Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"The Birds and...... Me"

Lazuli Bunting and female American Goldfinch at my feeder

“A man, observing his natural face in a mirror; …observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was..” (James 1:23,24)

There is a funny little jingle that I like…..
“My face,
I really don’t mind it,
Because I’m behind it,
It’s the people in front that I jar”

There is a tendency in our human nature to have better vision when we are observing someone else than when we look at our selves. Someone else’s tiny fault always looms larger than our own character flaw.

We also don’t react well to someone pointing out our shortcomings.

God, of course, knows our weakness in not seeing ourselves the way He sees us.
As a loving Father, He took advantage of another weakness we have --- our fascination with mirrors --- to gently repremand us.
He build ‘mirrors’ into nature, that catch us off guard and we find ourselves looking at our own ‘reflection’.

We have two bird feeders outside, a hummingbird feeder and a seed feeder.
I have been watching the birds… and feeling like God must feel when he looks at us.

The things I have observed in ‘God’s mirror’ are very simple basic truths but is it not the simple things we sometimes need reminding of the most?

I watch the birds and observe that they are quite ‘racist’. They will allow their own kind to sit at the feeder with them, but are very aggressive toward a bird ‘of another feather’. I think, “You silly birds! What is the difference between you? Why can’t you just all eat together? There is plenty of room for you all.”

Oops! I pride myself on not being ‘racist’, but there are more ways than one to discriminate. Are there certain people that just rub me the wrong way and so I avoid them? Are there people I would just rather not be seen with because they are poorly mannered, uneducated, or of a lower social status than I want to be thought of belonging to?

I watch the birds stressing themselves out guarding the feeder, dive bombing other birds and chasing them away, sitting nearby even when they are not feeding. I watch and think, “You silly birds. Why don’t you just enjoy the seed, eat all you want, and freely share it with all the other birds. Don’t you know I am watching and will simply refill the feeder when it is empty? The supply is far greater than you could ever deplete!!”

Oops! How often have I worried about God’s supply – worried that my needs may not be met, horded my ‘goods’ because I was afraid if I gave too much away there may not be enough left for me. Yes, Lord, I see myself! The reflection is not pretty.

I have some very pretty birds who come to my bird feeder and oh how I delight in their beauty! I would love nothing more than to be able to walk up to the feeder, hold out my finger and have them jump onto it and sing to me! How my heart would swell with their precious gift of trust. But no, I have to content myself with taking pictures from afar, because as soon as I walk up to the feeder they fly away.

Oops! Again I caught a glimpse of myself. Why do I not trust God with my whole heart? Why do I not believe that He has only the best intentions in every area of my life? No matter what I feel, why do I not happily hop onto His outstretched finger and sing my song of love to His face? Why do I fly away when He comes too close?

I watch the birds eat a little and then fly away, perhaps coming back later in the day, sometimes not for a few days. And I wonder where else they are eating. Why don’t they just stay close to my feeder and let me take care of them and keep them safe? Why do they go elsewhere to eat, when all the best is right here?

Oops! The mirror again! I see myself, Lord! Why do I nibble at Your table and then fly off and eat everywhere else? Why do I seek out bits of food among the garbage this world has to offer when I have an abundance from your hand? Why do I follow the ways of this world so eagerly and become preoccupied with all it has to offer? So much so that I eat only sparingly from Your Word of life.

And yes, Lord, I know…. Even when I do read your Word and hear Your voice I wander off and forget what You said.

“O Lord, thank you ! for the mirrors you built into nature so I can see my reflection. Help me Lord, to be obedient to Your word, to be like David of old whose heart's cry was….
My King and my God, for to You I will pray,
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord,
In the morning I will direct it to You
And I will look up!”
(Ps. 5:3)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tagged - Eight Things You Didn't Know About Me

There is a game being played in the blogging world.
If you are tagged… you are ‘it’.
I like games, I like challenges, so since I was tagged last week – I will play.
What you have to do if you are tagged is reveal 8 things about yourself that people would not know from reading your blog.
Because my blog is a devotional blog , Lovella ( who tagged me) gave me an extra challenge – play the game but stay true to my ‘devotional’ focus.
OK…. Here is my post !

“Eight Things You Don’t Know About Me !”

1> I fell into a manure pit when I was three years old. We were visiting my parents’ friends’ dairy farm and I was running across the cow pasture to where my dad was standing with his friend. Seeing me coming both men started gesturing wildly- I interpreted their waving arms and shouting to mean I needed to run faster because a cow was chasing me. Not seeing the manure pit because it was full level with the ground I fell headlong into it.
My white Sunday dress, white socks and shoes and underwear all had to be thrown away.
My mother bathed me in three waters before I was ‘clean’ but a lingering ‘fragrance’ clung to me for some time.

I also fell into the ‘manure pit’ of sin and needed to be rescued.
Jesus found me, washed me in His blood until “I was whiter than snow!” (Psalm 51:7) and the ‘fragrance of Christ’ lingered over me. (II Cor. 2;15)

2> There are some quirky things about me that make me distinctly ME.
I have a long tongue, short feet, and double jointed fingers.
I hate change, love variety but hate repetition …..

When I was a baby a doctor discovered that my tongue – rather than being tongue-tied was actually too loose ! so I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue.
I have always had trouble getting shoes because I wear a size 5.
I can keep my fingers straight and bend the tips down at the first joint.

I love things to stay the same….never move my furniture around.
But I hate repetition … my least favourite part of sewing a garment is the sleeves- because there are two of them.
I love variety in details – always fascinates me – whether it is in art or a crafted piece of furniture , in d├ęcor, or in flowers, or in clothing.

I take pleasure in the fact that God declares , “I am the Lord! I change not!” (Mal. 3:6)
I take pleasure in the fact that He loves variety – and hates repetition – to the extent of every snowflake that has ever fallen on this earth had it’s own unique pattern.
No two people have ever been ‘repeated’ either ---making each of us special to God in a uniquely personal way.
Do you ever stop to think how remarkable that is ? You are the only You God ever made!!!

3> I would never have been born except that my Mom took fertility drugs. She is able to conceive only one month in the year; with me being the oldest the pattern had not yet been discovered . So except for the intervention of medical science, I would not be sitting here at my computer typing the words you are now reading!
Sometimes when I think about it I realize how much of a gift my life is !

Left to ourselves , none of us would have ever been able to find eternal ‘life’ either.
Except for the supernatural intervention of God, we could never have been ‘born again’.
(John 3;3,16)
Our eternal life is a gift without price !

4> I am the oldest of four siblings. We are two boys and two girls, alternating girl/boy/girl/boy. ( and yes, my three siblings all have their birthdays within two weeks of each other) We are all married with families; the boys had boys and the girls had girls!

God planned for the human race to be grouped in families. Can you imagine life without family?
In living our earthly lives we need to remember that ‘like begets like’.
What we sow we will also reap. (Gal. 6:7)
But even better than the human family plan is the spiritual family of God.
How wonderful it is to fellowship and share our spiritual journey with brothers and sisters who are walking the same path. How wonderful that God calls Himself our Father, and Jesus our elder brother!
Talk about family connections!

5> When I was a baby a wealthy, childless couple visited my parents’ neighbours.
They made my parents an offer. Since my parents were young and healthy and could obviously have many more children, would they consider trading me for a brand new car ! This was in 1947 – my parents had no car and no hope in the near future of getting one…especially a new one. It may have been a tempting offer for some people but my parents never even considered it ! I was not for sale!
I always loved hearing that story when I was little. I knew I was of more value than a car!!

Isn’t that like God ? He says we are of more value to Him than many sparrows (Matt. 10:31) and that nothing will separate us from His love. (Rom. 8:38,39)

6>My favourite subject in school was math. I placed third in the Provincial finals in grade 10 in my school district.
I love math because it is so ‘black and white’ – either right or wrong. There is an incredible order in numbers that I so appreciate, an order so concise and predictable that the internet that connects us at this moment could never be except for the ‘order’ of numbers.

I think more than anything else we study, numbers reveal the mind of God. His mind is beyond what we could think or imagine and yet so predictable and solid – worthy of our highest trust. Just as numbers will never fail us…. Neither will God.
I love the words of David …”Yet He has made with me an evertlasting covenant “ORDERED’ in all things and secure ….” (II Sam 23:5)
God has planned my life with the precision of ‘numbers’ – “The steps of a good man are ORDERED by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23)

7> I was valedictorian for my graduating class.
I could not believe that I was even considered, and when the votes were counted and I had the most votes… I was stunned. It added a very nervous element to my graduation, but I managed without making a total fool of myself!

We will all one day stand before God and be called upon to be the ‘valedictorian’ of our life. We will answer for our actions, our words, our faith. Are you preparing your ‘speech’, so you will be ready and “not ashamed before Him at His coming”? (I John 2:28)

8> I am directionally challenged! I am teased and laughed at probably more for this than anything else!! Not that I mind… it is usually in fun because I am so hopeless when it comes to directions --- but I am very consistent --- always wrong! My husband is very good at finding his way around in even a strange city but if he is ever confused he will ask me, “Which way should I go?” I will point in the ‘right’ direction and he will without a word turn the other way.
What I find so funny is that if I am in a mall, or walking down the street or in a group of people and someone needs to know directions, they invariably ALWAYS ask ME! Even people who know me - and then they catch themselves and say, “what am I doing, asking YOU for directions?”

And yet when it comes to giving directions in the Eternal Kingdom of God I feel much more confident that I know my way around. I am diligent in my study to make sure that I can give accurate directions to those who ask for it. “…always be ready to give a defense (directions)to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…with meekness and fear.” (I Peter 3:15)
In God’s Kingdom , I have a built-in GPS - the Holy Spirit - “Cause me to know the way wherein I shall walk!” (Ps. 143:8)

9> I won the Citizenship Trophy two years in a row in Middle School. It was an exciting experience for me – humbling and rewarding – a great affirmation of who I wanted to be.

But no matter how great or many prizes I may win here on earth, they are worthless compared to the rewards waiting for those who have been faithful - the rewards that will be given out on the day of judgment at that great assembly before the throne.
I would so joyfully give up the greatest accolades of man to hear the simple words of God, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:23)

So there you have my eight revealing tid-bits about who I am – “BUT wait”, you say,”you listed NINE “–
I did - because there are only eight that are true. One of the nine is FALSE, Can you guess which one?
How does that qualifying admission make you feel? Are you not now suddenly unsure as to what to believe and what not to believe? Do you feel a sense of betrayal?
The statement that is NOT TRUE is number 7 – I was NOT valedictorian for my graduating class.

The point I want to make is that for us to trust someone we need to know that ‘everything’ they say is true.
So also with God – His written Word, our scripture, HAS to be completely true --- if there is even one verse that is in question as to its inerrancy – then we lose our solid mooring, the Rock becomes slippery under our feet and we walk in doubt.
I am sooooo thankful that I can trust that God’s word is true.

“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven!” (Psalm 119:89)
And my final word? “I trust in Your word!” (Pslam 119:42)

I tag Cherie , and Demara – hard to find someone who has not been tagged!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

God's Word to Me

There are many times in our life when we could wish that God would just tell us what was going to happen; that He would say, “This shall come to pass”. How easy it would be to chart our path if we knew exactly what to expect.
But in actual truth, it does not necessarily make our path easier!
If God tells man what is going to transpire the human tendency is ‘to help Him’ make it happen! We know the story of Abraham – the Middle East war we are witnessing today is a direct result of Abraham wanting to ‘help God’ make His words “It shall come to pass” happen.
While God has, for the most part, hidden the future from us….. once in a while He does tell us something that is going to happen.

I want to share with you a time it happened to me.
God told me something in 1979; it came true in 2007.
There is only one reason I am sharing it….in case there is even one person reading this who needs encouragement to trust God for something they believe God said He would do but they are weary in waiting.
It is easy to believe that God would tell an important person…such as a prophet or a leader… what will happen in the future, but God is no respecter of persons. Isn’t that wonderful to know? You are as important to God as the most important person you could think of.

I shared with you My Vision of Jesus in which I had a conversation with Him.
One of the things He told me at that time was about something that was going to happen some time in the future.
He said that one day something I would do would go all around the world.

I had no idea what He meant… in fact…. It seemed the most unlikely thing to happen in my life. I was an ordinary person, living a very ordinary life.
It was good that I had no idea what it was that God was talking about because not knowing left me with only one thing to do….hide it in my heart and wonder.

I had a secret dream… from the time I was little I loved books.
I remember the day I was first allowed to take a book out of the church library. I doubt I have ever felt as rich as I did that day!
Books were my treasure, my pleasure, my most coveted gift. I got into more trouble at home for having my nose in a book than for anything else!
I thought the highest calling anyone could have was to be an author.
So it was my secret fantasy that one day I could have a book published. I knew I didn’t have the necessary talent ….even though I got good marks on my essays at school; it wasn’t enough to make it in the literary world.

In 1979 shortly after I had my vision,
I felt that I would like to be involved in helping with a girl’s club since I had extra time having taken a leave of absence from my job at Eatons. But I wasn’t sure if our church even had one or if they needed any help.
Perhaps a week later, we went to visit another couple. I asked her if our church had a girl’s club. She looked at me with a strange look on her face and asked if I wanted to help. “Oh yes,” I replied, “Do you think I could?” She started to cry and told me what had happened. She was in charge of the girl’s club and had been praying for workers. She said the Lord had kept giving her my name and she kept saying that I didn’t have time because I was working full time. Finally, because my name kept coming up in her mind she had said, “Ok, then You will have to talk to her.”
I spent the next year teaching one of the classes, and enjoyed it very much.

In 1982, when we were in another church, I began to feel a burden for there to be a girl’s club because there was nothing for the kids there, not even S.S. As I prayed about it I began to feel that I should lead it! The thought terrified me… I had never done anything like that before !
Finally I asked God that if He was indeed speaking to me that He should make it clear to me. I had spoken to no one about a girl’s club.
The very next Sunday a lady I hardly knew was walking out of her pew and passed by the one I was sitting in; she stopped and turned back and looking at me said, “You know, you should start a girl’s club here.’ I didn’t even answer her, I was so stunned.
During that same week I was at work and was called out on a fitting. It was for a woman from our church that I had only met a couple of times. Her husband was with her and when they were ready to go, he looked at me and said, “Have you ever thought of starting a girl’s club in our church? I think you are supposed to do it.”
My heart stopped ! I was scared! But I had asked God for a sign and if it was truly Him speaking to me.. would He not help me?
Over the next while as I thought about it more and more I began to get excited and ideas filled my mind.
To make a long story short! – I did do it and with much prayer for inspirational help wrote my own devotional material in story form – an allegory about the fruit of the Spirit. The girls enjoyed it and I got positive feed back from the women working with me.
The girls would come up to me and say “Where can I get that book?” I would say, “It’s not a book.” And they would say, “It should be.”
That it could be published as a book had not occurred to me, but some of the other teachers also encouraged me to have it published; I thought they were being very kind and did not take them seriously.

One day my husband and I were asked to look through some tracts to see which would be suitable to put in the church foyer, and as I held one in my hand I sensed the Lord say, “Send your material to this address.” I looked at it and thought, but I don’t even know what it is, it doesn’t look like a publishing company. But I packed up my manuscript and sent it.
Some time later I got a letter. I had sent my manuscript to a clearing house – not a publishing company, but they knew someone who was interested in my material and wanted to publish it in instalments in the Chivalry Leadership magazine for their denomination children’s clubs. It was an international magazine – therefore would also be distributed in other countries.
I remembered what God had said, “something I would do would go around the world.”

In 1985 , we were in still another church where I was teaching S.S. - an older lady came up one Sunday morning and asked if she could help in my department.
After S.S. was over and we were walking out together, something clicked in her mind and she connected my name with the Chivalry Magazine. “Are you the one who wrote that material? “ I was surprised that she would have seen the magazine and said yes.
She replied, “It needs to be published. Here I am going to give you an address. The publisher knows who I am; tell him I told you to send your manuscript to him.”
I did and the book was published in the USA in 1985 entitled “Adventures of Heart Longing”.
I thought God’s word had indeed come to pass.
Until this year.
When God spoke to me in 1979, I had never owned a computer… the internet was still years away.
I did not think of God’s word until after I started my blog and realized that God’s word had come true in a way no one could have dreamed. I have a site meter on my blog and I have lost count of how many different countries have logged on – some of them by accident I’m sure and log out again quickly - but to my amazement the humble words I type on my computer, with a click of my finger are hurled out into space reaching the far corners of the world.
“ It has come to pass” just as God said.

God is worthy of our trust. He is worthy of our praise.
He is truly the great “I AM”.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"It Came to Pass"

“And it shall come to pass!”
Over 900 times these words are recorded in scripture quoting God and every time what God said would happen – did!!
The Greek word for ‘pass’ is an emphatic word meaning “to be or become, accomplish”.
God does not say, “I think it will happen” or “I shall do my best to make it happen” or even ‘If all goes according to plan”. With the same confidence that we tell someone what happened yesterday, God can tell us what happened tomorrow.

There is a story in II Kings beginning in chapter 6: 24 with the words, “And it came to pass”
that the the Israelite people in the city of Samaria were under siege by Benhadad , king of Syria. The seige had gone on for so long there was no longer any food in the city and thee was a great famine!
The people were starving and were desperate. Cost of living had escalated to the point that a donkey’s head sold for 80 pieces of silver and a quarter of a cab of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver.
I don’t know what the modern equivalent is for their currency but if we look at the fact that Joseph was sold into slavery for 20 pieces of silver, we get some idea that paying 80 pieces of silver for one item of food is very high , especially when we consider that a donkey’s head is hardly food. Their fuel source to cook their food was dung, and to pay five pieces of silver for a very small amount shows the desperation of a starving people. Under normal conditions dung was so plentiful, people would pay nothing for it.
The extreme that people were willing to go is revealed in the fact that they were doing the unthinkable, even eating their own children.

In the midst of this no-way-out situation, Elisha calmed speaks for the Lord, “Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two measure of barley for a shekel in the gate of Samaria.”
The seemingly impossibility of this being possible is expressed in the words of the king’s right hand man, “Even if God opened windows in heaven, this could not happen.”
Eisha looked at him and said, “It will indeed come to pass and you shall see it but you yourself will not eat of it!”

That night four leprous men were sitting at the entrance of the gate to the city. They were not inside the city, of course, because they were lepers and were not allowed to be inside.
Because of the siege, they were caught between the Syrian army and the law that forbade them the safety within the walls of the city. They had come as close as they dared – the gate.

One man had a flash of insight. He said, “Why should we just sit here until we die? If we stay here we will die of hunger, if we go into the city, we will die of the famine there too. There is one other option – why don’t we just give ourselves up to the Syrian army and if they save us – wonderful!! If they kill us, we have lost nothing but our life which we will lose anyway!”

His reasoning seemed good to the other lepers and so as soon as the morning light made travel possible ,they got up to go to the camp of the Syrian army.
I’m sure their heart must have beat a little faster in fearful trepidation as they neared the camp, but when they reached the outskirts of the camp – they saw no one there. Venturing further into the came they realized to their amazement -- The entire camp was deserted ! But all the supplies and goods were left behind!
I can only imagine the emotions that must have overflowed their hearts! Expecting death , they found life and fortune instead !

The lepers of course had no idea what could have happened, and neither would we – except that God wanted to tell us. He knew. In the middle of the night God turned up His CD player with a track of the recorded sounds of a great army with noisy chariots and galloping horses. The Syrian army startled out of their sleep, unable to see anything in the dark, drew the conclusion God knew they would and they cried, “The king of Israel has hired the kings of the Hittites and the Kings of Egypt to come against us! Let us flee for our lives!” So with only the clothes on their backs they ran and never looked back!!

The four lepers were in ‘paradise’. Entering the first tent they found food in abundance and ate and drank until they were satisfied.
Their own hunger pangs appeased they began to think of all the rest of their people still starving behind the city walls.
“It is not right that we keep all this for ourselves. If we do God will punish us !! Let’s go share our good news!” they decided.
They ran back to the city and called out to the gate keeper, “Listen !! The Syrians have fled and left all their food and animals and possessions!! You have only to go and get it!!”

At first the King feared an ambush but the temptation was too great and so he ordered a few men on horseback to go check it out. Of course it was just as the lepers had said, along the way were strewn all the things the Syrians had carried away in their haste and then dropped.

When the scouts came back with the news that yes indeed the siege was over and there was an abundance of food to be had, the people stormed out of the city gate in their eagerness to take of the spoil. The pressing crowd rushing through the gate knocked down the King’s right hand man - who had scoffed at the word of God – and trod over him and he died. “It came to pass” that he saw what God had done but he did not eat of it. And truly before the day was over… IT CAME TO PASS…. Just as God had said, “two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel” were sold in the gate of Sameria.

What I find fascinating in this story is a very wonderful lesson and encouragement to take out for application in our own lives.
I am sure that each of the leprous men suffered coming to accept the 'sentence' placed upon them when they were condemned with leprousy. It was a personal tradgedy for each of them, but because of that 'tradgedy' they -- not only saved themselves from starvation but also the whole city. No one inside the city walls would have dared venture out -- but the lepers already WERE on the outside.
Isn't it amazing how God 'wastes' NOTHING?

When God says, “It shall come to pass”, you can count on it !! It is the surest guarantee that there is !!

Tomorrow’s post --- A Personal Experience - God’s Word to me “It shall come to Pass”

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

My niece Cherie's" mother-in-law - 59 year old Linda- had surgery today to remove her pericardium (sac the heart sits in) The surgery went well but complications after surgery caused her organs to shut down. She is now in an induced coma, but doctors are not hopeful.
Please pray for a healing miracle and for salvation.
And please pray for the family .
Thank you!
Please read Cherie's update under comments.
Thank you for your continued prayers! The family is very grateful.

Cherie is posting regular updates under the comments of this post so please check back to see God working!! Thank you for your concern and prayers!!


I went to the airport this week to pick up my Dad returning from my uncle’s funeral.
I am not a traveler -- but I love airports.
I could sit for hours and just people watch.
There was a sweet four year old girl with her brother and she kept hugging him and saying, “Mommy’s coming on the plane!”
When other children came up to the window she would ask, “Is your Mommy coming on the plane too?”
The father watched, smiling.
I love watching the people waiting for their loved ones eager anticipation on their faces, oblivious to all others as their eyes search for that familiar face.
I love watching the hugs when they meet….the kisses...the entwined arms when they walk away to pick up their luggage.
I love looking at the bouquets of flowers and gifts people have bought to welcome the one they are waiting for.
I watch the ones who are alone and wonder if no one cared that they were leaving? Or coming home?
My heart wrenches with the bitter/sweet tears and expressions of love from people who are saying ‘good-bye’ and feel their pain of being separated from family or friends.
Sometimes I hear snatches of conversation and I fill in the blanks.
People returning from a week-end or coming home to stay from being away at war or school -some coming from afar for a long-awaited reunion - or from visiting children or grandchildren -others returning from an exciting vacation wearing tell-tale souvenirs.
I love sitting in the midst of poignant life stories and catching snatches like quick pictures.

I think what I love about airports is that the peripheral is stripped away; priorities are sifted with love of family and home ending up on top!
Importance of relationship is in sharp focus – it is a time and place where hearts are warm with love and exhilaration.

I was thinking how airports are a picture of the ‘airport’ at the end of life. There is trip all of us will take one day, a plane to board for the life-to-come.
We have all stood at the ‘airport’ and said sad good-byes, while joyful reunions were taking place on the other side beyond our earthly view - but we have not yet boarded our flight.

There is a man in the Old Testament who was privileged to see more than most of us.
He saw ‘the plane’ come in to pick up its passenger ready to travel from this world to another.
Elisha stood with Elijah on the tarmac exchanging last words knowing this would be their last conversation , when suddenly there appeared out of the sky a chariot of fire drawn by flaming horses --- and Elijah was gone!
Can you imagine what it would have been like for Elisha to witness that? I’m sure fear would have been mixed with awe – the magnitude of the event been emotionally overwhelming.
(II Kings 2)
There was another time many years later, when a group of people again stood together exchanging last words.
This time it was Jesus who was taken up to heaven by a cloud.
It must have been an awesome sight.
It left the witnesses standing motionless, unable to tear their eyes away from the sky where Jesus had disappeared.
Two angels in dazzling white garments suddenly stood beside them declaring, “Why are you standing there gazing up into heaven?? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9:11)

The life airport is busy. "And as it is appointed unto man...." (Heb.9:27)

Have you bought your ticket for heaven? Is your life in order?
Your flight may be called any day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Invitation

There was an interesting story on the news tonight.
A man walked into a gas station. The cashier invited him to buy the last roll down lottery ticket.
He hedged …. She coaxed him to buy it….It was only ten dollars!
He didn’t have enough change - didn’t want to bother pulling out a credit card.. They bantered back and forth about the ticket and finally he walked out jokingly saying, “That is probably the winning ticket and I’ll hear about it!”
The cashier, a single mom by the name of Kristina Schneider, happened to find ten dollars and thought, “Why not!” and bought the ticket herself.
It was the winning ticket worth one million dollars!!!
She said she planned on setting up a college fund for her daughter, pay off her maxed-out nine credit cards and pay off an $8,500.00 school loan.
I think about how the man will be painfully regretting his decision to turn down the invitation to buy the ticket... I’m sure he will be sorry the rest of his life…. his excuses cost him the once-in-a-lifetime prize!

It reminded me of a parable that Jesus told…..

There was once a certain man who planned a wonderful banquet. He sent out the invitations to his long guest list.
When the feast was ready a servant went out to call in the invited guests.
But one by one they all began to make excuses!
One said, “Oh, I have just bought some property and I must go see it- please excuse me.”
Another said, “ I just bought five oxen and I have to try them out – please excuse me!”
Still another said, “Oh, I’m on my honeymoon – I can’t come!”
When the servant informed his master that the invited guests were all too busy to come, the master became angry and said, “Then go out into the streets and lanes of town and bring in the poor and the lame and the blind. Anyone who is willing to come, bring them in to enjoy my banquet!”
The servant went out, brought in all those he could find but still the banqueting table was not full.
The master said, “Go down the least travelled roads and look behind hedges… anyone you see - beg them, don’t take no for an answer… and bring them in. I want my house to be full! None of those who were originally invited shall taste of my supper!”

I sometimes think of the masses of people in our world who are too busy to accept their invitation to God’s banquet.
I think of the Jews, God’s own people, who did not recognize their Messiah.
But I think that even we , who are Christians, sometimes allow ‘things’ to become more important than accepting the Lord’s invitation to spend time at His table.
I'm afraid the enemy has found the perfect tactic for keeping people outside God’s banquet hall.
Keep them too busy with the pleasurable activities the world offers.
Do you watch more TV than you know you should?
What are you addicted to? If you have free time what do you choose to do with it?
Do you know more about sports heroes or movie stars than you do about Bible characters or heroes of the faith?
Do you reach for a magazine rather than the bible?

Have we forgotten that we are called to ‘ be separate’ from the world’? Have we forgotten the words of the beloved disciple of Jesus, “Do not love this world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world , the love of the Father is not in him, for all that is in the world… the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” (I John 2:15,16)

Those are sobering words that cut to the quick, but to be about God’s business is infinitely more satisfying than the temporary pleasures this world offers.
Not only is there joy in doing His will but He invites us daily to come sit at His banqueting table with Him; His eyes and attention all our own at an intimate table set for two.

Will He sit alone today, or you have time to join Him?

"He brought me to the banqueting house and His banner over me is love."
(Song of Solomon 2:4)

Monday, May 21, 2007

God's Heart

God declared King David to be a man after His own heart.
There is one descriptive verse about David in I Sam. 22:2 that I think portrays God’s heart in a ‘nutshell’.

It says, “and every one that was in distress and every one that was in debt and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him.”

There was something about David that drew those who were troubled or struggling with life – those whose life was going nowhere fast, those who found no purpose in their life, those who were overwhelmed by circumstance.
Is that not also true of Jesus? Was it not the common people, the rejected, the lame, the halt, the sick, the hungry that followed Jesus and were drawn to Him?

This world extols the ‘beautiful’ people, the rich, the famous, those who have excelled in some field of endeavour. So often we carry this standard of judging merit over into our perception of God, and cringe in our unworthiness.
Yes, we are unworthy before God but recognizing our need is what qualifies us to enter God’s very throne room.
He is looking, not for the worldly wise, but the one who looks to Him for direction,
not the strong but the one who recognizes their weakness,
not the rich but the one who is poor in spirit,
not the one who commands the stage of life, but the one who is forgotten in the crowd.

God says, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat;
yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price..
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?
And your labour for that which satisfieth not?
Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live;
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David, behold, I have given him for a witness to the people.”

Isn’t it comforting to know that we can come to God in our brokenness, in our need, in our frustrations and heartache of life and He is waiting to answer the deepest cry of our heart!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Marriage Made in Heaven

I love weddings and I am always excited when I get an invitation to one!

I have an invitation to a wedding that will eclipse all weddings I have ever attended; I believe you have an invitation too.
“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Rev.19:9)

When Jesus spoke of Himself as the Bridegroom and the church as His bride, he used imagery drawn from the Jewish customs of the time. His followers understood His references perfectly but we have lost the ‘picture’.
Looking back at the Jewish wedding customs is an exercise that adds incredible richness to Jesus words about our relationship with Him as our heavenly Bridegroom.

In bible times it was the father who had the responsibility to choose a bride for his son and it was with incredible care that he searched to find the most suitable girl. When he found her, he and his son would work through all the details with the girl’s parents to arrange the marriage between the two young people.
The bridegroom would choose for himself a friend or best man to be the go-between himself and his bride, since there was no ‘courtship’ allowed.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you!” (John 15:16)
God chose us to be the bride for His Son.
Just as the Jewish bridegroom chose a ‘friend’ as a go-between, so Jesus also had a “friend of the bridegroom” to prepare the way before him. -- John the Baptist. (John 3:29)

The bride had no part in the negotiations, she was only aware of what she could discern from unusual activity or covert glances behind her back.
Finally, with the preliminary planning finished, the bridegroom and his family would meet at the bride’s parents’ home to seal the contract. The bride is called out of her bedroom and for the first time she lays eyes on her bridegroom.
The marriage contract is sealed by the bridegroom and the bride drinking from the same cup of wine.

We also, as the bride of Christ, had no part to play in the arrangements necessary for us to have a relationship. We have no idea until we hear His declared love for us. (John 3:16)
We can only watch, until we ‘meet’ at the cross and share His cup. “You shall indeed drink of my cup” (Matt.20:23)

When the bride willingly drinks from the cup, she is now ‘betrothed’ or legally married, even though the groom will not physically take possession of his bride until the wedding night which is approximately a year away.
From that time on she wears a veil to show that she is ‘taken’ – she is ‘sanctified’ – set apart.

We too are separated from our bridegroom for an undisclosed period of time. Even though we are ‘espoused’ to him, we must wait until he returns to claim us as His wife. And we too, are sanctified, set apart, belonging to Him and no other. "to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ." (Jude 1)

After the contract is sealed the groom rushes home to begin work on the bridal chamber – most often a separate building on his father’s property. This is where they will spend their honeymoon.
The groom draws on all his creative energy to make this ‘mansion’ as beautiful as he can, as luxurious and comfortable as he can afford and stocks it with all the special provisions they will need for the seven days they will spend there – alone.

Is this not a beautiful picture of our time of waiting until our bridegroom comes for us? Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us. “In my father’s house are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you !” ( John 14:2,3) Did you ever think that Jesus was delighting in preparing your 'mansion' as a Bridegroom eager for His bride?

The bridegroom does not know the day of his wedding – his father will tell him the day when the bridal chamber is complete , and only when it is finished to the father's satisfaction.

Does this not immediately bring to mind the verse that says, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt.24:26)
Only God knows the day that Jesus will come back, He will declare the day!

The building would usually continue for almost a year, tensions mounting as the year end approached.

In waiting for Jesus return we do not know the day or the hour, but we have been given signs to watch for. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

During this time of waiting, the bride is also busy preparing herself to be a wife.
She spends her time wisely, learning all she can so she will be a worthy wife.
She applies herself to learn the skills necessary to manage a household and how to be pleasing to her husband.

We are also to be busy, while we are waiting for Jesus to come back, using our time wisely. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:27) When Jesus comes for us He is looking for “a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2) for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Rev. 19:7) Are you ready for your Bridegroom?

Along with the contract that passed between the two families there was also the matter of the ‘bride price’. This was the ‘price’ the bridegroom had to pay the bride’s parents for their daughter's hand in marrage. The amount was based on the social standing of the bride’s family as well as her character and appearance. Sometimes the price would be set unreasonably high to scare away an undesirable suitor. If the price was too low it was humiliating for the bride.

We are hardly a suitable bride for the King of Kings and the bride price should have been humiliatingly low… but what do we have? We have a King who was willing to pay the ultimate price – the giving of His own life to win us for His own. The highest ‘bride-price’ ever paid. Our Bridegroom who loved us so much that He “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb.12:2)

The groom would also give a gift to his bride, a special gift that was exclusively the bride’s to make her feel ‘secure’, a deposit ensuring her of her bridegrooms sincerity. It was a valuable ornament – ten coins hanging from a silver chain but more than the monetary security it gave her, she valued it because it enhanced her beauty and she wore it over her veil to signify she was married – much the same way we wear our wedding ring.

We of course are all familiar with the parable Jesus told of the woman who lost one of her coins. (Luke 15:8) Understanding the significance of the ‘jewelry’ and how losing one coin destroyed not only the monetary value but also its beauty brings much more meaning to the parable. Jesus also gave us a gift – a guarantee, or ‘earnest’ - a promise that He would fulfill His marriage contract – “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (II Cor. 1:22)

When the betrothal year was drawing to its close, the bride’s excitement would mount. Over the year she had carefully chosen special friends who would be her marriage companions or bridesmaids. Now these friends come with increasing frequency to her home. While the bride knew the wedding would take place on a Wednesday she did not know WHICH Wednesday so every Tuesday evening her bridesmaids would come to wait with her far into the night talking and giggling until they could no longer stay awake.
The bride would often wait wearing her wedding clothes; she did not want to be caught unaware when her bridegroom would appear. It was also important to have extra oil for their lamps so they could light the way for the bridal couple on their way to their bridal chamber.
They coming of the bridegroom to snatch her away would be sudden and secret. There would be no warning other than a loud triumphant shout when the groom neared the home of the bride.

Finally one night it would happen. The shout would awaken the bride and her maids out of their slumber and they would jump up waiting for the bridegroom to burst through the door and snatch away his bride. People in the village were also waiting for the announcement of the wedding…and when they would hear the loud shout they would pour out into the streets ready for the merry making to begin and to follow the bridegroom to the wedding chamber.
But the bridegroom was focused on his bride and he would carry her away to the ‘mansion’ he had prepared for her and there he would share an intimate marriage supper with her. There they would stay for the seven days of intimacy, then they would join the other wedding guests for the marriage feast!!

We all know the parable of the ten virgins. (Matt. 25) The Jews would have instantly understood what Jesus was talking about and did not need to have the parable explained. They had grown up with the excitement of waiting for the bridegroom to suddenly come to kidnap his bride!
We are also waiting for Jesus, our bridegroom to come and snatch us away. "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." (Thess.5:2) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
(I Thess. 4:16)
Are we ready and waiting? Do we have our lamps trimmed with enough oil? Oil is always symbolic of the Holy Spirit - “be filled with the Spirit;” ( Eph. 5:18) Jesus admonishes us to be ready and watching for “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching” (Luke 12:37)

Does your heart not yearn for your Heavenly Bridegroom to come and take you unto Himself?
Do you find your voice joined with those who cry in Rev. 21:17 ?
“And the Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!!’"
Even so , come, Lord Jesus!”
(Rev. 21:20)

(info on Jewish wedding customs gleaned from "A Marrage made in Heaven" by Glenn Greenwood and Latyne C. Scott)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Praying with Confidence

I love to memorize scripture, and when I lay awake at night I recite memorized portions in my mind – and often it puts me to sleep.
I have found that when you memorize scripture, repeating it over and over again to get it ‘stuck’ in your mind , sometimes a verse is suddenly illuminated in a way that you never saw it before.

Years ago I memorized the book of I John. It is one of my favourite books.
The teaching in verses 14 and 15 of the last chapter have been especially important to me - changing how I pray. These two verses expound on Mark 11:24.

Here in I John 5:14,15, John is talking about the confidence we can have in prayer. Not just the confidence that God is listening or that we know we can come ‘boldly’ before His throne. (Heb.4:16) What these verses are talking about is being confident that we will receive the answers we are seeking to our prayers.
Who wouldn’t want to have a guarantee that ALL their prayers would be granted!!

According to this passage it is possible!

What does it say?
It starts with the qualifying condition of the promise – IF we ask anything according to His will.
How do we learn to know someone’s will? We get to know them.

During my dating years, I did not know my husband’s ‘will’ very well. Now after being married for 42 years I know his will so well, I could predict his very words in a given situation or circumstance. Does that mean I don’t ask him about things? Of course not – knowing someone well does not negate communication , it enhances it!!
Knowing God’s character, knowing His will, helps us to know how to pray, to ask in the right way for the right things. ( James 4:2,3)

The verse continues… If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us…
Does God not always hear us when we pray ? yes of course -but the original Greek word for our English word ‘hear’ encompasses more than just ‘listening’ – the meaning also includes the action necessitated by what was heard. So what the verse is saying is “If we ask anything according to His will, He goes into action on our behalf!
And then ‘if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
There is another verse that carries the same promise as this passage. Jesus said , “Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you !” ( John 16:23)
That does not mean that if we end our prayer with the words, “In Jesus’ name” that He promises to give us what we asked. In bible times, names were very important, much more important than they are today. A person’s ‘name’ was his character! So to ask in Jesus’ name – is to ask as He would ask , according to His character . or His will!

Have you ever noticed that when you learn something, God is very faithful to give you opportunity to test it? He brings a situation or circumstance your way that exercises you to use your new found understanding.

When I was studying this passage and believed that I understood what was meant, God did bring a situation across my path that allowed me to work this out in a practical way.

I had a good friend, Heather. We shared our joys and sorrows and our heartaches.
She had been going through a very difficult time with a teenage daughter. She and her husband decided that they needed to pull her out of the public school where she had become entrenched in the wrong crowd. They wanted to put her into a Christian private school , and finally her daughter agreed to the change.
Heather inquired at the school and found that there were only 4 available spots in her daughter’s grade and there was a waiting list of 80 students. It looked hopeless but she asked if I would pray with her that somehow her daughter would get in. I readily agreed!
And so I began to pray that God would work a miracle so Heather’s daughter would be accepted. But my prayer seemed to be bouncing back down off the ceiling.
I felt I was praying from a selfish perspective. There were 80 families praying the same prayer Heather and I were praying, all hoping that THEIR child would get in. I questioned -- what if another child needed the spot more than my friend’s daughter? What if my friend’s daughter would not even benefit from the school ?
I was definitely not praying with confidence.
I thought of my I John passage, and considered how could I pray according to God’s will.
I reasoned …. God knows exactly which of the 80 children need the spot the most, which ones would be positively affected from the experience… and surely God could choose better than we could.
I called Heather and explained to her what I had been thinking and asked if she would be willing to pray that God choose the four children who were most deserving and who would benefit the most from attending the school. Perhaps her daughter would be one of them , perhaps not. She was immediately agreeable and so we changed how we prayed.
My confidence level soared amazingly !! I KNEW I was praying according to God’s will, therefore I KNEW according to I John 5:14,15 that He would answer my prayer. I was no longer anxious, no longer fearing that Heather’s daughter would not get in. My trust that God would choose well was unwavering.

We prayed and waited.
About a week later, Heather called me. There was a lilt in her voice! “She got in!!” she informed me.

How excited we were! And there was an added blessing to the answer to our prayer. Because of the way we had prayed we also knew that Heather’s daughter would benefit from the school and that it was God’s will that she go there.

Since that time - before I pray I consider what God’s will would be – how can I pray that I have confidence that I am asking according to His will?
Praying in this way is only possible if you have found that level of trust that overrides your own personal interests and you are willing to summit to God’s greater wisdom and plan over your own.
I know that while I may think I know what is best and how things should come out… I really know nothing when it comes to the big picture and I have learned to be thankful that I can pray “thy will be done, not mine!”
Jesus prayed that way… should I do less?

Next time you have a deep concern or worry or crisis to pray about , consider first I John 5:14,15 and think how you can ask according to His will !!
And then pray with confidence!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pray Without Ceasing

Have you ever stopped to count how many relationships you have? And have you ever stopped to think about how each one is unique and unlike any other?

So also for each of us, our relationship with God is ‘special’ and unlike any other. I love the song “In the Garden” and especially the line….”and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known!!”
Our prayer-life comes out of our relationship with God and therefore is also intensely personal.
I used to read books about ‘How to Pray’ and listen to teaching on the subject… but in the end found that no amount of teaching ‘made’ me a good prayer. It is just like any other relationships - it grew as I got to know the One I was praying to.

As individual as our prayer life may be… there is one thing that all ‘happy’ prayers have in common.
“Without FAITH it is impossible to please God…for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.” (Heb.11:6)
If you do a quick bible search of passages talking about prayer, you will find they all talk about this operative ingredient - faith.

Bible faith is never the self-convinced, name-it-claim-it, mind over matter, kind of faith that some people teach.
The faith that the bible talks about is ‘simple child-like trust’.
Trust that says “I know you see me, I know you hear Me, I know you love me, I know there is nothing You cannot do.”

Trust has its roots deep into dependency which is the secret to “pray without ceasing” as we are taught to do in I Thess. 5:17.
It is only as we learn to live in this constant place of trust, depending on Him every moment of the day that it becomes as natural as breathing for God to be continually in our thoughts.

I admire some people’s eloquent prayers that are poetry in expression – but I am so glad that that is not what God demands. He is our Father waiting for us to look up to Him to voice our needs, our questions, our requests, our joys, sorrows, and thankfulness.
There is really nothing that we think or do that is not important to Him. Is that not amazing?

Learning to pray out of simple trusting is a difficult lesson for most of us, because it is ‘upside down’ to the natural order of our physical world.
When we are born physically we begin our physical life completely dependent and then are taught to become independent as we mature.
When we are born spiritually we begin our new life totally independent and then must learn to become dependant as we mature.

The more I learn to trust, the more I see answers to my prayers.
Listening to people talk about their answers to prayers is something I love – it always encourages me.
I would like to share a couple of my answers to prayer, hoping that they encourage you!

I think the fastest answer to prayer I ever had was one morning when I was on my way to work. I love to pray out loud while I am driving – no one can hear me and no one interrupts me. On this particular morning my heart was lifted up in praise and thankfulness and my words flowed – I was oblivious to what was around me.
A sudden desire to be perfect before Him welled up within me and I prayed, “O Lord, reveal to me any hidden sin. If there is anything I need to be corrected for, please correct me!”
The words were barely out of my mouth before I heart a siren behind me, and my heart sank as I looked into my rear view mirror. A police car!
I was speeding through a school zone… and was duly corrected!
While I did not enjoy getting a ticket, I drove away feeling loved – My Father cared enough to discipline me when I needed it!

The memory of one answer to prayer still warms my heart.
One morning when I was at work a girl friend walked into my work room. She was going through a particularly difficult time in her life – personal as well as health issues, she had been diagnosed with cancer.
A dress hanging on my ‘to-do’ rack caught her eye she exclaimed in delight, “Oh, I love that dress! Is it just in here for stock repair?” I replied regretfully that it was sold, that a lady had bought it yesterday on condition that I could repair a very small tear in it. It was the only dress like it in the store.
I had not seen Darlene’s eyes light up for a long time and seeing her disappointment in not being able to buy the dress pained my heart. I wanted her to have this dress if it would give her even a moment of joy.
My heart swelled and I said, “It may be sold, but I am going to pray that God give you the dress.” Her eyes filled with tears, but she didn’t really believe God could do that for her. I wasn’t sure how He could do it either, since the lady and her husband who bought the dress both loved it as much as my friend.
Darlene left and I prayed. “Lord, I feel so sorry for Darlene and what she is going through and she needs something to cheer her up. Can you somehow get this dress for her to show her You are real and care about her?”
Later that day a staff member came for the dress. I looked up and asked, “The lady came to pick it up?” The answer was in the affirmative.
A few minutes later I got a call to come to ladies wear. There was a problem.
I came out to find the lady and her husband standing at the cash counter. The lady was irate! She was holding the dress and said, “I could never wear this dress the way it is repaired. It looks terrible!! You said it would hardy be visible, but this is worse than it was before you fixed it!”
Her husband standing beside her wore a bewildered expression. He kept saying, “But you can’t even see it!!”
No one could calm the wife down. The flaw in the dress was HUGE in her eyes and no one could convince her it was so small that no one would ever see it. She was adamant - she wanted her money back!
I smiled all the way back to my work room.
When my friend came in I told her “The dress is yours, God wanted you to have it!”
She could not believe that God would do that for her. It was an important step in her finding Jesus as her Saviour before she died a couple of years later.

Knowing that God cares enough to answer not only my ‘little’ prayers as well as my ‘big’ requests proves to me how big God really is , how truly intimate His relationship with me is!!

Did you need to be reminded today of how much God yearns to share your daily walk?
Have you become too busy with ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ and have pushed Him into the background of your life?
I like what someone once said, “If God is far away, guess who moved?”
If you are close to God…you know the delights that are there….. If you know you are not as close as you could be, run into His arms --- He is waiting and will welcome you.
Talk to Him today!

(tomorrow - The Secret to Praying with Confidence!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Spiritual 'Dessert'

Just as we love the fellowship of friends and family around a table, so God also delights in His children enjoying a ‘spiritual meal’ together - sharing their God-experiences with each other. (Mal.3:16) .
One person’s experience shared is multiplied to feed many … just like the loaves and fishes at Jesus’ picnic.
Hearing of God’s supernatural intervention in someone’s life is like ‘dessert’. I love to hear the stories!!

I was thinking today of a story that I heard a while ago…I believe I heard it on a radio interview with a missionary. The story still thrills me when I think of it and I hope that my memory serves me true because I would like to share this ‘dessert’ with you.

A young lady ( I’m sorry but I do not remember her name) who was attending a university in India, came across a tract talking about a man named Jesus who died on a cross. The message intrigued her and she wished she could have a bible to read more about this man. She had never seen a bible and had no idea where she could get one. Her family was strong Muslim and Christianity was never discussed.
But one day a fellow university student passing her in the hall casually handed her a book saying, “Do you want to have a bible? I have no use for it.”
Wonderingly she took it, hid it on her person and began to read it secretly.

She understood the wonderful words of the book and when to her delight she realized that the man who was crucified rose from the dead and was alive, she accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour.
She wanted to share her faith with her family and while she knew it was at the risk of her life, she could not keep her newfound joy to herself.
So one day she told her family that she had become a Christian. At first they begged and pleaded with her to reconsider but she stood firm and refused to give up her faith in Jesus.
Seeing she was unbendable, her father and brothers became violently angry and threatened to kill her if she did not recant.
Bravely she refused.
Her father condemned her to die… she was no longer his daughter.
Her clothes were torn from her body and she was strapped naked to a chair to be electrocuted.
She had one final request.
Could she please die with her bible on her lap.
Her father declared her evil book may as well be destroyed with her, and it was laid on her bare legs.
They poured water over her and plugged in the extension cord with which they meant to electrocute her but nothing happened.
They tested the wall outlet , they tested the cord… all was in working order. But when they placed the raw ends on the girl’s body, nothing happened. They tried larger and stronger electrical cords but all to no avail.
The girl sat in the chair , calm and unhurt, praying to her God.

Finally the father exploded in rage and cutting her loose from the chair thrust her out of the house commanding her to never show her face again!

It was early evening, the sun had not yet set and the streets were full of people.
The young Christian woman, humiliated and covered in shame for her nakedness, ran as fast as she could through the streets. The people made way for her, staring - their mouths open in shocked bewilderment.
Finally, she reached the door of her friend’s house and her frantic knocking brought her friend to the door to pull her quickly inside. She lent her some clothes and willingly offered her shelter.

The next morning the friend’s curiosity did not let her rest until she went outside and walked down the street asking people what they had thought when they saw this young woman running naked down the street.
They were baffled by the question.
Again and again the reply was the same, “We did not see a naked girl running down the street. We saw a girl dressed in a beautiful white gown and we wondered where she going in such a hurry wearing such lovely attire.”

This girl went on with her education, took bible training and is now employed in full-time ministry with an organization focused on spreading the gospel.

Our God is real. “No man works like Him!”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Twenty-four Boys

In the children’s classic, Alice in Wonderland, Alice is intrigued by a beautiful cottage and runs toward it but the more she runs, the farther it slips away. It is only when she gives up and turns to walk in the opposite direction, that she suddenly finds it is right in front of her.
Lewis Carroll is satirically depicting man’s tendency to strive for what they what they want by going about it the wrong way.

In our complex there is a man who is a self-proclaimed atheist. He tells anyone who will listen that he will never allow anyone…God or man… to take away his freedom of choice by telling him what to do.
How sad he cannot see that he is not walking toward freedom but away from it. There is only one way to be free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed!”
(John 8:36)

God has given us instructions on how to live our earthly lives, not to make it difficult for us but because He knows what is good – not only so ‘that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God gives thee” (Duet. 5:16) but also that it may be well for us in the life to come.

In the late 1800’s in Glasgow, Scotland there lived 24 boys. Someone recognizing that these boys needed somewhere to expend their energy decided to start a youth club for their benefit. The Christian promoters of this club formulated the member requirements, one of which was that the boys abstain from drinking and gambling.
The 24 boys divided down the middle. Twelve joined the club, twelve did not.
Twelve agreed to abide by the club rules but the other twelve refused, sneering at the idea of a club rule curtailing their ability to have fun.

Years later one of the original 12 club members, The Right Honorable David Kirkwood, Member of Parliament (who died in 1955) went to considerable lengths to track down the lives of the other 23 boys with whom he had shared his childhood.
This is what he found.

The Twelve who Refused to let a club rule keep them from “having fun” were found to have ended their lives as follows:
1> Poisoned himself at thirty.
2> Found dead at thirty.
3> Committed suicide at thirty-one.
4> Disappeared at twenty-five.
5> Died in a mental home at thirty.
6> Drowned himself in the River Clyde at thirty-five.
7> Poisoned himself at thirty-two.
8> Wanted by police; fled the country.
9> Committed suicide in the River Clyde at thirty-five.
10> Committed suicide at thirty-six.
11< No information.

What a different list Kirkwood complied of the twelve who agree to abide by the rules.
1> Became manager of Beardmore’s Mills
2> Manager of a large engineering works.
3> Took over his father’s business.
4> Successful business career.
5> Engineer and prosperous.
6> Butcher’s errand boy; then became owner of the business
7> Foreman of large building firm.
8> High position in leather business.
9> Master builder.
10>Manager of important Glasgow firm.
11> Member of Parliament.
12> No information.

How soberingly true God’s word is, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)

“Oh God, I pray today for the people in our lives who are going in the wrong direction, searching for answers – searching for happiness where they will find none. Help them to see, O Lord, that only You have what they are looking for.
May they turn and recognize that Your love is pursuing them- not to take away their freedom - but to save them and set them free! ”

Monday, May 14, 2007

God Speaks in Sign Language

Did you know that God speaks in Sign Language?
There are times when we are faced with a decision that does not present itself with an obviously right choice, leaving us unsure as to which way God would have us go.
Down through the history of man God has in times like that clarified His directive by speaking in ‘sign language’.

It is often the clearest, most assuring, personal word we hear from Him, but I find that many people are afraid to trust ‘the language’ or its value in their relationship with God.
Oswald Chambers often referred to God as ‘the God of the haphazard’ (God of co-incidences).
If you want to hear God's ‘sign language’ you cannot believe in mere co-incidences.

We have so many instances in scripture where God spoke through ‘sign language’, and even encouraged His people to ask for it.
“The Lord spoke ….saying..’Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God, ask it either in the depth or in the height above.’ (Is. 7:11)

God is eager to confirm to us His word, to give us the confidence and assurance that YES we have heard His voice! No doubt! How easy it is to 'trust and obey' when you are sure God has spoken!

Gideon is the originator of our colloquial phrase “put out a fleece”. If he was going to accept the job offer he needed to be sure it was God offering it to him. He asked God for a ‘sign’, not once but twice and then when he was still unsure but too embarrassed to ask God a third time, God who knows the insecurities of our hearts, offered him a third sign - one so clear that it removed all doubt from Gideon’s mind. (Judges 6)

When Hezekiah begged God for his life and God said he would give him 15 more years, Hezekiah asked for a sign that God’s promise would come true. He requested that the sun go backward ten degrees. God gave him the sign. (II Kings 20:10,11)

While God is never impatient with men/women who desire a sign to be sure that it is God’s voice they have heard, He does become angry with those who desire a sign for the sake of the sign.
Jesus was very abrupt with the scribes and Pharisees who came to Him and said, “Teacher, we want a sign.” Jesus answered, “An evil and adulterous generation…shall be given no sign.” (Matt.12:39)

I recognize that our biblical fellow saints did not have the written word as we have it, and the only ways they had to confirm they were making a right decision was to seek the Lord’s word through a prophet or receive a sign from God.
Today, we cannot ask for a sign simply because we are too lazy to study what God has already clearly portrayed in His word. But when our desire is to choose the best.. to be obedient to what we believe God is saying to us, I believe that God delights in us asking for a sign.

I have asked so many times and God has always answered.

A couple of years ago when my husband began to be serious about selling our property my heart sank…it was the last thing I wanted to do. I did not believe I would ever be as happy anywhere else. So I began to pray and ask that God would give me a sign that He was directing our move. In fact I asked Him to spare me looking - that if He wanted us to move - it would just ‘fall into our lap’. And it did. He gave me not one sign but many! I felt like Gideon!
Maybe I will share that story in another post!

When I worked at Eatons, I had an hour for lunch, or an hour at supper time depending on my shift. I did not want to waste that hour just sitting in the staff room and do small talk. So I began to pray that God would send people my way to share the hour with, people that I could help or encourage or comfort or direct toward God. And they began to come. It was rare that I had a lunch hour alone, in fact, I sometimes had more than one person wanting to share my break.
The first time it happened I was in a quandary. I had made an appointment for lunch, but shortly before my break started, I received a tearful call from someone who needed a shoulder to cry on. Could I please meet them for lunch. I could not find it in my heart to say no, and even though I already had made a commitment to someone else I said yes.
Hanging up I thought, what have I done? I can’t be in two places at once! I did not know which one of my two appointments was the most important.
Immediately I prayed. “Lord, I have gotten myself in a mess… I don’t know which of the two people You want me to meet with. I ask you to work it out. Cause one of them to cancel so that I will be free to meet with the one You chose for today.”
I felt strangely at peace and waited. The phone rang… it was my original lunch partner calling to say that something unexpected had come up and she could not come after all… could she come tomorrow instead. I assured her that was fine with me, and brushed aside her apologies.
That happened several times, and while I was told by some people that I was behaving in rather an irresponsible way, I never felt that God minded. When I would look up and say, “Well, it happened again!” He would just smile down and work it out – every time!

I believe that God is eager to guide us and direct our paths in a way that we clearly understand. Do we not do the same for our children?

James 1:5 is still true today..”If any of you lack wisdom, let his ask of God, that giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not!!”
ASK ! and see if God will not confirm His personal word to you, so that you can walk in confident obedience!

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Dream Come True

There is a coloured thread that runs through each of our lives. The colour is distinctively ours alone – it is the theme that characterizes our life purpose.
Though we may go through much of our life unaware of the thread, God does give us glimpses of it occasionally as it weaves in and through our lives. Often the glimpse comes as a desire, as a dream we dare to dream but not realistically hope that it come to pass.

I got an e-mail today from a dear friend.
Betty got the first glimpse of the colour of her thread when she was four years old.
One night she had a dream. She dreamed that there was a knock on the front door of her home and when she opened the door…there was a baby on the doorstep.
She knew from that moment on that she was going to take care of babies.

She grew up, married and had three boys of her own. As her youngest son neared his second birthday, she realized her last baby was growing up and her God-given desire to nurture babies again rose up in her heart. She and her husband decided that they would become foster parents.
And they did.
Over the years she took care of over 50 babies/children, most of them born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Some of her babies she cared for as long as five years.
My friend, Betty, was a rare kind of foster mom. Each baby that was placed in her arms claimed her heart as securely as one born to her. She loved them and gave them the best care. She often had 3-5 babies at a time, but it was with grace and a supernatural calm that she kept everything in order. Whenever you saw her… either in her home or out of it… the children looked like they were on their way to a photo shoot. Betty herself always looked like she stepped out a fashion magazine. I was in awe of her. Her joyful attitude of service ruled over a spotless home and well behaved children.

One thing was without question. She was true to her ‘thread’ of purpose.
Each child was prayed over and taught to pray. Her desire for each one was that when they were taken from her care that they would go with a deposit of God-consciousness in their hearts that would keep them under the shelter of God’s love.

When you step foot into Betty’s home one of the first things that catches your eye is a shelf built specifically for the purpose of displaying framed pictures of all her children. She knows every one of them by name and still prays for them.

Betty’s years of being a foster mom were far from easy. Working with the child-welfare authorities was often an exercise in frustration…the more so because the ones who suffered were the little ones who had no defence. Betty was their advocate but often her hands were tied.
Over the years I walked the path with her, sharing her joys, her tears, her frustrations, her justified anger and stood as a prayer partner to hold her needs up to God.
Often Betty would wonder if she was making a lasting difference in her childrens’ lives.
I remember one particularly discouraging time… and we prayed that God would give Betty some hope, some indication that her efforts were not in vain.
At the time she had a little blonde, blue-eyed, three year old boy that Betty and her husband wanted to adopt. But it was not to be.
The little boy was only16% native but he was made the test case in the court battle that decided that native children could not be placed for adoption in white homes – never mind that he did not look native, and that he was over 80% white.
I don’t have to describe to you the pain and agony Betty suffered over having to let this child go so he could be adopted into a native home.
She did not know how much, if anything, this child had absorbed of her gentle teaching about Jesus. He spoke very little.
One day she was sitting on some bleachers with this little boy, watching her sons play baseball. She was feeling despondent and worrying about what would become of this beloved child sitting beside her. Suddenly, without any fanfare he did something he had never done before. He stood up and began to sing Jesus loves Me.
Betty had her sign from God.

Betty had a dream. She wanted to take care of black babies… always hoping that the next baby placed in her arms would be a little black girl.
We prayed…we asked…but it never happened.
She had another dream… go to Africa! I remember times we would talk about it , but it always seemed a very unrealistic dream. There was just too much that stood in the way – not the least of which was the financial cost.
I remember praying asking God for a miracle so that Betty could have her dream come true. She had given so selflessly of herself for sooo many years… was having this dream come true so much to ask?

A few years ago I began to see a restlessness, a discontent that I had never seen in Betty before. She began to call me talking about how the mounting frustrations with the ministry had taken away her joy in being a foster mom.
I sensed that perhaps God was saying her years as a foster mom were completed. But understandably, Betty was reluctant to acknowledge that – it was what she had done for so many years – and it had been her joyful fulfillment. She tried switching to older children, but it just wasn’t the same anymore.
Finally, she and her husband made the decision. They were resigning their contract with the ministry.
Their sons were marrying and grandchildren were on the horizon. Timing was perfect.
God led Betty in other directions and she is content.
She is now able to devote herself more fully to her family than she would have ever been able to do if she was still a foster mom. The babies she holds in her arms now, no one will ever take away. They are her own grandchildren.

I got an e-mail from her today.
Her life-long dream of going to Africa is going to happen!!
Years ago, God gave her the glimpse and ignited the dream…. Then filed it under future!
The timing couldn’t be more perfect!!
She is going for three weeks this fall, with her best friend and an outreach team from her church.
She will be spending 7-10 days in an orphanage!! She can hold black babies to her heart’s content!! (If she comes home with one hidden in her suitcase, I won't be surprised!)
She will also experience the excitement of a safari and relaxing time on the beach.

I had forgotten her dream, it has been years since we even talked about it… and I’m sure she had tucked it away as well….but God had not forgotten!!
This is her well deserved reward! I am sooo thrilled for her.

How wonderfully God is involved in our lives…orchestrating all things to work together for our good! And delighting to give us above and beyond our wildest dreams.

I share Betty's story with you as a well deserved tribute to her but also as an encouragement to you.
If you have a dream that has deep roots in your heart, one you have ‘forgotten’ because it seemed impossible that it could ever come true – take heart and know that God does not forget and His timing is perfect.
Keep faith, watch and wait! If the dream was a glimpse of God’s ‘thread’ of purpose in your life….it will come to pass!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What's Not to Love about Spring!

It was a lovely spring day today.
Too beautiful to stay indoors so I walked outside and listened to the ‘sermon’ echoing all around me.

I looked at all the Dandelions. They are considered a nuisance weed where I live, but I think they are beautiful and they adorn all my childhood summer memories.
Consider the Dandelion – listen to its sermon.
It is an outrageously joyous giver. Every part of the plant.. the flower, the stem, the leaves, the root are all good to eat!
Its beautiful flower head is golden, just like the Son that gives it life.
And you cannot keep a Dandelion from fulfilling its God-given purpose -just to bloom, where ever and when ever it can! Every where!
Run over it with a lawn mower, pull it out by the roots…it will be back tomorrow as happy as ever it was. The Dandelion refuses to worry, it is unconcerned with man's opinion, it does not fear death - for in death it reaches farther than it ever did in life, its white fluffy seeds flung far and wide to start the joyous cycle all over again.

Oh, if all Christians were like the Dandelion! What a world this would be!!

I looked at the flowers that are all out in bloom. I still have tulips, which I love. They are so beautiful - like cups lifted up to be filled with God’s glory.
Are we beautiful to God like tulips? Do we lift up our heads and hearts to be filled anew each morning with His wisdom and love, and grace?
I looked with awe at the detailing and intricate design and color of each flower. If God took such care in fashioning each one of them, how infinitely much more He must care for us!
“Consider the lilies of the field……will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matt. 6:30)

I saw the pine cones in bloom - no the picture is not from Christmas- but it is a picture of the celebration of new life.
In each of those pine cones, God has carefully folded like origami a fully grown tree! Who but God could conceive of such a thing?

And I thought - God by His Spirit has hidden something wonderful in each of His children – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us!” (II Cor. 4:7)
Just as the pine cones do not look like the beautiful tree they have the potential to be, so we also do not (in our flesh) resemble what we shall one day be - but if we allow Christ to shine through us then truly we will be “transformed into the same image from glory to glory !” (II Cor. 3:18)

I watched the American Goldfinch at the feeder. I tried to get close, but he was shy and sharp-eyed. Every time I tried to sneak up…. he saw me and flew off.
I wanted a picture so badly, I asked God to please bring him back so I could snap him.
A few minutes later, there he was and sat facing me so I could see his eyes and his little ‘hat’. What a beautiful little creature he is!! How beautifully clothed ! Each feather in place and so delightful coloured in golden yellow and black.
How many generations of Goldfinches have there been ? and yet the colors have not faded!
Thank you, Lord for making such a lovely bird. And yet He says,
“Look at the birds of the air….. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt.6:26)

Do we , as the Goldfinch, glorify God in our ‘every day’ garb? Does our countenance, our demeanor, our soul shine forth to give thanks and honor to Him? Do we make the statement…”I am a creation of God’s glory and grace?”
“Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning……but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit which is very precious in the sight of God!” (I Peter 3:3,4)

Spring time to me is always a sermon about renewal - the proof that God is a God of mercy and forgiveness – daily offering us a new beginning.
God’s promise that He is the Lord of resurrected Life is celebrated and joyfully proclaimed everywhere.
One day we will know perfection…. Until then, spring portrays it better than anything else .

“Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)

The Unjust Steward

Perhaps the most difficult to understand of Jesus’ parables is the one about the unjust steward found in Luke 16. But if we look at it carefully, it is not so difficult after all and of course has a message for us from Jesus’ own mouth.

The parable.
There was once upon a time a very rich man who entrusted the managing of his financial affairs to a steward. This steward ingratiated himself with his employer who trusted him completely.
But the steward was taking advantage of his position by misappropriating funds and lining his own pockets.
It seems his master never noticed but someone who did brought accusations against him. The steward was called to face the music and while his master seems somewhat reluctant to do so he told the steward to ‘clean out his office’, his employment was terminated – no recourse.

It is interesting to see the steward’s reaction. We see no repentance or self defence…he accepts his judgement but immediately reacts true to character - considering his options.
He could take a job digging.
Manual labour?? Forget it! He is a desk-man.
Beg? Beneath him!!
So how can he turn this to his best advantage?
It does not take him long to come up with a plan. He has had years of experience of looking out for his own best interests.
Wasting no time, he calls into his office, one by one, those who are in his master’s debt – those who lease or rent premises from him – and one by one he lowers their rent or amount owing. He reasons that he can ‘buy’ his future security – by helping them financially they will surely be happy to take him in when he is soon-to-be-homeless.

There is no generosity of heart in his actions, no intention of making amends, although perhaps he WAS in truth only lowering their rent or debt to where it should have been in the first place. Perhaps he was only reversing the exorbitant amount he had added to their debt – that showed up well in his master’s money coffers but also allowed him to make his own pockets heavy.
Now he was ‘buying’ with his master’s money a ‘pension’ plan.

When his master heard of what the unjust steward did, he gave him his grudging admiration. He chuckled at his ingenuity and slapped him on the back – perhaps sorry to see him go.

Jesus always used situations or life experiences that the common people in his audience would understand. And then He used his story to clarify the spiritual truth He was teaching.
The common people in Jesus’ day totally understood the ‘unjust steward’. They all had to deal with dishonest tax collectors.

At first glance, we are surprised that Jesus seems to commend the actions of this unjust steward. Is Jesus condoning shady business practices?? Hardly! To understand what He is saying we need to look a little closer.

What Jesus pointed out as admirable in the unjust steward was that he took advantage of what he had been given to ensure his security and future habitation. In that, Jesus says, he, as a child of darkness was wiser than many children of the light.

Let’s unwrap the parable and look closer at its interpretation and meaning for us.

The master is of course God. The unjust steward is you and me. God has given into our stewardship all that we have, whether it be much or little and has left it in our hands to see what we will do with it.
The day comes, in each of our lives that we realize we stand accused before God.
Satan, our accuser, is ever ready to point out that we are unjust in all our ways. We have no defence, we are guilty and God knows the truth. And so we realize that one day soon our stewardship will be taken away from us… this life will be over. We will leave this life, as the unjust steward left his position, with nothing.
So we are faced with the decision of what we will do. Simply face the inevitable, and take what comes? Make no provisions for our well-being on the other side?
Or will we take the example of the unjust steward and with haste and diligence use what God has entrusted to us to ensure for us a secure and eternal habitation.

It is interesting how Jesus weaves into His story truths that at first glance are not even noticed. The unjust steward’s reactions are full of meaning.
In considering his options he declares he is incapable of manual labour. That is also our declaration. There is no ‘work’ that we can do to earn our salvation, our eternal habitation is built by God – we can add nothing of ourselves.
The unjust steward also found begging abhorrent. We do not have to beg for our eternal well being – it is a gift that God offers freely to those who believe in Him.
Even the master's reluctance to terminate the steward..."What is this I hear of you?" has an echo of God's heart...He has "no pleasure in the death of the wicked". (Ez.33:11)

Jesus gives us the advice that “we are to make friends of unrighteous mammon”.
How do we do that?
The things of this world will one day pass away and the things of this world are ‘unrighteous mammon’ in comparison to eternal riches. But if we USE them to serve others , if we “through patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, immortality”, we will find the door to our heavenly home open to welcome us. (Rom.2:7)
And just as the master of the unjust steward commended him, so we also will have the praise of God. (I Cor. 4:5)
If we are faithful with what we have been entrusted with here, then we will be entrusted with much on the other side.

Our thought to ponder for the day…. How can I use what God has entrusted to me to serve Him and others?? - thereby storing up for myself "treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches, nor moth destroys.” (Luke 12:33)