Thursday, December 24, 2009


Winter is upon us! Up until recently, it looked as though we would be having a green Christmas. Now a sudden blanket of snow suggests the opposite. No matter what the weather, however, the season and all that it entails, is always celebrated with the usual enthusiasm.

Of all the images that surface this time of year, my favourite is the nativity. I love nativity scenes, and the Christmas Story. I love thinking about that time, when Mary gave birth to Jesus; she knew He was special and not just any baby. The angel had come to her and explained what His role would be:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” (Luke 1:31-32)

Mary’s husband Joseph also had an angelic visitation, in a dream. The angel spoke to reassure him that he should proceed with his marriage to Mary:
“She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 2: 21)

The prophet Isaiah spoke also of Jesus, foretelling His birth: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God with us)” Isaiah 7:14

Imagine, God coming to us in the form of a tiny baby! But the story does not end at that stable in Bethlehem. We love to gaze on that scene, on baby Jesus, so sweet and helpless. But that babe grew up; a man, yet fully God. He walked with humankind, and experienced life as they did. He was Almighty God, yet left the glory of that position to show us what God is like. Not only that, but He gave His own life in payment for the sins of the world.

We love the warm fuzzies we get when we decorate, hang pretty lights, and listen to Christmas Carols. But there is so much more to the Christmas Story than the babe and the shepherds and the wise men. That baby became a man, died for us, and is now alive in Heaven. He was born, not to give us a reason for a Christmas season, but to make a way for us to be reconciled to God. So when you see him there in the manger, fast forward to our ultimate cause for celebration, God’s great love gift to us: He came to die, so that we might have life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This is Protection??????

I don't know about you, but all the hoopla around H1N1 has had me spinning. At the end of it all, I chose not to get the vaccine. My feeling is that the whole thing has been blown out of proportion, and it might be riskier to get the shot than to risk getting the virus. I just don't trust "the powers that be" or the media to present all the facts.

What about you? What are your thoughts? Take a moment to share them in the comments section. I would be really interested to hear them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Dream Comes True

There was a miracle in my family recently. Thirty-four years ago, my then fifteen year old sister had a baby boy. She chose to place him for adoption. Since then, she has wondered about him, and that wondering evolved into a desperate desire to find him. Her situation was made more poignant by the fact that she was never able to have another child.

Over the years she has tried every avenue to find out where he was. Some weeks ago, she finally discovered his adoptive name. Greatly encouraged, she searched countless online resources, and placed ads everywhere that she could think of. But frustratingly, there were no results. Finally, at the end of her rope with desperation, she called out to God, tearfully pleading with Him to find this son that, though she had not seen him since birth, she loved. Two days later she received an email.

It turns out that this son, Jason, had been searching for her all along. His wife, on a sudden impulse, had simply “googled” his name, and there before her was an ad my sister had placed on Kijiji. She immediately emailed my sister, and you can imagine the rest of the story. Needless to say, our entire family is elated, and rejoicing with my sister.

God has blessed me with three children. Though she is a mom also, my sister cannot relate to me in so far as what it is like to raise a child. On the other hand, I cannot begin to enter into her experience of having finally found a child that she never knew, yet longed to have in her life. He was, in practical terms, “lost” to her. At times, she wondered if he were even still alive. The joy she has now is something that I can only look at from a distance, and I thank God for His mercy in her situation.

Jesus told a parable about a lost sheep. A man who had a hundred sheep lost one of them. He left the ninety-nine others and searched for the lost one until he found it. When he came home, he called his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him. Jesus compares that one lost sheep to someone who turns to Him for forgiveness:

“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)

Having witnessed my sister’s joy, I can begin to imagine the joy in God’s heart whenever someone trusts in Jesus Christ, and a soul is saved for all eternity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's Controlling You?

I had a bit of an epiphany last night. While chatting with friends, the subject of a certain television series came up. One of the ladies present said that she had purchased the series, having heard that it was quite good. It chronicled the marriages of Henry VIII of England, and all the political intrigue that went along with them. This lady admitted that she hadn't watched television in about three years, for various reasons. She brought the dvds home and suggested to her husband that they watch an episode. Not long into the program, a rather explicit sex scene unfolded. She fast forwarded the dvd, hoping that there would be no more. Alas, along came another one. They stopped the dvd, and didn't watch any further.

My friend was shocked at the sexual content of this program. She returned to Walmart, and expressed this to the clerk, stating that it was nothing short of pornographic. She couldn't believe that this type of thing would be allowed on televisoin. At first I was tempted to think that she was exaggerating. Then I realized that she was right on.

The first time that I watched the same program, I was shocked by the sexual content. I decided that I wouldn't watch any further episodes. But as is too often the case, I found myself tuning in again. I justified this by telling myself that having no cable or satellite, I didn't have much of a choice in programming. Also, I reasoned that perhaps the next episode wouldn't have such blatant sexual scenes. I was wrong.

As I sat and listened to my friend express her shock, I was convicted of how lax I had become around what I was watching on televison. Not only television programs, but movies that I rented or borrowed from the Library. All too often, they were filled with cursing, violence and sex.

In the morning of the same day, I had listened to an interview on a Christian radio station. A woman author was talking about her book. In it, she encourages parents to do all that they can to guard their children from being polluted by the influence of a morally bankrupt worldview. She told of how parents were so shocked to find that their young sons were viewing pornography on the Internet. "What do they expect? Garbage in, garbage out," was her response. She was referring to the influence of televison and movies on children and teens today. Sexual content has become commonplace, and we are being de-sensetized to it.

Thinking about these things has brought me to a resolution to be stricter about what I allow myself to take in, when it comes to televison and movies. My flesh doesn't object to mindless consumption of garbage from the idiot box, but I know from past experience that whatever I watch is automatically saved in my memory bank.

There seems to be no limit to the crudeness and blatant sexual innuendo that is allowed on televison today. It's not only the children that need to have their minds protected; we adults have to make sure we choose wisely what we allow to enter through our eyes and ears. So much of what is on television and in movies today is nothing but sin in action; we accept as "normal" what God finds offensive and an abomination. I don't know about you, but I think I had better find other things to occupy myself with for "relaxation". There doesn't seem to be much on televsion that is edifying or glorifying to God these days.

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Rom. 4:8

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Happy Together

Recently I attended the New England House Church Conference in Putnam, Connecticut. It started on Friday evening and finished up on Saturday evening, and was well worth the 9 hour drive each way. New friends were made, questions answered, and there was fun had by all. I’m so glad that I went. Not only did I gain a clearer understanding of what God’s intentions are for His body here on earth, but as an incredible bonus, I took a huge leap in my apprehension of God as my Father.

My travelling companions and I have been friends for at least 8 years. God has kindly brought us together to encourage and support each other. They are friends that I can just be myself with, and that is a great blessing. Always when we are together, we laugh a lot. We tease and kid one another, tell really bad jokes, act like fools, and freely express our love for each other. These relationships are so precious to me.

During our drive home, we listened to a tape by Beresford Job, who spoke at the conference. He was describing God as our Father, and explaining that the primary thing that God desired from us, His church, was our love. He wants us to show Him that we love Him. Of course, this love we ought to have for Him involves obedience. But that is not the total definition of it. In Matthew 22, verse 37, Jesus explains the greatest commandment: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

As I listened to Beresford quote scripture, and talk about God’s love toward us, His children, it was as though I had a new glimpse of the Father heart of God. Something in me relaxed. Something that had perhaps all my life been held at arm’s length, cowering, afraid to step forward. I dared to view God the Father as a REAL father, and not just as my Father in name only.

I have heard it said many times that we can impose aspects of our relationship with our earthly father onto that with our Heavenly Father. My dad was an alcoholic. Life at my house was interspersed either with outbursts of anger, or tense silences filled with anticipation of those outbursts. Perhaps it was growing up in that atmosphere that has stunted my understanding of actually being the child of a God Who loves unconditionally. Or maybe it was the strict, graceless religion of the teaching I received from the Catholic Church. God was represented for me by that shadowy figure of a priest behind a screen in the dark confession box. I crept in there with fear and trepidation, hoping I had remembered all of my sins, then slunk out to say my “penance”. Any peace of soul was shortlived, as I strove to appease the God of my understanding, who continually observed me from a distance, tracking my every misdemeanor on some great celestial clipboard that He held.

As a Christian, I know that I carried this performance-based attitude with me. Even though I understood the truth that I was saved by grace alone, I still struggled with trying to measure up as a Christian. Leaving the institutional church has alleviated a great deal of that pressure, but still, in my innermost being, I have found it difficult to realize experientially the acceptance that I have with my Father in Heaven in Christ. I choose to believe what Scripture says about Him, but don't often have a true heart realization of these truths. He is not a distant, demanding, critical Father whose love and acceptance comes and goes. He is the father that ran to meet the returning prodigal son. He is not that faceless priest who listens silently while I mumble out a list of sins, and then hands out my “sentence” in a matter of fact way. He is “Abba, Daddy” that I cry out to, and pour out my soul to. He loves me the same way that He loves His Son, since I am included in Christ, accepted in Him.

As we neared the end of our homeward journey from the conference, the night sky was dark, and dotted with brilliant pinpoints of shining stars. Praise music played on the radio, and any conversation was quiet. I laid my head back and gazed out the window, reflecting on the greatness of a God who had hung each star, and knew each by name. It occurred to me that as His children, we were like a bunch of kids who were coming home from a day at the beach, or the fair; all tuckered out, happy to just be together, content after a day of play, food and fun. I imagined Him gazing down at us, delighted in our joy at being together. I had a sense of His pleasure at our pleasure.

John Piper coined the phrase “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” That night I really caught the truth of that thought. Because we were satisfied in Him. All of our joy, fellowship and pleasure was because of Him; His Spirit in us, His love for us, our love for one another. And we knew it. It was an unspoken truth, but one that I know we would all agree on. He has knit us together in love, with each other, and with Him. Our fellowship is IN Him, through His Son. Joint heirs with Jesus, we are His children, loved with a perfect love.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walking By Faith

This is a devotional from "Streams in the Desert." I thought it was quite good, and one that I'm sure many can relate to.

"We walk by faith, not by appearance." (2 Cor. 5:7, R.V)

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. but God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him.

God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise.

Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God's facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God's facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

(Author unknown)

Monday, September 14, 2009

For The Least of These..............

I gave twenty dollars to a stranger today. He was standing at a busy intersection, holding a cardboard sign that said "broke and hungry." This is a common practice in my city. Sometimes it is a young woman, sometimes a young man, or maybe both. The fellow today looked fairly down and out. He wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a skull motif, and had many tatoos. A heavy backpack completed his outfit.

These folks make me uncomfortable when I come across them. My first impulse is usually to open my wallet to give them some money. If my husband is with me, I don't do this. He is convinced that they are all drug addicts or alcoholics looking for a fix. Or people with jobs who are making extra money. So, knowing this, I hesitate. Lots of times I just drive by. But today, even though I am going through some financial hardship myself, I decided to stop and talk to the guy. I knew I had the twenty dollar bill in my wallet, and some small change. I thought that even though things were tight for myself, at least I had a home and food in the fridge.

I asked him what was going on with him. He told me a story about being injured on the job, coming from Kingston, waiting for Worker's Compensation, thinking about going out west to find a job. Of course, I had no way of knowing if he was lying to me or not. So I handed him the twenty dollar bill and said "God bless you." He thanked me, said "God bless you too." Then he walked away.

As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him walk over to a bicycle, hop on it and ride away. A little dog ran alongside him. For all I know, he could have been heading for the Beer Store, which was just across the street. I didn't bother to "tail" him, however. If that is where he went, I didn't want to know.

I wonder if it is our pride that makes us hesitate to give money to these people. We don't want to be taken advantage of, or be "taken in" by some kind of scam. Or perhaps we don't want to risk being an "enabler" to someone's addiction. I only know that there must be some truly desperate, needy people out there, among the "fakers". I only know that I have been so incredibly blessed in my life, and that it might have been me, or my son, or my daughter, out there on some street corner, trying to survive in desperate circumstances.

Of course, I always have to ask myself, "what does God want me to do?" I think He would want me to share what I have been blessed with, and leave the results up to Him. What about you? Do you have any similar experiences to share? Any thoughts?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not Finished Yet.............

I received some very disappointing news the other day. Not totally unexpected, but I really was hoping for a different outcome. It has threatened to plunge me into an abyss of hopelessness. But I keep clawing my way back up. I don't want to go there.

I read this verse from a daily devotional this morning:

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." (Psalm 138:8)

The reading was about how God uses suffering to bring us into a place of peaceful submission to His will, after which He will do a great work in us. To quote:

"Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus."

Sounds glorious, doesn't it? I can read those types of quotes on a good day and agree with them. But when I am in the midst of a struggle, I say to myself "just wake me up when it's over!" Do you ever feel that way?

Still, we are in His hands, no matter what the circumstance is. We are in process. Just like the young cardinal above, who has a long way to go before he is a glorious red color, we are growing in Christ-likeness. God is doing a work; not outwardly to make us a brilliant crimson against a blue sky, but to perfect in us a sweet smelling savor that will draw the lost, and an inward brightness to be lights in a dark world.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thou Remainest (Heb. 1:11)

I love getting together with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We meet on Sunday mornings, and it seems we are lingering later and later each week. No one really wants to leave. As I have heard said, being with each other to remember Christ and worship Him is the closest thing to heaven that we can experience here on earth.

Yesterday was no exception. We all shared; our struggles, our convictions, our joy in knowing that God's grace is there for each of us, every moment. We shared words of life and encouragement, and sat in awe of how God is working amongst us, giving us such a love for each other, and a desire to know Him more and more.

Every week I am challenged. Every week I am edified. Every week I come away with a renewed confidence in God's promises, with my heart stirred up afresh. Oh how I want to stay in that place of happy submission and dependence on Him! But the world, my flesh, and the devil so soon creep in, threatening to wash it all away, like a sand castle at the beach is slowly dissolved by the approaching tide.

Yesterday I read from my daily devotional, "Streams in the Desert". It spoke of the difference between "realizing" Christ's presence and "recognizing" it. I will quote some of it here:

"Realizing is blessed, but rare. It belongs to the mood, to the feelings. It is dependent on weather conditions and bodily conditions. The rain, the heavy fog outside, the poor sleep, the twinging pain, these make on's mood so much, they seem to blur out the realizing. But there is something a little higher up than relaizing. It is yet more blessed. It is independent of these outer conditions, it is something that abides. It is this: recognizing that presence unseen, so wondrous and quieting, so soothing and calming and warming. Recognize His presence, the Master's own. He is here, close by; His presence is real. Recognizing will help realizing too, but it never depends on it. - S.D. Gordon (Streams in the Desert, September 6th)

I was so encouraged by these words. I hope they encourage you today, to remember that no matter how we are feeling, or what circumstances we are in at the moment, He is there. Never to leave nor forsake. When our thoughts stray from Him, still His remain on us, and His care of us never wavers. Be certain of it today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When Things are Right

Can anything be more precious in life,
Than a heart that is right with the LORD?

Could money obtain, secure, or regain,
The rest only grace can afford?

An apple, so shiny, and bright red, with candy,
Can sparkle and catch the eye

But hidden within, are bruises, like sin,
That fester unseen, and defile.

O joy of knowing His forgiving embrace,
Of meeting His gaze without shame.

Much dearer and priceless, more lovely by far,
Than all idols your heart longed to claim.

O LORD grant us grace, these lessons to learn,
Us who are dull, fickle, and vain.

We long to be like you, our heart next to yours,
With nary a blemish or stain.

Teach us our weakness, our proneness to fail,
So daily we might look to You,

For strength and discernment, and grace, to prevail,
In striving to be, like You, true.

Reward here and now, in knowing You near,
So rich, undeserved, and so sweet;

To think that there waits, in heaven, for us,
Delights that we have yet to meet.

But may we look forward, in all of our hope,
Most often, most deeply, with love,

To the moment, and moments, forever to come,
Seeing You, face to face, at last Home.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

To Each One is Given......

I believe that one of the most tragic and disabling lies that has been swallowed by many Christians is that the so called "Sign" Gifts of the Holy Spirit were not meant to be used or manifested in this present day. I believe that Satan is behind this diabolical plot to render the church at once powerless, and laughable, in the eyes of the world.

My "church" background is varied. Raised Roman Catholic, I attended a Pentecostal Church for 6 years, and then a Brethren chapel. I was involved in the extreme end of the "charismatic" movement for a time, and God showed me some of the deception involved there. Since we are people of extremes, I then swung to the other end of the pendulum, ending up in a Brethren environment. There, I was in huge conflict over the gifts of the Spirit. They were taught to be for a time only, in New Testament days, and that one should not be seeking them. Confusion reigned in me, since I knew that I was receiving much truth in other areas, such as the sovereignty and holiness of God. Could they be right about these things, and so wrong about others? I tried to convince myself that they were right, but I know now that the Holy Spirit was being quenched inside of me.

Currently I am part of a home church group. We have been meeting for less than a year, some joining only recently, and we are still in awe of how God is working in our midst. We are learning what it means to have freedom in Christ, unhindered by tradition and standards set by man. We are sharing our homes and hearts, learning and growing together into our Head, Jesus Christ. We praise God for what He is doing.

This morning we were commenting on what we each have brought to our group; the differences in personalities, knowledge of the Bible, and other areas. I can see that God has selected each one of us to be together, to be this local body for Him on earth. We are taking baby steps, and still shedding some of the wrong understanding of what being the church should look like.

Recent teaching I have heard has been on the Gifts of the Spirit. The teaching was low key, matter of fact, and for the first time, I heard this topic taught simply, as it appears on the pages of scripture. There were no hermeneutical hoops that were jumped through. No complicated intrepretation of verses. Some Greek words were explained. But essentially, the end result was that I finally understood what the gifts were, what their purpose is, and how we are to seek and use them. Not in the flashy, weird way that I have seen the so-called gifts used in the past. But in a Spirit directed, orderly fashion. For the edification of the church. As a way for God to reveal Himself to the unbelieving world. For the empowerment of God's people, so that they might do those works that He has prepared in advance for them to do. For the Glory of God.

In retrospect, I see what has happened as a result of these gifts being refused and misunderstood. The Pentecostal movement saw a return of them. Sadly, we see today a variety of "falsified" manifestations of the Spirit; either born of the flesh, or perpetrated by Satan, who can disguise himself as an angel of light. At the other end of the spectrum, we see large amounts of brothers and sisters being hoodwinked by the lie that I mention in the first paragraph. In that arena, we have traded them in for man made structures and systems, programs and policies, in an attempt to produce what only God's Spirit can. In both cases, the body of Christ is losing out. We are not appropriating what is there for us. All of Heaven is open to us! God is prepared, and longs to, reveal Himself through us. Instead, for the most part, we are powerless, worldy and ineffective in the world around us.

But I have hope. God is coming back for His spotless bride. He will tear down the structures we have built in our attempts to replace what we have cheated ourselves of. He will gather all of His sheep, and He will once again work powerfully through His people. One at a time. Praise His Name forever.

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Sprit for the common good." (1Cor. 12:4-7)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Here Comes the Bride

The summer months are a popular time for weddings. So are September and October, when the brilliant colors of the changing leaves make a beautiful setting for wedding photos. My own wedding was in October. It seems a long time ago now, but I still remember the planning, and the anticipation leading up to that day.

Weddings are momentous occasions, and so much hinges on all things flowing together smoothly, to make that perfect day that every bride dreams of. She works and plans for months to prepare, not only for the ceremony and the reception, but to make herself ready. Picking out “the dress” is a particularly important piece of the preparations, as the bride tends to be the focus of the day. She is slowly led up the aisle to meet her waiting husband to be. All eyes are on her. She has longed and waited and prepared for this day, this moment. She has bathed and had hair, face and nails done. She wants to look her absolute best for the man she loves.

In the Bible, God’s church is compared to a Bride, and Jesus Christ is compared to a Bridegroom. Instructions are given for husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25)

In giving His life for His bride, Jesus Himself made it possible that she would be ready for the wedding day: “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Eph. 5:26, 27)

In the Book of Revelation, we read about the marriage of the Lamb (Christ) to His bride, and a reception: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come…..Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19:7, 9)

When I attend a wedding, I love to sneak a look at the face of the groom as he watches his betrothed come up the aisle. Often, his face will show the emotions of the moment: tenderness, love, anticipation. Who can imagine the emotions that will be displayed on the Savior’s face, as He greets His Bride, at the wedding that has been anticipated since the beginning of time? I so long for that day, and so hope that I will see you there.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Squeaky Clean

At my workplace we once had a week long promotion around infection control, with the importance of hand washing being highlighted. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to wash one’s hands. And it is the number one method of preventing the spread of germs.

In the last decade or so, the war against germs has intensified, both in public buildings and private homes. Antiseptic hand cleansers are everywhere. Cleaning products and personal hygiene products no longer simply clean; they also promise to kill 99% of household germs, or whatever little critters might be hiding out on your hands or between your teeth. Seems we just can’t get clean enough!

Yet in spite of this “germ warfare”, the widespread use of antibiotics, and an ever increasing variety of vaccines, we are still faced with more and more virulent forms of viruses and infections throughout the world today. We sterilize, immunize, and sanitize, yet seem to be losing ground in our efforts to combat an ever growing list of dangerous pathogens.

Another trend is to fast, or cleanse the body of unhealthy “build up” by using a variety of diets and products. We have air purifiers for our homes, buy bottled water by the gallon, look for food grown without pesticide use and organically fed animal products. We live in a world with poisoned air, water and soil, and are continually searching out ways to avoid polluting our bodies with the never ending list of contaminants that we are surrounded with.

When I consider all these things, I can’t help but think of what the Bible says about our “inward” selves; our hearts. Jesus criticized the “religious” leaders of His day. They were all about doing the right things, following rituals of washing and fasting, and looking respectable outwardly. Yet He saw that their hearts were the main problem, and had this to say to them, “…you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self indulgence…first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matthew 23:25-26 NASB.)

Jesus knew the importance of having a “clean” heart. Our bodies are temporary tents to eternal souls. He knows that no earthly “product” or method will ever be able to give us clean hearts; He is the only One Who can.

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:7,10)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. One of those "Hallmark" days when cards and flowers are almost mandatory expressions of love from sons and daughters to their mothers. In my family, we don't have any hard and fast traditions that we adhere to in terms of celebratory get togethers. Schedules and locales don't always allow for everyone to be together at the "right" time, and so whatever day I can see any of my children or grandchildren is special to me. Having them all together is indeed rare, and so we arrange this whenever opportunities present themselves.

This year, I received a card and gift from one child out of three. Am I disappointed? No way. As I drove my son to the bus station today after a three day visit, he said "oh yeah, today is Mother's Day." I guess it wasn't a priority for him to remember the day, let alone buy me a card. He was apologetic about this, but I told him that having him for a visit was a gift in itself. And he knows I meant it.

When they were small, my kids all made the usual "treasures" and hand made cards in school for Mother's Day. I wish I had kept more of them. Those days seem so long ago, and I often wish I could go back and relive just a few of those precious times.

Being a mom is a gift in itself. Lots of women aren't able to have children who want them desperately. God blessed me with three. Every day is "Mother's Day", because every day is a day I know they are out there, grown up now, and making their way in the world.

Being a mother doesn't end when they grow up and leave home. They don't always make the choices that I would want them to, and this is sometimes hard to watch. Yet I have the wonderful privilege and blessing of lifting them up to my Father in Heaven, and asking Him to bless and keep them, and to bring them into His family. I can no longer watch over them and make sure they are safe, but He can. So I lift them up today, and trust that He will. I thank Him for them, and for the awesome privilege of being their mother, every day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Cost of Living

Nowadays, the media is full of commentaries regarding the cost of living, including reports on the price of energy, food, housing, medical care, transportation, education, and of course, daily accounts of the fluctuating value of our Canadian dollar. To us, the term “cost of living” applies strictly to what we have to pay for our everyday “goods and services”, those things which we see as necessities of life, and what income bracket we will need to be in to enjoy our desired lifestyle.

In spiritual terms, however, the Bible has much to say about living that is in no way connected to material things. Scripture speaks repeatedly about the life of our soul. There is another life to be lived, an eternal one. It is available at, amazingly, no cost at all to us. But, as most of us have learned through experience, there is nothing in life that is truly “free.” Whenever we see that term used in an advertisement for some product, we immediately realize that there must be a cost somewhere for the deal that we are being offered.

God’s offer of eternal life is indeed free to each person who will receive it by faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did on our behalf, by taking the punishment we deserve for our sin. But He paid the price for this life, for the debt incurred by our sin, the cost for the “living” that will go on forever, and not end when our physical bodies reach the limit of their endurance. This price is one we could never pay; “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6.)

Life keeps us busy, and we all are focused on the here and now, with its many demands. At this time of year, tradition turns our attention once more to the universal symbol of Christianity, the Cross of Christ. As we go through each day, “making our living”, and attending to all the details of life, it reminds us of the ultimate price that was paid, for the greatest gift of all, the gift of eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23.)

Originally published as an article in "The Millbrook Times"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Long Time No See

Thought I should pop in and say hello. I haven't been visiting the Blogosphere much lately. I have been focusing in other directions; some of necessity, others by choice. Plus I am finding it difficult these days to put my thoughts down. But will give it a try here.

There is one theme, though, that I have been dwelling on. I have been away from work for over 4 months now. It doesn't seem possible. In some ways I am disappointed that I have had so much free time, and accomplished so little. But when I really think about it, this time has been a gift, straight from the Father of Lights.

Did you ever want to start over? If your life has been lived on a treadmill, the way mine has for years, I'm sure the thought must have occurred to you. To pull the plug. Hit the emergency "STOP" button. To yell "somebody get me off this thing!" Anyhow, that is how I have felt for a long time. I was going through the days, the weeks, the months, the years, feeling pushed from behind and pulled from every direction. No time to think. No time to rest. No time to listen to what Holy Spirit might be saying to me. I heard many other voices; from friends, family, the media, colleagues, teachers and preachers and writers. I tried to keep up with them all; all the demands, advice, perceived (on my part) expectations. It was like trying to dance to 6 different songs at the same time. I'm not placing blame, only on myself. I'm the one that let my Father's voice be drowned out. I'm the one that jumped through all the hoops, and stopped running into His arms.

So now I am in a better place, I think. Even though I am not "well" by some standards. I am finding peace. I am finding contentment. I am living at a slower speed, and letting myself be gently led, instead of frantically trying to "keep up". It's a new way to be, and it has been a difficult adjustment. But I am grateful, oh so grateful, to have this opportunity. I pray that much will be accomplished on the inside of me, even as I sort through the tangible aspects of life, clearing away the clutter, and finding that sweet, simple, easy rest that is to be ours in Christ.

I pray too that if you are feeling the pressures of this world, that you will ask our Lord to show you how to shut out all voices save His, so He can show you that easy yoke, and light burden, that He will share with you.

Grace and Peace from our Lord Jesus Christ to you all.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Praising Jesus

I am cheating a lot these days. Can't seem to get my thoughts down very well. So here is something from C.H. Spurgeon; he always says it better than I ever could.

"To him be glory both now and forever."
-- 2 Peter 3:18

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! thine
unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course, but forever and
for ever, "to him be glory." Is he not a "Priest for ever after the
order of Melchizedek"? "To him be glory." Is he not king for ever?-King
of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? "To him be glory
for ever."

Never shall his praises cease. That which was bought with
blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the
cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the
resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus! thou shalt be praised for
ever. Long as immortal spirits live-long as the Father's throne
endures-for ever, for ever, unto thee shall be glory.

Believer, you are anticipating the time when you shall join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are you glorifying him now? The apostle's words are, "To him be glory both now and for ever." Will you not this day make it your prayer?

"Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor, help me to glorify thee by contentment; I am sick, help me to give thee honour by patience; I have talents, help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time, Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel, Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee; I have a head to think,Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something, Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much, but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have."

Wonderful reminders, are they not?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Rest of Christ

"Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden--and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

There is also a FUTURE rest beyond any that can be experienced here, though our best conceptions are most inadequate of the glory awaiting the people of God.

In Heaven, there shall be a perfect resting from all of our sins--for nothing shall ever enter there, which could either defile or disturb our peace. The Christian yearns to be done with sin forever--that there may never again be anything in his heart or life dishonoring unto the One who has redeemed him at such infinite cost. He pants for perfect conformity to the image of Christ, and for unbroken fellowship with Him.

What it will mean to be delivered from indwelling corruptions--no mortal tongue can tell. The plague of their hearts is a constant occasion of grief to the saints--as long as they are left in this wilderness of sin. It is a burden under which they groan, and from which they long to be delivered. The closer a believer's walk with the Lord, and the more intimate his communion with Him--the more bitterly he bewails that sin within him, which is ever fighting against his endeavors after holiness. Therefore it was, that the Apostle cried out, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death!" (Romans 7:24) But blessed be God, we shall not carry this burden beyond the grave--the hour of death will free us from all indwelling evil.

In Heaven, there will be perpetual rest from all our afflictions. Though afflictions are needful for us in this present scene, and when sanctified to us are also profitable; nevertheless they are grievous to bear. But a day is coming when such tribulations will no longer be necessary, for all the dross shall have been purged from the gold. The storms of life will all be behind, and an unbroken calm shall be the believer's portion forever and ever!

Where there shall be no more sin--there shall be no more sorrow! "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes! And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever!" Revelation 21:4

"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest!" Psalm 55:6

(Arthur Pink)

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Your Heavenly Father"

Matthew 6:26

God's people are doubly his children, they are his offspring by creation, and they are his sons by adoption in Christ. Hence they are privileged to call him, "Our Father which art in heaven."

Father! Oh, what precious word is that. Here is authority: "If I be a Father, where is mine honour?" If ye be sons, where is your obedience? Here is affection mingled with authority; an authority which does not provoke rebellion; an obedience demanded which is most cheerfully rendered-which would not be withheld even if it might.

The obedience which God's children yield to him must be loving obedience. Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster's toil, but run in the way of his commands because it is your Father's way. Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father's will, and his will should be the will of his child.

Father!-Here is a kingly attribute so sweetly veiled in love, that the King's crown is forgotten in the King's face, and his sceptre becomes, not a rod of iron, but a silver sceptre of mercy-the sceptre indeed seems to be forgotten in the tender hand of him who wields it.

Father!-Here is honour and love. How great is a Father's love to his children! That which friendship cannot do, and mere benevolence will not attempt, a father's heart and hand must do for his sons. They are his offspring, he must bless them; they are his children, he must show himself strong in their defence. If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father?

Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can reach. There is heaven in the depth of that word-Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire. I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, "Father."

C.H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


When will the time come when I have every confidence in myself?
Never because I know something of me and there are too many things there to get in the way to sabotage prevent ruin or totally destroy a good result so the best thing to do is to look outside of me and trust Someone else for the outcome.

Consider the lilies of the field.

Just one minute aspect of creation.
There is so much more that cries out to us that there is indeed a Master Designer.
All of creation is waiting confident I am sure of final restoration.
Not like us who fear and tremble in our so small faith.
Sometimes I envy these plants and rocks and fish.
The don’t really have a mind to make up or a wrong wish to resist only following the pattern they are cut out from.

What about faces with no hope?

Eyes that have given up seeing?
They look but don’t expect to find so they miss the whole point of it all.
Can you imagine a sadder story than that of even one life wasted?
Created for glory but bound for destruction.
Oh the tragedy of hope never even dreamed of when it has existed forever!

So many blind eyes and frozen hearts.

What can melt them?
When will they see the beauty of the Truth?
It is a picture I can never paint.
A story I can never tell.
It has to be revealed.
It is too opposite foreign to anyone’s mind or understanding.

Think of something just because it is.
Like air,
soft breath on a summer night.
Warm and calm and still like peace coming after a raging battle.
A fierce storm but the wrath of it passes and healing falls in gentle drops of rain that feed instead of crush,
and wind becomes welcome refreshment when it slows down to kiss your face.
It is cool though the air around you is warm.
It is from somewhere else.
It is meant just for you.
Sent just to you for this precise moment, this exact time.
And so you close your eyes to receive it and you know it is because of Love.
And you trust and don’t fear because in an instant you know you realize that you are of much more value than a sparrow,
and this kind of care is nothing like what anyone else could give you.
Why would you look further when you have found this Pearl of Great Price?

Pearls grow in oysters.

What a perfect place to become what they are meant to be.
How many were never yet found and how big will they grow?
As many as are meant to be found will be found.

How many details are there in one life in one moment of time?

Who can fathom it?
Think if it and be humbled.
Who are we to say anything to the Potter?

How many people can you fit into your life?

How many things books jobs projects trips prayers? (Need more of those.)

Can a soul be barren like a desert then spring up with new life?

Babies are fresh and new and they mean hope.
But it doesn’t always end well.
We all started out that way.
How many miss the only thing that matters.

What if all our thoughts were recorded instantly?

Wow that would be a big book.
How many of them have true meaning or value?
I remember when I just wanted to have mattered.
To make a difference.
Otherwise what is the point?
Like an old gravestone with words no longer legible.
That is how most lives are.
Come and gone all for nothing.
How many really made a difference for eternity.
That’s all there is to hope for surely.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's All About Jesus

"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion."
-- Revelation 14:1

The apostle John was privileged to look within the gates of heaven, and in describing what he saw, he begins by saying, "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!" This teaches us that the chief object of contemplation in the heavenly state is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." Nothing else attracted the apostle's attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who hath redeemed us by his blood. He is the theme of the songs of all glorified spirits and holy angels.

Christian, here is joy for thee; thou hast looked, and thou hast seen the Lamb. Through thy tears thine eyes have seen the Lamb of God taking away thy sins. Rejoice, then. In a little while, when thine eyes shall have been wiped from tears, thou wilt see the same Lamb exalted on his throne.

It is the joy of thy heart to hold daily fellowship with Jesus;thou shalt have the same joy to a higher degree in heaven; thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of his presence; thou shalt dwell with him for ever. "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!" Why, that Lamb is heaven itself;for as good Rutherford says, "Heaven and Christ are the same thing;" To be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be with Christ. That prisoner of the Lord very sweetly writes in one of his glowing letters-
"O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want."

It is true, is it not, Christian? Does not thy soul say so?

"Not all the harps above
Can make a heavenly place,
If God his residence remove,
Or but conceal his face."

All thou needest to make thee blessed, supremely blessed, is "to be with Christ."

(C.H. Spurgeon)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smile, God Loves You (??)

There has been a very interesting conversation going on over at William’s (Suppressed Truth in Church and Faith) blog. Lots of great comments. His post is on whether or not there is real evidence of God’s love for us as we go through life, or is His “love” for us simply a means to an end, i.e. carrying out His plan of redemption for His own glory.

Following this dialogue has got me to thinking about the love of God. I am asking myself some questions:

If I can’t believe that God loves me, how will I ever convince an unsaved person that He loves them?

Is it even up to me to make them believe that He loves them? God’s “love” is not the same love that we have for our fellow humans. (For an excellent exposition of “Agape” vs “Phileo” love, see one of Adam’s comments on William’s post.)

How can I prove God's love to persons who are as yet unaware of their true standing before a holy and righteous God?

How can I argue against the reality of sin and suffering in trying to prove that God is loving, when He is able, in His sovereignty, to stop suffering in the world?

In my musing, I was reminded of a situation in my life several years ago. My brother had a son with a girl (I’ll call her Becky). She and my brother did not stay together, and she eventually moved to another city, and became engaged to another man. This little boy (let’s call him Toby) was diagnosed with Leukemia. He began treatments, and many complications ensued, keeping him in hospital for several months. Becky was with him night and day during that time.

I had lost contact with Becky, but started talking to her regularly after I found out about Toby’s illness. He was 5 years old. It was all very difficult and sad. I brought these needs to my church at prayer meetings, and we prayed diligently for him. Several times he was gravely ill, with hemorrhaging, strokes, pneumonia. But he pulled through. We thanked God for bringing him through these crisis. Becky was encouraged, and kept a Bible on Toby’s nightstand. She prayed along with everyone else, and believed God would heal her little boy. (I should add that Becky was not a believer).

Days after his 6th birthday, Toby became well enough that the doctor was allowing him to go home on a pass on the upcoming weekend. Needless to say, all involved were elated. He really was doing better. Becky took a picture of him sitting in a wheelchair and drawing that same day.

Late that night, as Becky was in the hospital room with him, Toby suddenly started to hemorrhage from his nose and mouth. Becky yelled for help, and medical staff worked frantically to save him. All in vain. He bled to death, in front of his mother, his eyes wide with fear as he stared and her, beseeching her to help. This is the last memory she has of him alive.

In the months following his death, Becky and her fiancĂ© moved back to my city. I began visiting her regularly. It came to light that many errors had been made in Toby’s treatment. Becky became consumed with the details surrounding his death, and went through agonies of regret that she had not moved him to another hospital.

In all my visits to her, she confronted me with questions. I am sure you can guess what they were. How could a God of love take a little boy? Why did he bring him through all those times, only to let him die in the end? Why did he let the doctors make so many errors? And guess what? I didn’t know how to answer them.

Becky’s only consolation was that she believed she would see Toby in heaven some day. She asked me what heaven was like. Would Toby be happy there? Would he be missing her as much as she missed him? Her grief knew no bounds, as we can all imagine.

During these months, my church was doing an “outreach” program. It consisted of bringing unsaved people into the church to watch a video and have a discussion around Christianity (no it wasn’t the Alpha Course). The videos were very good in explaining the gospel, including the reality of our sin and need for forgiveness. I asked Becky if she would like to watch the videos, and she agreed. So for many weeks I borrowed the video from church, watched it with her at her apartment, then returned it the following Sunday.

Of course, in hindshight, I realize how ridiculous it was for me to do that. She was in the throes of mourning. She needed to be allowed to grieve. She was still in a state of emotional shock. Her pain was so great, it overwhelmed her mind and her emotions. She was in no position to give thoughtful attention to a series of videos on Christianity. They didn’t explain to her why her little boy was dead.

It's not that I didn't support her in other more practical ways, and just "be there" while she expressed the many painful emotions that she was experiencing. But I did feel a certain pressure to show to her, shomehow, what the love of God really means. I wanted her to see the reality of sin, its consequences, and God’s remedy in Christ. All well intentioned, but foolishly ill-timed.

OK, all this to say that when it comes to “proving” to unsaved persons that God loves them, we are always going to end up presenting a false “God” if we rely on anything but the Cross of Christ to be that proof. If we try to point out His “temporal” blessings, such as providing their needs, keeping them safe, healing their diseases, they will soon come up with ways to prove that in fact He musn’t love them, as so many tragic things are happening. If not to them, then to many, many people in the world. How could this God love people if He allows such suffering?

The title of this blog comes from a bumper sticker that I have seen around town. Whenever I see it, I am irritated; it proclaims a half truth. It needs to say “God loves you, but He is very angry with you because of your sin”, or “God loves you, because” and then a picture of the cross. (Not that I think bumper stickers are a particularly effective way of bringing the message of the gospel).

It seems to me that the best proof of the love of God to unsaved persons is in the Cross. Jesus, as He ministered to people, was kind and loving. Yet for those that came to faith in Him, it was the reality of their sin that brought them there. It was realizing that He was the Pearl of Great Price, worth more than anything this life had to offer, be it riches, comfort, good health or success. It was knowing that Jesus Christ could heal their sick soul, and that was the most urgent need of healing that they had.

Faith in Christ brings about a new perspective; one that is focused on eternity more than on this earthly life. It is only the made alive spiritual man that can understand these things. Otherwise, they are foolishness. Our natural tendency is to have a man-centered theology; a “Me-ology”, putting ourselves in the place of greatest importance; our comfort, our needs, our “happiness” in this life. But scripture gives much credence to the ultimate importance of eternal things. It also re-directs our attention to God as the Supreme Being, and ourselves as His much-less-than-perfect creation.

I see much nowadays in the realm of “Spirituality” that offers a false “God”. It is a god who lives to meet our needs, who loves us like a kind old grandfather, or magical Santa Claus. And when bad things happen? Well, I guess this god just couldn’t quite prevent them, so he likely feels real sorry for us, and so should we, for ourselves. It is a weak, powerless, less than holy god, whose time is spent in trying to prove his “love” to spoiled, self-centred creatures. He does not demand repentance, or obedience, or sacrifice, but lives to bring “happiness” and self-fulfillment. Truly a god of our imagination.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t exhibit the love of Christ to others. There is a patient, compassionate, condescension in the way our Creator views us. Along with the wrath that hangs over our heads, there is a desire on His part that none should perish (2Peter 3:9). Scripture does say that it is His kindness that leads us to repentence:

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

I struggle with this issue a lot. I want to tell people that God loves them. But when they ask me to “prove it”, I know I am in for a debate, unless the Holy Spirit has made ready their heart to hear the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Any thoughts out there??

Friday, January 2, 2009

One of My Favourite Things.............

This pic should really go with a post on my other blog (Our Best Rest), but it just happened yesterday. Margaret fell asleep snuggling with me. I had to be very still, just sit there for an hour so's not to wake her. Couldn't resist taking a picture, as she fell asleep with her little hands under her chin.
There is nothing more soothing to me than to have a sleeping baby or child in my arms. It's as though their innocent trust and worry free slumber transfers peace to my soul as I cuddle their warm little bodies and feel their tiny chests rise and fall with each breath.
I think of how much I love my children and grandchildren, and I know that my love for them cannot hold a candle to the everlasting love my heavenly Father has for me, and for all His children.
This is how we should live each day. Resting like a sleeping child rests in their mother's/father's arms. A picture of total trust and peace. That is the reality of His love and care for us.
"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
(Deut. 33:27a)