grounded in.
Jesus said ... "These things I have spoken to you , that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full!" (John 15:11)

The little chipmunk in my object lesson knew very quickly where the 'joy peanuts' were coming from and ran to me for more!
When we recognize that our Joy comes from God - from Jesus the Saviour of this world, how easy is it to run to Him continually for all that we need. It is His Presence in us that fills us with Joy and the knowledge that in Him we can abide in Joy.

The angels proclaimed .. "Joy to the World!" That is God wish for us -- to be filled with Joy -- and how much reason we have to be joyful.... especially this Christmas season as we remember the great gift that came down from heaven to reconcile us to our heavenly Father -- if only we put our trust in Him.

May Joy fill your heart today and always !!
"Rejoice, and again I say Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Advent - Peace

When the angels came to proclaim Jesus' birth , they sang. "Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14 NKJV)
Peace on earth ? After 2,000 years, I don't see it , do you ?
We turn on the TV news every morning to hear about the lack of peace encircling our globe. We have computers and internet that link every part of the world with every other part - there is no place to hide! Wars and rumours of war so commonplace they barely raise an eyebrow. Violence is the repetative ingredient in TV shows, movies, video games.
Even our streets are not safe -- our homes , our vehicles , our possessions need to be guarded. Thieves lurk. We go for a walk in our local park... our lives are at risk. We watch over our children - it is not safe for them to walk home alone from school. Even school is not safe for them - we have bullies and school shootings.
Our families are shattered - divorce leaves children hurt and vulnerable. Suicides are at all time high.
So where is this peace that was promised ?
Is the desire for peace not the longing of every heart ? I believe that it is... but man has forgotten how to find it.
Peace will never be found in the world around us. It can only be found where Jesus promised it. In HIS Kingdom.
And where is His kingdom ?
It is a kingdom of hearts. Jesus came not to bring a superficial peace that the world looks for but a peace that permeates the hearts of His followers and flows out through them. It is a peace that cannot be touched by the turbulent events of a world tossed to and fro. It is a peace that fills our hearts birthed of trust in a God who is in control. We have a God whose promises are true - a God whose Word stills every storm and quiets every heart.
Real Peace comes from knowing God ( I Peter 1:2)
Jesus is our King of peace. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts - a deep peace that man cannot steal or destroy.
How often did Jesus say to His disciples, "Peace to unto you... "
The same words He still speaks to your heart and to mine!
That is why Jesus came - to bring us peace. Listen to the words of Zacharias prophecy about the Messiah in Luke 1:79.
"Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
In a dark and troubled world may our feet be guided in the way of peace -- in our own hearts -- and may the Light of Peace shine through us.
"Dear Father, I pray this morning, that you would speak 'Peace' to every person whose eyes fall upon these words. May their hearts be stilled knowing that you are God - the same yesterday , today and forever.
May we all hide in you, and be blessed in your kingdom where Peace rules! Amen"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Advent

I stepped out on our kitchen patio one morning this week to take the above photo.

The valley was blanketed under a thick fog but the snow capped mountains rose up above it glistening in the morning sun.

As I stood gazing at the view I thought about a scripture in Col. 3:2 "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

How easy it is to become 'blanketed' by the cares of this earthly life - to allow the disappointments, the worries, the endless duties to completely hide from our heart-view the glory of the things above.
The people of the valley had no idea of the beauty above them that awed my heart.
Where I saw blue sky and snow capped peaks, they saw only fogged shadows.
Where I saw the promise of the rising sun, they sat in shrouded uncertainty.
Where I saw the heavens , they saw only the earth beneath them.
Hope - the theme of the First Advent. No matter how deep our dispair, no matter how heavy our burdens or our doubt.. there is always HOPE.
Hope that is real ! Hope that will not disappoint any one who puts their faith in Jesus.. the promised Messiah.
Jesus, the Light shining into a dark world, melting the fog of doubt and fear!
Whatever earthly thing weighs you down, shine God's hope upon it and view it from above!
"Now may the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in HOPE! " Rom. 15:13

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Little Child

I love the tender heart of God .
We see it in so many places. It is reflected in the delicate beauty of a Mandevilla bloom and the gently falling snow flakes I'm watching outside my window.

I also see God's tender heart in the story of Jonah. While Jonah wished judgment on the people of Ninevah and destruction of their city, God's tenderness reached out in mercy to the little children and even the animals.

Perhaps you have seen the video of the little girl telling the story of Jonah, but if you haven't, the link is here .... . She recites the narrative so well... and her childlike innocence catches the heart of the story. Being able to memorize it all is one thing , to tell it with such natural expression is another!

One of my favorite verses is in Luke 10:21 - the words of Jesus - "I praise You Father, Lord of heaven and earth that You have hidden these things from the wise and prodent and revealed them to babes. Even so Father, for so it seemed good to Your sight."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Song in the Night

A few nights ago, I lay unable to sleep.
Searching for a way to turn off my mind, I tried to think of a song.

While I love music and have a fairly good memory, I am not like some who can remember songs and lyrics with ease.
In fact, when I tried to remember a song well enough to sing it to myself, my mind remained blank!

I let my mind drift back to my childhood and immediately "Blessed Assurance" flashed across my memory - a hymn I have not sung or heard in years.
The words and melody drifted through my mind and I was so surprised that I remembered the lyrics. The beauty of the song in my heart carried me into a restful sleep.

Before I share the beautiful words with you ... let me tell you about the author in case you have forgotten or perhaps never heard of her.

Her name was Fanny Crosby -- She was born in America in 1820 and died in 1915.
She is known for her poetic lyrics - she wrote over 8,000 hymns in her lifetime. The words flowed from the bubbling over love in her heart for her Savior.
But Fanny's life was not 'perfect'. Some time after she was born, her parents were forced to face a parent's heartbreak. Their beloved baby girl was born blind!
She must have had very wise parents because she did not spend her life feeling sorry for herself and what she missed.

A preacher once sympathetically remarked, "I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you."

She replied quickly, "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?"

"Why?" asked the surprised clergyman.

"Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!"
Are your troubles really as big as you think they are? Have you given them to the one who offered to carry all our burdens ? Have you considered that what you view as your greatest obstacle could actually be a gift in disguise?

Read the lyrics of 'Blessed Assurance' and let the depth and meaning and beauty of the words sink deep into your heart. May they encourage and bless you today !!

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Something Fishy about that Face

My husband and son-in-love had gone fishing and thanks to my SIL's generosity this 28" Coho was waiting in my kitchen sink to be fileted.

My first thought when I looked down at the fish was .. ."There is definitely something fishy about that face!"

I'm often curious about how expressions get started and so I googled my question regarding why we refer to things we mistrust as 'fishy'.

I found this explanation to be of interest... The meaning of 'there's something fishy' is something of doubtful character or of some shady deal where the motives are suspected. The term 'fishy' is thought to have arisen from the notion "as slippery as a fish" or as an allusion to meat with a "fishy" taste, an indication that the meat is bad. A simpler explanation is that old fish (not good to eat) smells fishy with bad odour caused by a chemical named trimethylamine which is released when fish begins to break down. (from ttp://…)

How naturally we are drawn or repelled by the sensitivity of our noses .
A stench or a sweet smell invoke such opposite responses.

What God has put into our physical world so often has a spiritual lesson.

I wonder how often a Christian invokes the "something's fishy" response from the world that is watching them.

When the world blasphemes God, He places the blame on His children. (Rom 2:24)
Is it because Christians are too often guilty of something in their life giving off a foul smell ?

What 'chemical' released within them would give off a 'fishy' smell ?
Would it not be the chemical called 'sin' ?
When we walk in disobedience, when we indulge our fleshly lusts or pleasures, when we do not walk in the light nor in love one to another .. when we harbour unforgiveness, or selfishness or discontent, we give off a bad odour .

As believers we are gifted to give off a sweet fragrance, the fragrance of Christ in us.
2Co 2:14 "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. " 2Co 2:14 NKJV

We are admonished in II Cor. 13:5 to "Examine yourselves..." I think that means ...'Do the sniff test!' ... Is there something about you that smells fishy or are you a diffuser of the fragrance of Christ?

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Quote, a Deer, a Flower and Morgan

I read a quote the other day that grabbed me.
It is found in the Talmud, credited to Abba Arika -- he said .. "On the day of reckoning man will have to give an account of every good which his eyes beheld and which he did not enjoy!"

I immediately thought of the verse in I Tim 6:17 ... which says that God "gives us richly all things to enjoy!"
How often do we rush past something 'good' because we are in too big of a hurry to stop and enjoy it. Or so engrossed in our thoughts that we scarcely notice.

Perhaps it is easy to enjoy the detailed beauty of a helenium bloom or take time to capture a photo of coloured leaves against a blue sky or a curious deer peering through the brush.

But what about the 'good' our "eyes behold and we don't stop long enough to see it.
Like Morgan.
I met him when I was waiting in the doctor's office for my husband. I looked up from my book when a mother walked into the office with her 'special' son. His eyes were glazed but when he turned and saw I was looking at him , his face lit up with a smile and he pointed his finger at me and exclaimed "Merry Christmas!"
I smiled and returned the greeting.
He sat down across from me in the chair his mom indicated but his eyes stayed on me, continuing to happily wish me a "Merry Christmas!"
I wished him a Happy New Year, Happy Birthday and several other holidays which he happily repeated but returned to his favorite .. "Merry Christmas!"
I asked him for his name. "Morgan!" was his reply. "Merry Christmas!"
"That's a nice name, Morgan. How old are you?"
He giggled his answer .. "Eight!"
"No, silly!" corrected his mother. "How old are you!"
"Fifteen!" Closer but still not quite right. Sixteen was the right answer.
Conversation was not possible with him .. but communication was.
When he left the office he gave me another happy "Merry Christmas !" and I heard his happy giggle fading into the distance.
But the 'good' of his happy voice and cheerful greeting has stayed with me. It reminds me to look for the good around me and take the time to enjoy it !
We all know the scripture ...

Jas 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
All things 'good' come from God as gifts to us. 'Good' fills our day, crosses our path, speaks to us through the voices of loved ones and strangers. It peeks out from behind the 'trouble' we would happily turn away from. It waits for us to notice on the other side of tears.
Do we watch for the good that surrounds us , look for it?
To not enjoy the good things things God has provided for us , is it not the acting out of selfish unthankfulness?
I know how much I enjoy watching my granddaughters enjoy the things I give them or do for them. Would God's heart not also be blessed to see His children enjoy the things He has so liberally provided ?
If we walk through our day looking for the 'good' to be thankful for and take the time to enjoy it, would our lives have room for petty unhappiness or discontent or aggravation ?
"Merry Christmas, everyone!!" smile

Friday, October 8, 2010

Life Lessons Gleaned from Joffre Lakes Hike

On the week-end my husband Vic and I with our friends drove 4 hours from home to do the Joffre Lakes Hike that Vic considered an easy enough hike for me to manage.
Thinking about the day later, I realized it lent itself to several life analogies.

When we arrived at the trail head, the sky was blue and the day stretched before us, full of promise. We were anticipating a rewarding day of enjoying the beauty of nature.

The trail begins just behind our friend taking a photo.
The trail is hidden in the shadows, just as the events of our lives are hidden in the shadows of the future we cannot see. Would we walk so confidently into the future if we could see what it held?
An easy five minute stroll revealed a stunning view of the first of the three Joffre lakes.

Life is good , isn't it, when we plan, we anticipate, our expectations are met and our desires fulfilled.

As we travel through life there are times we need to rest -- maybe a quick break is enough but at other times we feel so stressed, overwhelmed with worries/concerns , burdened and discouraged that we need some "rehabilitation".
God provides places of rest for us doesn't He? A 'bench' just when we need it!
A place to regain our strength.
Sign "Rehabilitation area - please stay off"
Pro 24:33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest.

I stopped to admire the little things along the trail, just as in my life it is often the unexpected moments that give me the most pleasure.

The trail is made easier by the bridges that carry us over the difficult areas.
So also in our lives God carries us over the rough spots to bring us once again to a secure place.
Walking across a bridge that has no railing can be a challenge .... but that is what faith is all about , isn't it ? Walking where you have nothing to hold to but God.

The easy path began to be a little more difficult, and we could not see around the bend just up ahead, but we carefully placed our feet one step at a time on a solid place.

Psa 17:5 "Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip."

There were many hikers on the trail that day -- some on their way up like us but some already on their way back down.
After we had been hiking a good hour past the first lake we asked some hikers how much farther to the second lake. "Ohh" they replied, " about 20 minutes." We were surprised we were that close but it sounded good!
We hiked a good half hour and again inquired of a couple how much farther.
They replied , "Oh, about 40 minutes."
We kept going and then some time later asked a third time, "How much farther to the second lake?" The answer came back "Oh a good hour!"
Three opinions ... three contrary pieces of information. Who to believe? Who was right ? We had no way of knowing.
As we travel through life we often hear contrary advice, sincere people offering very different opinions - how do we know which one is right ?

I'm so thankful we have God's Word to give us the solid answers of which is the right way to go - and how to discern between truth and error.
Suddenly the path turned and we passed over a long area where there was no trail. We had to pick our way over and around and between large rocks and boulders that had spilled down the mountainside. The boulders were slippery and I found it hard to climb over them. I have RA and it hurts to place my feet in such a way that twists my ankles. Vic was helping me concerned that I not hurt myself.
We thought we had finished traversing the large boulders but some hikers on their way down informed us that the trail did not get better around the next bend as we expected. Since it was getting later in the day and because the boulders were slippery, making them treacherous for everyone, we decided we would turn back.
No sooner had we turned than Vic lost his footing on the boulder he was standing on and he slipped smashing his hip against the rock and then fell down to the rocks below. His right arm was thrust in between two boulders. I was sure that he was seriously hurt; he fell hard.
He slowly got up .. and everything seemed to be intact and moving.
His hips were very sore and his thumb was badly sliced in half and bleeding profusely.
He managed to limp down the mountain to the car -- then we drove the 40 minutes to the Whister Medical Center where the care was excellent. We spent about three hours there.
He was checked out, given a tetanus shot, his thumb stitched and bandaged and care instructions given .

As I was looking through our photos later I was surprised that neither Vic nor I had any photos of the rough part of the trail where he fell.
As I thought about it... I realized how fitting it was that we did not.
I thought about the fact that we do not have memory of pain.
We can bring up the feelings that accompany memories of grief or sadness or joy or fear, but we cannot relive pain once it is past - only remember that we had it.
Is it not a compassionate God that would create us in such a way that pain cannot be remembered WITH the feeling ?

We were very thankful that God kept Vic from more serious injury, that He provided the care he needed and that even though the day was not the day we had planned it was a day that filled us up with the love of friends and the assurance that no matter what befalls us we have a God that cares for us and goes ahead to provide the things we will have need of.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do All Roads Lead to God and Heaven?

Recently someone in conversation with me raised the question if it wasn't possible that there could be more than one way to find God. Since God is a God of love and wants everyone to be in heaven with Him why could He not accept people who take a different religious path than the Christian one?

I lay awake that night thinking about it and I realized that the pat answer of "Jesus said there is only one way - a narrow one" answers the question for most Christians but everyone considers their religion to be the true path to God. Also over recent years, the teaching of Universalism is being considered by more and more people.. even evangelical Christians.

As I thought about the question, I wondered if thinking outside the 'religious box' would give me an interesting perspective. It did... and I would share my night time reasonings here.

If all roads lead to heaven …. Then …
1. there can be no absolute truth about God - Every ‘path’, every religion has its own definition of God and if all paths are valid then so also are each of their defining boundaries and statements of belief. If what each path says about ‘God’ is valid then the only authority is self-authority -- God’s ‘truth’ is moulded to fit the image of what is acceptable to the adherents of each path or religion.

If all roads lead to heaven … Then…
2. there are can be no definition of sin. A definition of ‘sin’ is based on an accepted or commonly recognized standard of right and wrong. If there are many paths to God, then there can not be a determined set of rules that govern right and wrong definitions because each ‘path’ will develop or evolve its own standard of what would, within that path, be considered ‘sin’. To have an objective and conclusively authoritative law governing what is ‘sin’ , all paths would have to hold to the same standard, which removes the freedom to determine one’s own path to heaven.

If all roads lead to heaven …. Then…
3. there can be no One Person in authority - Without doubt, the stability or worth of a company will be judged by how well that company operates according to the vision or authority of the owner/President of the company. If the owner is either an absentee boss or one who is easily swayed by the opinions or inclinations of his workers the company will soon be in chaos. For the company to be successful and respected there must be a good strong ‘leader’. And a good strong leader will uphold and insist on things being done according to his vision and purpose for the company, as well as his own benefit! If a company for any length of time leaves its employees to their own inclinations and self-employment , the ‘owner’ will soon be completely out of the picture as the recognized President of the company and probably the company itself will ultimately self-destruct.

If all roads lead to heaven …. Then
4. There can be no utopia of peace and harmony – i.e. no ‘heaven” . There is a basic misconception that lies at the bottom of the opinion that there could be many ways to heaven. The underlying belief is that ‘heaven’ is simply a destination and just like any earthly destination can have many roads leading to the same place, so also heaven. It is simply the destination that is important. But an earthly destination, such as the city of Vancouver might be, is ever changing based on the desires and inclinations and personalities and beliefs of the people who arrive there and make it their home. Vancouver today is very different than it was 50 years ago… and is filled with the varied kinds of people who make it their destination. When they arrive in Vancouver they bring to the city their own flavour of personality and beliefs and they work toward having their own goals realized. If they were a criminal entering the city, they continue to be a criminal and influence the city’s standard of life. If there is not a strong leader with high ideals for the city that are consistently enforced then the city will go down to the standard of its lowest citizens. So if ‘heaven’ is simply a destination to which all roads are equal , then heaven cannot be the utopia that the word ‘heaven’ brings to mind. For heaven to be an eternal utopia, there must be strict rules of entry and obedience to the conditions set by the King of that Kingdom, otherwise its utopia will be a myth.

If all roads lead to heaven … Then …
5. there is no inspired writing - no communication directly from God If we consider all roads and all religions being valid paths then the conflicting writings of the different paths cannot all come from One Person or One God - unless He was being purposefully confusing. We would find it hard to conceive of a country or company’s President who sent out totally conflicting memoirs or instructions or directives. He would never have the people’s confidence nor their respect.

So if we are willing to follow the above reasoning logic and realize that to believe many paths lead to ‘heaven’ is self-defeating then we have one more question to settle.

If there is indeed only one way to heaven, then how do we know which path is the right one?
While each person will have to determine their own choice…. Here are several reasons why I believe that the Bible is indeed God’s inspired truth and that it alone reveals the one path that leads to eternal life in ‘heaven’ !

1. Of all the books in the world the Bible is the oldest, containing the earliest written records of history. Even though it is thousands of years old, it is still the number one best seller in the world.. In fact, it has for so long been the best seller of all books that you no longer see it topping the best sellers lists. It is simply a given!
2. The Bible contains the historical path of the oldest religion. All other paths came later.
3. No other ancient book of religion contains so much historical and scientific and medical information , none of which has ever been proven to be false.
4. Even though the Bible has been translated and passed on from generation to generation, when the Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1948 with original manuscripts they proved to be virtually identical to the modern translations of the bible.
5. The Bible is the only religious book that is filled with prophetic predictions of what was to come many years.. sometimes thousands, in the future. Every prophecy is perfectly fulfilled … except for the few that are yet future.
6. The Bible is the only book written by about 40 men over a period of 4000 years, most of whom never met each other and yet none of their words conflict or contradict each other… but all hold to a consistent message. Ask any judge to see how hard it it to get three people who witnessed the same accident to agree on the details. And yet the bible writers agree in all details. That can only prove that they were inspired by One Divine Author.
7. Only the Bible correctly predicts a Savior, the Messiah who would come… and only the Bible tells the story of a ‘God-man’ that conquered death and was resurrected -- with historical proof.

If we settle once and for all in our mind that there is indeed only one way to God and one path that leads to heaven, would we not then , with utmost diligence, strive to make sure that we are on that path and make the Bible the most read/studied book in our hand ?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Will You Be Remembered? - book review for "Out Live Your Life"

Max Lucado begins his book with a fable.
The story takes place in a little village that is thriving in ways that are astonishing. A guest asks how all this has been accomplished and the response is that it is all Father Abraham’s doing. When the guest asks to see where Father Abraham lives , he is taken to the wonderfully stocked and staffed medical clinic and to the fishponds to see the extensive canals that connect the ponds to the ocean bringing the fish in through the gates at high tide for harvest. The guest is taken to a chapel high on the mountain and told that Father Abraham has taught them about God.
When the guest asks if Father Abraham lives in the chapel and can he see him , he is told that is not possible since he died many years ago. The confused guest is told that he had not asked to see Father Abraham but had asked to see where he lived and they had showed him.

The theme of Out Live Your Life seems to be a popular one in today’s literary world… -that we CAN make a difference in our world, a difference that will outlive us and continue to bless others even after we are gone.

Each of us is given a life that has never nor ever will be ever given to anyone else. It is our life alone. Do we do our part to make a difference in our world or do we simply turn away from opportunities or challenges, pretending not to see.

The author takes the reader through the chapters that each deal with a different aspect of changing your world , such as how a simple act can have far reaching effects, finding the work that you feel most comfortable doing , the importance of teamwork, seeing the need- then doing our small part and God doing the big part, doing good quietly – not with ulterior motives or self-glory, staying humble - “we can rise too high but can never stoop too low” , the importance of prayer. He addresses the fact that often we feel we are not qualified but he gives examples of how the least qualified have often made the biggest differences in their world – differences that long outlived their physical lives.

At the end of the book is a discussion guide making this book applicable for a group study.

I always enjoy Max Lucado’s gift with words, using them in his unique picturesque style which makes reading his books a pleasure.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Living the Butterfly Effect

The gift book “The Butterfly Effect” is just that .. a gift book. It is beautifully and artistically put together – the kind of book that is visually appealing.

The word content left me somewhat disappointed. It left me wishing the author had fleshed out his good ideas into a fuller text where the thoughts and stories were more developed. Perhaps that was not the intent of the book.

The Butterfly Effect is based on Edward Lorenz’s hypothesis that if a butterfly flaps his wings, setting molecules of air in motion, it would eventually result in a hurricane on the other side of the earth.
Andrews takes this idea and applies it to the idea that each of our actions have that kind of effect. None of us can say that we are not important or that our life does not matter. We affect others by our words and actions in ways we cannot see.

In the book, the author uses real life stories to demonstrate how a seemingly isolated or simple act/decision of one person changed the course of history.

Not one of us is created without purpose, not one of us is expendable in the eyes of God and we have within us the potential to make a difference in the world in which we live.

This book, like all of Andy Andrews books, is thought provoking in its unique presentation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Long Tailed Black Bear

Last week my husband and I went for a Sunday drive. Not far from our home we came across this bear beside the road snooping around a farmer's corn field.
We of course stopped and got out of the car for some photos.
It was not until we downloaded our photos that my husband called me to show me this shot of the black bear from behind that revealed a long tail !
Impossible we declared ! but there it was, the photo had captured it .
We showed my daughter who exclaimed her surprise, my neighbour lady was also impressed and asked for the photo to show her husband.
Then we showed it our son-in-law who looked and asked "Is it photo shopped?"
We told him not at all, that was how we took the photo.
"Weird!" he exclaimed. He stared at the photo, handed it back and then asked for it again. Looking more intently, he suddenly started to laugh and pointed out that it was simply a green plant that divided his hind leg in two and made it appear like a tail.

We had all been fooled !
While we laughed in embarressment, it made me realize the power of suggestion and the ease with which the eye was tricked into seeing something that wasn't there.

The bible warns us not to be deceived and of course none of us want to be or intend to let ourselves be drawn into deception. But it happens easier than we care to admit.
How do we guard ourselves from deception ?

My husband and I knew that black bears do not have long tails. But we allowed our eyes to convince us to over rule what we knew to be true and find reason to believe something contrary. Maybe this was a strange freak of nature !

Satan is on the prowl tricking us to see things contrary to what we know to be true from God's Word.
We know God's commandments but how easy is it to justify the reasons the commandments don't apply in our situation.
We know God's Word but often science offering contrary evidence is easier to believe - even though we know that science is constantly updating its discoveries while the bible has remained unchanged for thousands of years and has yet to be proven to be in error.
Sometimes it is easier to trust someone else's research/opinions than to do our own homework and find the truth for ourselves.

Do we think that we can play with sin and escape the consequences?
Gal 6:7 "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."

Do we think we can fill our minds with the images/thinking/language of the world and keep company with those who delight in the things done in darkness and not be affected ?
1Co 15:33 "Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

Do we think that men wise in the eyes of the world have advice superior to God's words?
2Co 11:3 "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. "

Do we think we can live according to our fleshly pleasures or weaknesses and keep our place in God's Kingdom ?
1Co 6:9 "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived."

Do we believe that there are many ways and paths to God rather than only one way of truth?
Luk 21:8 "And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them."

Do we believe that in our enlightened society deception is less prevelent ?
2Ti 3:13 "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."

In the end it will be God who is right and every contrary opinion found to be a lie.
Jas 1:16 "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."

"Let us watch and be on guard... keeping ourselves in the light of God's Word where we are safe from deception !"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Addiction - For Good?

I caught this Pileated Woodpecker just outside my computer window. I think he is addicted to headaches. I get one just watching !!
But in reality he is simply addicted to the grubs he finds in stumps or dead trees.
I was listening to the news today and there was a segment reporting on addiction to video games that got me thinking about addiction.
What exactly is 'addiction' ?
One definition says this... "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. "

Addiction is recognized as a negative force that hinders or destroys one's natural enjoyment of life.
Man as created by God is 'good' - God said so ! That means our desires, our characteristics, our traits, our emotions , our natural tendencies all have their roots in something good.
However, because of Adam's sin, the knowledge of good and evil entered the consciousness of man . Man now had the power to choose. Sin and self-ishness can turn something intended for good to something harmful or bad.
But addiction ? How could an addiction ever be good ? The definition above talks about "habit forming ... to the extend that cessation causes severe trauma". Should we not be so 'addicted' to loving and serving God that to turn away would cause severe 'trauma' ?

I watched the Pileated Woodpecker to day, I watch the birds and the squirrels -- each of them is 'addicted' to their daily activity. They repeat the same actions over and over again ... not to their hurt , but rather to their enjoyment of life!

I thought of our 'future' to come when we will be living on the New Earth! Will our God-given tendency toward 'addiction' then not meet its holy intended purpose?
Then we will so love and enjoy perfection, righteousness and the glory of God's Presence that there will be nothing in us that will ever yearn for anything other than what IS !!

May we look forward to that time, preparing ourselves in this life by being 'addicted ' in our love for God and in our desire to walk in obedience before Him.

"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Deu 6:5 KJV

Saturday, July 17, 2010


We recognize things and people by their outward visual characteristics. We do that so automatically -- an Iris is distinct from other flowers because of its unique form of petal.

While we also recognize people by outward features we judge them by another standard -- their inward characteristics displayed outwardly in their words and actions.
For Christians, who represent to the world the 'image' or reflection of Jesus, this becomes very important.
Often we are the only gospel people read and what they 'read' in us is the basis of what they believe about God.
I think we tend to forget this as we go about our daily duties.

I read something in the Jewish Talmud the other day that sharply reminded me.
Here is the quote that caught my attention....
"Therefore a distinction was made between a wrong done to a Gentile and to a co-religionist on that ground. “More serious is the defrauding of a non-Jew than the defrauding of a brother Israelite on account of the proclamation of the Name’ "

It immediately brought to mind the verse... Rom 2:24 For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU." (Rom. 2:24)

In the Talmud quote above... I considered why they would say it was a worse crime to defraud a non-jewish person than a jewish one and I realized that their thinking was this - If they wronged a fellow Jewish person the offense remained between the two of them but if they wronged a Gentile the offense would reflect back on God and cause the Gentile to think less or evil of God Himself.

Do we consider what people, because of watching us , believe about God?
Before we react.. before we speak... do we ever stop to think -- how will this reflect back on God?

We have evidence in scripture that God is concerned about how He is represented to those who do not yet believe in Him... His name is important to protect -- His reputation is at stake!

Even to David, the prophet came with this admonition ,
"However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." (II Sam. 12:14)

Does God care what the non-Christian world thinks of Him? Yes.. He does!!! and it is up to us to uphold the honor and integrity of His name and character.

Look at Rahab words to Joshua and Caleb when they came to spy out Jericho. She said.. "And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath." (Joshua 2:11)
Rahab had listened and watched God revealed through His people and she changed her life accordingly.

"Dear Father, help us to be the kind of witness that will cause people to turn to you as Rahab did and not be the cause of people turning away from you in anger, thinking evil of Your holy Name!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Excellent Reads

If you are looking for some good books to read this summer, I just read a couple that I would highly recommend !

On is "The Torn Veil" by Gulshan Esther. Gulshan was born into a rich and highly revered Pakistan family. Her family being deeply religious, she too closely followed the Islam religion. She did not have many distractions in her pursuit of pleasing Allah, since she was a cripple and needed help with the simplest tasks.

When she was 19 her whole life changed! In seeking Allah for healing, it was Jesus she met. But I won't give away the story -- the book is very moving, inspirational and encouraging to your own faith. After I read it, and read it aloud to my husband he went out and bought several more copies and we have been passing them out.

I have also read the sequel, "Beyond the Veil" which is also good.

Another book I thoroughly enjoyed is "Flight to Heaven" by Capt. Dale Black. It is not your usual NDE testimony ... and again I don't want to give away the book. There is one section that gives the account of his experience in heaven. It is the most believable, beautiful description I have even heard or read.

I know you will enjoy these books ... and if you read them, come back and tell me what you thought of them!

Friday, July 2, 2010

It was Good !

My neighbour friend rang the door bell tonight to bring me some Bing cherries from the Okanagen. They were perfect and delicious!!

My patio baskets are blooming. I marvelled today at the delicate petals arranged in endless variety.

My husband came across this video tonight - a slideshow of an amazing array of God's artistic creativity in bugs that are rarely seen.

How different from each other were my three reminders today of God's wondrous creation. Yet each one conveyed the same message -- Our God is indeed a God that inspires awe in our hearts as we observe His amazing handiwork.
It IS indeed GOOD, even as He said when He created all things.

I believe in the six day creation --- because it is what God said He did.

Exo 20:11 "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. "

The cherries, the flowers, the bugs all need very specific conditions to grow, to bloom or to reproduce. If any of the conditions are not met, there will be no cherries or flowers or bugs.

I understand atheists clinging to evolution because it is their only alternative to believing in a creator. But I do not understand Christians who try to find some middle ground by believing that God created all things but allowing that He used evolution or millions of years to do it in. The days of creation, they say, are not twenty-four hour days.

If each creation day is perhaps a million years and since each day is made of up day and night... was the earth alternately dark and light in 500,000 year cycles? And what vegetation would survive in 500,000 years of darkness? And when did the very long days finally become the 24 hour length we have today?

We recently listened to someone who believed that the Genesis creation days were not literal 24 hours but rather much longer. In the same conversation he showed a video of a hummingbird that could only survive if it had access to one particular flower. And this flower could only survive if this same hummingbird pollinated it. Since the flower and hummingbird were not made on the same creation day , they were separated by perhaps millions of years. How did the flower survive all that time waiting for the hummingbird to come pollinate it?

More and more scientists are admitting that the evolution model does not work. In
The Origin of Species, Darwin writes: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” He believed that the basic cell, the building block of life, was 'simple' and on this supposed fact based his theories. Science has proven the cell to be anything but simple; it is unbelievably complex. That pulls the rug out from under Darwin's feet.

There is no reason to doubt God's Word. What is so hard about believing that a God who is all powerful and wise created a world in six days? If He didn't do it in six days, would He not have told us ? I like what someone said in answer to someone who stated that a scripture passage did not mean what it said. They retorted ..."If God didn't mean what He said, then why didn't He say what He meant?" I believe God said exactly what He meant.

A God who could create all that we see in the minutest detail of complexity and order, could easily have done it in LESS than six days had He so chosen .

" He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen." Deu 10:21


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life out of Death

I am someone who is reluctant to throw anything out that has sentimental value to me. Nor do I quickly throw out a plant even though it appears to be dead . I need to be absolutely sure.
Last year we bought a gorgeous Mandevilla plant. Being a tropical plant it must be kept as a patio plant and brought inside to wait out winter in a semi-dormant stage.
I brought it in before the frost last year and hovered over it all winter willing it not to die. But the leaves turned yellow and fell off. The stems lost their green color and turned dead brown.
But I hoped.
In spring we put it back on the patio and I watched... searching every day for some sign of life. I saw none. After a couple of months we broke down and went to the nursery to buy a replacement plant -- but they did not have the variety we wanted, Moonlight Parfait.
I continued to examine my plant daily until one morning , I called excitedly to my husband. "Look, look, I think that tiny bump is a little bit green!" My husband bent down for a closer look but he saw nothing that looked like life.
I watched ... day after day ... until there was no doubt that indeed my Mandevilla was growing, There is definitely life and fresh growth, as my above photo proves. I will enjoy the incredible blooms again this summer, and my joy will be heightened because I thought the plant was dead.

I thought of the parable that Jesus told in Luke 13:6-9
A man had a fig tree in his vineyard, that for some reason was not healthy. It bore no fruit when it was expected. He had been patient with the tree long enough.
He said to his gardener, "Look, enough is enough .. for three years this tree has born no fruit. Cut it down, it is taking up space that could be given to a more fruitful tree!"

But I identify with the gardener who pleaded, "Please, wait a little longer.. just one more year. I will dig around it and fertilize it and if it then bears fruit , wonderful!! If it fails again .. then you can cut it down."

Jesus told the story to reveal that He Himself has the heart of the gardener. He is reluctant to give up even if there is no sign of life. He will wait, patiently looking for that tiny spark. He will do all He can do, in whatever way He can to encourage life to flourish once more. He will guard carefully that nothing hurt or hinder the fruitful life He seeks.
We all have had times in our life where we have died or almost died. Times where we were so discouraged or downcast that we could barely hang on to life, bearing fruit was beyond our strength. Times where circumstances were such that death seemed imminent. Yet the Gardener was waiting, "digging around us and fertilizing" - perhaps we were not even aware until we could look back with hindsight.
We are not told, in the parable, whether the tree bore fruit the next year - it was up to the tree to respond to the care it was given.
So also we must respond to God's Spirit -- with whatever strength we have , it will be enough.

Did you notice the last detail in the story?
The Gardener's heart is so tender toward the tree that even though the vineyard owner told HIM to cut down the useless tree, the Gardener responds that if the tree does not bear fruit in spite of all my care , YOU cut it down."

Such is the loving heart of the One who calls us His own.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Heart Mender - book review

Someone once said that there is no work of fiction that was not somewhere rooted in fact.

The author of 'The Heart Mender' insists that his story is true and I believe that it is. But unless you believe in a Master Weaver of life and its events, Andy Andrews' story seems incredulous.

It all starts with the death of a tree. A necessary and common occurrence in nature and yet this tree hid a secret that would never have been uncovered except the tree died and needed to be cut down.

Forgiveness and second chances and the wisdom of those the world considers 'less than' are the themes of this book's pages.

The story is masterfully told and , even though the suspicions arise early in the reader's mind as to the outcome of the story, the suspense holds to the last pages.

"Except you forgive... " Jesus taught the importance of forgiveness. While we all find reasons not to forgive the most hurtful offences committed against us, the fact remains that unforgiveness in a cancer that destroys from the inside out. To forgive is a choice, a decision that sets the captive free - free to enjoy the best that God has waiting.

I don't want to give the story away .... but encourage you to read it for yourself.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Spider with a Message

Walking out onto my patio the other morning , I noticed a little clump hanging in mid air against my railing. It was a group of tiny creatures, so tiny I could not see what they were.

I ran for my camera
They were not as asleep , not as oblivious to the world around them as they first appeared. The movement of my camera lens spooked them and they scattered -- each held securely by the web invisible to my eyes.

With the help of zoom technology I was able to magnify the tiny creatures to see what they looked like. Google helped me identify them as baby Garden Spiders - also called the Yellow Orb Spider.
Now curious about them .. I did a little research. (NOT that I'm fond of spiders!)

I quickly learned the grown Garden Spiders have no desire to come into the house and they eat flying insects that harm plants. Ok.. those bits of info saved their lives -- for now and from me

I did, however, find out something VERY mysterious about the Garden Spider - and recognized a lesson tucked into the pages of God's creation.

I learned there is a mystery surrounding the life of these Garden Spiders - a mystery unsolved by science.

No one knows what happens in the life cycle of the Garden Spider between the stage I captured in my photos and the full grown spider in its two foot web. They just seem to disappear one day while they are still babies until one morning there is the adult spider resplendent in its spun web.

(and yes... I watched my 'orb' of spiders for several days. They never moved from their place, until one morning they were gone, leaving not a trace behind except for the almost invisible web! )

I thought about how they portray mysterious spiritual truths.

There are spiritual mysteries that can only be understood by faith because we do not see and therefore cannot explain how it can be.

Do we understand how someone can be 'born again' into God's family?
One minute we see a sinner, and the next a child of God !! What happened in the in between process ??
The work of the Holy Spirit is mysterious , working what we cannot see.

Joh 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

We all love weddings -- we wait for the moment when the bride and groom will be declared to be husband and wife.
Again, what a beautiful mystery .. One man and one woman who become one.

Mar 10:8 "AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh."

We believe it -- but do we see the process ? no!

We see someone alive in their physical body .... and then suddenly the body is only a shell , the person has flown away.
We believe that they are still alive - in another dimension, in another place with s spiritual body.
But did we see the process in between? no .. it happens outside our physical realm.

2Co 5:7,8 "For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. "

I love how God has tucked into His creation examples that inspire us with renewed faith - to help us -through physical things - to believe the invisible things of God's kingdom.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"In Pleasant Places"

The Lupin are in bloom here on our mountain and I love them!

Not only are they beautiful but they are unwavering in their determination to bloom at any cost. You can mow them down but a few days later they are up and blooming again.

They remind me of God's love.

I have recently been overwhelmed with a new sense of how deep God's love for us is.
God IS Love and love by definition requires for its completion an object to pour itself out on. Wonder of wonders, you and I are the ones God so loves.
Think of a perfect Father with pure love, unlimited wisdom and unlimited resources and all the time in the world and you have a glimmer of understanding of the power of the love of God.

Man, created in God's image, makes much of love but society in its selfish pursuit of it, has taken a mind attitude of "its all about me" and has come to adopt a standard of entitlement rather than responsibility.
God's love and grace may be 'all about us' but there is a fine line between joyfully basking in the love that God pours out upon us and an inappropriate response.

We cannot bask in God's love outside of obedience to His commandments.
Disobedience is a totally unacceptable response to perfect love.
There should be the the response of the wild abandonment of an open heart desiring to please Him, obey Him , walk in the perfect paths He has laid before us -- paths designed with us in mind -- our well-being, our happiness, our safety and our eternal destiny!

Our human default is to rebel against commandments. We tend to think of God's laws and commandments, especially Old Testament ones, as impossible to follow and restrictive to our freedom ... but take a closer look. God's laws were lovingly laid out with His people in mind - as the rules of any parent are intended to be for the good of their precious child.

In Duet. 30:11-16 God speaks about His commandments to Israel saying,

"It is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascent into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' nor is it beyond the sea that you should say , 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart that you many do it, See? I have set before you today life and good -- death and evil..... that you may live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you .... "

We have the echo of this verse in the New Testament defining God's laws as doable - in I John 5:3... "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments... and His commandments are not burdensome."

The commandments of God were/are instructions to set up the boundaries that define where people will be safe and HAPPY !

To obey someone - who out of love is deeply concerned for our happiness is easy - what is 'burdensome' is to rebel against that love and wallow in the mire of self-inflicted consequences.

Look at a few examples how easy God's commandments are... yet man, not recognizing the love of God in them, disobeys.

Consider the commandments of God to Adam and Eve -- ONE commandment, "You may eat of all the many trees.. just not this one."
They disobeyed and paid the consequences of their choice.

In the wilderness, God instructed His people to gather the manna every day of the week -except for ONE day! How hard was that to obey ? "I'm giving you a day of rest - a day off!"
They disobeyed and went out to gather Manna anyway - and found nothing.

God said.. "Gather only what you need for each day. Do not save any for the next day." How hard was that to obey? They disobeyed and found the leftovers rotten and sticking and full of worms.

Obeying God's commandments keeps us in the circle of His love and care. It keeps us from wandering under the fence bordering His Kingdom. If our disobedience takes us to the other side of the fence our life will take on the stench and heartbreak and consequences of our sin .

Yet, even then , God's love reaches out to bring us back.
We see in the Old Testament sacrifices for sin, God shows His tender love. He demanded as the 'trespass offering' for sin a lamb or a kid BUT if someone was too poor to bring a lamb he could bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. Even under the OT law, God wanted to make it easy for people to find His forgiveness.

God miraculously took His people out of Egypt and He showered them with love and tender care . All the years in the wilderness - which were a PUNISHMENT for their sin of not trusting Him to lead them into the land He had promised them... He cared for them "as a Father carries His son" , (Deut. 1:31) Their clothes and their shoes did not wear out. He provided food and water and protected them with a cloud from the heat of day and a pillar of fire for warmth and light in the dark of night.

Neh 9:21 "Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; They lacked nothing; Their clothes did not wear out And their feet did not swell."

Is this not the same God who watches over His people today ?
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us , that we should be called the children of God!" (I John 3:1)

With what thanksgiving, with what love should we respond to Him? With what desire should we obey Him ?

With what loathing should we turn from the things of this world and all its deceptive enticements?

If we make God our single heart focus, we will rejoice with the Psalmist who said in Psalm 16, that because he has set the Lord always before him .... "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant (delightful) places , Yes.. I have a good inheritance!" He declares that his heart is glad and his glory rejoices; he is at rest! He follows in the paths the Lord shows him, and he lives in the fullness of joy in His presence and experiences the pleasures at His right hand forevermore!

That is where God wants His people to be and He gave His laws and commandments to lead us into His joy!!

What an incredible God that has called us into relationship with Him!

"Oh Lord, your love is beyond comprehension .... may we allow Your love to permeate our very being ... filling us with wonder at who You are... May our thoughts never be far from you, may we ever walk in obedience to the gentle instructions you have given us. May we never be drawn away from Your perfect Word but may we meditate thereon night and day! May we be perfected by your truth and be a vessel pouring out Your love to others. How we love you, Father! Amen"

God brought a timely book across my path as I was considering God's love. It is called “Flight to Heaven” by Dale Black. It is a book that I highly recommend. There is a description of heaven in it that is the best I have ever read.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ask not Why but What

I love the innocence of a child. I love her curious seeking to understand her world. There is no backward paralyzing introspection of the 'why-s' of her existence or the circumstances of her life.
That to her is an unchangeable given. Her desire is to know the 'what-s' . What is this ? What does this do ? Where does this go? How does this work ? What can I do here?
And so the beginning of her journey through life is a joyful stepping stone from discovery and growing until , sadly like the adults before her, she is old enough to ask the unanswerable 'why-s' .

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes a stream of running water feel so peaceful?
There is something deeply soothing about the rippling musical sound of water moving to it's predetermined goal - the ocean that ultimately embraces all streams and rivers.
Still water stagnates --- and so does our soul when we cling to the question 'Why??'
Asking 'what' -- "what do I do now?" "what is the next step?" moves us forward, like the stream to the end that God has already pre-determined -- of good and not of evil.
I thought about how the quote "ask not why but what" would look laid alongside scripture.
I considered some examples of bible characters that could well have asked "why?" but instead asked "what?" and thereby found the God-answers that satisfied them.

Job's agonizing experience was so horrendous we still today use him today as a standard against which to measure our tragedies .
God never answered the why questions. WE know the why, but Job didn't.
If God had told him the 'why' Job would have missed the goal.
When Job finally came to the place where he stopped listening to the people around him seeking the 'why' and was willing to ask 'what' .... he moved forward to the goal God had intended all along ... "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, But NOW my eye sees you...." (Job 42:5) and he flowed into the ocean of God's multiplied blessings.
Job's friends considered ONLY the 'why?' of Job's tragedy and in the seeking of 'why' made the mistake that is so commonly made by all who get stuck crying 'why?' They, like Job's friends, speak of God what is not right! (Job 42:7)

The Shunammite Woman
The Shunammite woman who provided for Elisha an upper room for his comfort and rest, had lived her life with the stigma and heartbreak of being childless. She had come to the place where she felt it was better to live with her buried pain than to risk a vulnerable heart -- opened to the bliss of loving a child only to lose it. That was something beyond what she thought she would be able to bear. (see II Kings 16,28)
We know the story how God DOES open her heart and lays a son in her bosom but her greatest fear comes to pass.
The son is still tender in years when he dies in her arms.
Does she wail in grief , refusing to be comforted? Call her husband and household around her to cry the 'why's' with her?
No ... she knows only one question .. "what now?" -- She moves.
One person comes to her mind - Elisha. She puts her 'what now' into action.
Camly, she asks her husband for a donkey and an escort to go visit the prophet. The husband sees no sign of grief or distress in his wife's face -- he is only curious why she should want to see the prophet. She does not tell him.
The only urgency we see in her is the fact that she tells the young man to drive as fast as he can!
Elisha comes and raises the boy from the dead and restores him to his mother's waiting arms. The ultimate 'what now? ' is that God used this 'tragedy' to restore to the woman her property after her husband dies without which she and her son would have been destitute. (II Kings 8)
Had the woman stagnated on the 'why' .... and not moved with the 'what now' , we would not have her life story to encourage and teach us by example today.

Jesus' Disciples
When their beloved leader was crucified, the disciples were devastated in their bewildering wilderness of 'why'. Jesus was buried, gone from among them , nothing made sense. Numb, they just gave up and said .. "we might as well go back to fishing."
UNTIL ... the 'what now?' took hold of them, and changed the rest of their lives. They caught the vision!!
What now?? oh yes ! because of Jesus' sacrificial death, we have new life ! We have a ministry of reconciliation ... a message of hope to bring to a dying world.
What now ?? oh yes.. we can move through this life with purpose toward an 'ocean' of eternity - forever to live with our Lord and God !
"Oh Lord, may we have that child-like attitude to ask 'what now?' May we never give in to the discouragement or grief that threatens to overwhelm us in the bog mire of 'why' but may we look up to you and know that you will never forsake us and that you have already gone before and laid out every 'what now' path. May we put our hand in yours, and with unwavering trust walk where you lead us. Amen"

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Very Blessed Mother's Day to you all ....

A prayerful wish for a "Blessed Mother's Day" to each of you who visit this page...
and to my only daughter, this poem that so expresses how I feel about you!!
Daughter of My Heart
You turned out even betterThan I often dreamed you’d be;
You’re more than I had hoped for;
You’re a sweet reward to me.
You grew up to be a motherFull of wisdom, warmth and love,
A good and fine role model,
A blessing from above.
I couldn’t be any prouderThan I am today of you;
You’re my daughter and my friend,
And a wonderful person, too.
You have my love forever;
I adored you from the start;
It’s a privilege to be your mother,
Dear daughter of my heart.

By Joanna Fuchs

Sadhu Sundar Singh (cont'd) Fourth Question

It is lilac season and to me there is no flower more fragrant than lilacs. I have always loved,
not only their scent but also the way their fragrance fills the air.

In the last book of the bible we read...
"And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand." (Rev.8:4 NKJV)

Incense was an important part of the priestly service in the Old Testament tabernacle and here in this verse we see that our prayers are wafted up to heaven on the wings of fragrance.

Yesterday my little granddaughter gave me a hug and said, "Oh Nanna, you smell nice!"
Do our prayers 'smell' nice to God ??

Continuing my thoughts inspired by Sadhu Sundar Singh's vision of conversation with Jesus.... I want to share some insights on prayer.
The purpose of prayer is not begging.
Does God withhold the things we have need of if we don't ask for them in prayer? No, God provides for all of His creation the things necessary for life --- and He makes His "sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the the just and on the unjust." (Matt. 5:45 NKJV)
The flowers of the field are clothed, the birds of the air are fed, and God says..
"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matt.6:30)
Prayer is about relationship
To pray is to be on speaking terms with God. By means of prayer, the believer abides in communion with God , partakes of His Nature and is formed in the image of Christ.

Prayer keeps us alive
In the ocean there are many marine animals who thrive in the deepest water. They are able to sustain their life because they continually rise to the surface in order to fill their lungs with life-giving air.
The world we live in is like an ocean of deep water -- it threatens to drown us in selfish thoughts, pride of life, temptations, unholy habits, pursuit of worldly goods.
It is only through prayer that we are able to continually rise up from this world and gulp in the life-giving breath of the Spirit. Prayer fills us with His Life that keeps us alive in a world that does not know Him.
The fish who spend their whole life in salt water do not become salty. Jesus came into this world of sin , but He Himself had no sin. Through prayer, we keep ourselves free of the salt of sin in this world - though we are in this world we are not of it.
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16)
Prayer keeps us under the care of the 'Gardener'
Just as a tree or shrub is not taken care of , it will return to its wild state .. so also a believer , through the neglect of prayer will cease to abide in Jesus and slip back into his old sinful ways.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)

How do we know how to pray?
Just as a baby does not need to be taught where and how to find his food, so also those born of the Spirit know by a spiritual instinct how to pray and obtain spiritual food.
A baby responds to his natural hunger and thirst to cause him to cry out for the drink he needs. God created our bodies with hunger and thirst so that we would constantly be reminded that we need the care of the One who created us - not just physically but also spiritually.
By prayer we stay in fellowship with Him -- we in Him and he in us - and we find contentment and joy because all our needs are met.

Through Prayer we have Victory over the enemy
It is no great thing for men to tame wild beasts or understand the powers of nature - lightning, wind or light .... but it IS a great thing to have rule over the world and Satan and self.
The believer who maintains a life of prayer is given the power to overcome the might of the enemy and to be seated in heavenly places .

To those who are tied to the things of this world it is a constant struggle against self and the enemy, but those who have found the wings of prayer can at will experience the freedom of living where the enemy cannot reach them.

Prayer Makes the Impossible Possible
If we desire to obtain from God the blessings of a spiritual life, we must practice a life of obedience. Our desire must be to please Him, in everything He asks of us.
The deeper the prayer life of a believer the more he learns to know the will of God and the more he knows to ask for the things that God is pleased to give him. Then whatever he asks for he will receive.
"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (IJohn 5:14)
"Lord, may we ever remember to rise up in prayer to breath deep of your life-giving Spirit!"