Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Ultimate Gift

Though I love to read and read many books, I tend to recommend only those books that stand out to me as exceptional.   
A book that makes you think, one you read and it stays with you,  one that has the power to impact and change your  life -- those are  marks of an exceptional book.  
  I read one such a book yesterday that I wish you would read.   
It is not just good on a personal level but is one that you would want to share with your family. 
It could be a great teaching tool for your children/grandchildren.   

The book is entitled,
 "The Ultimate Gift" 
the author, Jim Stovall 

The book is what I call a teaching novel,  one that entertains as it inspires.   The plot is a simple one, but serves as the backdrop for the impartation of  wisdom.    
The story begins with a lawyer being advised of the death of a client who was also a dear friend.  
Red Stevens put a great deal of thought into his will and how his family would inherit his amassed wealth. 
His family, accustomed to living coddled in the lap of luxury have become greedy and self centred with a prevailing  attitude of entitlement. 

Out of  all his family members, there was only one - a great nephew - who had the spark that Red Stevens recognized as something that could save the young man from personal ruin  if it was just fanned into flame.  But how could he do that when his time on earth was almost over.  
Very creatively,   he devised a plan and called it The Ultimate Gift.   Jason, the nephew, would not be given his inheritance until and unless he fulfilled the conditions dictated by his uncle. 

I am never a plot spoiler ... smile...  so if you want to know what the gift was and if Jason fulfilled the conditions... and you want to know how this book will impact you,  you'll just have to read it yourself. 

If you have an e-reader,  its easy -  the book is offered on Amazon Kindle  for $2.47.  
Otherwise it can be ordered online or purchased from your nearest book store.    

If you have already read it ,  or when you do, I would love to hear what you think of it. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

26 = Total

My dogwood tree this year is abounding in blossoms.  I stand on my patio gazing in wonder at the perfection of each blossom as pure in colour and shape as the one crowded beside it.
I wonder at how every blossom has exactly 4 petals, always has, always will.  My pansies also insist on their allotment of 4 petals, even though they have their own peculiar arrangement.
Other flowers differ.  I recognize the familiar wild flowers blooming beside our roadways and in the fields . The buttercups have five petals, the chicory flower has 21 ALWAYS -  season after season, year after year.

Numbers.....  God's creation is built on the unwavering consistency of numbers as any scientist will tell you.   So numbers are important to God  -- and if you stop and think for a minute you will realize how important they are to us as well.
How would you keep track of your wealth (or lack of it, smile)  if there were no numbers with which to count it ?    How could you cook/bake your food without numbers to measure the ingredients ?
How would a carpenter build a house if he could not measure for accuracy to make sure the structure he was building would stand solid?

Take away numbers and the order of our life and that of the universe itself would collapse.

God, being a God of numbers, also built His chosen language -  Hebrew - on numbers.   Each Hebrew letter doubles as a number.  Because of this we sometimes find what could be 'hidden treasure' in scripture - hidden at least to those of us who are not familiar with Hebrew as our mother tongue.  
I am so thankful that today with information so readily at our fingertips there is not much that we cannot learn something about  if we wish to do so.

For example.....

This morning, I opened my bible to Psalm 136.   It is a Psalm I have read many times before and I had already noted the repeated phrase "For His mercy endures forever"  at the end of every verse.
This morning, however, I was suddenly curious about why God repeated it 26 times and not 25 or 27 times. God is a God of detail, right ?  so ... I thought God perhaps  repeated it 26 times on purpose !

Knowing the importance of numbers in the Tanakh ( Jewish name for the canon of the Hebrew Bible) I wondered if the number 26 had  a given significance.
I found something very interesting  - that the number 26 is indeed a number with special meaning.

The name of God to Jews was/is considered to be so holy that it is never completely written out -- only the consonants were ever written.  In the Old Testament the name for God is Yahweh - written in the Tanakh as  YHVH.  (still today)
Taking the numerical value of each letter Yod = 10 , Hey = 5, Vav = 6, Hey = 5  , they make a total of 26.
Because 26 is the numerical  sum value of the letters in the name of God , in Hebrew the number 26 is referred to as Total.

Now looking back at Psalm 136 ,  where the  repeat of  "For His mercy endures forever!"  is 26 times, it takes on a deeper significance of meaning.    If God says something once it is true, if He says it twice He is telling us to take note .... if He says it 26 times it is TOTAL.

How wonderful is it that God wants us to know that His mercy enduring forever is TOTAL ..  we can trust that His mercy will never be withheld from us ....  If we come to Him needing His mercy.  yet one more time, we will never find a sign hung on the throne room door .. "Sold out"  

"Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever !"  
Psalm 136:26 

Friday, June 14, 2013

In His Image

Behind our house there is a new development going in on  what for years was  farm property inhabited only by wild life.
In among the brush and stumps  lies  an  old abandoned  heap of twisted metal  waiting to be hauled away.
The photo shows  the old remains  still hinting of what  was once a shiny new farm truck that brought ooohs and ahhhhs  as the twinkling- eyed new owner showed it off to family and friends, proudly offering free rides.
 There are no ohhhs and ahhhs over it now - only a sad remembering of what it once was.  All you see now is rusted truck parts waiting for a garbage dump  somewhere with other worthless trash.

As I stood gazing at this old truck shell ... feeling the sorrow  of  seeing something once beautiful now discarded -something that  once had great value, now considered of no value at all  -  it brought something else to mind.

I thought of how this truck pictures some people.
Every human being begins life 'new' and full of promise and potential ... but sometimes life takes bitter or difficult turns, wrong choices build-up  in twisted heaps until the human being  loses his/her perceived value in the eyes of others, or even their own,   and is discarded to the garbage dumps of society,  not unlike this old truck.

In Edith Schaeffer's book .. "The Tapestry" of her quotes stuck in my mind , one  I have never forgotten.  She said that no matter how far a human being might fall, how vile he might become , how much we might recoil at sight of him, there is still somewhere within that human being a remnant of the 'image of God'  in which he had been created. And that gives him value!

That quote stuck with me and changed how I looked at people.  Even when outwardly we may see only the worthless remains of a wasted  life, we must still recognize that the person is someone 'created in the image of God' and therefore, unlike the truck, still has worth in the eyes of God.  

It is obviously too late for the farm vehicle ... but how graciously our God says that  it is never too late for any human being as long as he is still in this earthly life!
God can take the vilest human being  and restore them to the beauty He intended when He gave them the breath of life.
Will the skill that no human restorer of old things can duplicate,  God can take that seed of 'God's Image' buried deep in a soul ... and bring it to life, causing it to grow and transform the one who has placed his 'ruined' life in God's hands.  

  "So You will restore me and make me live." 
 Isa. 38:16  
   "For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,' says the LORD, 'Because they called you an outcast  ..." 
Jer 30:17 
   "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you " 
Joel 2:25

"WHOSOEVER (that's YOU) believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." 
John 3:15