Monday, December 4, 2017

Time To Grow

Time to grow up

I’m still crawling along at a snail’s pace as far spiritual maturity goes. Everyday, I look in the mirror to see the subtle changes of aging – only to realize that my maturity level is not catching up with that mirrored image.  You would think we would learn from our mistakes and immaturity. One would think that the little slips of the tongue would help us live with tongue in cheek. Sometimes the tongue behaves like it is still frozen from being at the dentist. When it is frozen you can bite your tongue right off and not even feel it. However, like in life, when the freezing comes out and the damage is done, it is hard to sew your tongue back on. Often times the hurt and damage is done and the dentist and care providers have left the building, leaving you to wipe up your own saliva.

We have heard the sermons. We know how and what we are supposed to do as Christians. Speaking for myself, I always fall short. My human efforts are not enough. Many days I seem to say something I should not say. Sometimes I make a judgement I should not make. Often I realize this, too late. When that happens it always seems to lead me back to repentance. That being said, I believe the first step would be: getting on my face and praying, seeking God with all my heart, soul and mind. That being said, knowing and behaving are two different things. There is a long distance from the head to the heart.

I just watched a video last night called “More than Dreams”. It was about five people at a crossroads in life – crying with all their heart for a deeper understanding of God. It is said that in every person’s heart there exists a void only God can fill. For these five Muslims their cry to God brought them new discovery and a relationship with Christ Jesus. They found the truth they were seeking to find. They discovered more than superstition… more than magic… more than ritual… more than religion… more than dreams… They discovered Jesus. Their lives were radically transformed. God can change  all of our lives. I couldn’t help but notice that within each person’s story, they had one thing in common. They each had a desperate desire for God and His truth. Desperate seeking of God, is the best place to start in our pursuit of Spiritual Maturity. Start on our knees before the God of the Universe. Allow His transforming power to work. He is the heart transformer. He can change a heart full of hatred, jealousy, anger, addiction, pain, judgment, depression into a heart of Christ-like love and Spiritual Maturity. When we receive Jesus in the truest sense – it is like being born again. Being changed to a new creation. God becomes the rudder of our ship. We will not go anywhere if don’t get on board, all the way. We can’t have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat.

It struck me – a lightbulb moment as I watched that DVD. It occurred to me that I seem to want to protect certain areas of my heart; fill that void with other things or people, rather than give all my heart to the Lord to fill. No wonder I struggle with Spiritual maturity. After examining my own heart, I repented, prayed and ask Jesus to fill that area of my heart that I had not given over to him. I know that has to be my constant prayer. It is a life long process.

Maybe you have a void in your heart and you feel that desperation, but you don’t know what to do with it? Think about what Jesus did on the cross and ask Him to fill that void in your heart.
Did you know that it is God’s will that every person become spiritually mature? It’s true!
God wants us all to grow to spiritual maturity. Paul scolds the Corinthian church for their lack of maturity. He treats them as if they are babes in Christ. One scripture verse comes to mind.

”I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”(1 Corinthians 3:2-3)

Some of us have been following Jesus for years and it is easy to slip away from what we know to be right and true. Like looking in the mirror and the moment we look away forget what we look like. Or we don't want to face the mirror of change. Reality is that we need positive change to grow and mature. That is why they say that we become wiser with age. Life's experiences teach us much. Or at least they should. 

I think of my grandchildren and how much they have grown in the last year. From a baby and eating breast milk to now eating more solid food. That one little verse teaches us that it is the same for us spiritually speaking. Often we stay on a diet of little spiritual nourishment. Satisfied with the basic messages of God's Word. Maybe a verse we memorized when we were a child. Or we may have said a little prayer to accept Christ Jesus as our Saviour at one point in time, but have not grown in that relationship with him. We are still like babes satisfied with the milk. 

It is so familiar to me, that place where we often get stuck in life, spinning our wheels so to speak. The bowl of baby food gets empty and we don't replenish it with Spiritual food. The only kind of food that will grow us. The bread of Life. I believe there comes a time in each person's life to think about God as these people in the video did. Often we wait until a crisis happens in our lives and in our desperate cry we call out to a God we hope will hear us. He hears. He waits. He loves. It does not have to take a plea of desperation to bring us to our knees. How much better it is to look in that mirror and take an inventory of our life and seek the one who came to save us so that we may have life eternal. 

Christmas time is approaching. It is a great time when our hearts are warmed and the best of all of us seems to generously exude from us, even people like the Grinch. It a time such as this, to unwrap the greatest gift ever given. That gift is God the Son, our Saviour who emptied Himself of all His power and came to earth as a baby, to one day take our sins upon Himself on a cross.  Let's seek God and find Him in our quest for maturity.

Yesterday I saw a little 2 year old boy sing, "Holy Holy, Holy is God Almighty" It melted my heart as he closed his eyes to pray. A babe in Christ, yet so much older in His spiritual maturity than many adults. Praise be to God.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To Boldly Go 

Early in the morning, I could hear the rain dripping from the Eaves trough. The rooster’s crow rang loud through my open window. There I lay in the dark with my eyes open, snuggled cozy in my bed. Then my mind starts to wander. I am reminded to pray for this person and that person. Next, my mind is off on a star trek type journey. This is a lifelong mission, to explore this strange planet, to seek out life for all, to boldly go where many have gone before. I know it is not the same wording as the Star Trek introduction.  I memorized it when I was a child. My brother and I watched that television show every day after school. Yes, back then, it was in black and white.

                Where is this journey taking me? I don’t know. I just know that I had to get up out of the dark bedroom and come and write this down while the rooster still crows. Did I count the rooster’s crows? No, but he actually has been crowing nonstop since about four o’clock this morning. There is no correlation that I am aware of to the disciple Peter who denied Christ three times. Each time he denied knowing Jesus, he heard the rooster crow. Every morning, I hear that crow. Lord help me if I deny Christ Jesus that many times or at all.  I know Jesus forgave Peter because Peter became the rock that the Christian church was built on. Jesus, after his resurrection from death, met with Peter and the other disciples. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Peter was extremely convicted of his sin and he truly did love the Lord and Peter answered Jesus with an emphatic, “Yes Lord, I love you”.
See reference in John 21. Click on link

Peter served God for the rest of his life. He certainly had many trials and testing during his life of service to God. Jesus had promised He would leave a helper to be with his disciples. That would include those who died for their faith.

Yes, I believe God was there at the end of Peter’s life when they hung him upside down on a cross. While there may have even been times when he questioned, his faith remained to his last breath. The same can be said of Paul and others who have been martyred for their faith.  I am told that when people are martyred for the faith in Christ that God (HOLY SPIRIT) is there with them and does help them endure. We have heard of many martyrs. The first one mentioned as the early Christian Church began was when they stoned Stephen to death because he preached a very convicting message from God to the people. They did not want to hear the message God had for them.
You can read the entire account of Stephen in the New Testament- Book of Acts chapter 6 and 7. 

The Stoning of Stephen

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[b] at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Wow! That is amazing Grace)

In my research when I typed in martyrs, this website came up. I found it interesting to see these priest who were martyrs and this was in Ontario in the 1600’s

Many have travelled the globe to give the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the great commission to every believer. We don’t all have to go all over the world. We can begin right in our home town. I am thankful also to the brave apostles who went out in boldness to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many men and women have also been martyred for their faith over the centuries for fulfilling that great commission.

What is the Great Commission? This phrase is taken from the Words of Christ Himself as instruction to the disciples who became known as apostles. These men by spreading the gospel and teachings of Christ Jesus formed what is called Christianity. Basically, the word Christianity covers a great many people who use this name. For the early church, to be called a Christian, held great responsibility. A Christian was to follow and live out the teachings of Christ and not just recite them to the people.

The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20 English Standard Version - The basic doctrine of every Christ centred Church is based on these verses.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I have attended so many funerals and it always seems the preacher uses the verse from John 14:1-7. I sit and listen and because I know Jesus I am comforted. I often wonder how many people sitting there also know this truth within the words. We have come to lay our loved one at rest and we are given the great words of hope and eternal life to comfort us in our grief.

For some, we have lived our lives and explored everything on the planet and now our proud song is played. “Regrets, I’ve had a few. I’ve travelled each and every byway, but more, much more than this. . . . The grand finale’ “I did it my WAY”. We are called to do life “God’s Way”. In doing life our way, we all must ask ourselves where does God find a place in the “my way” of our lives?

We are not told to do things our way.

I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

John 14: 1-7

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

These are the words I was inspired to write about this morning. Part of my life long mission to explore this planet and spread the words of life and seek out new generations to also go out for generations to come and spread the Word of Life. I suppose that if all those who have died for their faith in Jesus, would have lived different lives, the gospel would not have been spread across the globe for the last 2000 years. If they had lived their lives their way, instead of the way of Christ, what would the world look like today? Would it still be here? We can also ask ourselves if we lived our lives according to how God has called us to live, how would our lives be different right now?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Handmade Dish Cloth

Briefly, through the corner of my eye, I saw the red tinge covering the horizon as the sun began to rise early this morning. The fog lay over the fields like a nicely folded blanket percolating from the lowlands. Hundreds of black birds sat on the branches intermingling with the colourful leaves as they sang an extra loud symphonically orchestrated song.  I stepped outside to take a breath of the morning’s freshness while I watched our dog get the newspaper. Mornings like this bring a wave of appreciation to God’s magnificent ingenuity.  All these wonderful gifts to experience so early in the morning set the stage making it a great start to the day.

                We cannot always stop and smell the fragrances of autumn for too long. Life brings with it, many jobs which need to be done. It was not long before I busied myself with my daily routine of feeding chickens, doing dishes and hanging a load of laundry out to dry. There is something about seeing the clothing blow in the breeze. Perhaps a nostalgic memory of my own childhood when my mother hung all her clothing and bed sheets out to dry.

Wiping off my countertop, I couldn’t help but notice the holes in my dish cloth which had been well used. How often I had also washed that cloth with my laundry and reused it again and again. They are very hardy those handmade dish cloths, these ones that my mother had knitted together with her loving hands. Maybe that is why I hesitated for so long to discard it. I remember in her later years as aging had made its changes to her body, much like that aging dish cloth. Her hands lost their flexibility, her eyes dimmed by macular degeneration which made it difficult for her to see the stitches on her needles. I remember her frustration she experienced making those cloths. They didn’t come out square. She took such pride in whatever she did to make sure it was done right. Smiling at my memories, I also realize the love she poured into ever knit and pearl.

I looked at the huge hole in the cloth and saw the unraveling of the wool. It was no longer a nice white cloth. It had been used so much it was a dingy gray. That morning it had wiped its last countertop. With some sentimental attachment I had to put that dish cloth to rest. It accomplished its grand purpose. It just plumb wore out. Much like that dish cloth, my Mother’s body just plumb wore out too and she died a couple years ago. Needless to say those cherished cloths she gave me have such sentimental value.  

After reluctantly discarding that old dish cloth, I went on with my day. Sometimes it is difficult to keep on track as my eyes seem to wander to something else I could do. If I rearrange all my potted flowers or change a picture on the wall, move some furniture or change a table cloth. Then one thing leads to another.

                As I was digging through my over flow of stored blankets and table cloths, two little pure white handmade dish cloths fell out from the bottom of my jam packed Chester drawer. My mother had knitted them together with her loving hands. They were not square, somewhat distorted in shape and probably two of the last ones she had made.

                Little things like this sneak up on us when we least expect them. The two cloths I held in my hand, took me back once again to those reflective memories of my mother. I asked myself, should I use them or put them back in amongst all the table cloths and blankets and leave them there and save them? Or Do I use them knowing full well that they will wear out and eventually also finish their purpose.

                Sometimes it is hard to completely let go of these earthly treasures which we hold so dear to our hearts. In letting go, we somehow think we are letting go of the person connected to those earthly treasures. The sentimental value I attach to these things, other people don’t have to them. Long after I am gone, one of my children may pull out those two dish cloths that are imperfect.  To them, the dish cloths might look like rags. So, I pause for one more moment in time and ask what my mother would suggest. My mother would probably say, “That is why I made them, for you to use.”

The Bible tells me the answer to my peril.

Matthew 6:19 – 20 ESV -  19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Figurine

While sitting at my kitchen table, I noticed the glass figurine with words etched into the glass. Don’t we all have the odd nick nack sitting on one of the shelves or set in just that special spot? Perhaps it was a gift from someone very special to us. Maybe it is just a simple quote that has words that will pick us up when we are feeling down? Just at that moment when you need a little encouragement it catches our eye and we read it. Whatever the saying, it’s words have some kind of power. Like maybe a footprints poem written on an old clock. For years it sat on that wall and perhaps you never read it. Because the right time had not come. The clock catches our eye and we read that poem which says:

One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
There was only one set of footprints.
I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life.
This always bothers me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You,
You would walk and talk with me all the way.
But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life
There is only one set of footprints.
I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, 
You leave me.”

He whispered “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever,
During your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

Margaret Fishback Powers.

Once in a while these ornaments catch our eye. We pick it up, dust it off and read the message. Whether by some divine leading or not, today, is that day when the words come alive. It is a day when you are overwhelmed by many emotions - you can’t sleep because the thoughts roll in your mind one after another: Why questions? Where questions and how questions? How will I get through tomorrow, if I don’t know if I can make it through today? Years ago, after the loss of a close family member, I wrote a song with those words. It was on a day when I was alone, sitting in a canoe with no one else around. My song had all those questions. My heart felt broken. I never heard some of the answers until years later. Even still, there are many things I don’t understand.

The grief we feel at the loss of a loved one can linger for a long time, feeling like a big rock tied to our kite strings. We may wonder, how will my kite ever fly again without that person in our lives? That is how we might feel because of what I call the great disconnect that leaves a hole in the heart.  We don’t have a crystal ball which tells us the future. We can’t fathom that one day we will smile or even laugh again. 

Time goes on and eventually the ached in the heart seems less and the heart begins to heal. The kite begins to catch a breeze and begins to slowly lift from the ground.
All that being said, I sat today with the sun shining through my kitchen window, music playing, my heart feeling a mixed bag of emotions. The sun shined on the little glass figurine that was sitting on my table magnifying the words which read:

“MOTHER You have filled OUR LIFE with unforgettable memories of laughter, LOVE and a wonderful place called HOME." 

My heart cracks a little more as that Love pours in to my soul. It is like nourishment to my soul. The words hold so much meaning. In life we all take a journey and we have unforgettable memories of laughter. We reminisce and remember those great times we have enjoyed along our journey. Of course, we who have lost our mother’s can appreciate what those words mean. Maybe those words apply to someone dear to you who is not your mother? During times when I was feeling depressed or just upset about something, my Mother would give me wise words. She would tell me to pray. Count my blessings and take one day at a time.

As I read the words of the poem "Footprints" I recognize they are very much familiar to the Words Jesus also spoke to us when He said, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you.” May we find peace in knowing that even in the most despairing times, we are not alone. When we invite Jesus into our despair, grief, loneliness or simply into every part of our lives, we have a Saviour who hears our heart cries, knows our pain. God wants to bring us comfort and also carry us during those times.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The White Birch Tree

The White Birch Tree

Just the other day I walked my dogs around the neighbour’s pond located at the back of our house. The long grasses and weeds filled the field, still a little wet from the morning dew. The unplowed corn stalks stood tall as the dogs and I walked through the rows, pushing their leaves out of my face, and swatting away the bugs at the same time. Who says, I can’t multitask? Finally we made it back to the starting point. I sat in the chair overlooking the pond noticing all the trees which clustered along the pond’s edge. In ten years they have grown from small saplings into tall trees. A variety of trees; cedars, pines, tamarack. My, how abundantly, they have grown along with the weeds in the surrounding field. Over the summer even brown patches of weeds and algae has also grown throughout the pond. What was the cause of these changes? Was it the steady rains, hot days combined with the runoff from the chemically sprayed corn field? Whatever the cause, the pond is looking like it is dying. The pond which once looked blue as the sun and clouds clearly reflected from the blueness of the sky onto the calm of the water.  Flocks of geese gathered daily. The geese don’t land in the pond much anymore. I don’t see them bathing their wings or hear the synchronous honks of the flocks as they land. So the pond sits, somewhat stagnating. I noticed the changes. Nothing is ever done. Doesn’t seem like the owners care or even inspect the ponds or see the damage being done from the poisons seeping their way into these waters. Some of the causes could also be environmental. I’m not a biologist, so I only look from the perspective of what I see and not what I know.
            I sit in the little white chair taking a moment to talk to God about the things I see. After all this is our little garden that we share. It is my quiet place. I must confess that this summer, even I, have neglected going there. My path to that quiet place actually grew over with weeds too. The narrow path to my quiet place, where I often met on a regular basis to talk to my Heavenly Father was almost difficult to find, until one day my husband took the lawn mower and cut a path. The creep of simply having too many things to do which pull us away from our daily devotions, is perhaps one reason?
            I continued to talk to God our Father, and to my surprise, I also noticed one little tree amongst all the other trees around the pond’s edge. The sun was shining bright on that day, the sky was blue and this white tree stood amongst the evergreens. It stood looking at me from across the pond. It did not have a leaf on it. Just a white leafless tree standing out in the crowd. It came to my mind that I too, had become like that tree. I was not a pine tree full of lush green needles sitting at the water’s edge, full of life. I was like the white dead tree, with no fruit, no leaves. I stood out, but not in a good way. It was a dead tree. It still had a beauty about it as the sun shined on it, magnifying it. It was a surreal moment, where God showed me a picture of myself. That white tree still had a purpose. It had a voice for God to speak to me, in our quiet place. I believe he did speak to me as I looked at that tree, not in an audible voice, yet I recognized the voice of my Heavenly Father.  His gentle voice paints a picture so vivid. God did not yell at me and throw guilt trips at me for the things that I did or did not do this summer. God our Father was loving in His gentle rebuke, His Holy Spirit showed me a picture. As a Father, I have known His discipline. As a father disciplines his children, so God the Father at times disciplines those He loves. Our talk was not about  God's discipline, it was the voice of my Heavenly Father telling me to take notice. It was about me finding the discipline in my daily life to make time for God. It was as if I could hear God tell me, Daughter, I AM still here. I have missed our daily visits, and your prayers. I know your struggles, how you busy yourself, your questions, your doubts and fears. You don’t have to be like a dead tree. You can be like the tree whose roots goes deep into the water. I know that often you feel separated from other people and like you don’t fit in. I know your loneliness, frustrations, and worries. I am here to help you overcome them. Often you try to take control and cope with these things on your own. How is it working out for you? I still come to this garden every day. You stopped coming.