Thursday, January 2, 2014

This "New" Year

Here we are again. According to the calendar, we are in a new year. I must admit, I haven't "celebrated" this annual event for quite some time. Maybe I'm just getting old, but staying up until midnight is not something I deal well with anymore. I like my sleep, and experience has shown me that nothing "magical" happens at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. In my "old/younger" days, New Year's Eve was mainly an excuse to "party-hearty"; that mode of recreation has certainly lost its charm.

It has got me to thinking, though. About all things "new". How in our society we are constantly reaching for them. From the latest and greatest in electronics, from clothes, to houses, to cars, to spouses. We so quickly abandon, and mark as obsolete, the outdated versions of these things, and so many more. The list is, quite literally, endless. There is this unquenchable thirst for what is new, because we are convinced that what is new must be better. I wonder sometimes if we are just dumb sheep being programmed by advertising and the media. We buy more and more "new" stuff, to the point where getting rid of the "old" stuff has become problematic. From a certain angle, this appears, at the very least, counter-productive and silly.

I know that getting older, and maybe it is just the "generation gap" having its effect on my thinking. But I am saddened, and even alarmed by things that I observe in our world. The English language seems to be devolving daily, due in large part to social media. My grandchildren are not being taught cursive writing in school; my grandson had to learn how to "write" his name when he started high school. Prior to that, he only had to write his first name, since there were no other kids who had that name. Once in high school, however, he had to start using his surname.  (This is only one example of things, or values, that have long held a place in our world that have gone by the wayside. There are too many more to explore and capture here.)

Lately I have this new affection for things old and used. I have started to make quilts. A large part of the appeal for me has been using up scraps of fabric, and I feel determined to use as little "new" fabric as possible. I prefer, instead, to seek out fabric from second-hand stores. The same for clothes, books, and anything else that I have need of.  There is this desire to shun the latest "must have", and I do find satisfaction in re-purposing that which might otherwise end up in a landfill.

Why do we crave newness? It is not an altogether bad thing to do. New life is a miracle, be it in plants, animals or humans. It is a miracle because it is God Who gives it and sustains it. We are programmed to create, and this is good. It is one of the ways that we share, albeit dimly, God's image. The problem arises when we worship the creature, and the created thing, rather than the Creator of all. We seek satisfaction where it will never be found, instead of where we were created to find it, in a relationship with Him.

Many are saying that Christ is coming soon. I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe even in my lifetime. I wonder how much worse things will get in this world before He does come. I look around and see such a dichotomy. Parts of the world are filled with people who have nothing, look forward to nothing but hunger and despair and persecution. And then there are the rest of us, happily being led by the promise of fulfillment in financial security, health and well being, fairy tale relationships, material possessions and social status. Meanwhile, the very fabric of our society is being eroded by the breakdown of the family unit. While science and technology advance, we are losing generations to warped value systems and an ever-increasing  tendency to self-fulfillment, divorced from any acknowledgement of absolute truth, let alone an Absolute God. 

Well, I didn't start out to bring a message of doom and gloom. And the good news is, there is hope. I am so thankful that, even though I may not live out my "resolutions" to perfection each day, God's mercies are new every morning. I don't have to wait until 2015 to start again. Each moment that I walk in His light, His blood cleanses me from all sin. And these promises are for anyone who will repent and believe. The world we live in is fallen and broken, but one day it will be made new, restored to the way it was meant to be. He will make all things right, and every knee will bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. It may not take place on December 31st of any given year, but it will mark a true, glorious, everlasting change. One that will not grow old, or need to be made "new and improved." It will be eternal perfection, and I am so looking forward to that. Happy New Year.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas Wish

I’ll spell out in a little rhyme
My wish for you this Christmas time.

This season, special though it be
Is not the only time, you see

To celebrate and praises give
For what God did so we might live.

We love to look with tender eyes
On Baby Jesus, where He lies

And wonder at Him, sweet and mild
This precious, tiny, Saviour Child.

But did you know that even now
He reigns above, and we should bow,

Give worship, honour, and adore;
He’s not a baby anymore!

He grew up like us, so He knew
All that we face; He faced it too!

He knows our greatest need is met
When He forgives our sins, and yet

We still resist, and He must move
To open hearts, and to us prove

That He is all we’ll ever need,
And in us place one tiny seed

Of faith that saves, and holds us fast
Until we see His face at last.

And so my wish, my prayer for you
Is that in grace, He would so do

If you have not Him yet received
Into your heart, then I would plead

That you might please consider then
Long past when Chrismas Season ends

This Jesus Christ, Who owns each day;
He is the Life, the Truth, the Way.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

At the Cross

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Galations 6:14)

How many things pull my thoughts and my heart away from God? From the truth of Jesus Christ crucified? It all begins, and ends, in that. If I take the truths of the implications of the Cross, and apply them to every situation and concern, I can only find hope. I can only find mercy. I can only find justice. I can only find victory. If I keep the Cross in view, if I imagine a continual cleansing flow, from His wounds, over me, I can only know joy and peace. If I imagine a shadow cast from His Cross, over all the world, over all history, over all the future, hope grows in me. No matter the reports of man. No matter my own inward confusions. They do not decide outcomes. They do not determine truth. Both of these are made complete in the Cross.

Not for a moment only
To lift my weight of sin
Nor simply to grant freedom 
And peace so deep within

But looking unto Jesus
Each moment I believe
Continually, forever
His blessings I receive

His body does not hang there
The nails, the wood, are gone
But in His body, always
The precious wounds belong

They serve as a reminder
Of all that they procured
And in them I find refuge
By them, my heart is stirred

Hi cross has cast its shadow
From 'ere time had begun
it reaches to the future
Its victory is won

His cross has been my portion
Has healed my broken past
It still will lead me onward
As long as life will last

For 'neath the cross of Jesus
So tiny I become
Each care and worry shrinking
Each knot of fear undone

Its shadow is my blanket
Of peace and promised rest
I curl up, safe, contented
His grace becomes my nest

My heart is sure to wander
Play fast and loose with grace
But gently He will bring me
Back to my hiding place

I cling to His dear promise
I gladly run the race
Keep looking unto Jesus
Until I see His face

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Down, Down, Down...That Lovely Sinking Feeling

The sun is shining today. I sit in my rocker and gaze out at the bare tree branches against the clear sky. It's dangerous to sit here, still in my pajamas and robe, afghan over my knees. Too comfy, too tempted to stay just a few more minutes. Still, it's good to take time to just breathe, and ponder.

My friend Deb and I are studying a book together. "Tempted and Tried" by Russell D. Moore. Highly recommended. Last night, the section we were discussing talked about our sometimes desperate need to be proven "right". I suffer from this malady myself. But nowhere can we see it played out with more zeal and variety of platforms than on the Internet. Being a Christian, I find myself drawn to peek in on those debates having to do with the Faith. I can go off in half a dozen different directions, and spend hours dropping in on discussion after discussion. It is a hook that pulls me further and further in, until I realize I am wasting too much time focusing on other people's opinions. Of course, at the bottom of all this is my own need to be right, to find others who share my own convictions and beliefs. I recognize this drive in myself, and  I am not happy about it.

There are SO many "Christian" debates, forums and blogs out there, some edifying and encouraging, others not so much. From time to time, I do pull away from them. Today I am at that point again. I feel a desire to skulk off, away from the cacophony of voices, and just meditate on Jesus. It's so easy to be distracted, so easy to major on the minors, so easy to neglect that one thing, that personal relationship with Him. In fact, it is often easier to follow the distractions than to get down to the nitty gritty of that relationship, because it will mean having to change, having to give up idols, having to admit that, after all, I am not "right" in some of my oh so highly and tightly held convictions. But in the end, it is the best thing.

This morning I read from Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest". Here is an excerpt from today's entry:

It is easier to be a fanatic than a faithful soul, because there is something amazingly humbling, particularly to our religious conceit, in being loyal to God.

Being loyal to God. Not to a denomination, or conviction, or creed, or cause, or perception of what the majority would say is "right". I have found that it is more difficult, because it means NOT being heard, not vindicating or justifying myself, not proving I am right. It means becoming smaller, saying less, listening more, and letting go of trying to find acceptance and approval in anyone or anything other than in Him. Funny thing is, the hardest part, letting go, leads to the best part; landing in that sweet realization that He IS enough. HIS love, HIS acceptance, HIS will. They really are all enough. So, down, down, down I go, sinking into the smallest place. At least for a while. At least for today.

Make me smaller, Jesus
Wipe my "self" away

Show me only rather
What You would have me say

Let me first consider
Before I start to speak

What You've said already
You, so mild and meek

Help me not consider
What man may think of me

Help me show them You Lord
So You,in me, they'll see

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Our Great High Priest

"Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
and Your law is truth" (Psalm 119:142).

There are so many jewels of truth to consider concerning Jesus Christ. One of these is His role as our Great High Priest. I have been reading some chapters in Hebrews over and over again, because the truths there are so astonishing. One that I have come to understand is that Jesus is forever our Great High Priest. He will continue to intercede on our behalf throughout eternity. When I first realized that, I was stunned. To me, it makes an incredible statement about the great love He has for us, and about our need of His intercession and righteousness.

We know that we have no righteousness of our own, and that our only hope is to have His righteousness applied to us. Everything in this world gets old and wears out. Nothing lasts forever. We are continually replacing things: appliances, clothing, cars, buildings, etc. And try as we might, we simply cannot keep these earthly tents of ours around forever; they will most certainly grow old, or sick, and die one day. Yet God's righteousness will be around forever. And we have the righteousness of Christ. I cannot seem to dwell enough on these things. I want to think and ponder over them till they truly penetrate my heart.

What a merciful God we have!

"The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:23-25).

(Originally posted 27.11.08)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

God Must Weep

Yesterday on my way to work I listened to a  story on the radio. An elderly lady received a floral bouquet from a good friend. Included in the arrangement was a willow branch. When the time came to discard the flowers, she discovered that the branch had sprouted leaves and roots, and could not bring herself to throw it away. Instead, she asked her caregiver to take the branch and nurture it along. Her feeling was that she had "given it life" and it "should not be thrown away" and that she now had a "responsibility" for it. The tree eventually was planted in a park, and is now a sort of shrine for people who leave rocks with little notes containing prayers underneath. You can find the entire story here in this newspaper article: .

Immediately as I heard how she felt responsibility for this new life, and that it should not be thrown away, I thought of the countless lives of unborn children that are discarded in this world. Abortion is an issue that disturbs me deeply. During the recent U.S. presidential campaign, I was horrified to read about Mr. Obama's stand on abortion, including his support of late term, partial birth "terminations" (a procedure you can see demonstrated here, but I warn you it is very disturbing)  It is hard to comprehend how such a heinous crime can be condoned in any country or culture, let alone in a "civilized" one.

In the U.S. there is strict legislation aimed at protecting the American Bald Eagle. Here is a brief excerpt from the "Legal Information Institute" website:
Whoever, within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, without being permitted to do so as provided in this subchapter, shall knowingly, or with wanton disregard for the consequences of his act take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or in any manner any bald eagle commonly known as the American eagle or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both: Provided, That in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for a violation of this section committed after October 23, 1972, such person shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof........ Boggles the mind, does it not? That more value is placed on a bird than on a human being created in God's image?

How about this news item from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website, March 9, 2012:

Three Toronto men have been fined a total of $10,500 for charges related to harvesting and possessing an endangered plant species on private land.
Jong Hak Lee, Joe Yeal Yu and Seong Gon Lee all pleaded guilty to possessing wild American Ginseng in contravention of the Endangered Species Act and were fined $2,000 each. All three men also pleaded guilty to entering on posted private land in contravention of the Trespass to Property Act and were fined $500 each. Jong Hak Lee pleaded guilty to the additional charge of taking wild American Ginseng in contravention of the Endangered Species Act and was fined $3,000.

They were find thousands of dollars for  harvesting and possessing an endangered plant species on private land. Again, I ask you, does this make any sense at all?

I love God. I love life. I love creation. I love people. But I hate the "world", the way it functions in rebellion to God. Its mindsets, its priorities, its ongoing slide into destruction and depravity. I hate abortion. I hate that it takes the life from innocent babies that God has given to them.I hate the lie that is fed to women in desperate situations; I hate that they are not instead told of the hope that is in Christ, and given loving support to enable them to bring their babies to term, and either keep them or give them to a family who is desperate to have a child to love. I hate the way babies are ripped from the safety of the womb to be tossed out as garbage. If my heart breaks for them, how much more does God's.

If you are reading this and you agree with me, please pray for women who may find themselves contemplating this desperate act. Pray for our governments that they will turn from this wicked legalization of murder. Pray that God would appoint brave leaders that will stand for the rights of those who cannot protect themselves.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bread of Life

God never does anything by accident. From the things that we "get" right away, to those that make us scratch our heads in wonder, to those things that escape our notice completely. Take for instance the setting for the birth of Christ. He came into this world in a lowly stable, and His bassinet was a rough feeding trough. As for His death, He left this world writhing in agony on a cruel wooden cross.  In between He was raised in a working class family, and spent His ministry years as an itinerant preacher, with no possessions save those He wore or carried with Him.Yet He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and Savior of the world. God's ways are indeed not ours.

Quite often, though, if we consider His ways, we will find the reason for them, and the message intended for us. I love to ponder these things, and if I am not too distracted, Holy Spirit will lead my thoughts, not on a rabbit trail, but along a path dotted with "oh, now I get it" moments. As He does with all whom He indwells.

This morning I watched a sermon on television. It focused on the birth of Christ, and of course mentioned the circumstances of His birth, including the feeding trough that was His crib. Got me to thinking how even at the very beginning God chose to put Him on display in a way that spoke of His being "food".  Not, obviously, as fodder for those animals that may have been present at His birth, but as spiritual food, healing sustenance, meant for mankind to partake of.

Scripture tells us that there is more than a physical life, and a physical food that we require to "live". We see it first in Deuteronomy Chapter 8, and Jesus repeats it again when He is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness:


In John 6:35 Jesus puts into a few words the truth that He alone can give eternal life. He states it again in John 6:51:

 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. 

Here His offer is twofold: first He offers that supernatural, eternal  life that God alone can give, that life that overcomes death and hell and the grave and brings us to an eternity spent with Him. Jesus goes on to say that this offer of Himself includes the giving up of His physical being, His very flesh. Nothing is spared here; the gift is infinitely sacrificial.

Jesus continues to offer food in other instances. In John Chapter 6 He feeds the crowd of more than 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish. Another time He does the same with seven loaves and "a few small fish" (Mathew 15:34).

Once more He uses bread, and this time wine also, to represent His body and blood at the last supper:

 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."

And again, after His death and resurrection, he offers bread and fish to His disciples at the beach where they encounter Him:

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise.  This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. (John 21:12-14)

The most dramatic instance of Jesus offering Himself up is His sacrificial death on the cross at Calvary. Here He becomes the ultimate and final  sacrifice for sin, far overshadowing and outweighing those countless animal offerings that led up to that one perfect and perfecting redemptive act. Here He fulfills His promise to give His life for the life of the world.

At this time of year, food is an important part of the way we celebrate the season. We bake, buy and bring scrumptious treats. Workplaces abound with goodies, families gather 'round sumptuous feasts, and we wrap up chocolates and homemade potions to be given as gifts. It is a time, more than any other in the year, when we share with others what we have been blessed with. It's easy to do, because most of us are blessed with much. But the greatest blessing we can have is to be in Christ, and He is the greatest gift we can offer to others. We have more than enough physical food, but many are starving for that Living Bread. He was meant to be shared. And He is more than enough to go around.