Thursday, December 15, 2016

MIXED UP DELIVERY

     This week I finally managed to get some parcels on their way back to the company that mailed them. The person responsible for the shipping label hadn't received the corrected address and Genevieve, our mail lady, lugged three heavy boxes down to the lodge at Christ Haven.
     
     Mix ups can happen at the source, but more often it's in the middle. Someone may receive a letter that went astray and was delivered years later. All sorts of misunderstandings can arise if we assume a message was received and the response we expect doesn't come. Email or snail mail, we depend on the method of delivery working.

     With the ease and speed of electronic communication, some folks have all but abandoned old-fashioned mail. I still love sending and receiving cards at Christmas and other special occasions. I treasure the bundle of Dad's letters my Mother saved, letters he sent from British Columbia to Ontario before they were married.

     Even more, I am thankful for the letters shared and preserved through the centuries from the apostles, Paul, Peter, John and other men of God. These tell of God's love to us. It's so important that the one delivering the message gets it right. If that person does not grasp the meaning intended the recipient is given a false impression. Rather than enjoying each day knowing we are loved unconditionally, we may spend our lives religiously striving to please Father God who is already totally delighted with everyone who trusts in the the Lord Jesus as Saviour.


     The Apostle John knew for sure that Father God is love and that He loves everyone. (I John 4:16) John wrote a clear message. Satan does what he can to mess with that truth. All over the world postal services do their best to deliver what they are trusted with accurately. Today each one of us who knows God and His love can do everything possible to share His Word accurately - no mix ups in our delivery.

       

Thursday, December 1, 2016

CLOUDS

     We see some amazing cloud formations in the region of Pike's Peak. Maybe it's just me, but I've seen clouds that seem different than those in southern Ontario, Canada. As a child, not understanding that they are just vapour with no substance, I imagined them to be like thick cotton that I could jump in.

     In literature clouds are often used in a negative sense, darkening, blotting out, covering over something. This view fits with Satan's tactics against us. He continually casts darkness over the goodness of God. He wants mankind to believe God has caused or allowed our troubles. Father God would no more do so than a loving earthly father would. A dad's God-given instinct is to love and protect and provide.

     If financial, physical or relational problems come, the enemy paints a dark picture. He says it will only get worse. Scripture says the opposite. God has made a way for His children to prosper, be well and overcome. The Lord Jesus has defeated Satan and made an open show of His triumph over the enemy. (Colossians 2:15)

     Satan has no power, but he does all he can to keep us from realizing this. His deceptions have no more real substance than the clouds. Even when he lied through Potiphar's wife and caused cruel hardship for Joseph, God turned the outcome into a great blessing for the children of Israel. (Genesis 50:20) He is able and willing to do the same for everyone of us.

     If we have chosen to serve the Lord Jesus we are delivered from all the power of darkness. (Colossians 1:13) When clouds blot out the light, the sun is still there, and Father God can cause even those clouds to be beautiful. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SIGNPOSTS

     Each day as I walk the mile along our road to the paved highway I pass a special bit of history. Lots of years ago members of the Ute tribe of native people bent and bound the trunk of a pine sapling with rawhide causing the tree to grow in almost an "s" shape . The bottom curve parallel to the ground pointed to their destination. Others coming down the hill later knew which direction their leaders had traveled.

     Signs are important. We need guidance in unfamiliar territory. When the children of Israel were entering the land God promised them, the priests led the way carrying the ark. The people were to keep their eyes on the ark and follow it. They had never been that way before. (Joshua 3:4)

     The ark contained the two stone tablets with the commandments of God governing the lives of His people. Under the new covenant following Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, followers of the Lord Jesus are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18) Believers are led by the Holy Spirit, God with us and in us. (Romans 8:14)

     The Lord led the children of Israel assuring them that they would hear a word saying, "This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left." (Isaiah 30:21 Amp.) If we keep our eyes on Jesus we will stay on the right path. He taught the people that He is the way. (John 14:6) We come to know the character of God as we look to Christ.

     Each new day brings us to another portion of the route. We can't know what we will encounter until we've walked it. The One who does know what lies ahead will make the journey with anyone who asks Him. Equipped with the Scriptures and prayer, we will hear a word or see a sign post every time we need it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

INTERNATIONAL

     I'm nicely into my third year as an international student at Charis Bible College. I think there are 55 of us on the Colorado campus from 19 different countries. When we gather for a luncheon some are able to share traditional foods from their homelands, but everyone can share a story - how they came to know and love the Lord Jesus; what He has done in their lives; how doors opened for them to come to the United States to study...

     The fact that we are international means that we are between two countries. We have the privilege of living in America as students while we still have the rights of citizens in our native lands. To achieve our purpose at Charis we have to focus on our classes without ignoring the responsibilities and relationships left behind. We need to maintain a balance between the two.

     Every follower of the Lord Jesus shares this dual way of living in the school of life. Each one has a role to fulfill wherever they've been placed on this earth. We're learning lots and what we need while we are here is provided, but it isn't home. Our full rights are in God's Kingdom and home is where Father is.


     When difficulties pile up it's so good to be able to call on Him. He's always there. We can tell Him exactly how it is and know He understands completely. He loves us and He has the right answer. He supports us as we tackle each challenge and when we complete our course on earth we will celebrate at home with Him.

     It's a blessing to have a place at the tables with all the international students at Charis, a tiny foretaste of the feast we will enjoy with believers from every nation at home with Father God after graduation.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

THE WAY PREPARED

     Opportunities to hike and explore seem endless here. Daring, energetic folks can tackle mountains. Others who are content with less of a challenge will find trails leading up and down the hills in this corner of Colorado. We can get ourselves into tricky spots when we venture off the worn paths.

     David knew all about life in the mountains and hill country during the years he lived hiding from King Saul. Determined to kill David, Saul came after him with an army of 3000. 

     With his life in jeopardy, David dared to go to the place where Saul lay sleeping, surrounded by his army. Not willing to raise his hand against the king, he commanded the man with him to take Saul's spear and cruse of water. They left without harming the king.

     Back on the summit of the mountain, David revealed himself to Saul. The spear and cruse of water proved that he had been right by the king. In Shame, Saul withdrew with his forces, but it was God who had spared David. He could have been captured if the Lord had not caused everyone in the camp to be in a deep sleep. (I Samuel 26:12)

     David hadn't devised a brilliant battle plan. It may have been an idea that just came to him when he asked for a volunteer to go with him into Saul's camp that night. (I Samuel 26:6) We pray when challenges come, but in the midst of the battle Father God asks us to trust Him to lead us. (Psalm 37:5) 

     It pleases Him when we live fully in the present leaving our concerns with Him. (I Peter 5:7) Like the bridge that's been built across a fast-flowing stream, we can trust our God to bring the right solution at the right time to meet our need.








Saturday, October 1, 2016

LIVING STREAMS

     Trish and Bill Sinclair are pastors of Living Streams Church in Woodland Park, Colorado. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons the church doors are open to anyone in need of food. Free clothing in all sizes, from infant to adult, is also available. Donated articles flow in and are quickly chosen. The Sinclair's ministry to both physical and spiritual lack blesses so many. Living Streams is a perfect name for their church.

     We can't live without water. The Lord Jesus, travelling through the town of Sychar, stopped for a drink at Jacob's well. He asked the Samaritan woman who came along to give him a drink. He needed the natural water she could draw for Him. She needed the spiritual water He offered to her.

     The lady did not understand how this Man could give her water that would be a well within her "springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14 KJV); water that would quench her spiritual thirst for ever. She may have heard the words Jeremiah wrote describing the Lord as the fountain of living waters." (Jeremiah 17:13)

     The words Christ spoke became life to her. She realized He was the Messiah her people were waiting for when He told facts about her past only God could reveal. She had hoped to find love and happiness in relationships that had not satisfied. Only One can meet that inner longing that everyone experiences.

     Isaiah 12:3 invites us to draw water from the wells of salvation with joy. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour, the precious Holy Spirit comes to live within us. Jesus said we will have rivers of living water flowing out of us. Each believer is refreshed by the waters within and their flow can minister to the spiritaul thirst of the ones around us.

     The Apostle John had a revelation of a river of pure, life-giving water flowing from the throne of God. (Revelation 22:1) Everyone who chooses may receive this water and enjoy the life Christ died to give us.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

THE ADVENTURE UNFOLDS

     We may think of an adventure as an exciting experience. It can involve danger or risk. For me it includes the element of the unknown. A thing that is "old hat" does not qualify. These first days studying Media in third year at Charis Bible College fit a good hunk of any definition.

     From an outside stance it might look a bit risky. I grew up decades before this techie generation. Making the leap from my trusty Asus laptop to MacBook Pro could prove a gigantic stretch. I am so thankful that I'm not limited to the natural way of things. Factors like experience and age lose their clout when I draw on the wisdom and strength of the One who has my life in His hands.


      The ability to invent the amazing tools of technology could only come from the ultimate Creator, the same One who designed the path for each of our lives. He knows where I am and what I'm tackling. I love that He's always with me and I don't have to take one step alone.

     All the while my mind is trying get around the intricacies of modern media, my spirit is continuing on its amazing journey. Just as technology opens up new realms of information, my knowledge and understanding of Father God grows when I learn to tune into His voice and recognize His leading.

     Each new day presents the next episode of the adventure. The Lord Jesus came to bring us abundant life. (John 10:10) We can be sure the unique path Father has designed for each one is not a boring, hum-drum one. Sometimes the footing may be tricky, but we can be sure He will hold us steady as we trust in Him.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

IT'S ALL MINE

     For years I have not seen Mr. Whiskers on a counter top or table, but his friends caught him in the act. They have proof. My boy helped himself to the food on their kitchen counter that was measured out for their two house buddies. He does not wait for an invitation. In his cat world it's simple. He sees something he wants and he takes it.

     Cats scoff things they have no right to. God's children do not take things to which they have every right. In Christ's teaching of the prodigal son, the elder brother complained that he worked faithfully and was never given anything. Duh... Everything his father owned was his. (Luke 15:29-31)

     Peter says God has given followers of the Lord Jesus everything we need for life. (2 Peter 1:3) Father God longs for us to be parTAKERS of all He has provided. When we receive Jesus as Lord, the One who is love lives within us. We can know we are loved. The One who died for our sins is on the inside. We can know we are forgiven. The One who was whipped for our healing dwells in us. We can know health is ours. And the list continues...

     Joshua asked God's people when they would get around to taking what was theirs.(Joshua 18:3) Caleb had no problem. He demanded that Joshua give him the mountain he'd been promised.(Joshua 14:12) He claimed it and he took it.

     Because he's mine Mr. Whiskers does have rights and privileges in our home. These don't begin to compare with those of God's children. Mr. W. is not a good example. We need to be like Caleb. We can learn what is ours, declare ownership and receive the promises. Father God loves to see His own step into their inheritance.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A KEY

     My Scottish heritage kicks in when I buy something that does not seem to perform the way it should. I dropped the carafe for my coffeemaker. It made a perfect smashed-into-smithereens landing. The test on the universal replacement carafe was successful, I thought, so I squished its packaging for the recycle bin. 

     In the morning when the first authentic use was due. the coffeemaker made all the right noises, yet nothing but steam appeared in the carafe. If you have a drop of Scottish blood you know what I was thinking. The package was flattened. I could not return the carafe. I was "out" that money and I would need a new coffeemaker.

     God is so good, even to frugal folks of Scottish ancestry. The Holy Spirit nudged me to check what I'd tossed into the recycle bin - instructions and an alternate lid. The tall lid had seemed to make the carafe fit too snugly and I thought the short lid in the kit had passed the test. The instructions gave the tall lid priority. That was the key. I tried the tall lid again. The pause and serve feature activated and coffee flowed.

     Trouble with the pond pump gave me a second  run on this lesson. The entire contraption fell apart when I tried to secure the fountain head. The same parts that fit together when I first assembled the pump no longer connected. 

     The manual dealt with several different pumps and provided meagre information for each of them. An illustration for my model showed ridges on the top of the main shaft. I had that piece upside down. That was the key. I reversed it and each section fit together.

     Life throws lots bigger difficulties at us than broken carafes and fountains. The prince of this world wants us to think we're defeated. He is relentless and we must be relentless also. We can focus on his black picture or turn and withstand him in the light and truth of God's Word.

     We see what is confronting us in our natural circumstances. If we realize the essence of our conflicts is in the spiritual realm, we can choose to be strong and stand protected by the armour God has provided. (Ephesians 6:10-18) When we trust God for the answer the Holy Spirit will give us a key that will be the difference between frustration and victory. With God nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26)

       

Monday, August 1, 2016

HERE I AM

     My house buddy, yes, that large ginger cat, is completely at peace with himself. He demonstrated this again a couple of weeks ago. Some hours after my last post on this blog on July 15th, he disappeared. He went out after supper and that was it. I didn't see him again.

     Neighbours had borrowed the ladder from the brown barn. He can dart through any open door without being seen. When he had not come to the back door by bedtime I checked the brown barn and every place I could think of where's he's been imprisoned in the past.

     It was a beautiful moonlit night, like others on which he has decided to skip the "time to come in" call. I checked to see if he'd come to the door at 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 and 7:00, each time expecting to find him with his indignant,"Well, where have you been?" No Mr. Whiskers.

     I walked the four sides of our block and was thankful there was no sign of an unfortunate end to his existence. At 10:00 a.m. he appeared at the door, warm and fed, pranced through to check his dish which still contained food from Friday evening; turned up his nose and left again. He padded down the walk past the barn and took a left.

    Sure enough, a visit to his friends on the next street provided the answer. When Nancy opened their garage door around 10:00 Saturday morning there he was - since about 6:00 the evening before when the garage was shut. Nancy was sure he would bolt for home. No. He gave her what-for until she fed him; then checked in at home just long enough to be sure things were as they should be.

     Not a golden hair of co-dependence exists within my cat. His joy and security has nothing to do with what anyone thinks about him. He stands on his hind legs and drums with his front paws on the door he wants opened. I comply because I love him.

     How about you and me? In John 10:9 we read, "knock and it will be opened to you." (NKJV) The Lord Jesus is the door (John 10:9 NKJV) When we come to Him we are welcomed into His family because Father God loves us. And we can be as confident as Mr. Whiskers that we belong and everything we need will be provided.

      


Friday, July 15, 2016

TANGLES

     Home in Ontario, Canada for the summer, I took a  case of necklace chains in a hopeless tangle out of my suitcase. If bumping around on the journey got them into that mess, why did they not fall back into order when held up and given a shake? Why is creating a problem often less effort than solving it?

     A thoughtless remark can lead to the destruction of a relationship. A hasty action may set off a chain of negative events. The results may require oodles of patience, wisdom and time to unravel. Eve's bite into the forbidden fruit opened the door for Satan to wreak havoc on mankind. Every one of us still contends with the consequences of that choice.
     
     Freedom is getting things untangled no matter how long it takes. We tackle the simple challenges on our own, but the Lord is willing to help us with even those. Natural and spiritual issues are bound up together and He can straighten out any of them. It took His death, burial and resurrection to counter and defeat Satan so freedom can be ours.

     In John 8:36 we read, "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."(NIV) His truth frees us. Lies spin a web. God told Adam he would die if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17) The serpent told Eve she would not die. (Genesis 3:4) Had she acted on God's truth man did not have to be caught in the snarls of our enemy's lie.


     We can know the truth, choose to believe it and act on it. Romans 8:2 tells us we are free from sin and death through the Lord Jesus. I Peter 2:24 says Jesus took our sin; we can live in righteousness and we were healed by His wounds. If Jesus is our Lord and Saviour the promises are ours.

     It's easy to get tangled up in the bed sheets on a hot night. When that happens we can't move freely. Freedom is a natural desire for all of us in everything, and it is the right of every believer in Christ. We can focus on God's truth and live free in Christ. And if those chains get packed into the suitcase again in Sept. I will tape them down. That takes lots less time than working at getting them untangled later.

Friday, July 1, 2016

IN TUNE

     A few days ago the sweet fragrance of the mock orange shrub drew me across the back yard. I picked a tiny sprig and put it in a small bottle with water on the windowsill above the sink. Its perfume filled the kitchen. The bees are still feasting on the few blossoms remaining on the bush.

     I love that our Father/Creator is aware and attentive to each one. He knows the little things that bring us joy. He delights in our pleasure. This One who is love wants to "love on" every individual. Hagar, Sarai's maid, called Him El Roi, the God who sees me. (Genesis 16:13-14) He knew her need and cared for her.

     Since the veil of separation between man and Father God was ripped open when Jesus died on Calvary, only the decision of each individual can shut God out of our lives. He's chosen to work through believers as His instruments. The moment a heart opens to Him, if someone is in tune and willing to be used, the one asking will receive. (Matthew 7:8)

     An Ethiopian returning from a time of worship in Jerusalem longed to know what is true. Philip was willing to go where God needed him to go and do what He needed him to do. The Ethiopian accepted Philip's teaching about the Father's great love and provision for him and continued on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:26-39)

     Simon Peter took a bit of convincing, but he obeyed the Holy Spirit and traveled to Caesarea to explain the way of salvation through faith in Jesus. He was sent to Cornelius, a centurion, a devout man who had not heard the Gospel message. God knew the desire of Cornelius' heart. He and his family and friends who had gathered received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit while Peter was still teaching. (Acts Ch.10)

     Ananias was God's man in Damascus when Saul of Tarsus prayed, trying to come to terms with the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God. He was in tune with the Holy Spirit and in fear ministered to this one who was known to hate followers of Jesus. (Acts 9:17)

     If we are attentive and willing, Father God is well able to orchestrate circumstances to bring us into relationship with those who will welcome and respond to His unconditional love.

     
     

     

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

CARING

     We eight Canadians who graduated from Charis Bible College had a hoot presenting a spoof at the end-of-the-year talent show. It highlighted instructors' quirks, but our winter clothing and sports equipment with summer close to arriving in this part of the world also made a statement. We were saying that, like other nations spread over vast geographic areas, Canada includes a variety of climate zones. Some have no idea that Arctic conditions only exist in the extreme north.

     With technology making information available throughout the world, we take for granted that people are in the know. We only need to look at ourselves to realize that is not true. We pay attention to what affects us and to what catches our interest. Our knowledge of other cultures is very limited. So is our care for others. We learn what we care about.

     Life can become rich if we are outward-focused. The Lord Jesus taught us to care for others and treat them as we want to be cared for. (Matthew 7:12) When we manage to do this, we have joy, but Jesus did not mention any guarantee that the ones we are considerate of will return kindness.

     Expectations are important. They motivate us and keep us looking forward in our daily lives. We can be crushed or exhilarated depending on whether they are met. A huge dose of frustration can be avoided when our expectations are in a secure place.

     When we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will be a blessing to those around us. If our purpose is to please God, we can't be disappointed by the way others respond to us. Whatever people enjoy from our doings is a by-product. Our joy comes from the loving relationship believers share with Father God.  

     Jesus set the priorities for us when He said we should first love God with a whole heart; then love others as ourselves. (Mark 12:30,31) Father God knows and understands each of us completely. In the long term we will reap what we sow. From day to day our expectations will never be disappointed if we are resting in Him. And we will bless the Lord as we come to know and love others.

     

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

THE VALUE OF ONE

     A scruffy little shrub growing by the roadside caught my eye. Somehow it had taken root and grown tall enough to be noticed. Covered with tiny white blooms it stood alone in what had been a fence row. I enjoyed its beauty, and it got me thinking about the importance of "one".

     One break in the thread in the hem of a garment can cause the hem to fall. One weak link in a chain, one bolt missing from a machine, one part of our physical bodies unable to fulfill its function... Each component of everything that exists has a purpose and is important.

     Jesus said Father God sees when a sparrow falls to the ground. (Matthew 10:29) He cares about the birds. (Matthew 6:26) He cares about the flowers. (Matthew 6:28,29) But each individual person... you and me... He knows the number of hairs on our heads! (Matthew 10:30)

     God created man because He wanted man. He wanted fellowship with the intelligent creature He created. One man, Adam, broke that relationship. One man, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus, made it possible for it to be restored.


     That God refused to give up on any one of us, on you, on me; that He would sacrifice His Son rather than lose man; that Jesus would give His life so we could know and enjoy God... Apart from God, humans have no concept of such love.

     In measure, the love of parent for child is similar, but no match for the love of God. Even if a mother could forget her child, Father God has promised that He will never forget one of us. (Isaiah 49:15)

     I look at a single Iris, a gorgeous flower in a weedy patch, and I consider the value of "one". Each person living is of such infinite worth to Father God that He sent the Lord Jesus to die on the cross. He loves. He cares. He wants a close special relationship with you, with me. If that is not reality, guess which ONE is not engaging.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

MOVING ON

     Last Saturday we enjoyed a special gathering for Samuel who will return to Uganda in June. His "Farm Uganda" project will enable families to transition from producing enough to live to producing a surplus to sell. Samuel has completed a 3rd year track at Charis Bible College in Colorado. Many of my classmates will return to do a third year next September. Others are moving on after our graduation on May 21st.

     Wherever we are next autumn, each of us has a God-given purpose. It boggles my mind to realize that, with all the billions of people living on this planet, Father God has a specific work for me, and every one of His children, to do in this coming year! As our hearts and minds are open to Him, we can know His good and acceptable and perfect will. (Romans 12:2) And there is joy in the centre of His will.

     I see Samuel's farm land as his place of promise. Like the mountain Caleb (one of the twelve Joshua sent to spy out the promised land) knew was his, we have a spiritual territory to claim. Caleb did not mess around. He said, "Give me this mountain." (Joshua 14:12 KJV) Age is not a factor. He was eighty-five. He overcame everything that withstood him and occupied that land.

    Our Father will open the doors of opportunity to step into the task He's prepared for  each one. It will be a perfect fit, a place of satisfaction and blessing. He's invested time and training and equipped us with a precious deposit of His love and truth to share. Whatever challenges we face, the inheritance He's promised is ours. In that place of trust we can be a help to others on their spiritual quest as we fulfill our part of His great plan,

     The Lord Jesus came to give us His John 10:10 abundant life. I don't pretend to have gotten my head around an understanding of eternity, but I know that life always involves growth. It will be exciting to hear what our classmates are doing, come September, knowing that, with our Saviour, we will be moving on for ever.  

     

Sunday, May 1, 2016

GROWTH

     Everything in this corner of Colorado is covered with snow from another spring storm. Yet under that snow there is new growth. Baby pine cones are developing. Here and there a tiny dandelion is showing yellow beneath all that white stuff. The cones and weeds are not struggling. Given the right conditions, they just grow.

     In things of the spirit, growth and struggle may even work against each other. By faith we receive every good thing from Father God. When we fight for the answer we need, it's easy to slip into expecting our efforts to bring it about. There's a perfect balance in Christ. We do need wisdom to withstand the enemy's doings while keeping our focus on Jesus and what He has already accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection.

      If we look back to the moment we chose to receive Jesus as Lord, every one of us can see positive change. We can rest knowing that He is working in us as we trust Him. Paul said, "He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ... bringing it to full completion." (Philippians 1:6 Amp.) 

     New life begins with a seed. A cone matures and produces seeds. The wind scatters them. Ones that fall on fertile soil will sprout and begin to grow. Jesus said the seed that produces life in believers is the word of God. (Luke 8:11) When our hearts are receptive to the teaching, spiritual growth will happen in us. Even though the first stages of development are hidden, they are happening.

     As desperate as we may be to receive an answer, Father God's desire for each one's need to be met is infinitely greater. Simple faith opens the way. Picture a child asking Mom for a drink. His Mom fills a glass and holds it out to him. Except the child comes to Mom and opens his hand to take the glass she can't quench his thirst.

     Our God is more than willing to supply our need. When we know that and come to Him, open to His goodness and believing, we co-operate with Him and receive. The life He deposits in us grows and produces fruit that nourishes others bringing answers to them. 

     In Hebrews 10:22, 23 we read, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith...Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)" (KJV) We can be excited about how far we have come and look forward with joy to what we will be as we trust in Him. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

RESTING

     Laverne settled on the hearth before class enjoying the warmth of the fire and meditating on God's goodness. She was a living picture of the image on my heart. I'd been thinking of what it means to rest in Christ and about Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee in a storm.

     It was more than a patch of rough water. Matthew described it as "a great tempest...so that the boat was covered with the waves." (Matthew 8:24 NKJV) The disciples were afraid for their lives. They didn't have Paul's letter to the Philippians, but they had been with Jesus on the mountain and heard Him teaching the people not to worry. (Matthew 6:25) And Jesus was with them in the boat!

     Waves were crashing over them. The boat was pitching in the storm. It could have capsized. I'm not a screamer, but I would have had a white-knuckled grip on anything that seemed secure, and my eyes on that wild sea.

     In a financial storm it's natural for our focus to be on gigantic bills; on what we feel and see in a storm of illness; on what has been said or done in a relationship storm. But believers in Christ are not limited to the natural realm. If the Lord Jesus is in our boat, we have an alternative. We can choose to look away from the turmoil and fix our gaze on our Saviour.

      And today believers do have Paul's words of faith. "Be anxious for nothing...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." (Philippians 4:6,7 NKJV) As soon as the disciples cried out to Jesus He calmed the sea.


     He is our place of rest in the centre of every storm. He was sleeping in that boat. In him there is no fear. When we begin to realize our place of safety in Christ we can dwell in the peace which Paul said protects our hearts and minds - the cast-your-care zone.

     Like Laverne, we can remember God's goodness and the many times He's seen us through troubled waters. I think of Mr. Whiskers flaked out without a care and know I have not yet achieved total abandonment from the cares of this world, but if we choose to trust and rest in Christ that day will come.  

             

Friday, April 1, 2016

SPRINGTIME?

     Mary Hale Woolsey wrote the lyrics for "When it's Springtime in the Rockies". She could not have had this Colorado portion of the Rockies in mind - at least not if weather like we've been having was happening. The flowers with their colors are definitely not aflame and birds are not singing all the day. That's just not how it is.

     The Colorado Low that caused heavy snow here twice last week carried freezing rain to the area of my home in Ontario, Canada. Ice brought down lots of tree branches, sometimes entire trees and power lines, leaving homes without electricity. Overcast skies don't make for perky photos, but that's what I have for this post.

     Solomon said, "the winter is past...The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come." (Song of Solomon 2:11,12 KJV) The time has come, but in at least two corners of North America, we don't have the evidence.

     So do we assume there will be no spring? No! We know warm days with flowers and birds singing will come. God has promised, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22 KJV)  Seeds are planted in the spring and seed time is coming.

     If we can be sure of the promises of God that apply to nature, we can be equally confident in the promises that apply to every area of our lives. If circumstances upset and trouble a child of God, he can claim II Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (KJV)

     When illness tries to come against us, we know that Jesus took every infirmity and bore our sickness (Matthew 8:17) and by His stripes we were healed. (I Peter 2:24) God blesses those who walk with Him and that blessing includes finances. (Proverbs 10:22) No matter what the need, God has promised to meet it. (Philippians 4:19)

     The sun will shine and melt the ice in Ontario and the piles of snow in Colorado. Overcast skies will clear. We can trust our God who brings the warmth of spring to fulfill all His promises. He cannot fail.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CREATION CRIES

     Mr. Whiskers arrived at Beech Croft in December 2003. He had not waited for an invitation. We both survived a rather major adjustment. It took time, but after I began to know him, I was hooked. I loved him and that transferred to understanding and caring for other animals in a way I had not experienced before. 

     Mule deer are plentiful in this area. With no hunting permitted, they are quite tame. They stop and gaze when I come close on my trek out to the paved road. We've been seeing gorgeous bucks with impressive racks. I wouldn't mess with them, but I would love to give the does and fawns a rub behind their ears.

     When mankind listened to Satan's lies and forfeited dominion of this earth to him, all of creation came into bondage along with man. Forces opposite to God's design took over. The Lord Jesus, the sinless God-Man, came to this earth, gave His life and defeated Satan. Had Christ not won back that authority for all who serve Him, we, and all nature, would have no hope. 

     In Romans 8:19-23 Paul describes creation groaning as it waits for God's children to come into their rightful place; anticipating deliverance from oppression and corruption. Isaiah spoke of a time when the mountains and hills will sing and the trees will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12) Nature is prepared to celebrate when the kingdoms of this world "become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ".(Revelation 11:15 KJV)

     The deer will have no reason to be wary of other animals or humans. Isaiah prophesied of the day when the wolf, the lamb, the leopard, the kid, the calf, the young lion, the cow, the bear... all will live together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:6,7)

     An answer to the cry of creation will come. Until it does, our opportunity to choose to accept Father's invitation to become a member of His family and a citizen of His Kingdom through Christ is still extended. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

APPEARANCES

     Are you familiar with the old proverb, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating?" Whether a thing looks great or has little appeal, we learn its true nature when we sample it. Sometimes what looks like a decadent dessert just does not measure up. Appearances can trick us.

     I think of families moving west in North America in the late 1800's following their dreams. When the Rockies first came in view they may have expected to reach them before long, but the mountains were so much farther away than they appeared. As long as they kept travelling toward the distant peaks eventually they arrived.

     The enemy of our souls is a master trickster. He excels in presenting everything contrary to God's reality. A relationship, a career opportunity, a physical condition... Satan will do all he can to keep us away from what God intends for our good, or draw us into circumstances bound to harm.

     If our view is limited to what we see with our natural eyes, the enemy can deceive us. The battle is real, but Ephesians 6:12 reveals it is against spiritual forces. A situation, a condition or a challenge that Satan portrays as hopeless is not if God's Word states otherwise.

     God had told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. In fact he and Sarah were too old to have a child. Abraham chose to believe what God said rather than the natural reality and Isaac was born.

     In Psalm 34:8 we read, "taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (NKJV) I love to be blessed. I choose to trust God. If we believe God's Word and co-operate with it, we will obtain the promise. Too bad if it looks impossible. Like those mountains, the answer may be a tad farther off than we would like, but if we don't give up it will arrive.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

NO HURRY

     Are you toe tapping, breathing deeply and rolling your eyes when a friend does not show up on time... or are you the late friend hustling to keep the appointment? I once read an article in which a man in an eastern culture accused a westerner of worshiping idols. The American denied it. The African insisted. He said, "I watch you. When you enter a room you search until you find it." The idol was a clock.

     Perhaps not so much in Central or South America, but in North America, it's true. This part of the west is concerned about time. One of the first things the Lord showed me as I started this journey was that there is a perfect balance in Him. We do need schedules to get things accomplished. We also need to be able to let go and trust Him when unforeseen events come along.  

     A second lesson I learned early on was that the enemy will push for a quick decision. Father God is patient. He gives us opportunity to understand. As a new believer I prayed, "Lord, I love You and I will serve you, but I need friends." I'd hardly finished praying when the phone rang. It was an invitation to a party. Wow! That fast! He answered! It was not God. We had fun. I enjoyed the evening, but godly fellowship it was not.

     Solomon who placed first in wisdom, said, "To everything there
 is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV) and God's timing is perfect. A microwave will cook fast, but can't produce the flavour of a marinade.In Psalm 31:5 David said, "My times are in Your hand." (NKJV) To step back, pray and consider what is involved may give a perspective not possible with a quick decision.


     Isaiah speaks of Christ as our Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) and who better? The One who knows the end from the beginning and wants nothing less than the best for everyone would never steer us wrong. No need to run ahead or lag behind. We can step out of the time struggle and rest in Him. 

     

Monday, February 1, 2016

HOW MUCH?

     How much do we need to be happy in this life? I've just returned with friends from a few days in Central America visiting with some of the poorest of the poor in that land. In the busy urban centre when we asked people if they had a need we could pray for, some asked for healing or family concerns or a good job.

     In a remote neighbourhood we came to the home of a man who lived with almost nothing. I doubt that the covering over his shelter would keep him dry through the rainy season. Under a single grate supported by bricks he had built a fire for cooking. We asked if there was something he would like us to pray about. There was nothing. 

     He was as delighted to show us his Bible as someone of wealth might be with a valuable work of art, and his joy may well have been greater. Perhaps at some time he'd lived in more comfortable circumstances. He didn't say, but one day he will move into a place the Lord Jesus is preparing for him that will surpass anything he could ever imagine.

     We walked up a muddy road from his home to a church where believers were gathering to worship before dark. No complaints about the setting of the air conditioner. The structure was open air. And hearts were open to worship God and share His goodness with one another.

     The Apostle Paul said he'd learned to be content whether he had plenty of this world's goods or little. (Philippians 4:11) It was never Father God's plan for any of His children to be in want. David knew God was pleased to see His children prosper. (Psalm 35:27) John encouraged Christ's followers to pay attention to the well-being of their souls assuring us that prosperity and physical health are related to our thinking, choices and attitudes. (III John 2)

      With so many turning their backs on God, Satan has access to rob mankind. Many suffer through no fault of their own. They contend with circumstances that have developed from events and decisions of others. Our Lord is willing and able to help us as we recognize the enemy's lies and choose to receive what Father God has provided and offers.

     Even while we are coming to realize and obtain our spiritual and natural inheritance, we can have joy. Can possessions without loving relationships satisfy? To know God loves each one and can supply every need, to have caring fellowship with others who serve Him... both the gentleman in the rain forest and the believer living in relative comfort are blessed.   

     

Friday, January 15, 2016

Father's Joy

     Elisha John has arrived! His family and oodles of friends are thrilled. A new life has to be one of the greatest reasons ever to rejoice. Jesus said there is joy in heaven over every individual born into God's kingdom. (Luke 15:7) Whatever brings joy in this life is only a smidgen of its counterpart in the spirit.

     Think of what could make a dad about ready to explode with joy. To see the first smile; to hear the first word; to see the first wobbly steps taken; then each new achievement as that little one grows... all of this assuming that the father and child share a loving relationship.

     Indifference is not a possibility where our heavenly Father is concerned. He loves each one of us more than we can begin to understand. Should a child choose to shut Him out of his or her life, Father God will never turn His back on one of us. More than any earthly dad could hope, He has dreams and provisions for His children.

    God watches, waiting to see each son and daughter take that first step toward grasping His outstretched hand filled with every good thing we could possibly need to live in victory. And joy is positively one of them. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that His joy is our strength. His joy... so not an emotion that depends on our circumstances, but joy that is ours regardless.

     What could tickle a young one more than seeing his parent's delight with his accomplishment? Father God's joy is way beyond that of a proud dad cheering in the grandstand. His would most likely be considered undignified by folks in this age.

     The Lord Jesus confessed clearly that He and His Father are one. (John 10:30) Before His crucifixion He spoke words of comfort to His closest friends, He knew it would be a time of great sorrow, but He assured them their sorrow would pass and they would receive joy that no one could take away. (John 16:20-22) Paul said it was because of the joy Jesus knew would be His that He endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)

     God is love. His joy and love are bound together. Whether we mature to be everything our Father hopes or not, His love is the same. He is above and beyond any proud papa rejoicing over every one of His children.

Friday, January 1, 2016

NEW PLANS

     2015 has passed. We are just hours into the new year of 2016 - a leap year of 366 days. What will it be? We are free to dream, imagine, pray about our future. The things which we plan are subject to so many variables. There will be factors beyond our control. Still we set a course to achieve a desired goal plotting the steps that need to be taken to see it fulfilled.

     One morning last week a friend and I visited the Victor Trading Company in Victor, Colorado. The couple who own this business produce candles, tin ware, and cookie cutters, all uniquely displayed in their shop. But it was the brooms and their broom-making set up that captured my interest as we walked in.

     The proprietor was working with his antique foot-powered broom winder and stitching vise to create the product in which he takes great pride. Inspired by the work of craftsmen in Amana, Iowa, he sought out instructions, materials, and equipment to learn the craft of creating corn brooms. He persevered, doing what was necessary to achieve his dream.

     Father God is the Master of new plans and goals. His very nature is to create. From Genesis to Revelation we can read of the new things He is doing. His desire for us is the same, that we will continually move forward, progressing toward His best for each one. 


     There is a God-given desire within every unique individual, the dream a person can realize as he or she seeks His guidance. He won't lead us to attempt anything He is not willing to equip and enable us to do. Man's common limitations are not part of the equation when we are blessed with the God-factor.  

     Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV) We can ask Him to help us with any left over bits that need tending to from the close of the last year.

     An old idiom says, "A new broom sweeps clean, but the old one knows the corners." There may be loose ends to tidy up in the corners from past months. If we ask, Father God will help us set things in order and make the preparations needed for a fresh start on plans for the new year.