Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Author Rewrites

I had a very strange experience recently.
I have a Kindle and I LOVE my Kindle  -- it allows me to indulge in what has always been my favourite way to spend time -- lost in a book !

We were going away and so I downloaded a couple of new books to ensure I would have something to read.
Kindle in hand, I  opened one of them  as soon as I settled in the car.  My eyes moved over  the first paragraph and I was immediately puzzled realizing it was word for word a book I had read  a short time previously !  But the title was different and Kindle had not alerted me to the fact that it was a previously downloaded book !

I did a bit of digging and found out that yes, there were two books exactly word for word identical - by the same author EXCEPT for the last few pages.
The  book was a fictionalized story based on real events and characters of the American Civil War. The first book  ended with a tear jerking scene where the 'hero' dies in the arms of his bride - two days after their wedding.
Obviously,  at some point the author must have repented of that scene and decided to republish the book, under a new name and changing the last several pages to a 'happily ever after' ending.  

I had never heard of an author doing that -- since most often an author will acknowledge that the 'story' had a life of its own and the way it turns out cannot be changed any more than we can go back and rewrite our own life.

As I was considering what the author had done .... I was reminded that there was another Author who rewrote the ending to a story.
The Author I am referring to, of course, is God.
The way the story was first written, it ended with man lost in sin and death with no recourse or avenue of escape.    But God could not bear His story of man having a tragic ending and He re-wrote the story, overruling man's actions and self-destiny by providing the re-write salvation plan  that ends with man living joyfully in the Presence of God on a New Earth, forever  -- the only real-life 'happily ever after' !!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Difference Between Law and Faith

In looking through my many photos I had to look a lot longer to find a photo of a grey sky than I did a blue one. Obviously, because a blue sky is much more inviting to use my camera to record memorable moments.
It is true, is it not,  that when we look up to see a grey sky our emotions plummet and we feel the heaviness of a gloomy day.   In contrast the blue sky lifts our spirits and we face our day with joy and gladness.

We all know people who come into our day as a 'cloudy sky' and some who come like a 'blue sky' of sunshine.
The cloudy day friend is one who is quick to point out faults , failings, things that are wrong - finding any reason to criticize and burden.
The blue sky friend is one who comes with praise and encouragement, quick to find the things that are good and finds every reason to be thankful and rejoice.

The law is like a cloudy day friend. It focuses on  our weaknesses, our sin, our failings ... pressing us down with a long list of 'don'ts'.   No matter how hard we try,  the list just grows.

Faith, on the other hand, is like the sunny day friend.   Faith looks for what is praiseworthy. It inspires us to do  righteousness  that fills us with joy and confidence  to look into the face of our Father.

 These thoughts were inspired by my reading  Romans 3:19,20,21 the other day and I saw it in a light I had not noticed before.
Verses 19,20 tell us that it is the law that came  to point out our 'sin'  .. to make us guilty before God.  The law focuses us on our failings , the things we do that are not pleasing to God.
In trying to obey the law, the only conclusion we come to is that we hopelessly fail..
What a cloudy sky hangs over those who try to live by the law.

But then verse 21 declares the sunny sky of faith !   Faith focuses us on living, not by the list of law 'don'ts'  but by a  list of 'do's'.
Instead of the law revealing sin, faith reveals the righteousness of God..
Where the law condemns, faith lifts up righteousness!
Faith has only one focus -  LOVE... walk in love and  we cannot fail, we cannot do otherwise than be righteous before God because God is love, and if we love we are like Him.
Without faith it is impossible to please God ... (Heb. 11:6),   He that loves his brother will have no reason to sin . ( I John 2:10)  Trusting in God to guide us in our walk by faith is like having a built-in GPS, instead of  a handbook listing the pitfalls and dangers along the way. Faith allows us to enjoy the scenery and fellowship along the journey!  
Faith lifts us up to feel like we can do all things through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:13) in whom our trust is focused.

I'm so thankful that God knew we could never attain righteousness through keeping the law , and gave us the New Covenant of grace that gives us the victory and by faith in Him makes us to stand righteous before Him!
I love blue skies, don't you ?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

   I came across this youtube video of a clever little squirrel who worked his way through  difficult obstacles  to get to his goal.  One obstacle at a time was added over a period of weeks allowing the squirrel to master each one until he could run through the course with ease.

I watched the squirrel, so sure and nimble on his feet, never faltering or showing fear having but one thing in his mind - the reward at the end.
A quote from the apostle Paul came to my mind ...  
"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ  Jesus."   Php 3:14  

Are we so undeterred by the obstacles of life that we never lose sight of the goal ?
Are our eyes so on Jesus that we, like the squirrel, meet the challenges of life with  singleness of mind?
Are we overcomers, running the race of  life with only the end goal in mind?
Do we see every circumstance as yet another opportunity to bring us closer to that goal?

"Thank you, Lord, for the life lesson your little creature teaches us.  May we be as singleminded as he, even delighting in using whatever we face in life as a 'bridge'  to bring us closer to our goal.  May we all attain the prize of the high calling you have placed before us."  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

God's Design

 My husband and I attended a concert tonight, the first performance of the touring Kyiv Symphony and chorus in Canada. Not only was it an excellent concert, it was also  a moving concert, particularly for my husband, who was born in the Ukraine and remembers his early childhood years there.

In the city of Kyiv (or Kiev, the old spelling of the city) is an old historical prison - Lukyanivska Prison.  Here is a photo of the prison as it looked in 1900, about 45 years after it was built.


My husband's grandfather, Heinrich Epp,  was arrested on false charges and was incarcerated  in this very prison.  Because of malnutrition and typhus,  he died there on Christmas Eve,1921.   He was found the next morning, on his knees with his open bible before him.   My husband has that bible.

My husband was deeply stirred listening to the choir and orchestra,  wondering what his grandfather would have thought if someone had come to him as he suffered at the hands of  the prison guards, and told him that 91 years later an orchestra and choir would travel from Kyiv to Canada where his grandson would be blessed by their musical performance giving glory to God.

Only God could bring such a thing to pass -  that the descendants of  people on opposite sides of terror and inflicted torment could worship God together, sharing God's love as His children.

Mennonites were known for their pacifist beliefs, and I know that those who suffered prayed as Christ commanded ...
Mat 5:44  "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." 

Someone once said that the best way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend.   Only God knows the prayers of those that were persecuted,  that laid the foundation for the souls being saved in Ukraine today.
Perhaps my husband's grandfather's prayers almost 100 years ago were answered in the concert tonight.