Monday, December 15, 2014

WARMTH OF THE SON

     In the first half of December the sun shining midday on the steel roof has warmed the bunkie. By late afternoon the heat of the little gas stove is welcome. Cold nights have kept the surface of ponds frozen.

     That covering of ice completely changes what affects a pond. Whatever the wind blows onto it just skitters across its hard surface. Nothing can sink into its depths.

     I need specific promises in God's Word to be fulfilled in my life. These truths won't make changes within me unless they get deeper than my thinker and become a reality in my heart. A surface acceptance of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles won't do it.  

     We are blessed with the freedom to meditate on all that is offered to each one of us. The warmth of God's love can melt the hardness of doubt and unbelief allowing the living Word to accomplish the very thing we need.

    In nature the seasons bring changes over time. The results I'm seeking may not be fully accomplished until the Son has more opportunity to deal with any resistance of wrong thinking, but I welcome the work of His Holy Spirit within me. I look forward to an open flow of victory to share with others.

Monday, December 1, 2014

SHELTERED IN HIS ARMS

     Over the American Thanksgiving holiday we had nine days off school. I was tempted to fly home. I checked flights from Denver to Buffalo for November 22nd with no way of knowing Buffalo would be digging its way out of several feet of snow and there would be no air traffic in or out of the city that day. Thank You, Father, for making me content to stay put.

     A loose wire or two had kept my little gas stove from igniting for a few weeks. Two days before the start of the Thanksgiving break a repairman solved the problem and the bunkie was lovely and warm throughout the vacation.


     Father God cares about everything. Nothing is too great or too small for Him to tend to. Had I gone to Ontario I would have missed an amazing morning of worship, teaching and ministry at Charis Family Church. God orders the steps of His children. It's not that one place is better than another. It's what's best for each one of us at a particular time.

    Just as natural parents plan for their family, Father arranges for our greatest benefit. He does this for every one and He showers all of His love on each one. A mother's love is not divided among her children. Her capacity to love grows with each addition to the family. Wee Faith knows she is completely safe and cared for in her arms. We too can know we are in the safest place when we're snuggled in Father's embrace.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

RUNNING OVER

     An early cold snap in this corner of Colorado drew friends to the warmth of the fire for their pre-class visit. Plenty of fuel for a fireplace, wood stove, or furnace took on a whole new significance. On the way to school temperatures plunged to minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit - minus 13 in the dip where it's always colder below the summit of the Ute Pass.

     Those who are blessed with a reliable source of heat may need to hustle between their homes and vehicles, but how about the ones without homes? In recent days we've heard of people sleeping in their cars and spending as much time as possible inside places that are open for business 24/7.

     We pray, Father, give them a safe, warm place to stay. Faced with more that 5,000 hungry people after a long day of teaching, Jesus did not agree with the suggestion of the  twelve He was training that He should send them away to find lodging and food. He said, "You give them something to eat." (Luke 9:13 NKJV) 

    His brother, James, also urged believers to do what they could for those in need. To tell them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled." (James 2:16 NKJV) just didn't cut it. If we're willing to help, the Holy Spirit will open effective ways to share directly or through reliable organizations.

     What happens when we choose to do what we can? Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom." (Luke 6:38 NKJV)  Our Father is the source of every good thing anyway. (James 1:17) and He refuses to be topped in the giving department. Like a river that just keeps on flowing, no matter how much we give He pours in more. We can be as confident as the psalmist that our cups will be full to overflowing and we will never lack. (Psalm 23)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

YOU'VE GOT MAIL

     With all the modern gizmos for sending messages, our concept of "mail" has done headstands, cartwheels and flips in all directions. Back "in the day" we would write a letter, wait a week for it to be delivered, a week for the recipient to get around to answering and another week for their response to arrive.

     I remember sitting on a bench outside the post office in Huntly, Scotland in August of 1969, thrilled to have a letter from home. Instant messaging can't compete with the satisfaction and joy I felt holding those pages. Still, news from ones we love is treasured by whatever means it comes.
     
     And especially good news, almost too good to be true news, from Someone who loves each of us has been posted in every possible way known to man. We can learn all that is on our Father's heart, how much He loves us, what He has planned for us while we're apart, what He's preparing for the family reunion and all that He's attended to for whatever we need until then. Applications enabling us to download His words are available on every sort of device we own.

     Those who enjoy the snail mail edition can turn the pages and ponder the printed words He sent through the prophets and the apostles. Even folks who aren't into traditional reading have the option of just checking out the lives of others around them who have discovered Father's love and spent time with Him. Paul describes believers as letters "written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God." (2 Corinthians 3:3 New Living Translation) No one is excluded. We all have mail... and the news is good!

  

    

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NO WORRIES

     On our own in the natural scheme of things, we are vulnerable. Like the dry grass in the fields, people are fragile. The Lord Jesus needed food, clothing, shelter, the same essentials that concerned those He taught. But, He knew the love of His Father. He told these anxious ones to think about the birds, the lilies, the grass of the field, all dependent on God's provision and receiving what they needed. And, He reminded them that each individual was loved and valued more than they could imagine.  (Matthew 6:25-34)

     We can't see how things will work out looking ahead, but our hindsight is perfect. It helps to remember situations that perplexed in the past... resolved in ways far better than the solutions we suggested as possibilities in our prayer times.

     Jesus lived to show us our Father's love. To understand love that is not deserved and cannot be earned is beyond our natural ability. We're free to refuse His care just as a child can turn his back on his natural family and walk away from all that is his as a member of the household. The enemy's deceptions have persuaded many to do just that in the spiritual family.

     How awesome to know from the moment we choose to claim the position and relationship He offers, His arms are open to welcome and receive. Every good thing He planned for each of us before we were born, knowing and loving us even then, is ours.

      When I think He reserved this little bunkie for me to live in, before I had any thought of attending school in Colorado this year, I have another glimmer of His great love. With each new bit of revelation of that love I gradually know Him more. Trust tag teams with that knowledge. Why not leave all our care with Him? The birds and the lilies are doing well and we're way above them in Father's priorities.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LET IT SHINE

     "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." On a dark Friday evening the teacher at Good News Bible Club turned off the lights and struck a match. Children saw the wee flame's ability to dispel the darkness and they were not curious about the shadows. Their eyes focused on the tiny light.

     The aspens are ablaze on the hills of Colorado. Until the leaves on the aspens began to turn yellow, from a distance you could assume the mountainsides were covered with pines. No longer content to blend in with the evergreens, they show their true identity at this gorgeous season and our eyes are drawn to their brilliant colour.

     Light is powerful and it is attractive. In Matthew 5:14 Jesus told His disciples, "You are the light of the world." (NKJV) He told them to let their light be seen. People may assume the world view they hold and which is generally accepted is accurate until a believer in Christ expresses a truth from God's Word that challenges their thinking.

     With continual reports of troubles throughout the world, words of hope are welcome. When things look dark globally or in people's individual lives, we can share good news. The Lord Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12 NKJV). The abundant life Christ offers is a precious alternative to the black outlook the enemy presents. 

   Through His life, death, burial and resurrection the Lord Jesus secured victorious eternal life for each one who chooses to receive Him as Lord. May the light of this truth shine brightly through the lives of believers.  

      

Monday, September 15, 2014

STRETCHING

     Mention of a highlander when I was a child was sure to have a Scottish connection. The term has a whole new meaning living here in Colorado. I am a lowlander in transition. Most often I do the short trek from the lodge up to Aspen cottage on the road rather than the path with steps. Either way I'm huffing and puffing when I reach the deck, but it is easier than it was two weeks ago. A genuine hike in any direction is not without hills which at this altitude pose a considerable challenge. Until my body gets more in line with that of a genuine highlander, I'm content to do my stretches with light weights and exercise indoors on the mini trampoline.

     Besides physical stretching, new faces, new schedules, new assignments and new surroundings present oodles of circumstances requiring fresh coping skills. A new study-buddy from Durban, South Africa shared some of the adjustments her family is experiencing. They are significant, but Melanie is okay. I'm okay. Our loving Father makes all the difference.

     He goes before us. He goes with us. He prepares us. He provides what we need. To focus on our inadequacies is as pointless as the protests of Moses when God told him to return to Egypt. (Exodus 4:10) His lack of speaking skills meant nothing compared to his complete understanding of Egyptian ways. When the daughters of the priest of Midian told their father about meeting Moses they described him as an Egyptian. (Exodus 2:19) Moses was perfectly equipped for the task.
 
     And so are we. Growth does involve stretching, but the outcome is positive. With the rains of recent days have come rainbows. For mankind that arc is a symbol of God's promise that a flood will never again destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:15) For me it also represents assurance that God is with me should clouds darken some periods of change. By His grace I shall complete what He's led me to begin in these highlands.


Photo courtesy of Joyce Henry

Monday, September 1, 2014

CROFT TO COTTAGE

     Mr. Whiskers has a new house buddy at Beech Croft. What would happen to him posed the  trickiest question when I began to consider a brief transfer to Colorado. In less than 24 hours of my return home I connected with Jayne and she agreed to move in and look after him. Before he met her he would have come along for the adventure. Once he realized she would cater to him and that cat-loving grand kids were part of the arrangement, all was well. He's not a big fan of change.

     And a major change it is! The area of Pike's Peek boasts several more thousand feet of elevation than is the case in southern Ontario. Aspen Cottage is surrounded by pine trees and, of course, aspen. Horses neigh and whinny in the field across the lane. (Mr. Whiskers has only seen horses on TV.) With no street lights, moon and stars are brilliant in the night sky.

     The mountains and forests are magnificent, but getting to know amazing individuals from very diverse backgrounds ranks much higher on the plus list for me, and the best is definitely yet to come. Classes begin tomorrow. 

     In Matthew 13:23 the Lord Jesus explained the parable of the sower. "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces; some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (NKJV) When I left Ontario at the beginning of the week, the fields of corn and soybeans looked great. I hope for abundant heart growth during these next months that my life may produce a hundredfold of whatever Father God desires to bring forth in and through me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

WHO ARE WE?

     From the day Mr. Whiskers arrived at Beech Croft in December 2003, the tussle was on. He was six weeks old. I listened to every suggestion from veteran cat owners. "Be firm. Show him who's boss. Use a spray bottle. Slap your hand with a newspaper." The behaviour modification tactics he used on me were more effective than anything I tried on him. He did learn to stay off tables and counters in spite of his natural inclination to climb, but there were other concerns.

     I questioned a clerk in a pet shop. She had been struggling to train an Arabian horse. A workshop instructor gave her the key. "Treat him like royalty and he will do anything you ask - like a ginger cat." This clerk knew about ginger cats and especially male ones. "Keep that in mind. He'll come around."

     We did come to terms. I kept the designation, royalty, in mind as our relationship jelled. I learned to wait when I opened the door to let him out until he had enough time to check the yard for any other living thing. I learned to wait when I opened the door to let him in if he needed to investigate something he noticed on his way up the sidewalk. A certain squeak as he paused by the leg of the kitchen table meant he needed a tiny bit of butter to get him through until supper... and so on.

     He is a king. If you told him he has no right to help himself to the food in the cats' dish at our Queen St. neighbours, you'd never convince him. He's sure the soft cushions on the next door neighbour's deck chairs are there for him. Mr. Whiskers lives according to what he believes about himself.

     How about us? 1 Peter 2:9 identifies believers in Christ as a royal priesthood. We're joint heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). We're more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). All that the Lord Jesus obtained by His death, burial and resurrection is ours. May the truth of who we are in Him be so real to us that our lives can't help but show it.
 

Friday, August 1, 2014

FIRE POWER

     How can solid wood exist and then not exist? Fire is an amazing phenomenon. Regardless of science explaining the chemical combination of oxygen with a substance creating gas, think about a tangible object disappearing before your eyes.

     An ice storm last December broke cazillions of tree branches. The town crew got rid of the biggies for us, but there were still oodles of smaller ones to gather. Those and the normal accumulation since December produced one large burn pile by the fire pit. After the days turned warm enough to induce me to tackle the job of eliminating that stack, I still needed hours with no laundry on the neighbours' clotheslines. Smoke wafting over a line of clean clothes does not make for friendly relations. Enough excuses came along to let me procrastinate until a few days ago. The sticks are gone.

     Hebrews 12:29 describes our God as a consuming fire. The prophet, Malachi, speaks of a fire that refines and consumes impurities. (Malachi 3:2-3) As silver is purified, what is not of Him within us can be removed. What a blessing! Freedom from anything that works against our enjoying the abundant life Christ came to give us can only be a plus.

     Fire consumed the branches that had littered the lawn. A small pile of ashes remains. In Isaiah's wonderful list of all the good things that accompany the Lord's anointing, He even promises beauty for those ashes. (Isaiah 61:3) They may supply precious nutrients for growing things in our natural garden. Perhaps there is a parallel benefit resulting from God's fire in our spirits. What remains after the purifying work within may well sweeten and mature us enhancing our own lives and the lives of those around us. Fire power indeed!


 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ONWARD

     Any new thing we attempt takes some doing. If it's a trip, there's packing and the zillion things that have to be taken care of that we won't be home to do, like someone to tend to plants and animals. (Mr. Whiskers still needs food and a doorman.) We plan travel arrangements and accommodations en route and at the destination. A "lazy bones" could choose to just stay home. God provides unique opportunities. Effort is required to take advantage of them.

     For ones who walk with Christ, the way is prepared. He already knows what is ahead and has provided for things unforeseen by us. On a recent jaunt I was held up at the Canadian-U.S. border for an hour and a half and missed my plane changing a 4:30 p.m. arrival to 9:30. The domino effect meant a two hour drive in a rental car on unfamiliar roads and a 3:00 a.m. arrival - 1:00 a.m. local time - not great for my kind host.

     An awesome lady won a last-minute dash to the seat beside me on the final lap of the adventure. Jane was familiar with the airport at our destination. She shepherded me onto the train to the baggage pickup. She knew where to locate luggage sent on earlier flights and pointed me to the spot to meet the shuttle for the rental car.

     Thank you, Father God, for placing this dear one alongside to help me. Thank you that we are never alone on this exciting faith journey. As surely as you guided the children of Israel in the way they had not passed before (Joshua 3:4), you lead us through each new day. We cannot know what it may hold,but we can choose to hold tight to the One who does.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A DONE DEAL

     My brother has shuffled his ranking of favourite cookies. For now, Debbie's ginger snaps have pushed Aunt Nora's "oatmealers" out of top spot. I enjoy baking. The routine blending of ingredients provides quiet moments when my mind is still. While making the last batch I saw a truth demonstrated in an obvious way.

     In anything we're doing, whether weaving fabric, building a home, or baking ginger snaps, we visualize the goal and we expect to accomplish it. I never butter the cookie sheets, preheat the oven and mix the dough, all the while thinking it's not likely that I will actually produce a batch of cookies. I expect their yummy fragrance to fill the kitchen. I'm sure the cookie tin will be full before long.

     If I'm confident of seeing the finished product, how much more is Father God positive that He is able to complete the work He's begun in each of us? Through the prophet, Jeremiah, He declares, "I know the plans I have for you... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

     Until Isaac's birth when Abraham was 100, the patriarch chose to believe God's promise that he would be the father of many nations, but our heavenly Father knew the names of every one of the multitude of descendants yet to be born. Regardless of the obstacles the enemy uses to hinder us from fulfilling our destinies, God sees us becoming all He intended. He is so willing to finish what He visualizes for every individual. He sees His children in health, prospering, succeeding, enjoying relationships.

     We can be equally confident that the blessed life God designed for each of us will unfold step by step as we walk with Him. He supplies us with faith to know His goals will be accomplished. For every believer, by His grace and mercy, it's a done deal!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

THE ULTIMATE FATHER

     Years ago I planted my favourite iris in what I thought was an ideal spot for its growth and my enjoyment. NOT! It has almost met its end many times. After a storm, large branches that fell on the garage roof were tossed smack dab on top of it. The stones that should protect it seem to be the natural ones to kneel on when cleaning the pond. I forget the iris and squish it when I'm focused on getting goop out of the water. Somehow it survives and reappears each spring.

     Warm days have been slow coming. Corn is just now showing in the fields. Farmers nurture and protect the crop in every way possible. Jesus used the beauty of the short-lived grasses and lilies as examples of His Father's care for everything in nature. He wanted us to understand that Father God will surely provide all that we need.

     A butterfly landed by my feet as I was walking by the river earlier. The breeze was cool, but in that sheltered spot the sun was warm enough for the wee thing to be able to move about. In Psalm 145:16 David said, "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." (NKJV)

     Jesus said, "Look at the birds... your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26 NKJV) We can't begin to understand how much Father God treasures each one of us. We know the Lord Jesus is His beloved. The Father's love for His Son is over the top of any we can imagine. Yet He gave His Son for us!

     We know the love a human father can have for his child. Jesus said, "How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 6:11 NKJV) He wanted to assure us that even though a natural parent's compassion may fall short, Father God's will never.

You'll enjoy Janet Sketchley's post He Can Do It Again concerning God's care for us.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

WE ARE SAFE

     Back in the day we had a single 45 rpm vinyl recording of "Safe Am I". As a child I loved the melody and Mildred Leightner Dillon's lyrics. In part, they were, "Safe am I in the hollow of His hand; sheltered o'er... with His love forever more. No ill can harm me, no foe alarm me, for He keeps both day and night."

      The photo for May in Haven Ministries' 2014 calendar showed water falling over a rock formation hollowed out at the base. Imagine resting on cool, smooth rock sheltered from the heat of the day and the torrent of water cascading over that falls.

     Conflicts, hardships, difficulties do flow over us. David experienced what seemed a non-stop deluge of them, but he knew his safe place. In Psalm 32:7 he said the Lord was his hiding place and that his God would keep him safe from trouble. In verse 6 of that chapter he said a flood of great waters would not come near him.

     Our enemy would delight to see us sink under whatever hassles he can stir up. When he tries to push us down with reminders of past failures, Romans 8:1 declares nothing can condemn those who are in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13 refutes Satan's attacks on our confidence to overcome challenges in any area. The Lord Jesus took every sin and physical affliction on Himself at Calvary. The remedy for all spiritual and physical needs was supplied for each of us for ever.

     Whatever stands against God's child at this moment is temporary. Jesus' sinless life and what He accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection has provided a safe resting place for all who receive Him as Lord.

     When Mr. Whiskers finishes what, at the moment, is important to him, he knows how to kick back, completely at ease. God's people have infinitely greater reason to know we are tucked away, safe in Christ.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

SEASON OF HOPE

     In parts of Ontario snow fell again this week, but in this corner the grass is green and tiny leaves are opening. We're wakening to robins chirping and cardinals whistling. It's a season of positive change, time to come out of winter in nature and in spirit. In both spheres much of what comes alive in spring lies dormant in winter.

     Two verses in the first chapter of Deuteronomy jumped out at me recently. "You have dwelt long enough at this mountain." (vs.6b) "The Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it...; do not fear or be discouraged." (vs.21 NKJV)

     Mountains stand before all of us. Problems and difficult circumstances rise up. For a time we live with them. I'm glad Father God chose a mountain, something that is too great for human effort to overcome, formidable and unmoving. Yet, even with the very real obstacle confronting His child, He urges each one to focus on the land, the promise of what is rightfully ours.

     When we only consider our abilities, the trouble looks too big. When we tap into the resources of almighty God we remember that, "Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low." (Luke 3:5 NKJV)  We overcome the rock-solid thing that withstands us by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11) The solution was provided by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and it manifests as we claim and declare what He accomplished.

     Winter is past. It's time to move beyond the thing that withstands our progress. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV) Father God wants us to enjoy the life the Lord Jesus died for us to have. In His strength we can take possession of what is just over that mountain.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A PRINCE OR A PAUPER?

     In Mark Twain's novel, The Prince and the Pauper, young Prince Edward chooses to switch identities with his look-alike, Tom Canty, a poor boy with a cruel father. Edward's decision casts him into a time of extreme hardship even though he was entitled to every royal privilege.

     In 2 Corinthians 8:9 the Apostle Paul says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (NKJV)

     Unlike the impulse of Twain's Edward, the Lord Jesus, knowing it would cost His life, willingly left heaven to fulfill His Father's plan to restore mankind to God's royal family. People did not recognize or acknowledge the Messiah's rightful position any more than the citizens of 16th century London did the fictional prince.

     In Philippians 2:7 Paul tells us that Jesus "made Himself of no reputation" and verse 8 states, "He humbled Himself and became obedient to... the death of the cross." (NKJV) In Hebrews 4:15 we learn that through His life experiences He fully understands every challenge we face.

     Incredible love compelled Him to both give up and endure more than we can imagine. Why? To free us from the tyranny of one whose cruelty far exceeds that of Tom Canty's father and to make us co-heirs with Him. (Romans 8:17)

     John 1:10 and 12 sum this up perfectly. "He was in the world... and the world did not know Him." (John 1:10 NKJV) "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." (John 1:12 NKJV)

     In Twain's novel Edward's knowledge of the Great Seal proved his right to the royal line. The believer in Christ is "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance." (Ephesians 1:13,14 NKJV) Our Prince has secured our right to "all things that pertain to life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3 NKJV) As members of His family we have no need to beg for anything. We are protected from ever being paupers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SUNRISE

     Here we are, mid-April... rain, changing to ice pellets, to snow before morning... no danger of monotony concerning weather just now in this corner of the world. No matter in which form the wet stuff is coming down, the amount of daylight is increasing for which we are thankful.

     With each sunrise comes hope. When the darkness seems most intense, first light breaks its hold. A gigantic challenge that may threaten to overcome us in the night shrinks as the sun casts off the gloom. The prophet, Jeremiah, declared that he hoped in God because His compassions are new every morning. (Lamentations 3: 22-24)

     Fresh compassion, fresh mercy, fresh grace for each new day... help is ours for the countless things we can neither predict nor control. I heard the story of a child being guided by his father during a terrible storm. The dad threw his coat around his son and held him so the boy was in darkness. He only saw his own feet until his father drew back his protection to show the light of home.

     If we've chosen to accept the open invitation to be a part of the family, Father God keeps His children through the dark times. When Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites and Egypt was plagued with darkness, "all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." (Exodus 10:23 NKJV) The Apostle John wrote, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5 NKJV)

     The Lord Jesus stated that He is the light of this world and that those who follow Him, "shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12 NKJV) Each sunrise brings with it the natural light we need for the day. In the spiritual realm the One who is light is also rising from His place at His Father's right hand. His return to this earth will dispel darkness forever.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SEED TIME

     The ice is being taken our of the arena and we've hung up our skates for the season. Sap icicles catch the sunlight on maple trees. I picked the first wee snowdrop although I had to push snow away from the flower to grasp its stem. Hungry robins are scrounging for tiny crabapples produced last year on the ornamental trees. We still have snow, but it is melting. The time for planting in the fields can't be too far off.

     On March 19th I started some heritage tomatoes in pots. When you think about it, planting a seed is quite an act of faith. We poke the seed into the soil, make sure it gets light and moisture... and wait.

     It didn't require faith when I rooted slips of coleus in water in glass jars on the window sill. I could watch their roots grow until each had a healthy mass to plant. Seeds tucked under the earth are another matter. They got the best of my brother when he was little. Our neighbour let him help plant potatoes. A day or two later Paul dug some up to see how they were doing.

     I haven't been guilty of that with natural seed. Can't say I've never dug up the seed planted in my spirit to check on it though. Jesus said, "The seed is the word of God." (Luke 8:11 NKJV) The word doesn't change, but the soil it's planted in may or may not be suitable to produce a harvest.

     To have a heart prepared to receive the word so it will take root, grow and produce the outcome I'm seeking, Proverbs 4:23 tells me to keep my heart with all diligence. Help me, Father, to pull out the weeds of unbelief and keep the soil soft and open to the working of Your Holy Spirit. I choose to trust that excellent fruit will be produced by the incorruptible seed without me being shown how You're bringing it about.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CELEBRATE WITH JOY

     Trinity Joy, a special wee babe, continues to delight her family and many, many others she's encountered in the few weeks since her birth. On earth and in heaven new life brings joy. Jesus spoke of angels rejoicing when anyone is born into His Father's Kingdom. (Luke 15:10) And I love Peter's description of joy beyond what we can express as believers in Christ. (1 Peter 1:8)

     Right... but how about the obvious troubles, problems, difficulties we all face during our lives? David had oodles of them. He chose to trust God rather than people to help him, and recorded his pleas and praise. Hope rises as we read not only his Psalms, but also other accounts from Genesis to Revelation of men and women who made it through tough circumstances our adversary brought against them. They could endorse the words of Nehemiah, a captive serving in exile, who declared, "the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

     We need to know His joy is still our strength today. Recently I heard Daniel Amstutz share about a time when he did not have money to buy groceries for his family. They cooked the last food they had and his wife was feeding their toddler first when she got into one of those laughing jags you just can't stop. The Holy Spirit had reminded her of David's words in Psalm 37:25, "I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread." (NKJV)
     
     She knew, as believers in Christ, they had abundant provision. Their circumstance and the comical mixture of left-overs they had cooked up tickled her funny bone instead of crushing her. Within moments they discovered someone had left several bags of groceries, other supplies and some cash at their door! That occasion inspired the tradition of "count-it-all-joy" parties in the Amstutz home.

     James advised us to, "count it all joy when you fall into various trials." (James 1:2 NKJV) and Daniel's family has chosen to do so over the years. What's happening in your life? Is it time for a celebration?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

THE DIRECT ROUTE

     To drive along the twists and valleys of a country road is as good as a holiday when you have time to enjoy the outing. When you're on a mission? ... not so much. A straight line trumps meandering if you have to get somewhere.

     We've had heaps of snow this winter. I'm not about to shovel an S-curved path to the barn. By the end of February it's not perfectly straight, but close, and I heft as little of the white stuff as possible.

     In the spiritual journey an individual may choose to wander and investigate many roads. Life, however, does have a way of presenting constraints. The urgency can be a person's desperate desire to have questions settled. Troubles for which human abilities offer no solutions also draw us to the throughways.

     The Lord Jesus didn't mess around with philosophies. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 NKJV)  Proverbs 8:17 states, "those that seek me early shall find me." (KJV) A circuitous route is not necessary.

     From the get-go we can choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9) Then, in Christ, we share all that He won in His victory over the adversary.

     To our natural minds, the process seems backwards. Man wants the evidence first. Then he will believe what is proven. Father God's way is that we believe first, then confirmation comes to our senses. Once we open our hearts and minds to His amazing love, He will give the assurance that we've found the truth that satisfies. (John 14:21) This may be the perfect time to take the direct route. 
     

Saturday, February 15, 2014

CHOOSE YOUR RINGTONE

     Have you experienced wakening to the nerve-jangling racket of an old wind-up alarm clock? If you had to be up early after a late night, that instrument of torture was painfully effective. The curtain dropped abruptly on any fun things in your dreams and you sprang from your bed in a frantic effort to shut the thing off.

     Today an amazing variety of sounds on all our electronic devices are available to call us to action. Bird songs, waves on the shore, a dog barking, a sports cheer... when the interruption comes in a way that suits our temperament it is way less invasive.

     A multitude of different alarm tones clamour for our attention in the world around us. When it's time to pay heed we can't hit the snooze button and pull the covers up over our heads. A report from media, a banker, a doctor or a lawyer may present a dark picture of all that might go wrong. God's report, His Word, shines light on the subject. If we choose to listen to this ring, the Holy Spirit can direct us to a verse that equips us to face the circumstance with positive faith.

     In Philippians 4:6-7 we read, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

     We can shut off the alarm bells and select the peace of His promises for the best ringtone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

WHAT'S UNDER COVER?

     Miss Zoe, a gorgeous Bengal, who lives on the other side of the village, loaned Mr. Whiskers a special game that has helped her fight cabin fever during these cold winter days. What appears to be a mouse's tail attached to something mechanical darts about until feisty little Zoe stomps on it. To her delight whatever is hidden under the yellow vinyl squeaks. She lets go and the chase continues.

     In the great outdoors Whiskers thrills to go after any tiny creature that runs from him. The gizmo under the yellow cover was strange. Wary of the goings on, he kept his distance. The closest he came was a safe spot behind a table leg where he could watch without having to confront the device.

     Bottom line, he was afraid... and it wasn't real. It had no ability to harm him. Got me thinking of our enemy. He's defeated but he isn't dead. He creates an impression of power to come against us. False evidence appearing real - fear - is an apt description of the emotion his tactics may create. In any way possible, Satan works to upset and disturb.When he finds an opening he's more than willing to stir up trouble in people's relationships, health, finances...

     He thought he had Elisha when the king of Syria sent an army to surround the town where the prophet was. Elisha's servant was terrified at the sight of the Syrian forces and no way of escape. Elisha knew God's army, hidden to natural sight, outnumbered the enemy. He prayed that the cover would be lifted so his servant could see the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around them. (2 Kings 6:14-17)

     God's Word tells us what He has provided to meet every need. Our response to each challenge determines what our life will be. Zoe had fun. Whiskers missed out. No matter what is hidden under cover, if we're trusting God, all of heaven will back us.
     

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

COOKIE CUTTERS ARE FOR COOKIES

     Does nature's infinite variety of colours, shapes, sizes and textures boggle your mind? Father God has never used anything that remotely resembles a cookie cutter. I have to take the word of the experts that no two snowflakes are alike, but I can see for myself the differences in cones on spruce, pine, and hemlock trees; the array of colours sported by blue jays, flickers, cardinals, woodpeckers. More than three hundred species of hummingbirds have been identified! Do we agree that the Creator does not hanker after everything being the same?

     If we realize this is true in nature, how much more so in His children? God loves the uniqueness of every one of us. Joy comes from discovery in relationship with a loved one. Father God knows us. He delights in our coming to know Him. Any hindrances in this regard are on our side.

     When we are getting to know someone, often what we've heard about that person gets in the way. It takes time together to find our for ourselves what is true. From the first episode in the garden, our enemy has not stopped raising doubts about Father God and His intentions. James 4:7 states an effective antidote to his poison: submit to God - receive His love; resist the devil - reject his lies. We can take the initiative in furthering the relationship by acting on James' words in the next verse, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8 NKJV) 

     Love, joy and acceptance spill out of Zephaniah's declaration in Zephaniah 3:17, "He will rejoice over you with singing." (NKJV) Father God may even enjoy our quirks. He's definitely not into cookie cutter production of His most prized creation. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

LET'S FINISH THE PUZZLE

     Do you enjoy working on a jigsaw in a cozy nook when it's cold and dark outside? You find the corners and the outside edges, then colourful patches that can be spotted easily. But how about when all the remaining pieces seem to be the same colour?

     Everyone is gung-ho while the picture is filling in quickly. When progress dwindles to almost zilch interest disappears. You find a piece the right shape and colour but it does not fit.

     Often we have some challenge that confounds us. We will stick with our search for the solution if the issue matters enough. Sometimes a clear answer comes fairly quickly. When it doesn't, a mind open to God in prayer and as we read scripture will allow us to receive the key if we don't give up.

     James 1:5 states, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let his ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (NKJV) Various possibilities may look okay, but there's one solution that's a perfect fit. Once we know in our "knower" that we've discovered it, hanging on until we see it manifest is crucial.

     When Mr. Whiskers is curled up with his head between his paws and his tail wrapped around him, he still sees everything that is going on. God's answer comes first to our spirit. Until the solution transpires in outward circumstances we can snuggle into His keeping without doubting that all will be well.

     That final piece of the puzzle is a gem. My friend's Mom once managed to tuck a piece in her apron pocket when she was busy preparing dinner while the rest of the family worked to complete a jigsaw. When they got down to the very last piece, Mrs. Harris had the satisfaction of reaching over a shoulder and pressing it into place. I can imagine the sparkle in her eye and the glee with which she produced that special one that was missing. How about starting out this new year with determination to persevere until we find the best solution to whatever quandary comes along?