Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another New Year

Years ago we had colourful bantam chickens as part of our ‘pet’ barnyard. They had the run of the yard and their own little hen-house with nest boxes and a night roost above the ground where they loved to sleep.

One year we decided we wanted some baby ducks and bought some fertilized eggs.

Rather that incubate them under lights we ‘hired’ our bantam hen to do the job. She and her mate were delighted with the whole surrogate parenting thing and faithfully kept those eggs warm.

In due time the eggs successfully hatched and you never saw parents more proud of their ‘chicks’.
They didn’t seem to notice that their ‘chicks’ grew too big too quickly making it rather difficult, and quickly impossible, to fit them all under Mother Bantam's little wings.

The day the 'chicks' found our pond and instinctively went for a swim, Mr. and Mrs. Bantam realized that they had some severely challenged offspring. They clucked wildly from the edge of the pond and reluctantly the ducklings returned to their parents perplexed at what all the fuss was about.

The real problem arose when the parents decided the ‘chicks’ were big enough to join them on the roost for night. They demonstrated the flight up and squawked for the ‘chicks’ to join them.
The ducklings looked up in confusion and found no responding desire in themselves to ‘roost’. Somehow they knew webbed feet were not going to be able to balance on nor grasp the wooden rod.

We watched in amusement as every night the Mother Bantam tried to coax her ‘chicks’ to join her on the roost. Up she flew, then down and up again , clucking instructions the whole time.
She seemed to be convinced that if they watched long enough they would surely catch on.
They would/could not.

Finally, she just decided to sleep with her children on the ground rather than leave them alone and afraid.

I thought what a beautiful picture this was of what God did for us.

We could not come up to Him. Our sin ‘webbed’ our soul and we could no longer grasp His holiness.
So what did God do, but come down to us, to live among us where we were comfortable, rather than leave us alone and afraid.

John 3:13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

We are approaching another new year.
We look back on the year that is past and in hindsight view the blessings and the trials.
We do not know what the new year will bring.... but as Christians we have an anchor. We have a God who cared enough about us to come down to dwell among us. He gave us every promise that He would see us through whatever comes our way.

We need not fear the new year, because we know God has already passed through the year and prepared it for us. He has not left us to walk here alone. He has come down to walk with us. His Holy Spirit lives within us and is our trustworthy guide.

May this be our song throughout 2010,
Isa 12:2 ...Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.' "

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing YOU a Blessed Christmas!

I learned something this year that I had not heard before....
Always in my mind the shepherds to whom the angel appeared with the Good News were men. But someone explaining the customs of that time said that the shepherds were always the old or the feeble , women and children, or the youngest boy in the family - shepherding was a lowly job.
I don't know who the shepherds were, since we are not told in scripture, but is it not like God to give more to those who are thought less of in their society?

How exciting it must have been to those shepherds, in the midst of another endless night of watching sheep to suddenly have the heavens open to them with the most glorious display!
It always moves me when I think of God purposely choosing the poor, the weak, the ordinary to display His glory to or give His special gifts !
There truly is no respecter of persons with God -- unless it is in favor of those the world rejects.
Isn't it reassuring to know that we need never fear that we are not 'good enough' to approach God ?
In sending His Son ... He sent an open invitation to you and me - no matter who we are - to come into His Presence!
Read the words of that beautiful story of the shepherds ... again ... and imagine YOU are one of them.. Imagine what it must have been like that glorious night !

Luk 2:8-20 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

I wish you a very blessed, glorious Christmas season. May you with the shepherds of old rejoice over the good news that is still the best news man has ever heard !!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What is Love?

Art Linkletter once asked a four year old boy the question, "What is love?"
He answered with a child's insightfulness.
"When someone loves you they say your name differently.
Your name is safe in their mouth."
This is the Christmas season, when love is expressed in many ways. Love is shown in our gifts, our family reunions, our cards, our generosity to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Though we sing the old Christmas Carols that speak of that first Christmas so long ago,

and though we wish one another a 'Merry Christmas',

it seems that most people celebrating Christmas have forgotten

that Jesus is the reason for the season.

The world has forgotten that His reason for coming was LOVE.

He came to dwell among us so we could see God's love toward mankind.

Did you ever stop to think that His love for you is such that your name is safe in His mouth ?

Isa 43:1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you,... And He who formed you...."Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.


is His name safe in your mouth?

Is his name at times a swear word in your mouth,

or do you speak reverently when His name is on your tongue?

Do you speak His name in love,

or do you speak carelessly about Him, not careful to give Him the honor due His name?

John, at the end of his gospel tells us that the reason

why the wonderful things about Jesus were written down.

John 20:31 "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

It is in the beautiful name of Jesus that we have been given 'eternal life' ,

the "right to be called the children of God"


Let us remember, not just this Christmas season, but every day

how majestic is the name of Jesus.

May His name always be 'safe' in our mouths.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

What Changes?

I stood on my patio the other day looking at the valley view.
The valley, with its farms against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains, never changes but how many times I run for my camera to catch yet another photo of how drastically the weather can change the view from my patio.

As I stood and gazed, I thought about how my patio view portrayed how this worlds 'weather' changes the way we view God.

When our skies are tinted with the pink of evening and peace settles over our world, we find it easy to find God and thankfulness arises in our hearts.
Psa 72:3 "The mountains will bring peace to the people, And the little hills, by righteousness. "
But sometimes darkness settles over our life. We question, we struggle, bad things happen. We cannot see where we are going. And yet even then there are lights in the darkness, a friend... a song... a comforting scripture....we know God is there.
Psa 18:28 "For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. "

The summer days of our life are good. We enjoy the richness of God's blessings, our future looks bright and promising . It is easy to trust that God's love covers us.
Psa 21:3 "For You meet him with the blessings of goodness; You set a crown of pure gold upon his head. "

I love the 'snow' that covers... how often we need to be forgiven, to be given a fresh start.
Psa 51:7b "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. "

At times our emotions are lifted to heavenly places and we taste of things to come. Our hearts respond with praise and worship as we gaze upon His beauty.
Psa 29:2 "Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."
At times we know that we know that God is true, but at other times fog of doubt or fear or worry cover up the very things we take for granted, the things that feed our faith and we feel God is hidden from our sight.
Pro 1:33 "But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil."
Sometimes the clouds of life roll in and the mountains of our faith are shrouded. Are you still there, God? But yes, even when we cannot see Him, He is there.
Heb 13:5b "He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU."
"Dear Lord, may we not be disturbed by the 'weather' that brings changes to our life's landscape, but may we keep our eyes on you. You never change and if we put our trust unwaveringly in You, we will never falter."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Knowing Their Thoughts

“But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “why are you reasoning in your hearts?” Luke 5:22

Several times in scripture we are told that because Jesus knew what those questioning Him were thinking , He was able to answer them – not in a generical way- but in a very personal way that cut to the quick of their own reasoning. His reply at times was understood only by the questioner to whom His answer was directed.

There is a well known story, oft repeated, concerning a young man who came to question Jesus. His story is told in three out of the four gospels. (Mark10:17-22,Matt.19:16-22, Luke 10:25)

We are told that a certain rich young ruler came running to Jesus and knelt before Him.
Those watching would surely have been impressed by his eagerness to worship at the Master’s feet. I’m sure an approving murmur must have rippled through the crowd as many recognized him.
The young man had the right question, “What must I do to be saved?”
How quickly, based on his outward sincerity, we would we have welcomed him into the fold assuring him that Jesus would accept him and grant him eternal life.

But that was not Jesus’ response. He knew the man’s thoughts; He wasn’t influenced by the outward show of humility.
Jesus asked the man, “Why do you call me good… are you saying I am God?”
Jesus knew that this young ruler knew the scriptures, that he had studied them diligently and understood them.
Jesus acknowledged this by chiding the young man for his question replying “If you want to enter in to eternal life, keep the commandments.”

Not knowing yet that his heart was laid bare before Jesus’ penetrating gaze, he answered, “Oh, which ones?”
Jesus named them and the young man confidently replied , “I have kept them all my life!”
He spoke truly and Jesus loved him for it, but Jesus could do no other than speak the words that would touch the core of the young man’s heart.
Though Jesus yearned to draw the young man to Himself, He spoke the words that would drive him away.
“One more thing you need to do .. go sell everything you have and then come follow me.”

Why did Jesus tell him to do that ? Did Jesus mean that no one could follow Him who did not sell everything he had? No where are we told that Jesus ever told Lazarus, Martha, and Mary to do the same, instead He often enjoyed their hospitality.

Can we ever know, beyond speculating, why Jesus gave that answer to the rich young ruler?

I believe that we can.
The rich young ruler was very familiar with the scriptures, as of course was Jesus Himself.

In Duet. 18:5-8 there is an interesting passage.
Here we are told that there were Levites who for some reason had been separated from the Levite tribe. They were living with one of the other tribes, receiving an inheritance with them.
If ever any one of them wanted to take their rightful place and serve with the other Levitical priests in the temple, they could.
However, there were two stipulations…
one – they had to desire it with all their heart,
and two- they had to sell their inheritance and share equally with the other priests the monies received from the sale.

Jesus knew that His answer would bring to the young man’s mind this very passage and the rich young ruler would immediately understand what Jesus was saying, namely “In spite of your outward show of zeal and eagerness you are not seeking Me with your whole heart.”
The young man was left with nothing to say, Jesus spoke the truth.

I love this story. It fills me with the humility that is a natural response of knowing that my heart is laid bare before the Lord when I come to Him with a concern, a request, a troubled mind, or my gift of worship. Jesus does not look on my outward body language or the words on my tongue. He looks deep into my heart and knows my deepest thoughts and intents. I cannot hide before His penetrating gaze.

I also love to know that Jesus will not give me a generic answer. He will answer me in a personal way. Even though He may well point me to the scriptures I say I know, it will be to the passage that directly speaks to my issue or situation. He will reveal my heart to ME and show me what to do.

“Lord, I pray, that we never forget that Your eyes see where man’s cannot. You know the things about us that we do not even know ourselves.
O Lord, grant that we not be like the rich young ruler and walk away from You.
May we seek you with all our mind and heart.
All things come from You, and while you have given them to us richly to enjoy, may we hold them in open hands, and open hearts ready to share them as you give us opportunity. Thank-you, Father for your loving ways with us, may we respond with loving obedience to Your word. Amen.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Little Peanut

There once was a lowly Peanut. Though known from ancient times it took a man, named George Washington Carver to discover its versatile and useful purposes. He discovered no less than 300 ways the peanut could ‘serve’ man’s needs.

I looked at the Peanut Butter jar on our breakfast table the other morning and considered the peanut and mused over how it models for us Christians how we are to be.

First the peanut is a ‘nut’ that is not a nut at all but a little recognized member of the legume family. We too are often called a ‘nut’ in a ‘legume’ patch of society. We don’t really know where we fit and pull back into the shadows of insecurity.
Until we find our place in the kingdom of God and know that we are truly a child of the King, we will never feel as though we belong anywhere.

Eph 5:8 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light "
Col 1:13 "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love"
Eph 1:5 "having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will"

Second, the peanut grows and matures under ground – out of sight. Not until harvest time are its ‘works’ revealed.
So we too as believers often do our best growing ‘underground’ where no one sees us. It has been said that we are only as good as we are when no one is watching. But there is a harvest coming that will reveal what we have done in secret and our works will be revealed in the light.

1Co 3:13,14
"each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.
If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward."

Thirdly, though small and insignificant in itself, its usefulness and strength lies in its numbers.
So it is with us .. we are all members of one another – needing each other for help and support and comfort , sharing our joys and sorrows. .
We are part of the ‘body’ of Christ where we are strong because though many we are ONE in Him.

1Co 12:25,26 "that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. "
Joh 17:21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."

Fourth, the outer shell of the peanut must be broken off before it becomes useful - it is the kernel inside that is the ‘good’ part. So we too must put off the outer man, Here on our earthly sojourn we must put off the works of the flesh, and then ultimately - in death- the whole physical body that cannot inherit eternal life. It is the inner man that is renewed and strengthened in the Lord - that is useful to God's kingdom here on earth and will enjoy eternal rewards.
Eph 4:22 ."that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts"
Eph 3:16 "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man"

Fifth , perhaps the peanut is best known in Peanut Butter. Who does not have a jar in their fridge or cupboard? But the only way the peanut can offer peanut butter is for it to give up its ‘self-rights’. Do we not too become the most useful if we allow ourselves to be ‘crushed’ so that the life of Christ can be evident in and through us? It is the power of the Holy Spirit that guides and moulds us and others become more important than our own wants and desires.

Php 2:21 "For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus."
1Co 10:24 "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being"

These were my thoughts as I looked at the jar of Peanut Butter on my breakfast table.
As I am inspired by the little peanut, may you too remember the lessons the peanut teaches the next time you spread peanut butter on your toast.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not What I Asked

Last Saturday we were invited to an 80th birthday party here in our clubhouse . That meant that we could just walk down from our house; perhaps a five minute walk.
It had been raining most of the day and when it was getting close to the time we needed to leave, the rain was still coming down. I didn't really want to walk in the rain and even with an umbrella the humidity would totally flatten my hair.
So I prayed and asked the Lord to let the rain stop while we would be walking. No sooner had I 'thought' the prayer ... the heavens opened and it POURED.
I was somewhat startled at the immediate answer to my prayer, and puzzled at it being the opposite of what I had asked.
But five minutes later, I understood. The downpour stopped just as it was time for us to leave, and we walked all the way to the clubhouse remaining perfectly dry!
I smiled thinking how God in answer to my prayer just dumped the rest of the rain 'all at once' to make sure it was finished by the time I needed it to be.

Isn't it often like that ? We pray and it seems God gives us the opposite of what we asked for. But maybe, like with my request, it is the best way to answer our prayer.

I love the stories of people who were 'hindered' from getting to work on 911. Each one of them, if they were praying people, would have been asking the opposite of what God answered...but the 'delays' in their morning routines saved their lives.

Joseph, I'm sure, asked God to help him be a good son to his father. Instead, his brothers throw him into a pit, he is sold as a slave, then he is falsely accused and sent to prison - all far from his father's house. Yet God WAS answering his prayer. God had an elaborate plan for Joseph to save ,not only his father and family, but also many others.

Mary and Martha couldn't understand why Jesus did not come and heal Lazarus but instead, delayed until he was dead!
The miracle Jesus planned was far greater than the miracle they desired....but, for a time, it looked as though their prayer for 'life' was answered with 'death'.

I'm sure you can think of times in your life where your prayers seemed to be answered contrary to your requests. Looking back can you see God's plan being better than yours? Sometimes we won't see the reasons until eternity. We can, however, know that God hears our prayers and He sends the answers immediately ... we might just not recognize them right away.

How good is our Father... let us rest in our faith in Him, knowing that He does all things well.

Mat 6:8b ".... For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two Kingdoms

Not far from where we live is a beautiful cattle ranch. Rolling green pastures with views of mountains in the near distance. Shade trees are grouped conveniently for the cattle to find shelter from sun or rain. In the photo you can see the cattle gathered at the clean, new feeding station where treats complement their grass diet. A fresh running stream runs through the pasture providing the cattle with a clean water source. I looked at the farm... looked at the happy cows and thought .. yes.. they have a wonderful life !


Adjoining this ranch is another farm! This farm too has the same views , the same potential the cattle next door enjoy, but there the similarity ends.

This cattle farm is a feed lot, the feeding stations old and hardly adequate. There is no grass, and the watering hole and surrounding area is mud. I felt sorry for these cattle .. I wondered how often they looked longingly over to the neighbouring farm and envied the cows that had the 'greener grass on the other side of the fence'. But there was no way for them to cross over, they were locked into a dreary existence day after day in crowded conditions awaiting their end.

The contrast between these two farms was startling. Surely if the cows had been given a choice the barren farm would have been deserted.

Perhaps cattle are wiser than men.

I thought about how these two farms picture for us the two choices that lay before every man.

Unlike the cattle, we DO have a choice.
There lies before every one of us the choice of two kingdoms... they lie side-by-side but there the similarity ends.

One is lorded over by Satan...... the other is Shepherded by Lord Jesus.

Satan rules with hatred, spreading deception, confusion and fear. His laws are cruel and enforced with hatred. His goal and purpose is to destroy the lives of his subjects. He has no compassion for their vulnerability or pain. In fact he rejoices in it. He holds his 'children' in bondage and leads them to eternal death.

Jesus' kingdom is ruled by righteousness, goodness and peace. He knows and cares for the needs of every one of His citizens. He is their protector and guide. His laws speak truth, and comfort and correction. He is the Good Shepherd who watches over his sheep with love, guiding them to life eternal.

"They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power,
to make known to the sons of men His might acts
and the glorious majesty of His kingdom,
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord upholds all who fall
and raises up all those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
and You give them their food in due season.
You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing....
The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works"
(Psalm 145:13-16 NKJV)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To God be the Glory

If anyone can look at the beauty of God's creation and say there is no God, he must surely be blind!!

On Monday of this week we saw that our local mountains were all dusted with snow, and it being a warm day .. cloudy with bursts of sunshine, we could not stay indoors. We started off with a walk , then decided to take a quick drive. ! The splendor of fall colors against snow topped mountains was indeed breathtaking.
The following photos show some of the beautiful scenes we enjoyed

I know the photos give but a hint of the real, but may they lift your soul in praise to the One who said rightly of His creation "It is good!"

The Woolly Bear caterpillar on my plant sports a broad red belt. According to folklore, that indicates a mild winter coming.
The early mountain snows seem to indicate otherwise.

From my kitchen window.

Walking up the berm beside our house.

We then turned back and went for a drive.

God's golden carpet.

see the wisp of a cloud lingering on the mountainside?

a beautiful hillside farm

see the heavy snowfall on the mountain to the right?
These cows all gathered to serenade me in true bellow fashion

aren't the best views of life along the narrow way?

Talk about a perch! See the house way at the top?

They would have an incredible view of the valleys and
surrounding mountains.

a gorgeous valley, that was for sale.... hmmm .. wonder how much?
the photo was free.

The above a close up view of the snow dusted mountain

against a momentary blue sky.

a waterfall beside the road - almost home again

Psa 71:8 "Let my mouth be filled with Your praise And with Your glory all the day."


Friday, October 23, 2009

Because My Battery Pack Died

All of us at times encounter a seemingly insurmountable boulder of circumstance that presents itself on our life path.
I watched a lesson unfold yesterday enacted by a little child ,that I would have missed, except that my battery pack died. God uses whatever He can to get us into His classroom and often it is by the very things that annoy us!

My husband and I drove to the Cheam Wetlands yesterday afternoon to take photos of the beautiful fall colours reflected on the water. I had taken quite a few photos when my battery pack died and since I could no longer capture any images, I went to sit in the car waiting for Vic to finish his last shots. I'm so glad I did because the following picture lesson unfolded before my eyes.

My attention was drawn to a family lingering not far from our car. Grandparents, their daughter and two little grandsons. The youngest, who could not have been more than two was a tiny bundle of all-boy energy.

Placed along the perimeter of the parking lot were large boulders that immediately attracted the little boy's adventurous spirit and he began climbing them, his older quieter brother watching and following his lead.

Then he spotted this boulder... a little bigger than all the rest !

His eyes lit up with the challenge of the climb and he rushed up to it and tried to climb its almost smooth face. The boulder is about 30" high and if he stretched to his full stretch he could just reach up to the top of the boulder but the round surface had no finger holds and there was no notch to place his feet. He struggled, calling for help to his mom and grandparents but all he got was an ignoring smile. His three or four year old brother standing on the other side of the boulder reached over to grab his hands and pulled but that did not even lift his tiny feet off the ground. He gave it a valiant effort but had to finally give up.

He started to walk (run) away but gave one reluctant glance back over his shoulder. Immediately his body language changed when he realized that this boulder had another side to it .... this one !!

Here was provided a convenient step . Reaching his leg as high as it would go , he could just barely catch onto this step and pull himself up to the top of the boulder. It took him but a second and he was sitting at the top ! I heard the exuberance in his words... "I made it !! I made it !! It's amazing !! It's amazing !!! "

I saw the lesson immediately. How often we only look at the 'boulder' circumstances of our life from one side... if we walk around to God's side of it , we find that He has already provided a step, a way to conquer it , to climb to the top and experience the exuberance of victory ! The accomplishment of overcoming to where our view is through God's eyes and not our own is where we see His purposes and from where our joyous victory song can be heard by all who are watching !! "I made it! God is amazing!"

1Co 15:57 "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Sequel, For What Gain?

Not every book grabs an audience as “The Same Kind of Difference as Me” did. It is a beautiful love story between a woman and God, between a woman and a man and the unlikely love of friendship between two very different men.

The temptation, when a book takes the reading audience by storm, is to write a sequel. For Ron Hall, a salesman by talent and experience, that temptation was too great to resist.
His sequel “What Difference do it Make?” is on the store shelves but I could wish the book had remained unwritten.

I do not mean to minimize the accounts of people whose lives were impacted and changed by Debbie’s story . They are inspiring to read. Nor do I minimize Denver’s childlike faith and wisdom that breaks through on the pages.

What bothered me about the book was the fact that a large part of the book is about Ron Hall working through his relationship with his father and that not in an insightful way. I was rather embarrassed for him. While he realizes that forgiveness needed to be extended to his father for being less than the father he would have wished for, never throughout the book did Ron convince me that his faith in God is deep or even real. And because of that, the book did not fall into pleasant places, and I put it down keenly disappointed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trompe l'oeil

Trompe l'oeil is French for 'trick the eye'.
It came into popular use in home decorating several years ago and I love the effect when well done.

I'm not an artist but I tried my hand at it in our ensuite.... the photo shows my attempt to create 'a hole in the wall' that isn't there.

I was looking at it the other day and thought how much of the things that pass into our minds through our eyes and ears on a daily basis are Trompe l'oeil.

I, along with countless others, held my breath when we were shown the hot air balloon that had broken its tether and drifted into the sky presumably carrying a six year old child. After several hours, and much money spent in an effort to bring the child down safely we were informed that the child had been safe at home the whole time, and they parents are now charged with creating a hoax.

We see and hear sooo much that is outside our little circle where verification is possible. We have no way of telling what news stories are true, which are partly true and which are not true at all.

Where, at one time communication with each other was 'face to face',we have now added cell phones, e-mails, chat rooms, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter , blogs . All of these require that we 'believe' that which we cannot see.

It used to be said that a picture does not lie... but now we have photoshop software that can alter a photo in many ways that are not discernable to the naked eye.

How often have you bought into something and then had your hopes dashed? How often have you been disappointed because something/someone didn't live up to your expectations?

In the final analysis, there is really only one thing in our world that is immune to Trompe l'oeil and that is God's Word.

Down through the centuries and millenia, science has yet to prove it wrong, man has yet to find God's promises untrue, time has yet to prove it outdated.

Yet, I wonder...... Christians everywhere give mental assent to the eternal wisdom of God's Word but they spend so little time meditating on it to absorb its truth into their daily lives.

If there was a book that guaranteed effortless weight loss or a fool proof get rich quick scheme or the secrets to an eternal fountain of youth these books would fly off the bookshelves and be poured over until every word was memorized.

Yet even though God's Word promises not only success in this life, but in the life to come - though it holds the secrets to relationship with God and lays out the only path to heaven, Christians barely spend any time searching its pages. Statistics claim that less than 1% of self-proclaimed born-again Christians read their bible every day.

I don't know where you fit into that statistic ... but may I challenge you to think about reading your bible more? You need never fear that the words you read will disappoint you with Trompe l'oeil. Every word is sure and true and forever established!

Does your heart echo Psalmist's words?

Psa 119:162 "I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Be Thankful!

It is Thanksgiving Day week-end in Canada. Families everywhere will be giving thanks around a thanksgiving dinner table. We all have so much to be thankful for ; a list flows from most lips without much effort!

It was a beautiful day today, and we enjoyed a drive admiring farms set in rolling hills with the mountains as a backdrop. Just as I snapped the above photo, an older lady stopped beside us and said, "I am from Switzerland and you will not find a more beautiful picture than that in Switzerland !"
I know I live in a beautifully photogenic part of the world and to see God's beauty around me every day is something I am deeply grateful for.

Thankful ! We all know what it means , right ? Maybe not...

I was reading Col 3:15 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." and was curious about the Greek word for 'thankful'. What I found was very interesting.

A word study on the Greek word translated 'thankful' in this verse, revealed that it contained within its meaning much more than expressed thanks for the things we appreciate.

The word encompasses a lifestyle that flows out of thankfulness. It describes a person who is attentive, watching for things that promote thankfulness, not just in his own life but in the lives of others. He never misses an opportunity to do something pleasant or grant a favor. He can be counted on to be there in time of need or a moment of crisis. He is described as someone who is kind, benevolent and a gracious giver. He is also someone who is quick to grant forgiveness, overlooking the other's faults. His life is so full of thankfulness and gratitude that it overflows with generosity to others in every way. Restoring relationships is something close to his heart, as is offering his help to deliver someone in trouble.

Who would not love to have this kind of friend? Are WE this kind of friend? Our Greek word reveals that being grateful can be measured more by our actions and interactions with others than it can be by our words.

May we all prove our thankfulness, not just by our words, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Let us begin each day with a thankful heart to the Lord who has given us soo much and then , as we have received, give with selflessness to others.

Matt. 10:8b "Freely you have received, freely give" out of a thankful heart.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stranded on the River of Life

Our pastor, on Sunday morning, told of his experience this past week. He and his wife had gone out for a day’s excursion down a beautiful local river with their motor boat and kayaks along with some friends who brought their speed boat.
Late afternoon they pulled into a pretty spot along the river bank. They stayed too long, the fall sunset comes early and they realized they would probably not make it back before dark.
They travelled together for a time, then their friends in the speed boat declared that since it was a school night they needed to get back and with a quick farewell , stepped on the gas pedal and roared out of sight.
Not two minutes later, our pastor’s boat stalled and refused to start. Were they out of fuel? Or the boat not in good repair? To make their predicament more serious, their cell phone showed no reception. It was now dark. What could they do, other than spend an uncomfortable night camped on the shore? They thought fast and came up with the plan that if the pastor’s wife and the friend that was with them tied the two kayaks to the boat they might be able to pull the boat with the pastor helping to row . This they did and after struggling a short distance down the river found that they now had cell phone connection.

It was short lived, however; only long enough to shout, “We are stranded, send help!” Did the message get through? They did not know.

Finally, a couple of hours later, they saw the welcome sight of Search and Rescue coming toward them. Helping them into the rescue boat, the officers reminded them to put on their life jackets. Ignoring safety rules, they had not been wearing them and the pastor’s life jacket was no where to be found, along with one of the kayaks.
They were brought to safety, their river trip a little more exciting than they had anticipated !

As I thought about their experience, I realized it lent itself as a perfect analogy of the Christian’s life .

Christians travel down the river of life toward their eternal destination – home with Jesus.
As they travel along, their attention is at times diverted by the things of this world lining the banks of the river.
At times they head for shore and pull up their boat to enjoy the pleasures the world has to offer.
Sometimes they stay too long and find that darkness is overtaking them. Some have speed boats and they rush back to safety.
But others have not been so diligent in keeping themselves ‘fuelled up’ or their ‘boat’ in good repair, and suddenly they find that they are stranded – their boat dead in the water. Have they ignored the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives? Are they ‘empty’ of His power ?

Fearful of the danger they find themselves in, they call out to the Lord. But their ‘connection’ is not good… they have also neglected their times of fellowship with the Lord and now when they are in need of it, connection cannot be found.

Now, suddenly they make the effort, willing themselves back into a place where they can find the Lord. For a minute, they see heaven open and they cry out! But then darkness again closes around their soul and they wonder. Was it enough? Had He heard? Would He answer?
The darkness around them is frightening, they long for the comfort of the assurance that they are not alone, that the Lord is with them. Then, they see in the distance that help is on its way. God did hear and God heard and sent ‘search and rescue’ to find them. But where are their life jackets? God’s Word left lying unopened in the bottom of the 'boat'? Or worse – lost somewhere?
What relief floods their soul… what gratitude to the Lord for His care. Will it make them more careful next time to avoid the dangers of the ‘river journey’ ?

Jud 1:21 "keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

“Dear Lord, we thank you for the river of life that you have placed us on with the sure hope of our destination. Thank you for the safely of the ‘boat’ of your love. May we remember to stay full of the Holy Spirit that ‘fuels’ us and keeps us moving forward. May we keep ourselves in prayer and in Your Word to keep us safe and strong! May we not be distracted by the worldly pleasures that pull us away from you. May we keep our eyes on You and on our goal! Amen”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Do You Need to Refocus?

Sometimes our lives are not fulfilling or satisfying because we are focusing our attention on the wrong things.
That is the foundation on which Marcus Buckingham built his teaching.
When I first picked up his book, “ Find your Strongest Life” , I had two thoughts… one – what does a man know about how a woman works? And two … maybe I’m at the wrong end of my life to get anything out of this book.
By the time I finished the book I was ready to concede that maybe my initial reserve was perhaps - at least somewhat - premature.

While Buckingham does slant his book toward women, the principles he expounds are not gender specific except in the examples he uses. And while it is not a ‘Christian’ book I found it easy to parallel many of his thoughts and arguments on biblical principles.

He starts off his book by debunking 10 myths about women.
A couple of them really caught my attention.
How often do we hear that women are great at multitasking while men do one thing at a time. Buckingham says that it is simply not true. He says neither women nor men can multitask and still maintain a high level of productivity. Multitasking is working on the level you would if you had gone without a night’s sleep. Plain and simple – multitasking is ‘divided attention’ and not only that, scientific research has proven that when we attempt to give our attention to several things at the same time the part of our brain that controls memory and learning actually shuts down.
Another myth was that women are happier with more choices available to them. With growing equality in the work force and increasing options available in balancing home and career, women expected to finally be ‘happy’. But what research has shown is that women are much more unhappy today than they were in the 60’s. What is wrong?
Buckingham contends that with so many choices open to women they simply shut down, or continually question the choices they have made.

The fact that women are unhappy is what inspired Buckingham to write his book advising how we can find that illusive ‘satisfaction’ missing from our lives.

He contends that our default is to attempt to fix what is wrong, but he points the reader in the opposite direction . Find out what is RIGHT and build on that. Find the ‘strengths’ that you have, discern the ‘moments’ that give you a sense of joy and then find ways of taking every area of your life and making your decisions based on what is uniquely YOUR strength.

A couple of criticisms. The book started off slow and took too long to grab my full attention. Then , secondly, the book leans toward the ‘driven’ woman, especially in the personal life examples given. This could leave you feeling the book is not for you. However, if you separate the principles from the author's application, it is a worthwhile read that gives you something to grow on, principles that can lead you to a ‘stronger life’ no matter where you find yourself today!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Honour of Evelyn

Yesterday was a very special day ! One of those days that will be recorded in my memory, on that page dedicated to special people.

But my story didn't start yesterday.

Earlier this summer, I was at House of James buying books to take on vacation with me. As I gazed over the many books in their used books section, one title stood out to me, "In the Wake of Martyrs".

It turned out to be one of those rare books that moves you deeply and doesn't leave when you put the book down.
The author, missionary Albert Brant, recorded his life among the Ethiopians whom he and his wife Evelyn served for 35 years. Reading the fascinating story, I also saw Albert's heart. He was truly a humble man abandoned to God, - a man of prayer who spent hours on his knees. Through his eyes, I fell in love with the Ethiopian people.
It was when I finished the book that I realized it was published posthumously by Albert Brant's widow, Evelyn. She wrote a Postlude, that she ended by quoting Rev 7:9 "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands"

and then she penned the words that melted my heart...... "You will find my beloved husband among the Ethiopians."

Reluctant to just close the book and put it on my book shelf, I noticed that the book had been published in Langley, not far from where I live. I googled Evelyn's name and a site came up connecting her with a church I was familiar with. I wanted to thank her for the years she and her husband had dedicated to bringing the gospel to their beloved people. Contacting the church, I was given Evelyn's e-mail address. I was so excited to learn that she lived in Abbotsford about 1/2 hour away from me. I sent her an e-mail and received a very sweet reply.
Today, I met her for lunch and then we sat in her lovely apartment and talked all afternoon! What a joy it was to spend those hours with her. Evelyn is a beautiful woman, 89 years young, with the most interesting stories to tell.

She told me about her introduction to the computer many years ago. When they had mastered the difficult language enough to translate the scriptures, they needed to have the New Testament printed.
It was Evelyn who drew the characters for the computer software and also designed the keys to facilitate the over 200 characters that comprise the alphabet. Then she typed out the New Testament into the computer so it could be sent to the printers. I held one of those bibles in my hand yesterday. I opened it at random and asked her to read me a portion. She smiled and read John 3:16.

A trained nurse, Evelyn cared for the people's medical needs. Her first 'clinic' was outside under a sycamore tree. The people quickly learned to trust her and came from far and wide for her attention. Later a building was constructed that became their hospital. She learned to do eye surgery and delivered difficult births.

But always their focus was on the reason they were there .. to preach the good news of Jesus. The believers grew in number and maturity. At the time of Albert's death there were 50,000 believers who called him their father in the faith.

Albert and Evelyn had only one child, a son, Howie. The greatest pain of Evelyn's life is that she was so often separated from Howie. Even today, she is separated from him . He is still in Africa.. his three grown children also serving the Lord, one in Jordon, one in Germany and one in the United States.

When I first entered Evelyn's apartment yesterday afternoon , my attention was immediately drawn to a large framed picture hanging on her wall. I asked her about it, and she told me the story.
(here is a photo of the picture)

The little child in the foreground, wearing the hat, is three year old Howie. The Brants had been in Ethiopia about 6 months - the year 1946 - and one day Albert and Evelyn saw little Howie talking to a group of people around him. He was 'preaching' , telling them the story of Jonah in their language. Albert got his camera and slipped around from behind and snapped the priceless photo. "A little child shall lead them" (Is.11:6)

I asked Evelyn yesterday what , other than the fact that she missed Howie so much when they were separated, was the most difficult thing she had to deal with in Ethiopia. She thought for a long minute, and then answered that there really wasn't anything difficult. She loved the people and loved the privilege of living among them. Ethiopia was her home.

I admire Evelyn, and I am humbled by the self-less love with which she and Albert walked alongside the Ethiopian people. True love does not notice sacrifices and that is what marks Evelyn apart from the crowd. She is not aware of her life being a sacrifice, only a privilege.

I am so thankful that she was faithful to the call of God. She has served Him well and I know that her reward awaits her.

I am so pleased to call her my friend.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Honesty Pays

It all began with me stealing a Corning ware baking dish !

Well, OK, it didn't quite begin there. It began with me taking the dish 'on an accident' as my daughter used to say when she was little.

It was only after I realized I had taken it that I would have been guilty of stealing - if I had kept it !
People often think the Old Testament Law was harsh and without mercy but that is not true. God is always righteous in His judgement and He made provision for the fact that people could on occasion sin unknowingly.
The Law stated that if a man sinned unintentionally he was held responsible only after it came to his knowledge and then he had to make restitution. (Lev.4:27,28)

When our recent vacation in Tofino was ending and we were packing up , my daughter asked, "This is your dish,Mom, isn't it?" I glanced up and said yes!
It was only after we got home that I realized mine was in the cupboard and I now had two identical Corningware dishes !

I told my husband what had happened and told him I would call the resort the next day to pay for the dish.
He smiled and said, "Why don't we rather deliver it ?" I stared at him, incredulously .. "Are you serious?" It would be ever so much cheaper to pay for the dish!

He was serious and said we might as well stay one night since it was a 6 hour trip each way. I didn't think we could get accommodations on that short notice and when I checked the internet saw that the resort was indeed fully booked into October.
I browsed through their website for a few minutes looking at their different accommodation options and saw that they had a ground floor, ocean front studio for two. Perfect for one night, I thought.
I called the next morning on the chance that maybe the internet's information was not up to date, but the desk girl informed me that they were solidly booked. I was about to hang up when on impulse I asked if she would call me if they suddenly had a cancellation. She said yes she would be happy to.

I thought... if the Lord wants us to stay He can provide accommodations.

Not five minutes after I hung up, the phone rang.
It was the girl from the resort and she said they had just had a cancellation. I asked, "What suite?" thinking it would probably be the expensive three bedroom villa. But she told me it was the beach front studio for two that I had picked out the night before !
I could not believe my ears ! and of course I reserved it thinking that the Lord must have something special in mind.

He did !

Vic and I had the most amazing two days together, not the least of which was the perfect blue-sky weather and the fact that the ocean gave us the most spectacular water show we had ever seen! I could not resist posting a couple of my favorites to share with you !
Honesty DOES pay.... doing things God's way is NEVER a mistake !!! - even if you are not immediately rewarded as we were this time.
Here are a few randomly selected photos from the three cards-full that we shot while we were there. Having been to Tofino several times before , the weather conditions we experieced are rare.

Early morning shot of the emply bench overlooking the ocean.

A ballerina practicing her moves on the rocks since she and her brother were taken out of school to vacation with their parents at Tofino. (We also saw a bride and groom having their wedding pictures taken on the beach!)

The waves were high and wild, curling then unfurling as they crashed against the rocky shore sending sprays of white pearl droplets into the air! I could have sat and watched all day!

Sunset Point at Pacific Sands Beach Resort in Tofino.