and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Ode to the Family

       We don’t always see eye to eye.  Loud grandma, hyper niece, perfectionist sister, forgetful aunt, laid back uncle, eccentric brother, creative cousin, quiet in-law, many different titles all with different personalities and temperaments.  What makes us even think we can all get along?  Is it because we fall under the grand title of ‘family’?

       Arguments and laughter, hugs and frustrations, games, teasing, conversations and cold shoulders are all part of fabric that makes up family.  In the end, we try to get along because we are family.  We try to make good memories together so that one day we can recall the good times of the past, and laugh about them.  Nothing and no one can break the ties that bind us as family, except for ourselves.

       On this weekend when many families get together for the holidays let us be most thankful to our Lord, but then let us be verbally and with actions, thankful for the family we are truly blessed with…

…whether we think they are a blessing or not!

Friday, October 07, 2011

A Man of Good Character

       Our kids attended the same youth program for a few years but we had never really had the time to speak.  It was a warmish day when we met outside the store in the parking lot and struck up a conversation about our kids.  As we were about to get on with our separate days he walked over to put away a cart from the parking spaces that I knew wasn’t his since he had walked to his car with his groceries in his hands.  The funny thing was, he was almost apologetic mumbling something about it being in his way earlier, and I was too surprised by his actions to say anything.

       I am a people watcher.  I have been since I was a very young child too shy to actually interact with others.  Daily I notice people walking by ignoring that which could easily be put away, thrown out, fixed, helped, in other words not going out of their way- even just a little- to make the world a better place.  Sometimes it only takes seconds, yet most people will pass by the opportunity.  Why is that?  We are so consumed in our own little world that we take no notice of what is around us.

       Over the years I had already observed that this man was trustworthy, respectful of others and responsible.  Seeing him put away a cart that was not his responsibility, not only willingly, but without any negative attitude finalized my opinion on the kind of man he really is: a man of good character.

       We don’t hold much stock in ‘good character’ today, but that is a shame.  I think it is important for all of us, especially those redeemed by the blood of Jesus, to be people of quality character.  Here is what the schools teach about a person of good character:

     -Is a good person, someone to look up to and admire.
     -Knows the difference between right and wrong and always tries to do what is right.
     -Sets a good example for everyone.
     -Makes the world a better place.
     -Lives according to the Six Pillars of Character:
       trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship.

       A person’s character is often hidden from the visible eye; intangible qualities lie deep within a person’s being and are like an inbuilt moral compass.  Character, is a learned behaviour and reflects someone’s attitudes and values.  The good news is, though it is not always easy, we can all strive to be a person of good character, or to be a better person.

The Bible is chock full words that encourage us to improve our character.
Perhaps we could try it.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


       Waking up in pain is not the way to start the day.  None of us enjoy pain; however, it is a necessity.  Some people in this world do not feel pain and as a result end up hurt or are not alerted to a valid physical problem because the pain is not there.  Pain lets you know there is something wrong with your body so that you can do something about it.

       We have several ways to deal with pain, and in Canada with public health care, it is fairly easy.  First off, we have many medicines at hand or we can go to a nearby store to pick some up.  So, pop a few pills to dull the pain.  Stretch, exercise, go back to bed, de-stress, drink coffee or do whatever it takes to help.  There are chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, physiotherapists and more.  When all else fails, go to a clinic to see a doctor who may be able to help.  After all that, perhaps you are better or perhaps not.

Two questions remain:

       Why don’t we pray for healing first?
       When we do pray, why are we not always healed?

       In my opinion, there are no pat answers to the second question.  Logically, if sin keeps you from being healed, then no one on this earth could ever be miraculously healed.  If you must have faith, then why are there unsaved who are healed and some with such great faith that are not?  We are limited in answering by our finite minds that cannot fully comprehend all God has in His mind.  Still, the first question remains.

Why don’t we pray for healing first?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Trouble We Get In

       Sometimes we get into trouble because we haven’t asked the right questions to the right people.  Joshua and the people learned this lesson the hard way.  After the victory at Jericho, Joshua sent men to Ai and they talked him into sending just a few thousand men to take the town.  (Joshua doesn’t ask God)  Those Israelis that go back to fight are soundly defeated, some die, and the rest run.  Joshua and elders seek God for help.  He tells Joshua to get off his face, there is sin in the camp and that was why they were defeated.  (Josh. 7)  If Joshua had asked God to start with, I’m sure God would have told him about the problem in the camp. 

       Soon after, Gibeon sent men deceptively to make peace with Israel.  They took great lengths to pretend/ prove they were from very far away when they were only five miles from Ai.  And the men (Joshua and leaders) took of their (Gibeons) victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them,  (Josh. 9:14,15a)  Israel was told not to make peace with any of the people, (Deut. 7:1,2; 20:16,17) and had they asked the Lord first, He would have told them of the deception or said NO to the treaty.

       It seems to me we are better off when we ask the Lord before we decide to take actions one way or another.  Jobs, relationships, parenting, buying, selling, spending, ministry- serving, are all areas we make decisions usually based on our likes and dislikes, needs and wants as opposed to what the Lord may want for us.  Why not ask first?  It could save us trouble beforehand.

       How does this work in actuality?  Occasionally the Lord will just tell us to make a certain decision out of the blue.  For example, we have a provincial election coming up and the Lord told me (2 weeks ago) to vote for _______.  It came unexpectedly, but there it was and it was my choice to obey or not.  Normally, I know I have to vote so I go to the Lord and say, ‘who do You want me to vote for?’ and He will tell me; or He will not say anything at all in which case I do two things.  1. I use the brain He gave me because that’s what He gave it to me for.  2. I try to base my decision on the Word of God and its Truth.

       When I consider the amount of decisions I make in a day, it is only a small percentage that I actually talk to the Lord about first.  I am trying to increase that amount.  Of interest to me is that some of the things I would normally do are being changed in response.  By asking the Lord, listening and obeying, I am assured His will will be done… and hopefully I will get into less trouble.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Laws and Rituals

       Sometimes I think we prefer to ‘beat up’ on other people instead of taking a long, hard look in the mirror at ourselves.  We bash Adam and Eve for not holding out when there was only one thing they weren’t allowed to do.  We speak poorly about the Jews escaped from Egypt because they complained about everything after their release.  We ‘look down’ on the Israelis who were living in the Promised Land because they kept returning to idols no matter how many times they were saved by the Lord and we judge the people during Jesus’ day for not believing in Him since they were too busy following ridiculous laws and ceremonies.  Look in the mirror and see how we do the same.

And that is the way it was with us before Christ came.  We were slaves to Jewish laws and rituals for we thought they could save us.
…how can it be that you want to go back again and become slaves once more to another poor, weak, useless religion of trying to get to heaven by obeying God’s laws?  You are trying to find favor with God by what you do or don’t do on certain days or months or seasons or years. Gal 4:3,9,10 TLB

       These scriptures are talking about bondage that comes by following laws and rituals to find favour with God by what we do or don’t do on certain days.  Hmmm… seems like much hasn’t changed in 2000 years.  What do I mean?  We get up and spend ___ min. with God, reading His Word and a quick prayer or two.  We bow our head and say grace before every meal.  We say “God bless you” after a sneeze or when we shake hands during service.

       We go to church every Sunday, small groups on Tuesday, Bible study on Thursday, and ‘serve’ in a minimum of two ministries in the church.  We sing worship songs and even lift our hands occasionally.  We give our money in the offering and try to smile about it.  We bow our head and ask for forgiveness before taking communion.  We always pray, using the proper Christianese and end in Jesus’ name…  I could keep going, but what I’m trying to say is that 2000 years later our unwritten laws, rituals and trying to curry God’s favour hasn’t changed much.

       DO NOT misunderstand.  All the things I've listed are good if your heart is in them.  What I want us all to think about is the motives, if any, behind our ‘Christian’ actions and words, or see if maybe they are just a habit or ritual that we do without thinking about it at all.  Do we mean the words we say- or sing?  (I remember months when I was so angry at God that I couldn’t sing a word because the words would not have been true, so I stood silently.)  Is our heart in the words we say, or our actions?  If not, why are we doing them?  Do we think it will curry God’s favour and perhaps He will answer our prayers?  Maybe if we follow the seven steps to successful prayer…? 

       Why are we still in such bondage when Jesus came to set us free, (2 Cor. ; John ) and give us abundant life? (John 10:10)  Remember, God knows our hearts (1 Kn. ) and if we mean what we say and do, then it will ‘abide’, but if we don’t it will be burned as stubble and a waste of our time. (1 Cor. 3:13-15)  I will end this post with some very important words from our late brother Paul:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1) 

Sunday, October 02, 2011

You Can’t Eat Just One

       Have you ever tried eating just one chip especially if it is a flavour that you really enjoy?  I have, and it is near impossible.  Perhaps if you lock them away or can’t get back to them, but one chip makes you want one more, then another and another until you are satisfied.  Or have you ever tried just one bite of sweet, delicious fudge.  As it’s melting in your mouth and you savor the flavour, it makes you want ‘just one more bite’.  Oops, the whole slice is gone!  How about your favorite cookies sitting in front of you calling out your name?  Maybe you’ll just take one…   whoa, the plate’s almost empty…   perhaps you should stop?

       That first taste of a food we enjoy gives us just enough of a tease and makes us want to have more.  It is part of our human nature to want more of a good thing.  That is why it is difficult to stop at just one piece or one bite.  The desire to have more of that good taste is too strong to resist.  Here is a scripture that I haven’t thought of for a while:

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Ps. 34:8 

       Since we know we are not literally taking a chunk out of the Lord to eat, the figurative meaning of taste is to perceive.  (Webster’s: To know; to understand; to observe. To be affected by; to receive impressions from.)  Basically, a little knowledge, understanding or time in the Lord’s presence is like having just a taste of Him.  When we do that we ‘see’ that He is good, ‘tasty’, sweet, ‘flavourful’, and it makes us want more and more of Him until we are satisfied.  I’m not quite sure that can ever happen here on earth; at least that is my personal experience.  I am always left wanting more.

       I like what one writer said about Ps. 34:8.  He said we are not trying the food to determine if we like or dislike it.  We are trying it to find out just how good it really is and see- realize we want more of it.  The Lord is always waiting for us to be with Him, to spend time with Him.  That can mean reading His Word, praying, worshiping, talking to Him and listening to Him throughout our day.  Taste and see the Lord is good.

       Okay, now let’s be practical.  We all have limited time and, well, we are tired with all the other things we have to do in life so generally we vegetate in down times.  So practically, how do we increase time, ‘tasting’ the Lord? 

       Here are a few ideas:  Keep a Bible/ devotional/ Daily Bread in the washroom and by the couch where you watch tv.  (Commercials are boring anyway).  Drives to work or shopping can become times of worship, listening to the Word on cd, or prayer and listening for His voice.  Have more conversations with others about the Lord. (Ever think of the percentage of time we actually speak with others about Him as opposed to other topics?)  Enter His presence wherever and whenever you can.  (Maybe some day I’ll figure out how to explain that one, but that’s a whole other entry.) 

O taste and see that the Lord is good.

He is VERY good!