Friday, May 29, 2009

In Character / Out of Character

My youngest granddaughter belongs to a all-girl local drama group. We attended their year end production held in the University Theatre.

The play called for the girls to portray the lives of men and women in an old folks home!

I'm sorry the pictures I have are not the best... we were not allowed flash photography and the lighting and distance did not allow for award winning photos!

But I'll share a few pics anyway.

The group of girls.

My granddaughter, a very girly girl, was 'in character' as an old man. She is the one in the brown vest!

It was comical how easy it was to visualize some of the girls a few decades down the road. The costumes and make-up were well done.

"In character" --

Reminiscing over a game of bingo!

Now, out of character, after the play ... still wearing her costume and make-up, posing with the flower bouquets presented to her!

In the entertainment world when the person is being him-or-herself, he or she is said to be "out of character". The opposite is 'in character', which is a person acting or portraying someone else.

I was thinking how much we dislike 'hypocrites' -- acting contrary to who you are --- and yet we all love someone who when 'in character' does it convincingly.

What is the difference?

Maybe the answer is simple -- a 'hypocrite' is purposely hiding who he really is for a self-serving purpose. Someone 'in character' is portraying visually the story of someone else.

We rightfully admire someone's ability to do that well.
Did you ever stop to think that as believers we face that choice every day ?
Will be be 'in character' or 'out of character' ?

"In character" we of course portray the life of Christ through our words and actions.
How convincing are we ?
Or are we often caught being "out of character" - acting in our own flesh ?
My granddaughter, in the above 'out of character' photo still showed the visual evidence of her being part of the production's cast. When we as believers act 'out of character' we still show 'evidence' that we are indeed a member of the 'Jesus' cast' . Our profession, the bumper stickers on our cars, our church memberships --- people watching will see evidence that we are a cast member.

Just as a person 'in character' disappoints the audience if he acts 'out of character' on stage -- so also we as believers on the stage of life disappoint those watching if we act 'out of character'.

Let us look in the mirror each morning, and resolve to be 'in character' -- and make no excuses that allow for 'out of character' moments !!

Rom 13:14 "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

Perhaps that verse could be paraphrased like this... "But remember to be in character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh to tempt you to be out of character"


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From Hog Hell to Hog Heaven

I came across this delightful news story today . Find it here

I grew up on a small farm and we often had pigs. I have always liked pigs because they are very intellegent creatures. Studies reveal they are actually smarter than dogs !

I believe that this little 'piggy' knew that he was heading for Hog Hell. He had his wits about him and figured there must be better place ! So he did what he had to do - get out of the truck taking him straight to 'death' .
He risked the life he was going to lose anyway ... and wiggled his way out of the truck .. hoping there would be someone to save him!

Of course there was... and now he is getting the best of care, destined to live the rest of his life in Hog Heaven !

I'm sure I don't have to spell out the analogy here....
Seems to me this Wiggles is a lot smarter than many humans.

Every human being - by default- goes through life in a 'truck' driven by Satan on its way to a sure hell.
The moment we are born - we are guarenteed to die !

If only we have our wits about us to figure out that that there has to be an escape. Isn't it worth risking all we have to find it ???
If we just 'wiggle' our way out of the default truck ... will there be Someone to find us ?? Yes, of course, His name is Jesus. He will pick us up, clean us up, put us back together again....and He guarentees that we will never go 'to market' . Instead we are offered His protection until we come into our eternal Home to live forever in a beautiful place !!

Mat 16:25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Helpful Tool for Understanding Your Neighbour

We all live with people who do not believe the way we do - in our neighbourhoods, at work or at play – people we meet and interact with in our daily lives.
As Christians, if we want to dialogue with them about our own faith, it is sometimes helpful to understand where they are coming from.

Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions by James A Beverley is a wonderful resource to give you an overview of the major religions of the world as well as hundreds of new religious belief systems.

This 850 page volume is well organized into 19 main sections … Baha’i, Branch Davidians, Buddhism, Christian Science, Christian Sectarian Groups, Hinduism, Islam , Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judaism, Mormonism, The New Age, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Satanism, Scientology, Sikhism, Unification Church, Witchcraft.

These main sections make it easy to find the info that you are looking for regarding any religion or off shoot group.

The book is written in an easy to read and understand way and is meant as an introduction to the different religions, rather than a complicated in depth study.

I appreciated the ten principles the author laid out that form the framework within which he responds to the hundreds of groups and leaders covered in the book.
Principles like the one he lists first … “All religions and philosophies are to be measured by the final revelation of God in Jesus Christ”. (pg8)

While this is not a book you curl up with to read from cover to cover in one sitting , it is a book you will want to keep handy to inform yourself of what a certain religion, referred to in the street or the media , really teaches. Living in a multi cultural world that is shrinking rapidly in so many ways, connecting people shoulder to shoulder … gives Christians an opportunity to be a ‘missionary’ without stepping out of their own neighbourhood. But we cannot be effective if we don’t understand what our friends and neighbours believe.
With 'Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions' in your hand , you will no longer have an excuse not to know !!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


A new development is going in on our side of the mountain not far from where we live. We often pass it on our walks since it lies between trails and the two flights of stairs.. one 117 steps and one 101 steps.

I took this photo of a huge root ball that is lying beside the road waiting to be taken away for landfill or to be burned.

It is huge! and I wonder what the tree looked like and how many years it took the tree to grow that big and strong. Storms came and winds blew but this tree stood unmovable through them all because of its huge underground root system.

We, as believers, are seen and judged for what others can see -- the above-ground things....but no one but God can see the under-ground roots. How strong are they ? Strong enough to hold steady through the storms of life ?

There is a verse Col 2:6,7 that says "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."

Our roots need to be in HIM .... not in anything else. A tree whose roots go down into shifting sand or unstable ground will not be able to grasp hold and grow for the years it takes to grow a strong root system.
And during its years of growing, a tree needs healthy nourishment uncontaminated by poisons and causes of root rot . Root rot is caused by fungi and thrives in poor soil conditions.
A tree is only as healthy as its roots.
Our scripture passage in Colossians goes on to warn in verse 8.... "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."

I am currently reading a book called "The Battle for Truth" written by David A. Noebel. It is talking about how we as Christians in the western world have compromised our faith by allowing world views to infilterate our Christian worldview and have therefore become ineffective and weak. It is decaying our roots .

(It is an excellent book and I will be talking more about it in future posts... but if you come across it I highly recommend it !)

We have been once again informed by 'science' that they have found an ancient form of 'human' that we have evolved from. She even has a name, Ida !

Our children are being taught that this is 'truth' proven by science but held up to God's truth the root of 'science so called' is revealed to be 'rotten'. Paul warned Timothy in 1Ti 6:20 , "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called"

There is only one truth, Jesus! (Eph 4:21. "..... the truth is in Jesus!!")

One truth to put our roots down into strong and deep! and if we do, we will ensure that we stand when everything else falls around us !!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Wicked Prosper

God is good ! He is good to those who keep their hearts pure before Him.
I am so convinced of that now .. but I did not always believe it !

In fact, I almost turned away from God, almost lost my faith in Him !
Why? You might ask….

It happened like this……

I allowed myself to be distracted by focusing on the ungodly around me… the people who did not have faith in God.
And as I watched them .. … I heard their continual boasting about how good life was! How prosperous they were, how they never even experienced fatigue!
I observed how they were not plagued with hardship like the rest of us….and they even boasted of dying without pain!
They wore their pride like jewellery , showing it off !
Everything they touched turned to gold.. everything they looked at became theirs! They had more than they could even wish for !!
They mocked adverse circumstances , which never even came near them! They even mocked the God of heaven , so full of self-confidence they were!

I looked at them and said… “How can this be?? Does God not SEE that the people that are ungodly are always at peace and just increase their riches with apparent ease ??”
Seeing how ‘blessed’ the lives of ungodly people were, I began to question what I was doing wrong !! .. "Here I have taken care to live right, to avoid sin, to do what is right ... but it has all been in vain -- because all I end up with is trouble and punishment !!!"

I tried to understand but it just didn't make any sense to me ... it just seemed sooo wrong and unjust !!!

But then.....

I went to the place where I commune with God ...... and suddenly I saw through HIS eyes... I saw what the end of these ungodly people were.... Yes.. maybe they were enjoying good things now.. but how short lived !! and then all eternity would be pain and suffering for them , if they did not change their ways!!
Everything may be great in their life now, but one day justice - God's wrath - will fall on them and they will get what they deserve and be forever in torment!"

I was soooo humbled and ashamed for my attitude.... and angry with myself …..What WAS I thinking !!!!
I was soo sorry that I accused God without cause, not recognizing His tender heart !!
and I said ....
"I don't want anyone but YOU , Lord, now on this earth and all through eternity.
The wicked are going to perish! What does it matter that they have a few moments of prosperity on this earth.
It IS good for me to trust YOU and stay close to YOU, Lord, that I may tell everyone of YOUR good Works !!!! "

My paraphrase of Psalm 73……..

A permissive parent's kids may be envied by their peers because they get to do and have everything they want... but then they grow up undisciplined and spoiled and cannot fit into society, cannot commit faithfully to marriage, and cannot do well in their education or their career!
It is not so with God's children .. He is NOT a permissive parent .. He watches carefully over His children to discipline, to chastise, to train, to mature, not only for their 'purpose' on this earth but also for their life with Him for ALL eternity !
Sometimes we may not understand all the difficulties and pain that come our way, but we do know that we have a Father we can trust – one who is working to bring us to maturity so that we will be ready to enjoy our ‘real’ life – eternity with Him on the new earth where only perfection reigns !!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Beauty of God's Cure

Have you ever thought about why it is that our human default is to rebel against a 'law' ?
I came to a new understanding of God's law this week when I was looking at Gal. 5:22,23 in a morning bible study I enjoy with a dear friend.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."

The words "against such there is no law" caught at my attention, as they had so often before.
I suddenly wondered if there was anything to be gleaned from the Greek word translated 'law'.

I found that there was.

The first part of the definition given goes like this... "animal grazing, a prescribed usage".
Perhaps at first glance you might just respond with a "huh?"

But think about it.

When we are ill, we go to the doctor who will, if our condition warrents it, write out a prescription and with it instructions for its usage.

We do not complain about taking the 'cure', we even pay good money to get it and take it faithfully, trusting in its ability to restore us to health.

But perhaps this explains our reluctance to 'obey' a law - it reminds us that we are not well and we rebel against being 'sick' and needing medicene!

If we take this picture to understand God's 'law', we have a new way of understanding it.

Is it not because His people were 'ill' with sin, that God prescribed the 'law' and gave them instructions for it usage?

And if they filled His perscription, taking it faithfully, they could trust that it would bring about their cure!

If you think about the Greek word reference to grazing animals ... is their perscription not 'grass' and they graze according to the 'prescribed usage' ??

But wait... does our verse not say "against such there is no law" ?
Yes.. it does because there has been a great change in our condition.

Jesus, who fulfilled the 'law' , exacted for His followers, not a new prescription to take when we feel ill... but a cure! And with the cure gave us a 'higher law' to PRESERVE our health!

The higher 'law' is that if we live by the fruit of the Spirit we will not need a 'law' because no 'ills' can come against the fruit of the Spirit.... we will be immune to sin if we trust in Him and give the Holy Spirit full reign in our hearts !

1Jn 2:10 "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him."

Of course we are not yet perfect ! but that is our goal ! "Be perfect, even as I am perfect", says the Lord. We can only be perfect if 'love' is perfected in our hearts.

The NT believers were warned not to go back to living by the old 'law'. The old 'law' is outdated, it has lost its effectiveness - it can no longer restore to health.

We must take the new 'prescription' -- living by the law of Christ... love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself --- and giving evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life!

Then you will need no law to cure you... you will walk and live in health !!!!

Rom 13:8 "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law"


Monday, May 11, 2009

A Fragrant Mother's Day Gift

Yesterday, for Mother's Day my granddaughter was so excited to hand me the gift she had picked out for me with her mother.
It was a lovely fragrance diffuser, equally lovely packaged. The fragrance - Sweet Pea.

I know aromatherapy is all the fad these days as an alternative medical practice with a scent to cure every condition, but I am still on the sceptic side.
What I do know, however, is that medical science has proven that scents have a direct connection to our brain as the most effective memory trigger.

Considering that, it would follow that different scents would trigger different memories for different people and therefore one scent would not have the same effect on everyone.

Triggering certain memories , triggers our emotions, and emotions determine how we feel .... so scents can affect our well being and therefore also our behaviour or actions.

Some time ago my daughter gave me a jar containing a scented candle. It was Sweet Pea, from the White Barn candle Co. and the scent to me was very fragrant. I put the jar by my bed so I could enjoy the scent when I lay awake at night unable to sleep.
What I discovered was that when I breathed deep of the lovely scent, I soon relaxed and drifted off into a restful sleep.
Sweet Peas have always been my favorite flower from the time I, as a small child, remember my Mom growing them. I could never get enough of their intoxicatingly sweet scent!
So, it is not really a stretch that the scent would trigger pleasant childhood memories and relax my mind to let me sleep.

I had just recently told my daughter how much I enjoyed the Sweet Pea scent of that candle jar and that is why when my daughter and granddaughter found the Sweet Pea fragrance dispenser, they decided it was exactly what I would enjoy!

This morning , I was thinking about how scents can move us to act or behave in a certain way because of what they cause us to remember, and I was reminded that we are truly made in God's image.
And being made in His image means that we are capable of understanding HIM.

He loved fragrances long before we did!
He put endless fragrances into the world He created.
He commanded the Israelites to make a fragrant perfume to use in their sacrifices. He would not accept them without it!

In His creation the scents are a foreshadowing of the fragrance of Jesus - that was so precious to God - His very favorite smell!!!

When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we are covered with His scent.
Then , when God looks at us , His memory is triggered by our fragrance.... He remembers Jesus and His sacrifice and He remembers to act on our behalf!
How beautiful is that picture !!!

2Co 2:15 "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ."

Jesus is the Word made flesh according to John 1:1, and when we spread the knowledge of Him through our words and life we spread His fragrance into the world -- we are the diffusers.

2Co 2:14 "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."

"Lord, let me be a diffuser of Your Fragrance to the world around me!"


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day !
If you are blessed to still have your mother, as I am, I wish you a special day to honor her!
If you are missing your mother today, I pray that your heart be comforted with memories of her love .


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pointing out the Counterfeit !

I was walking through a neighbourhood on my way to pick up my granddaughter from school when I passed this blossoming tree.

Something in it was not quite right, and it caught my eye immediately.

Literally 'bigger than life'... it was really only a counterfeit- a wanna-be-blossom balloon!

I also discovered recently that I am in the possession of a five-dollar bill that is counterfeit.

I did not know it was counterfeit.. nor do I know where I got it, but a sharp-eyed clerk caught it when I handed it over to pay for something.

I could not identify why it was not legal tender.... until I laid it along side a 'real' five dollar bill. Then the tell-tale marks were clearly identifiable.

The two very obvious differences are that it is 1/4" shorter and is missing the gold vertical bar on the right side. Then there are several more subtle differences.

Counterfeit -- I looked up the meaning ....and several descriptive words caught my attention --- "false, spurious, deceitful, hypocritical" - not a flattering or desirable label to have attached to anything - especially not to SOMEONE !

The balloon in among the blossoms... even though it was almost the same colour.... was easily identified as 'counterfeit' because of the fact that it was puffed up!

Isn't it easy to spot that characteristic in people?

There is something immediately offensive about someone who is puffed up - trying to be what they are not -- thinking they are drawing attention to themselves because they are bigger and better .... but are really easily recognized to be nothing more than a 'blown up balloon among beautiful blossoms!' !
We read in I Cor. how to identify 'counterfeit love'.
1Co 13:4 "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up."

We are warned in Colossians 2:18 to beware of the risks of being 'puffed up'.
"Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."

While the 'puffed up' balloon fools no one as to its authenticity, the 'counterfeit bill' is much harder to spot!

One counterfeit bill on its own may look pretty good -- in fact cashiers have to be trained how to recognize them. But lay a counterfeit along side a legitimate bill and often it becomes rather obvious that it is sadly lacking some distinctive markings.

When we compare ourselves one to another .... we may be quite convincing ! Most people would even think we were admirable. But lay us alongside Christ Himself and suddenly we find that we do not measure up after all ! We are revealed for who we are!

Scripture admonishes us to be 'sincere' -- not a counterfeit !

Php 1:10 "that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ"

We live in a time and society that has become obsessed with 'reality'. Scan the current TV guide and you quickly see that reality shows are the fad of the day!

Usually, we need to temper or turn away from the world's obsessions but this time we can use it to our advantage! Let us show the world the reality of Christ living in us ... letting His love overflow our hearts and lives.

And is that not the secret to an authentic Christian life ?? God's LOVE in us, moving us to think and do according to the guiding of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us ?

2Co 6:6
"But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Stirring Thought and Emotion

If you are ready to have your world view changed or at least seriously challenged, then “The Hole in our Gospel” is a must read.
The author, Richard Stearns, is the President of World Vision US.
Not only is the book a moving account of his own faith journey, but also a window into his ministry and a view of the world through his eyes.

I found reading the book a deeply emotional experience – and the emotions and thoughts stirred up are still occupying my mind several weeks later.

Stearns raises the question…What have we done with the gospel? Have we reduced it to a passive personal trust for our own salvation?
He declares that the gospel was never meant to be only personal , it was meant to be lived out in an active expression through works born out of love and compassion for the less fortunate of this world.
If we do not care for the poor and desperately needy of our world then we have created a ‘hole’ that the gospel was meant to fill. He says, “A church that lives within is four walls is no church at all!”

Stearns challenges the reader at ground level thinking - sharing the questions he has asked of himself… “What is my responsibility for the poor? How should I use my money? How do I deal with my own self-centeredness? What does God expect of me if I claim to follow Him? Can I call Him ‘Lord’, even when I don’t always do what He says? What right do I have even to write a book like this, challenging others in their Christian walk?”

What I found moved me so deeply was Stearns’ very humble and open sharing of his own heart. Stearns’ tenderness before God and his willing obedience to even the difficult things God required of him are so evident in his book.
No condemning preaching here – the author’s fingers point first to himself, no lofty theories of what should or should not be done. The focus is on each individual as Stearns says… “In the end, responding to the gospel is not something meant for nations or communities or even churches, it is meant for individuals – one person at a time!” And each person must answer for himself what his God-given responsibility is.

If there was a weakness in his book, Stearns does not clearly differentiate between the ‘world’ and the ‘people in the world’. Scripture makes it clear that we will never win the world since it is enmity with God … but we can win people OUT of the world. It seems Stearns believes that if we do our part then the world itself will become God’s kingdom. For instance on page 2 he says, “The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world. Jesus called the resulting new world order the ‘kingdom of God’… and said that it would become a reality through the lives and deeds of His followers.”

And on page 243 he says, “Jesus seeks a new world order in which this whole gospel, hallmarked by compassion, justice and proclamation of the good news, becomes a reality, first in our hearts and minds and then in the wider world through our influence . This is not to be a far-off and distant kingdom to be experienced only in the afterlife. Christ’s vision was of a redeemed world order populated by redeemed people--- NOW!”

Yet Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world…. John 18:36… and Jesus clearly spoke of God’s kingdom as a spiritual one .. not a physical one…
He said “The kingdom of God is within you!” Luke 17:21

In spite of my struggle with the ‘this world’ emphasis … I would encourage everyone to read “The Hole in our Gospel” and find someone to discuss it with.