Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In the Beginning......God ! (Gen. 1:1)

I love beginnings. I love that moment when I have a sewing project in mind. The supplies are purchased, the workroom is in order and I am ready to begin. In my mind I see the finished product – perfect and exactly as I envision it will be.
No mistakes have yet been made, no frustration with uncooperative materials, no interruptions, no broken needles or snapped thread, no disappointment that a part or whole is less than I hoped.

I wonder if that is how God felt when He hovered over the waters six thousand years ago.
Did He see only the finished perfect end of His plan? Or did He linger over the problems, the struggles, the disappointments, the calamities, the horrors, the sin, the evil that would cover the time between the ‘beginning’ and the ‘end’.
Did He hesitate deciding whether or not the creation He was about to speak into being would be worth His anguish and pain?

When my finished product is ready for unveiling to the public eye, no one sees the redos, the adjustments, and the compromises that were part of the construction of the project. All the public sees is what it was meant to be all along.
Will it be that way for God too?
When finally He comes for His bride, and transforms this old earth into the New Jerusalem forever, will He give it His stamp of approval and say “It is good!” - forgetting the price it cost Him, a price that included the life of His Son?

I think about each day being a beginning… a day that is a blank and unsullied slate on which I will write my thoughts, my words, my actions.
Each morning it is clean and pure, but when I look at it at the end of the day, how does it look? Is it something I would delight to frame and hang on the wall for all to see? Is it neatly notated with a lovely script or is it haphazardly scrawled in black, a slate I wish I could just wipe clean or hide in the bottom drawer?

What if I took the words ….”In the beginning ….God”….. and made them my motto to live by.
If I begin each day with…… God – putting Him first, seeking His kingdom instead of my own. It I put Him in the beginning of my day … would He not still be there at the end? And be able with a smile to put His signature at the bottom of my day’s slate?

And what if I place my motto before my mouth …. “In the beginning….God”….
If I think of Him before I speak, if I test my words to see if they are godly and kind.

What if I consider…..”In the beginning ….God”….. Before I turn on the TV or the radio, sit down at the computer or look at videos, books, magazines, movies?

What if I let….”In the beginning…. God”…. rule how I act or react, how I make my plans, how I dress or spend my money?

What if I give God the beginning of every moment…. rather than call out to Him to help me when I get bogged down in the mire of my own reasonings, my own plans, my own desires, my own wrong choices or dire consequences.

Human history proves that to come to the place where putting God first is our natural response takes heart resolve and mental will power.
What comes natural is say ‘Me do it!” - to do our own thing ,follow our own inclinations, our own plans, our own desires and only when we run into problems do we think to involve God.

In the beginning … God.
The first words in the bible, the only how-to book ever written that will guide us safely through life and into eternity.
Perhaps we need to stop with those first four words, and only when we get them right and worked into our daily lives, continue to read the rest of the book.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Divine Director

I love getting up in the morning and never knowing what surprises the Lord has in store for me that day!! I find it so unbelievably amazing that the God of all the Universe and beyond is interested in walking with me and directing my day.

I love the verse that says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)

I learned a long time ago that not insisting on having things my way but rather letting God direct my steps is really a very selfish way to live my life!! Because I always end up with far more than I would ever have if God did what I thought was best!
So I often pray, “Lord, I give you veto power over my requests and my desires…. I want Your will , not mine!”

And so even though I make plans…I am often surprised by God’s hand turning my day in a direction I could never have planned nor foreseen!

Like today!

Vic and I often pray at the beginning of the day for the Lord to guide us and direct the people into our day that He wants us to connect with.
It was our prayer this morning.

When we sat down in church this morning my attention was almost immediately drawn to an adorable little girl sitting across the aisle and a couple of rows ahead of us. I watched the interaction between her and her mother and my heart was warmed by the obvious mother/child love between them. The father sat with them and his face too expressed the love he felt for his wife and child.
I had never seen them before.
Watching them, I remembered when my granddaughters were still little and would sit with me in church, their little arms around my neck...and I missed that time!

Some time into the service when we were singing the last worship song, I glanced over where the little girl was sitting and saw her dark eyes were riveted on my face. Her eyes were deep with intensity and I smiled at her. She did not smile back but continued to stare.
Her mother turned to see who her daughter was looking at so intently.
Then, the little girl slipped off her mother’s lap and walked across the aisle toward me and lifted up her little arms to be lifted onto my lap.
I’m not embarrassed to admit I do not remember too much of the rest of the service...she sat with me until church was over, running back to her mother a few times to get a kleenex or a bag of snacking cereal but always came back to sit with me.
She sat quietly and remembered to whisper!

After the service her parents came to collect their child.
We introduced ourselves and the mother expressed her surprise at her daughter’s behaviour. The little girl kept touching me on the shoulder and telling her parents she wanted to come to my house!
The mother laughingly told her to ask what we were doing for lunch.
We decided to all go out for lunch together! What a good time we had!

It turned out that Marie, the mother, was born in the Ukraine not far from where Vic was born. Chad, the father was born in the same city I was born in.
They are each involved in world ministries and we became so engrossed in each other’s stories that when the waitress came for our orders we had forgotten to open the menus.
Though they are a young couple and we are grandparents we connected on so many levels – and spent a very enjoyable time together.
Even when we parted, Tatiana, the little 2 ½ year old girl – who speaks both Ukrainian and English fluently – was crying and holding out her arms insisting she wanted to come to our house!!
We agreed that our meeting was ordained of God…… “A little child shall lead them!”

It was a joy-filled, Sunday-gift that I am very thankful to the Lord for!

(see part two of my Sunday below)

Wild Beauty

Today after lunch, Vic and I went to the Cheam Lake Wetlands...a nature preservation project and enjoyed the walk and the view through our camera lenses.

As I admired the plants, wildflowers, the lake, the birds - the wild beauty all around me, I thought of how God took pleasure in creating it all! And how He declared it 'good'!
My heart warmed with amazed wonder that because we are made in His image -- we have the God-given capacity to recognize and enjoy the same things He does!
To love the things God made is to worship Him with thanksgiving.

Carolanne has a contest on her blog.
One of the rules to enter my name in the draw for the prizes was to post about a photogenic place within an hour's drive of my home - somewhere we would like to take her - and link back to her so others can enter the competition too!

So Carolanne, here are a few of the photos I took this afternoon!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Second Look

The story I posted yesterday of Lisa Reid was exactly as it was told on the TV show Medical Incredible. I saw a radiant Lisa interviewed and playing with her 6 year old daughter in a playground. She was glowing and I thought it was a happily ever after story!!

But being of the curious tribe, I tried to find more information about her.
Specifically, I wanted to make sure that she had indeed kept her eyesight and I wanted to know if she was a Christian or had someone in her life who believed in God and prayer.
Sadly, I found no evidence to believe that God was part of her life!

But I did learn more about her. I found out some things that the documentary I saw yesterday chose not to include.

Lisa did not have an easy life.
Almost dying of brain cancer, then being blind for ten years were only the beginning of her list of hardships.

Her father abandoned the family causing Lisa a great deal of pain which continues to this day. She has not seen her Dad since she was 12.

She was raped at a teen-age party.

She struggled with depression.

She became anorexic and almost died of starvation.

She dated someone she called “Mr. Wrong”, got pregnant and felt an abortion was the only way out. She says dealing with the aftermath grief resulting from the abortion was worse than being blind. (her abortion was in July, 2000, her sight was restored in Nov. of that year)

She became engaged to a man after her eyesight was restored who had to be admitted to a drug rehabilitation center for amphetamine addiction.
She was pregnant, but the marriage never happened, the fiancé dropped out of her life.
(They were afraid that giving birth would put strain on the optic nerve causing her to lose her sight again, but their fears were in vain.
Her little girl was born at the end of 2001, a beautiful little red head, just like her mother. )

She is a single Mom raising her daughter.

In 2004 her beloved dog ,Ami, was viciously attacked by a neighbour’s bull/terrier cross.
The dog smashed through a window to get at Ami. Lisa said she can still hear Ami’s agonized screams. It took three people to fight the terrier off – it was subsequently put down.
Ami recovered physically but is now a very timid fearful dog. Lisa said the incident would have been unbearable had it happened while she was still blind.

I was stunned to read the ‘behind the scenes’ of Lisa’s life. And it made me realize anew that we really cannot judge a person’s life by the snapshots glimpses we have.

I found an article about Lisa Reid, written in 2004, where she said that she sees her life’s hardships as something of a blessing and is considering studying counselling.
She said, “I’m not the only one who’s experienced everything that I’ve been through, But I’ve experienced all of these things because I’ve been one of the few people in the world chosen…to be able to teach people and share with people. What I really want to teach people is not to judge. Every situation is different, even if it looks the same on the surface.”

I admire Lisa for rising above the hardships and pain of her life and be willing to use it to help others! Her empathy would be so real on so many levels!
I do not know anything about the spiritual side of her life but I will be praying for her, that if she does not know God that He will reveal Himself to her and that her heart will be open to His love and grace!

But I think Lisa’s life is still an example to us.

Reading part of her story yesterday, it would have been easy for many of us to say, “Wow, I’m really happy for her…but how come she got a miracle and I never did --- my loved one never did!”
Finding out the total picture, the magnitude of suffering, the hardships she has struggled with makes us think again, does it not?
Everyone’s life is a package deal. Someone has said that if we were given a chance to exchange our life for anyone else’s, in the end we would choose to keep our own. Only we have been giving what it takes to live our life!
“For each one shall bear his own load!” (Gal. 6:5)

We really can trust God -- all the time!! Even when it seems that circumstances are impossible. When Lisa found herself pregnant from Mr. Wrong and realized that she was facing having a baby she could not see to take care of, and the father not someone who was going to be there...she regretfully paniced, thinking she had no choice. But her sight was restored in November, four months after the abortion. She would have been able to see and care for her daughter that she named Jessica Rose.

Lisa recognized that her suffering was a ‘gift’ that enabled her to share with others who were experiencing the same pain. Do we accept our suffering as a gift that fills our heart with compassion and comfort for others?
"God of all comfort…who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God….for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” (II Cor. 1:3-5)

The other thing that really impressed me reading Lisa’s story is how faithful God is that He never allows the evil in our lives to completely overwhelm us. He reaches down and gives us a life line…something to hold on to that keeps us from drowning. And He does that for saint and sinner alike – “Love your enemies…. That you may be sons of your Father in heaven, for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44,45)

And we also have God’s promise that nothing will be allowed to come into our life that is more than we can bear…
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as in common to man, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it!” (I Cor. 10:13)

For Lisa her load would have been overwhelming… but God restoring her eyesight made all the other mountains shrink into mole hills that she could step over! She says that even if she does one day lose her eyesight again, she will not mind – she has had the blessings the years of ‘gifted sight’ have given her.
How much more should those of us who profess faith in a heavenly Father and Saviour be able to look up and thank God in the midst of our deepest heartaches and hardships knowing that He will help us through and will bring others to stand with us to comfort and encourage us!
And how quick should we be to reach out to those who are struggling.

Isn’t it wonderful that God made us a socially connected people? We do not have to go through this life alone, but have people before us, behind us, beside us that we can learn from- whose life examples encourage and strengthen us -- people who comfort us and we can comfort in return!

What a blessing --- to love one another!!

”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (I John 4:7)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Amazing Wonder!"

Lisa Reid was a happy, cheerful red head enjoying her childhood in New Zealand where she lived with her family.
In 1987, when she was 11 years old, her mother noticed that she was tripping over things and sometimes complained of headaches but thought it was nothing more than what was normal in a growing child.
However, when she started throwing up , her mother became concerned and took her to the doctor. They immediately ran tests and the diagnoses was a malignant brain tumour. The doctors told Lisa's parents that they needed to operate that Friday because by Monday she would no longer be with them.
Lisa was rushed into surgery for the delicate ten hour operation that removed, piece by piece, the tumour that had invaded her entire skull cavity.
The operation was successful, but Lisa did not come out unscathed.
The tumour had crushed her optic nerve, cutting off the blood supply and the nerve was now dying.
Lisa would lose her eyesight!

By the time she was 14, she was completely blind.
Lisa accepted her new life, learned to adjust to doing things a different way and had as her constant companion a seeing eye dog named Ami.
She grew to adulthood and was courageous enough to live an independent life in her own apartment.

Then one day in November of 2000, she made herself a cup of coffee and walked into the living room to pet Ami. Leaning over to touch the dog she lost her balance and fell, hitting her head on the coffee table.
She seemed to be OK and thought nothing more about it.
She went to bed that night as usual.

In the morning she awoke and opened her eyes -------- in her own words ----
She could see!! light, colours – everything!
She had not seen herself in a mirror since she was a gawky 14 year old with braces. Now, ten years later, she was a beautiful, grown woman. She could not believe her reflection!

The doctors said an atrophied optic nerve was incurable and they could not explain how a bump on the head could restore her eyesight, but they could not argue with reality !!
Lisa could see.
The doctors could not say if her miracle would be permanent but Lisa is enjoying the wonders of her sighted world!!

As I listened to her story unfold on a TV documentary, I thought about the parallels between Lisa’s experience and the experience awaiting every Christian believer.

We live in the ‘darkness’ of this world. We cannot see the big picture, we grope about feeling our way around, we stumble and need others to guide us, we struggle to cope with the limitations and circumstances we find ourselves in.
One day we will experience a ‘bump on the head’ and 'fall asleep'.
In the Morning we will open our eyes to ‘amazing wonder’!
Everything will be different…the light, the colors, we will see ourselves for who we really are --- grown up in the image of Christ!
The ‘doctors’ of the science of worldly thought cannot explain the miracle – they say life after death is not possible. At best it is an illusion that cannot last!
But we know….we have the promise of our Lord….we will live in the glory of His presence forever and ever!

“But the God of all grace who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish , strengthen ,settle you.” (I Peter 5:20)
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy!(Jude 1:24)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Viva Vox

Yesterday, I spent a richly rewarding afternoon with my friend Marion and her daughter Alyssa.
Alyssa was my ‘viva vox’, bringing me an eye witness account of our sponsored child, Sharon.
Alyssa just came back from spending three months in Sharon’s Ugandan village – working in her school and visiting her home. She met her mother and her sisters , saw her living conditions , her life style, things that make up her daily routine!

It was so heart warming and moving to see the photos Alyssa had taken - some of them with her and Sharon - and to hear the first hand account of their interaction and conversations. How close it made me feel to Sharon and it gave me such an intimate look at this girl so far away distance wise and yet our lives are so closely connected.
We have the power to change her life --- she has the power to bless our hearts.

There is something about ‘viva vox’ - (literally ‘oral statement’)
Viva vox was a byword of the historians of the ancient world. They always preferred an oral witness to the written word.

I can choose from numerous books written about the life of Napoleon and his love Josephine – even a large hard cover volume can be purchased for $15.00 on Amazon. But earlier this year a hand written note from Napoleon to his wife was found in an old filing cabinet.
The note said, "I send you three kisses – one on your heart, one on your mouth and one on your eyes,"
This little hand scrawled note sold at an auction for $557,000.00 .

What made the difference ? Viva vox ! Getting as close as you can to the source.

A first hand account brings with it a stamp of authenticity, of believability, trustworthyness. It carries the weight of truth. As soon as something is written down it begins the game of telephone! The more times it is removed from the first hand account the less it can be trusted for truth or accuracy. There is the increased tendency for it to be changed, watered down, twisted, misunderstood, reinvented, added to and subtracted from the farther it is removed from the first oral statement of someone ‘who was there’!!!

The apostle John understood this concept. He establishes his position of Viva vox in I John 1:1

“That which was from the beginning,
Which we have heard,
Which we have seen with our eyes,
Which we have looked upon, and
Our hands have handled…. Of the Word of Life!!”

He left no room for speculation….the apostles' account of Jesus is from first hand experience; they heard Him with their own ears, they saw Him with their own eyes, they touched Him with their own hands.

There have been many books written about Jesus since the apostles recorded their first hand account. In the year 2004 in the Library of Congress the number of books about Jesus numbered 17,249 – the number has increased since then! Every one of these books was written by people who could not claim the viva vox statement of John.

Jesus asked the apostles , “Who do men say that I am?”
That question is still echoing down through the ages to our time.
He is still asking….
Who will you believe ?
The apostles who were THERE ?
Or the many, many words and opinions of men who lived thousands of years away from the advantage of viva vox!

I shall believe Simon Peter who exclaimed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matt. 16:16)

Monday, July 23, 2007

A City of Refuge

Beniah was walking home from visiting his father - a two day journey from his own home. A week had passed since he had seen his wife and young sons and his step was light with eager anticipation to soon be home again.
He still had several hours of walking before him. To distract his mind and quicken the journey, he amused himself by picking up stones and throwing them at targets as they presented themselves - perhaps a branch on a tree or a mark on a boulder beside the road a few yards ahead.

Then the unimaginable happened.

Just as his muscular arm propelled a stone aimed at the branch of a tree hanging over the path, someone - out of no where- dashed into the road crossing the direct path of Beniah's stone.
Beniah opened his mouth to shout a warning but it was too late. The rock hit the runner in his forehead and he dropped to the ground. Beniah ran to help him but saw instantly that he had killed him. Fear gripped his heart – he knew his own life was in danger if anyone had seen him. And yes, there were two people running toward him and the body of the young man who lay sprawled across the well trodden path.

Beniah groaned with regret and remorse for his carelessness. But his racing mind screamed at him that his own life was now in danger, a mental picture of his family flashed before his eyes.
He had but one chance. Flee to a city of refuge. He must think quickly… which way to the nearest one. Yes, yes, he remembered , that way.
Quickly, adrenalin lending him extra speed, he ran without stopping until he collapsed panting inside the city walls.
Someone quickly came to his aid, bringing him a cup of water.
He was safe in the city of refuge!

The above fictional scenario is based on Numbers 35:23.

Numbers 35 lays out the God-given criminal law for governing the nation of Israel. It left no room for legal loopholes. It was eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life – punishment to fit the crime.
The murderer paid with his own life, the law was that he be killed by his victim’s family.
Though the law was harsh, God did not allow for anarchy. A murderer had to be given a fair trial and he could only be found guilty on the testimony of two witnesses.

When a man had killed another man, by intent or accident, before the congregation could be called to judge his guilt or innocence there was a good chance his victim’s family would search him out, ambush him and kill him.
To prevent unjustified bloodshed, God commanded Moses to designate cities of refuge. These cities were placed strategically on either side of the Jordon so that any one living in the land of Canaan could have easy access to one of these cities if he needed protection.

A man fearing for his life, would flee to the nearest city of refuge and there could not be harmed by anyone. He was safe until he could be brought to justice before the congregation.
If he was found guilty of killing someone with intent, he would be condemned to die.
If he was found to have killed by accident , he would be returned to the city of refuge where he could safely live without fear.
He had to remain in the city of refuge until the death of the ruling high priest. If he ventured out of the city limits before that time, he took his life in his own hands – he could be killed if found by his victim’s family. But if he remained in the city until after the death of the high priest , he was free to go back to his homeland - no one could harm him.

It is interesting , is it not ? The stipulation of remaining until the death of the high priest?
It is a picture , a shadow of the good thing to come!
The law was a temporary covering for the sin of the people… they had to stay under that covering until the death of the High Priest - Jesus…. Then the people were set free under the new covenant - the law could no longer keep them in bondage!!

The world is a wicked place, there is no way we can avoid the pain and suffering that comes to us all.
No where in scripture are we given a promise that God will keep us from the tribulations and hardships of this life, but He does promise us a refuge – a place to hide.
Is that not all we need?

There are many verses in the bible that use this ‘picture’ of God being a refuge. Here are a few …..

"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence and His children will have a place of refuge." Prov. 14:26

"For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress -- a refuge from the storm !" Is. 25:4

"And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge and for a shelter from storm and rain." Is. 4: 6

"I cried out to You, O Lord, I said, You are my refuge." Ps.142:5

"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
Ps. 91:2

The next time fear clutches at your heart because the enemy or the terrors of this world threaten to harm you, remember the cities of refuge, flee to the arms of God and hide there until the terror is past!

The Rattleback Stone

One of the gifts we bought for my youngest granddaughter’s birthday this week-end was a couple of Rattleback stones – man-made imitations .
They are quite fascinating.

They were first found in many of the Egyptian tombs and were believed to have come from the Nile River.
They are long and narrow as you can see in the photo, flat on top and curved underneath- like a cucumber pickle cut in half.
If any movement rocks the Rattleback stone it begins to spin counter clockwise.
If you spin the Rattleback stone counter clockwise it just keeps on spinning.
But the Rattleback stone is known for its unusual characteristic.
If you spin the stone clockwise, it begins to wobble, stop, then begin spinning in the opposite direction – counter clockwise!

It remained a mystery as to why the stone did this until 1986 when G.T. Walker discovered the secret.
A very simplified explanation is that curved sides of the stone are not even, one side has a slightly longer curve than the other.

God has placed so many ‘pictures’ in His creation that can be used for spiritual object lessons.
In thinking about the Rattleback stone in church this morning, I realized that it teaches us an interesting lesson!

We are all like a Rattleback stone.
“All we like sheep have gone astray…We have turned (spun) everyone to his own way…..” (Is. 53:6)
Our human flesh has a natural curve to it that turns us away from God, that leans us toward spinning counter God-wise.

As believers, the Spirit of God works in our lives, reshaping us so that we can spin in a God-direction.
As long as we obey Prov. 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding (curve)…” we stay ‘centered’ on Christ and our sinful curve has no rule over us.

But it does not take much ….. one fault, one weakness that we nurture and are reluctant to give up, will upset the curve of our balance…. will make us wobble, stop and begin to ‘spin’ in the wrong direction.

Just like the Rattleback stone, we find it easy to follow our natural inclinations. It takes no effort on our part to gratify our selfish desires.
It is only when we remain vigilant, when we trust in the power of the Spirit living within us that we have victory in our Christian walk. “…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live…for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God!”
(Rom. 8:13,14)

The next time you are tempted to compromise, to take the easy way out, to give in to that attitude or selfish thought….remember the Rattleback stone and how easy it is to wobble and begin to spin in the wrong direction - away from God.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Glory of God

Do you ever wonder what the glory of God is like?
Look at the sky!
“The heavens declare the glory of God!” (Ps.19:1)

I took the above picture yesterday while we were travelling down the freeway. Vic stopped the car so I could at least attempt to capture the shot. (click on photo to enlarge)

Does it not look like God is pouring out His glory ?

When God revealed his attributes in His creation,(Rom. 1:20) He created the heavens to be a display of His glory!

The glory of God is beyond our earthiness.. it is heavenly – out of our reach!
“You who set Your glory above the heavens!” (Ps. 8:1)
We can look, but not touch, and even in looking we only catch a glimpse of the whole.
Moses asked to see the glory of God..
God replied that no man could see Him and live…but He would put Moses in the cleft of a rock and cover him with His hand while His glory passed by and then He would allow Moses to catch a glimpse of His back.

I have always loved the sky and though I have observed it for more than fifty years I am still amazed by the infinite variations of cloud and colour painted in 3D wonder against the expanse of eternal space.
So also God's glory cannot be defined in human words....nor limited by our understanding.

The heavens provide us with life-giving light – the sun by day and the moon and stars by night.
Did you know it is the glory of God that will light the New Jerusalem – the city where we will spend eternity? John saw it…..”And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it for the glory of God illuminated it and the Lamb is its light!
(Rev. 21:23)
The Lamb is its light, because He is the “King of Glory!” (Ps. 24:8)

God is a God of love and mercy but He is also a God of wrath against sin and evil. This too is revealed in the heavens!
A blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds on a warm summer day draws people from their homes to enjoy the outdoors, but the strongest hearts fear when the dark storm clouds threaten to unleash their power.
The glory of God filled men’s hearts with fear when He appeared to them on Mt. Sinai, “In the morning there were thunderings and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and the sound of trumpet was very loud , so that all the people ..trembled!” (Ex.19:16) and again….”The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.” (Ex. 24:17)
Yet David was drawn to the glory of God and declared, “One thing I have desired of the Lord , that will I seek….to behold the beauty of the Lord…” (Psalm 27:4)“so I have looked for You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory!” (Ps.63:2)

Man was given dominion over the earth to rule it…. but he cannot rule the heavens. It is always makes me smile that no matter how much man prides himself on being able to predict the weather….he continually fails the test of consistent accuracy!
God will not share his glory with anyone!! “I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory I will not give to another!(Is. 42:8)
We respond with an amen when we recite the Lord’s prayer…..”For Yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever!”

As much as the beauty of the heavens lifts our spirits and fills us with awe it is but a small foretaste of what seeing God’s glory will be like!!
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!!!” (Jude 24)

Until we step out of the physical restrictions of this life into the next, we can only dream of seeing the beauty, and power and brilliance of God’s glory -- and be reminded every time we see the wonder of God's glory displayed in the heavens!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Which Way Will We Walk ?

“Your Turn” is a feature of the CBC National Evening News.
Last night they pulled a segment out of their archives called
“7 God’s Army” which consisted of an embedded reporter, Mark Kelley, spending 7 days in the US bible belt to examine what the army of God is battling and how they are attracting young people to their cause.

In Mark’s own words he is someone who goes to church for Christmas, weddings and funerals; in other words not someone you would call ‘churched’. Yet, I found him to be opened minded and fair in his reporting.

I was surprised by the dire prediction voiced by the church leaders he interviewed. They said that if the church did not change how it presented its message, in twenty years the church would be dead. They said that the evangelical church in the US would be made up of bible believers comprised of only 4% of the American people.

I agreed with Mark’s response. “If you think the world is bad now ….just wait!”

Mark visited 7 different churches, chapels, groups to be an inside observer of what was going on..
He went in being afraid that they “were out to change my world”.
He came out not being scared anymore. He concluded that God didn’t change his life and the church wasn’t going to change his world.

Watching through Mark’s eyes, I could not fault him for his conclusion. What he watched was a focus on doing church differently, of young leaders under the influence of pop culture feeding the members of their churches the hype and excitement they desired.

There was , however, one part of the report that will stay with me – one that touched my heart.

I believe it was on the second or third day that Mark visited the Orlando Holy Land Experience Theme Park. Walking in, he exclaimed with a smile that it looked like old Jerusalem!
He enjoyed the sights and sounds and spoke with the character actors, even Jesus.
That evening, he was invited to witness the daily re-enactment of the crucifixion .
He stood among a crowd of people who were watching the scene unfold.

His face changed and he stood …as he himself admitted... “transfixed”.
The crowd went silent ! except for the sobs he heard around him.
He had never seen anything like it, had never felt anything like what he was feeling in his heart, so much more than he would ever have expected.
He spoke of what he had felt, later as he was driving to his next venue. Even then his voice was unsteady with wonderment at the depth of emotion he had experienced.
Then, with relief in his voice he said, “ then someone’s cell phone rang and I snapped out of it!”

When he sat in the next church service and spoke with the leaders and people about their exuberant plans about how they were going to change the world with all the available technology and a culturally adjusted gospel, Mark commented, “this does not make me feel anything like what I felt at the Holy Land theme park.”

The reaction of Mark Kelley standing at the cross was for me the pivotal point of the documentary.

Does it not prove that all of man’s attempts to revolutionize the gospel, modernize it, make it palatable to the youth of our time is not what will ‘save the church’ -- much less the world?
No matter how hard the church endeavours to be like the world , at best they can only be a good imitation. Why would that impress the world when they already have the real thing?

None of the hype touched Mark’s heart --- but the simple, old fashioned gospel of the cross did. Had the message of the cross been consistently presented to him during the 7 days of his journey, would he have come away with the same declaration that he had nothing to fear from the evangelical church – they were not going to change his world?

Over and over throughout the pages of scripture…. God’s people wanted to be relevant with the culture around them. What happened? Did it bring them closer to God? Did it change the nations around them?
No, it had exactly the opposite effect. And brought upon them God’s judgment.
Why do we think we can be different today?

All through the ages, there has stood the old wooden cross that symbolizes the ageless message of God --- there is only ONE way, a NARROW door that leads to God ---- and that is through the One who died on that cross to save us from our sin - Jesus.
There is no other way!!

I wonder……. Is the church thinking that if they remove the ‘foolishness’ of the cross from their message that the world will find the gospel more attractive?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God!” (I Cor. 1:18)

Is what we are seeing increasingly more and more the fulfillment of the prophecy in II Tim. 3:1-5 ? …….”But know this that in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers……… of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power!”

Are the people engaged in the new way of doing church….dispite the fact that they sincerely believe their efforts are building the kingdom of God….. simply missing it because they are "denying the power" which lies in the simplicity of the gospel message centering at the cross?

Paul , who penned much of the New Testament, declares he found nothing greater than the message of the cross…..

“But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ……” (Gal. 6:14)

When God’s people are in trouble, God’s solution is not to ‘get with the times’ but rather to go back to the tried and true !!

“Thus says the Lord; Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it . Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’.” (Jer. 6:16)

Re - Card Theft

Re – Card Theft

We went to the bank today.
We found out that we were among the victims of a card skimming ring.
Our card had been skimmed locally but used in Quebec…..which is about 5,000 km. from our city. So there was no problem with the bank believing the transactions were not ours. There is no way we could have physically been shopping in Quebec yesterday and home by evening to receive the bank phone call.

Some employee in a legitimate business skimmed our card during a transaction. They also had a way to get our pin number – either by using a pin hole camera or by having an altered pad that imprinted our pin numbers into the pad as we punched them.
Then all they had to do was make a duplicate of our card and Voila! They were good to go!!
We learned that it was Vic’s card that was the compromised one – and he is the one of us that is almost paranoid about being careful!

I guess we will be even more careful in the future. There is not much we can do if a place of business has an altered pad but we can be careful never to let our cards out of our sight. We will no longer even allow a salesclerk to keep the card on her cash register or on the counter while we punch in our pin number – those few seconds are enough for them to either write down our card number or swipe it with a small hand held strip reader!

Yes, eventually we will get our stolen money back. And we did not have to change our account number. We just had to turn in our old cards and new ones were issued.
We did change our pins numbers though, just to be safe!

We are so thankful the thieves were caught the first day they used the fraudulent copy of our card and that the bank was so helpful in making sure we were not inconvenienced more than we were!
And if our experience makes you more cautious with your cards then I am thankful if my warning helped prevent your card from being skimmed !

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Value of Wisdom

I am intrigued by an interesting phenomenon on my blog.
I have a site meter that tells me how people find my blog and I have been noticing that almost every day someone links to my site by typing into their search engine the words ‘wise words’.
Today it was someone from the United Kingdom, yesterday it was someone from Pakistan. The day before there were three, one from South Africa, one from Indonesia and one from the Philippines.

I wrote a post on March 13,2007 entitled Wise Words and it is this post that comes up in response to their typed search words.

I wonder at the universality of this search for wise words.
What are people looking for? What prompts this search?

In my scripture reading today I came across King Solomon’s observation on the subject of wisdom .
In Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 he writes,
“ This wisdom I have also seen under the sun and it seemed great to me.

There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it, besieged it and built great snares around it.
Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.

Then I said, ‘Wisdom is better than strength,
Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised,
And his words are not heard.
Words of the wise spoken quietly should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war but one sinner destroys much.”

I pondered on these words by King Solomon .
Of all the words we listened to today…. how many of them were wise words?
Truly our day is filled with a multitude of words. Have you ever evaluated them in terms of wisdom?
Are we listening for the quietly spoken words of the wise or are our ears tuned to the words that entertain?
The TV programs we watch, the lyrics of the songs we listen to, the conversations we take part in, the books or magazines we pick up…are the words wise? Are they worth remembering ?
How much time in a day do we focus on gaining wisdom in comparison to simply gaining earthly goods or information to make our lives more enjoyable?

I was interrupted - just now -(after 10:00 pm) by a telephone call from our bank.
We were just informed that the criminal element has obtained information allowing them to withdraw money from our bank account. Our cards have been frozen and we need to go to the bank tomorrow to get new ones. The money stolen from our account will be restored. The police have caught the offenders.

The thieves were smart enough to figure out how to obtain the information they needed to access our account from a ATM machine…. But they were definitely not using wisdom!!
The last line of the above quoted passage is quite fitting here…”but one sinner destroys much!”

I am very thankful that the thieves were caught.
I am thankful that I can trust in God’s wisdom….thankful that He rules over my day!
I am thankful that I have laid up treasures in heaven, where no thieves can break in and steal!!
I am thankful that in the middle of posting about wisdom....I am reminded that money is not of eternal value and that wisdom is a much more worthy pursuit!!

Prov. 3:13 “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding, for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver and her gain than fine gold……”

Monday, July 16, 2007

Games People Play

Yesterday afternoon, Vic and I decided to take my Mom and Dad who are both in their early eighties miniature golfing. It was for them a new experience.
I think they had fun !
There is something universal in the enjoyment of playing games.
Here are some of the pictures I took of them at Giggle Ridge Golf Course. (click on photos to view full size)

I was thinking about how much of our society’s time is taken up by games. Whether it is table games, outdoor games, team sports, computer games, on-line games ---- we never seem to be far from some kind of game.

It has been proven that children need to have time for creative games. It teaches them how to do life… how to determine values of fair play , how to make decisions and choices and how to relate with others, dealing with consequences and acting out real life scenarios.

I wonder if we as adults need and enjoy games because they allow us to ESCAPE life.

The older we are the more opportunity we have had to create for ourselves hectic and complicated life situations.
We have made choices that resulted in consequences we would have preferred to avoid.
Each of our actions has a dominoe effect that continues down through the years.
Life has taken twists and turns that leave us feeling frustrated, discouraged or overwhelmed.
We would love to ‘fix’ or ‘redo’ some of them, but life is always in forward motion….. there is no reverse button, no delete button and no way of starting over!

But in games we can!
Every game is a fresh start, an opportunity to overcome our opponents, plan a skillful strategy that will hopefully end with us being the winner!!
We can in a fun or playful setting work out a suppressed desire for risk taking or even aggressive competitiveness. We have the intrigues of life with none of the risks or consequential burdens.
If we win, we feel the emotional rewards and the congratulatory affirmation of the other players.
If we lose we have the consolation it was only a game, the loss will soon be forgotten and we have the assurance that in the next game we could easily emerge the winner!!
Games are not only a good release, they are also a catalyst for fellowship and bonding, providing a few pleasant hours for friends or family!

The games we play are a fun and enjoyable pastime -- and --- they present several learning parallels to the much more serious game of life.

1. A game is just that --- a game that is put back into the box when we are finished playing and both winners and losers are forgotten!

In the real game of life……..we play for keeps.
Decisions and choices today affect the consequences of tomorrow, not always with the desired outcome.
We miss a ball, and can’t redo the shot.
We are off balance and make a careless move that redirects our coarse.
We take a risk and lose.
Sometimes we forget the rules of the game and sometimes we cheat!
Winning and losing is not always clear.
At no point in the game of life can we pack it back into a box….once we enter the game of life we must continue to ‘play’ - until we are declared either a winner or a loser.

“Who will render to each one according to his deeds,- eternal life…..
or indignation and wrath………”
(Romans 2:6-8)

2. There is no quicker way to spoil the fun of a game than to have the players refuse to play by the rules!!

In life God has laid out the rules. If we ‘play’ by His rules we will enjoy the blessings of life….but ignoring or disobeying the rules will result quickly in ruined and unhappy lives.

“You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commended you that you may live and that it may be will with you and that you my prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.” (Deut. 5:33)

3. One bad decision regarding a move or play can result in a player losing the game.

In real life too, one wrong choice can set you on a road of destruction.
Every drug addict started with one joint!
Every drunkard started with one drink.
Every liar started with the first lie.
Every adulteress affair started with a lustful glance!

”…the little foxes that spoil the vines… “ (Song of Sol. 2:15)

4. One careless oversight of an opponent's strategy can put you in a losing situation that is sometimes impossible to correct.

So too, in the game of life, the enemy is every watchful to find a foothold to ensnare his victim.

“Lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices!” (II Cor. 2:11)

5. In any game for there to be a winner the game must be completed!

In life we too must persevere until the end to be declared victorious!!

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved!” (Mark 13:13)

6. I have often found that in playing games you learn to know what a person is really like . The game becomes to them symbolic of their actual success or failure as a person – and they will do what it takes to make sure they win!!

Real life has a way of pressing people to reveal their true self. We are tested and stressed and aggravated by the annoyances and circumstances we find ourselves in ----and we react!!
There is a constant battle between the spiritual and the carnal --- between the preservation of self and the striving to be crucified with Christ!!

“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate (exercising self-control) in all things. Now they (who play earthly games) do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown!!!” (I Cor. 9:25)

7. I'm sure we all have, when teaching our children to play games sat with them and coached them on what move to make or which card to play. When they win as a result of our help, their childish delight is not diminished in the slightest because they listened to a wise coach.

The game of life is so complicated and so involved with so many variables and possibilities it is impossible for anyone to win without a coach. And truly we have the best Coach there could ever be!!

Not only has Jesus already ‘played the game’, He designed the course!!!

He knows every single move possible, every play of the opponents, and He can ensure our victory !!
All we have to do is trust Him!

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith ……” (Heb. 12:1,2)

How is your 'game of life' ?? Are you winning?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Big Picture Obsured by Details

(Sunday July 15, 9:34 am - Note --- I have posted the answers to the 'quizz' at the bottom of post so if anyone has not yet tried it, you still can before you check the answers!)

Last week I was in the grocery store when the relative calm was shattered by the angry screams of a child.
As the screaming went on and on, people were starting to look around and women commenting, "If that was my child............"
The mother with the screaming 3 year old boy in the grocery cart passed by where I was looking at the produce.
She caught my eye and smilingly explained, "He didn't want to go shopping!"
She was not the least ruffled, other than being perhaps mildly embarrassed and she did nothing to curb the screams or angry words filling the ears of onlookers.
No-one was impressed!

We do not admire the tantrums of a three year old, and tend to blame the mother for not training her child. If the child had been 13 instead of 3, onlookers would have been even more horrified by the child's behavior!

I have noticed a changing attitude in Christians regarding their behaviour toward God.
Increasingly common are comments like, "Its good to vent your angry feelings toward God."
"Its OK to scream and yell at God, He can take it!"
Is it really OK to have a tantrum before God's throne?
Of course our Father understands our feelings, our pain, our frustrations, even our anger..... but does that give us licence to behave like a spoiled child?

I think the problem resulting in 'tantrums' is that the focus is on details rather than the big picture. As we mature, we are increasingly able to recognize a bigger and bigger life picture.
The immature reluctant shopper was only thinking of his feelings of the moment - not the bigger picture of his mom taking him to the grocery store because she needed to shop for the food he would soon be hungry for. Nor did he realize that she was taking him with her so he would be safe...leaving him alone in the vehicle or at home could be dangerous to his well-being!

When Christians 'scream' at God they too are focusing on the details of the moment, their pain or perceived inconvenience or rebellion against life taking a turn they did not expect or desire.
But God is a caring parent....He takes us along life paths, not to hurt us but to provide the things we need. Our problem is that we cannot see what He sees -- we cannot see the big picture which includes not only the few years of this earthly life but the glorious purposes of all eternity!!!!

My husband got some neat new lenses for his new camera and so I got him to snap some closeups of very common things in our house.
I printed the photos here -- see how easy it is to guess what each of these photos are a magnified part of.
If you want to play, put your guesses in your 'comment'!
I will add the correct answers below each picture tomorrow.

I'm sure you can guess most of them, but the point I wanted to demonstrate is that if we find it hard to see the 'whole' picture when we see only a part of even very common objects, how much less are we able to see the total picture that God sees!?!!?
Rather than act like three-year-olds, wouldn't it be much more pleasing to our Father if we come to him with humility and respect and trust in His infinite wisdom, knowing His love for us is much greater than anything the sin and evil of this life can throw at us??









9.__________________________ ( the photo at the top of blog)

The answers are 1. palm of hand 2. toonie 3. end of banana 4. rice 5. button 6. spool of thread
7.pastry 8.leaf 9. fork

Thank-you, Lovella, JAJ, and Carolanne for having a bit of fun with the photos. You almost got them all, Lovella!! Good job!
I really thought 3 (banana) was so easy I almost didn't include it but none of you got it!! I didn't realize, Lovella and Carolanne that you had such 'taste' in jewelry!!! (giggle)
Number 6, the spool of thread was a give away to anyone who sewed (Lovella) since Gutterman is a well-known name of a thread, but it would have been almost impossible for someone who didn't sew! (sorry, jaj!!) The toonie was obvious to a Canadian but not to someone outside of Canada.

Isn't it that way in the spiritual realm also? So often we miss the obvious!! Also when we have experienced the loss of a spouse or a deep depression or financial ruin we are much more able to recognize the big picture , not only in our own life by the wisdom gained through our experiences but also in someone else's life and are able to offer our help!! (II Cor. 1:4)

Have a blessed Sunday, my friends and family!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Where are You?"

Yesterday two childhood memories came to mind, both taking place in winter – perhaps I was trying to find a cool place since we hit the highest temperature in B.C. yesterday – 38 ½’ Celsius.

When I was four years old, my family travelled by train to Saskatchewan to visit my paternal grandparents.
I remember the train journey well and especially enjoyed sleeping in the berths and I remember jumping over the link between train cars.
One day I awakened from a nap and found the seats beside me empty. My Mom, my Dad, my baby brother were no-where to be seen.
My eyes frantically searched the seats behind me, beside me, in front of me but there were only the unfriendly faces of strangers.
Then, I saw it.
The back of my Dad’s head , a few rows in front of me. Relieved beyond measure I called out, “Daddy!!”
But there was no response.
Again and again I called out to him, louder each time, not understanding why he did not respond to my cry!
Finally he did.
He turned around, and the face I was expecting distorted into the scowling face of an intimidating stranger.
I will never forget the feeling I had -- the brutal shock that paralyzed my emotions when I looked into that unfriendly, unfamiliar face and realized that my hope was dashed.
I was truly alone!!

(My parents of course had not left me but had simply gone to the dining car for a cup of coffee and returned shortly)

When I was eight or nine and attending my little two room country school one day I sat in the school room and watched the snowflakes start to drift past the windows.
It began to snow harder and harder throughout the morning and I remember my teacher becoming anxious. I did not really understand why.
Finally she informed us that she was dismissing us from school early and that our parents would be coming to get us because of the snow storm.
I knew my Dad was working so I expected to just walk home as I always did.
I put on my coat, my mittens, my extra socks and my boots, took my lunch kit and followed the other children outside.
I was not prepared for what hit me!
It was a blizzard like I had never seen before. The wind was fiercely blowing the snowflakes in a swirling cloud so dense that I could not see two feet in front of me.
I remember feeling scared because I had no idea which way was home.
(those of you who know me can stop laughing! – yes, I admit it – I had no sense of direction even then!)
Which way to go? What to do? I had difficulty breathing, the storm was so intense.
I could hear the other children's high pitched voices screaming and calling for their parents and I heard the lower pitched voices of adults.
But I was lost!
Then through all the other screaming voices, above the howl of the wind, I heard a voice I immediately recognized.
My father was calling my name! My heart leaped!
“Daddy, Daddy!” I shouted.
“Julie,” he called back! “Over here, come this way!”
He kept calling and I answered him.
Following the direction of his voice he guided me into his waiting arms.
I was safe.
You know what is odd? That is where my memory ends. I have no idea how my father managed to drive home through that blizzard. I have no idea how long it took or how much trouble he had.
Once I was with my father, I had no more fear, no more concern - I was secure in his care, I knew we were going home!!

I was thinking about these two memories and realized they carried a deep spiritual application.

Last night I stumbled upon Nicole’s blog. Nicole is a young 27 year old girl just diagnosed with liver cancer.
She is a single mom with a 12 year old son. Refusing to have an abortion at the age of 15, her parents disowned her and the baby, leaving her with no family support.
She struggled to put her life back together after doing the drug and party scene and found faith in Jesus. She thought she was doing fine, living a clean life, living for God and living for the son she loved with all her heart!
Then the cancer!
She screamed at God, blaming Him, accusing Him, and has turned her back on Him in her pain , sent her son off to live with parents of a friend and decided that if she was going to die anyway she might as well party her way out!

My heart aches for her !!
But oh…. How I wished she could see that the one she is screaming at is not her ‘Father’ but the unfriendly face of a scowling stranger.
So often we look for God in the wrong places.

He is not in the ‘whys’… He is the Answer.
He is not in the pain…. He is the Strength to endure the pain.
He is not in the suffering …. He is the Comfort
He is not in the turmoil…… He is the Peace in the midst of chaos.
He is not in the fear….. He is the Love that dispels the fear!

He is the Voice that guides us to the safety and shelter of His arms where no enemy can defeat us, no harm can destroy us, no terror crush us.

We all have times in our lives where circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, fill us with foreboding and gut wrenching fear and agony.
When these times come in your life…don’t panic screaming at a stranger, don’t look at the howling storm…..listen for your Father’s voice calling to you, guiding you through the threatening storm into a safe haven.

And behold the Lord passed by and a great and strong wind rent the mountains…. But the Lord was not in the wind….
And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake….
And after the earthquake a fire... but the Lord was not in the fire…

And after the fire……. A still, small Voice…..”
I Kings. 19:11-13

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Meme - Getting to Know Someone

Hebrew 13;7 says “Remember those who rule over you , who have spoken unto you the word of God , whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

This verse gives a directive that is often overlooked - especially today when so many of the people we listen to on TV or radio or read their books, we have never met!
The word translated ‘rule over you’ is not meant to be a master and slave mentality but rather the kind of ‘rule’ someone would have over you if you look to them for advice, counsel or teaching.
“Whose faith follow” - is an echo of Paul’s words II Thess. 3:9 where he emphasizes the fact that as leaders they were careful “to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.”
But we are not to follow them blindly!
We who are listening to them, looking to them for spiritual direction are to judge them according to their ‘conversation’ or behaviour.
Is a teacher full of enticing words but his everyday behaviour gives him away for who he really is?
So often we never have the opportunity to see our ‘teachers’ in their every day garb, and that makes judging them difficult!

While I do not consider myself a ‘leader’, my blog does focus on my spiritual thoughts and opinions.
Reading other blogs I find it quite easy to ‘get to know’ the blogger quite well, but I don’t share as much personal everyday kind of information about myself as some do. However, I do recognize the importance of letting my readers see me for who I am !
So to give you a glimpse of who I am on a more ‘every day’ level, once in a while I don’t mind participating in a meme going around. I was tagged by Sara a couple of days ago and decided I would take her up on her challenge and answer the questions she posed to me!!
Here goes!!

1.What is your favorite summer dessert? Describe why.

Oh, that is soooo easy !! It is a toss up between fresh warm rhubarb pie! Or fresh raspberries --- both with vanilla ice-cream, of course!!
I need to describe why? Because I love how they make my taste buds feel!
And maybe also because they bring back happy childhood memories.
For several years my parents had a small raspberry field and while us kids hated spending the long, hot summer days picking berries, we never tired of getting a bowl from the kitchen, picking it full of raspberries , adding sugar and our own-cow-supplied whipping cream from the fridge!!
The only problem was that we risked getting scolded from Mom for using up all the whipping cream! No fear of the extra calories in those days, we just used them all up!

2. What is the story of your name - why did your parents choose the name they gave you? Would you change it if you could?

My name was chosen because of a family tradition that went back multiple generations on my Dad’s side of the family. The first born son was given his father’s two given names in reverse. So since my grandfather’s name was John Jakob, my father’s name was Jacob John. Since their family name also started with a J. that meant the initials were JJJ.
My dad decided the tradition had gone on long enough and he wanted to break it, but perhaps he felt some traditional burden of responsibility so he took the ‘coward’s’ escape.
I was their first child so my parents named me Julianna Joy , thereby keeping the tradition of the triple J initials but ended the reversal of the father’s given names and also my dad said that in giving the three J’s to me, he knew it would be totally broken when I married!

I would not change my name because I believe by the time you realize that you COULD change your name your identity is tied up in the only name you know yourself by and changing it could be psychologically damaging. (smile)
I am who I am – name and all!

3. If you could spend six months (money and responsibilities being no problem), anywhere in the world, where would it be? Doing what?

If I were to be honest, and I assume that is the goal of this little exercise, I would really choose to be home, doing what I love. (smile)
OK, if I’m not allowed to choose home, then I would like to spend six months in a country where the Christian believers are persecuted and I would like to spend time with the underground church, worshipping with them and helping them in any way I could!
I would also like to go visit Austria, Switzerland, or Ireland/Scotland/Wales.

4. What is your favorite season of the year? Why?

My favourite season of the year is definitely spring.
I love the fresh everything of spring!
The springing forth of life – with nothing ‘old’. All the vegetation is lush and bursting with health and vigor.
The tree blossoms are all so beautiful!! My favourite color is pink and I think spring is ‘pink’ more than any other season!
Also the weather is perfect! Never too hot and never too cold!
Awwww….spring is ‘just right!’

5. What is the most daring thing you'd like to do, but haven't? What would it take for you to get up the courage to do it?

I am a very undaring kind of person so it is hard to think of something daring I would LIKE to do!!
I think I might like to try hang gliding. I think it would be fun to soar soundlessly in the sky, I have often wished I could be a bird for a day.
What would it take for me to get up the courage to do it? The first thing that comes to mind is that I would have to know it was the last day of my life anyway so it wouldn’t matter if I crashed or not!! (smile)

So there are my five --- if any of you would like to add your five answers in your ’comment’ --please do!!
Or on your own blog if you prefer!!
Have a wonderfully blessed day!!! I love you all!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lightning Lake Camping

On our way up to Manning Park, we passed our wedding night motel. It has obviously been well kept up since it has been almost 42 years since we stayed there!
Camp fires !! We enjoyed sitting around the camp fire every evening, talking, talking long after we could see each other's faces.
I took the above picture the last camping night. Every one had gone to bed and I stood alone watching the embers die down.
Looking up I could see all around me the fir trees, like tall church steeples silhouetted against the night sky that was filled with countless sparkling stars hanging by invisible threads from the throne of God. He cut one of the threads and I saw a shooting star.
The late night air was still, the mountain breezes all holding their breath.
All the normal campground sounds were hushed.
Only an owl hooted repeatedly nearby.
I stood alone in God's cathedral, etching the moment in my memory.

But back to the beginning....our arrival at our campsite. It was a lovely campsite, as they all are at Lightning Lake Campground. Because it is so perfect, we have been going back every year. Sometimes someone makes a remark about going somewhere else and the response is...."Why?"
Standing at the back edge of our site you can see glimpses of the rippling Lightning Lake below.
The mountain you can see through the trees is Mt. Frosty, standing at a height of 7,224 ft. It is a good eight hour hike round trip. A beautiful hike with a rock scramble at the end.
We used to hike a lot when we went camping, before I had RA. It is still the best part of camping for Vic (my hubby) but this year he was most disappointed. Everyone was either work exhausted or nursing injuries -- it was the most quiet camping trip I have ever been on. It was fine for me but Vic - even though he was the oldest member of our camping group- was bursting at the seams. He finds it very hard to be inactive!! Maybe next year!!
I love when things are organized --- like big things fitting into small packages. This neat little wheeled bag has inside all that is needed, including accessories, to set up a 10' x 20' foot two room tent with 7' head room. Our kids have one too so here are the two tents set up on our shared camp site. Playing the guitar is my son-in-love and my daughter is sitting beside him. Some of my favorite pictures I can't post because my daughter has asked me not to post pictures of my granddaughters on the Internet but they were there with their dog Misty and having them all there made camping very special!!

Behind our campsite was a short trail that led down to a private beach area of Lightning Lake. Here are a couple of pictures taken just below our campsite.
Again you can see Mt. Frosty reflected in the mirror of the lake.

Of course camping you spend a lot of time either preparing food or eating- but we also had fun playing games. Elora (youngest granddaughter) and I set up a camp bowling game with botchy balls and camp fire wood for the bowling pins!
In the picture below we are playing Sequence with our friends. The girls won, of course!!
I'm not on the picture because I was safely standing behind the camera!!!

Sunday morning we had our own church service around the above table. It was a special time for all of us. Sitting in God's magnificent outdoor cathedral made Him seem very close!

Debbie, our friend in the above photo is a gifted artist and she brought her sketch pad. She and I sat in the campsite one afternoon while the others were walking around the lake. I loved watching her sketch.

Vic took this picture of a thistle. God's creative beauty is endless!
I always LOVE the little ground squirrels . They are so adorable and they will come take food out of your hand. The baby squirrels were just big enough to be running around on their own. My granddaughter is stroking two of them in the picture below. I was able to pick one up in my hand this year which I have never been able to do, which was a thrill for me.

I promised to look for things that made me thankful on this camping trip and of course there were many things to be thankful for. It didn't even take much effort to look for them !!! smile
One thing I was very concerned about was the mosquitoes, since I react quite severely to their bites and this year had perfect weather conditions for an abundant crop of the little pests!
When we drove into the campsite I asked the attendant how the mosquitoes were. He frowned and said, "The mosquitoes are quite bad!!"
I thought, "Hmmmm, but God will have the final word!"
And He did. We really did not find the mosquitoes to be a problem, although we heard that at the neighbouring campground the mosquitoes were waiting to cover you as soon as you got out of the car!
There were a few mosquitoes where we were but someone had told me about Lavender Oil and I had brought a bottle with me. It really worked! So well that everyone in our group was asking to borrow it rather than the mosquito repellent that they had brought.
So I am very thankful that I did not suffer at all at the 'hands' ('mouths' being more apt) of the mosquitoes!!
I was thankful for the beauty all around us, the quiet of being removed from every day life, the fellowship of good friends and family.
But then on Sunday afternoon, something happened that threatened my resolve to be thankful for everything!!
I was walking back from the washrooms (which were thankfully a very short walk from our campsite) and was just abreast of our site , reaching it the same time as a man walking with his dog.
The next moment happened so fast........ I caught the movement of a little ground squirrel and at the same time the dog dashed and lunged!!!
I screamed, "NO!!!" but of course I was too late. The tiny body lay on its back squeaking and kicking its little feet, the dog standing over it, watching it die!
The man smiled and spoke a gentle reprimand to his dog, "Jasmine!"
I spoke to him NOT so gently....."That's why you are supposed to have your dog on a leash!!"
The incident upset me the rest of the day.
I had determined to be thankful in everything..... How was I supposed to be thankful that the man did not obey the rules.
How was I supposed to be thankful that the dog followed his natural instincts.
How was I supposed to be thankful that the happy little ground squirrel had its life snatched so cruelly for no good reason!
The next day I was reading a book by Phillip Keller, " A Layman Looks at the Lamb of God" and a paragraph stood out to me!
He said, "Once death had entered into the dimension of life upon planet Earth, it began to condition all of is activities. This was not God's original intention......."
He states that after Adam and Eve sinned and brought death into the picture....
"Life could now come to them only through death - the death of grain, vegetables, fruit, flesh or food of any sort that once possessed life. In short, one life had to be laid down for another life. One needed to die in order for another not to die. This principle prevails to this very moment. Every erg of energy we possess, every ounce of weight our bodies carry, every element of life we own is ours only by virtue of the death of other living forms."
Thinking about it the verse in I Cor. 15:25,26 flashed into my mind. It talks about Christ reigning until He has put all enemies under His feet....and the last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Death is such a natural part of our lives that I had never really thought about death itself being an enemy of God. But of course it is!! God is LIFE and death destroys life.
Death is the natural consequence of sin. Had God turned His back on us death would have been our eternal state of doom but God choose to intercept our death sentence by the perfect sacrifice of His Son so that death would be defeated and LIFE could save us!
Recognizing that God hates death as much as I do made me feel 'thankful' that death is not forever, that one day God will restore His creation to operate on the basis of His LIFE and death will not be a part of it!! Can you imagine living in that perfect world where nothing will ever suffer again?
"The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.
The lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And dust shall be the serpent's food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy on all My holy mountain," says the Lord!
(Isaiah 65:25)
All in all we had a great camping trip.... and I have decided that if I can just find a way to take my house with me.....I would LOVE camping!!! smile