May 17, 2016

Words with Friends

I've been playing a lot of Words with Friends lately. If you're not familiar with this, it's basically Scrabble for smart phones, and you can play it with friends far and near. My sister and I have been keeping a game going--a simple way to keep in touch across the miles...

I'm not sure I can explain the draw of such word games... Arranging letters to make words is just, well...satisfying in a way. To take a random collection of seven letters and shuffle them until you spot a great word is a fun pastime. Add strategic placements to earn points and it's addicting! I'm always just a little sad though to forego a long and wonderful word that uses almost all the tiles for a short boring one that will make me more points. I wish there were someway to measure the inherent value of words...

Which brings me to the point of what's missing in this game. When all the tiles are laid and the score is tallied, all that's there is a tangle of words without meaning. They have no context. Some of them defy definition besides: "QI" ? "TEL"? "SUPE" ? I can't use these in a sentence but they make nifty fillers and they count as words, along with things like OW and EX and AI which serve to further illustrate the meaninglessness of using words in this way.

So I thought it would be fun to take the words from one of our last games (one of the rare ones that I actually won) and play with them a little--dig for meaning. Thus today's Word Trivia post.

Words with Sister

I sorted them first on paper---words that represent quantifiable 'stuff', words that represent actions, and 'other' words that really don't say much--for example 'to' and 'as' and 'or'. Then I just had fun jotting down the memories associated in my mind with each of these words.

WAX was first--It reminded me of my pre-adolescent venture into candle-making after receiving my most memorable Christmas gift ever at Grandma's house with my aunts and uncles and cousins. I don't even know who gave it to me but I remember the molds--a mushroom, a star, a ball and a quirky little turtle, and the colors and scents of blueberry and cinnamon and orange and blue... And the candles I didn't want to burn after I'd made them...

BERTH was next. Ah, flashback to an unpleasantly memorable train ride into the deep south of Mexico when we were a young family. I was pregnant; it was hot. It was my first experience of train travel. We had chosen a sleeping berth, thinking it would be more comfortable than riding in regular coach class. Big mistake. The inexplicable stops in no-man's land were not only lengthy but nerve-wracking. Were we being ambushed like in the Wild West movies?! The berth was tiny and stuffy with no place to sit comfortably and I was queasy for the duration. Never again. We preferred the overnight bus!

KNIFE brings to mind the beautiful hunting knife with the faux-ivory handle that Jim bought me to protect myself in case of....?.... while out hiking. I carry it. Sometimes. But can't imagine drawing it to ward off a cougar!

DOE ("a deer, a female deer...") Other than the Sound of Music jingle, this word reminds me of deer in general which I was fonder of before they became garden pests eating strawberry patches and stunting immature fruit trees... Now that we've moved and I no longer have a garden, I'm becoming more appreciative of their graceful beauty again. I stopped on my walk just last night to snap a picture of a trailside pair...


GOO is a generic catchword that conjures up a vague sense of concoctions created for 'Science' class in our homeschooling era. It is also the perfect description of what happens when you microwave marshmallows to create instant "Some-mores" without the campfire.

To rhyme with that is EWE which is the meaning of my youngest daughter's name, Rachel, a fact that seemed important when she was a newborn. More important to me now is the consolation that I too am a sheep--God's own. He knows and cares. "I am your sheep," is for me a consoling prayer.

PIETY is a word that can smack of self-righteous arrogance or genuine humble Christ-likeness.  Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on your definition and motive.

JAVA is a word I've never used in writing. I'm not a coffee drinker, and don't stop at Java Huts, but it still has a friendly, relaxed connotation in my mind...

WAVE brings to mind the Jersey shore where I played and got pummelled in the surf growing up. The California surf was a nearer drive when our own kids were little. We boogie boarded there just once and were mistaken by some enthusiastic Texan tourists as picture-worthy 'real surfers!!'. It was a humorous moment of 'glory'.

Well, if you have read along this far, you are beginning to wonder when this will end. There are many more words---STAIN, what blood and sin does and what paradoxically only Jesus' blood can wash away. PLAZA, and my mind flits back to the zocalo in Oaxaca, a central plaza of benches and happy family meanders, and toddlers and popsicles. BIER, ah, the widow of Nain is all that comes to mind for this one. Jesus stopped the funeral procession and turned it into a joyous parade by giving her back her son alive! Did the son go on to outlive his mother? For her sake, I hope so. And with the word DREG I'm back to Zapotec-land in Mexico. Dregs are what’s at the bottom of the Coffee cauldron brewing on the fire. You don't want the last drop!

But that's enough of trivia. After I'd scribbled down two sides of a page of word associations from my own history, I got to wondering how many of our game words are recorded in Scripture? That sent me off on a whole new line of thought... If you care to come along here's what I found:

WAX is about more than candles melting. Mountains are said to melt like wax at the Lord's presence and Jesus' heart melted like wax in the agony of crucifixion (Ps.22).

And, if you're reading King James English, wax is a verb. God's wrath waxes hot when widows and orphans are harmed and when His people disregard His covenant. Eyes wax old (Eli's) as do people, their clothes, and the earth itself! Love waxes cold because of sin. And evil men shall wax worse and worse. This world isn’t getting better!

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Is.51:6 KJV

Do we find a KNIFE mentioned in the Bible?

Abraham carried one along with the fire to burn his sacrifice. Isaac shouldered the wood. But God provided the ram.

Oh, and I just read this one in Judges. Gruesome. A gal was cut in twelve pieces with a knife and her body parts sent throughout the land to notify all Israel of the outrage that had been committed against her, (resulting in her death) and to rally all Israel to battle against the offenders (Judges 19)

Much later in Israel’s history a scroll containing God's warning to the King of Israel, as dictated by Jeremiah, was sliced section by section with a knife and thrown into the fire in disregard. The words however did not go away. They were re-dictated and written down and they came to pass... (Jer. 36:24) God's words are worth noting well. They are not going away.

A graceful DOE in scripture is used as a picture of the wife of one's youth--an object to be delighted in.

"Doe of the Dawn" is an expression describing the morning star, the last star to shine at the break of day. And interestingly this was the name of the tune assigned to accompany the prophetic Psalm 22 which begins, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Rev.22:16

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts... II Pet.1:19

EWE occurs nearly fifty times in Scripture, mostly in passages detailing the sacrificial system requirements. But the most poignant passage is Nathan's parable told to King David of the poor man who kept his one little ewe lamb as a pet...until a rich lord seized and slaughtered it for a meal for his company. This is what David had done to Uriah, in taking his wife, Bathsheba, for himself. (II Sam.12) The ewe lamb's story hit its mark. David repented and was forgiven. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions...Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart...wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow....a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps.51 excerpts)

PIETY in Scripture refers to reverence or respect and is used of the Athenians who worshiped 'The Unknown God'. It is also expected that believers in the true God will 'show piety at home'  in practical ways such as the care of one's own widowed relatives.

The WAVES of the Jersey shore aren't specifically cited in the Bible, but their actions are. The one who doubts that God will grant his request for wisdom is likened to a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. I recall this text in James (1:5-8) often, as I am naturally a doubter, but by God's grace I am learning to trust. His Word is a trustworthy foundation that will keep us from being washed away in the flood surges of life! (Mt.7:24)

The thing about STAINS is that when it comes to sin, the stains are indelible, not removed by any amount of human effort. I like the way Jeremiah says it:

Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. Jer.2:22 ESV

This is a good reminder of our need for the Gospel continuously and brings to mind my week's memory verses:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,... I Cor.15:1-4 ESV

With that I will conclude this meandering trivia lesson. (Thanks for coming along!)   It brings us full circle to the Words worth holding onto and building our lives around day by day.

Whether or not you play Words with Friends (or sisters!) is irrelevant. Only be sure that you are digging deep for the Words that matter!


Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Ps.119:105

P.S. It would be fun to hear what associations come to your mind with some of these words.  Add a comment if you like!

May 6, 2016

An Obsession with the Unseen

I'm obsessed with the unseen today--scarcely able to concentrate on anything else but this research, this looking, this wanting to know what has caused these painful, irritating, worrisome bites, and what to do about them!

Image result for bedbug

I've taken the hide-a-bed all apart, wiped and vacuumed and searched crevices with flashlight in hand. I've done the same with our bed mattress--washed the bedding, looked and looked again. Nothing. But the bites are with me. Hard uncomfortable evidence that something is lurking somewhere, something tiny yet able to handicap me physically, and worst of all, mentally. I woke tired, having been wakeful during the night alert for bug bites, mindful of exposed skin, hot with too many covers. And these red hot spots are sore, swollen, the skin all around them sensitive. Just a few mangy bites and I can think of nothing else. I've booked an appointment with the doctor this afternoon. Maybe he will know something more than I have gleaned from the rest of the world via the internet.

But this parallel occurs to me...

"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth," Paul says, "for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col.3:3) Here is a legitimate preoccupation with the unseen. The Kingdom of God is likened to a leavening agent that though unseen works its way through the whole batch of dough and grows and grows. The Spirit at work in us is likened to the wind, that though we cannot see drives with great and visible force wherever God wills. Things above are unseen but we don't necessarily feel them in the way I feel these irritating bites. My body is wired to pay attention to what pains me and to look for comfort. The Spirit meanwhile invites me to act on truth whether I feel like it or not, whether I see it or not. He bids me to react based on truth, not just my impressions. Only truth feeds the rhythms of what is truly life.

Unlike passing bug bites, the Word is here today and tomorrow and forever, alive and well, unchanging in the midst of life's catastrophes. While fires engulf communities to our north, and bed bugs are on the rise, inflicting sores that seem to last forever, the truth is that neither bodies nor possessions are going to stick around, but God's Word stands forever. It remains unchanged while instigating great changes. It is living and active, outlasting the most living and active itch a bed bug can create.

The fires will die down. My sores will heal and be forgotten...political crisis will rise and fall, culture will ebb ever toward iniquity, but the Word will remain the same, absolute, enduring, true though all hell rise up against it. This is the Word I'm trying to give my attention to this morning...

[Fast forward to later in the day:]

Well, I've just returned from the doctor where I had the biggest surprise of my week.  She looked very briefly at my bumps and declared: "You have shingles."  Not bedbug bites or fleas? Me? Shingles?! This was a reality I hadn't even conceived of. Though I was incredulous at first I drew her out to make her case and she being the experienced professional did so directly. I had to bow to reality. Here I've been so busy researching biting creatures and what to do about them that I have missed the truth of my situation! I am sick. There is an invisible gremlin at work in my body; it is not external. It is the chickenpox virus...

I walked out of the doctor's office in relieved wonderment--at least we don't have bedbugs and I'm not carrying the Bubonic Plague! Here is something with a label, identifiable, survivable, and true. I have shingles. No more scouring dark places for mysterious creatures. No more fearing to sit on my own couch or lying awake in my bed for fear of a bite.

But on the heels of my relief is a sobering realization: I was entirely misled by my impressions and the 'facts' that I so neatly pieced together into a logical string... I have worried in vain about bugs that bite in the night. I have conjured up notions of flea-borne Bubonic Plague. And I have carried on at an exhausting pace hiking and biking (and scouring my home for bedbugs!) while all the while being overtaken by the truly unseen--the chickenpox virus at work on my nerve-endings! This is a startling reality which forces me to wonder what else I have overlooked in jumping to wrong conclusions. What other false beliefs and crazy notions do I hold dear while the actual issues elude my notice?

[Fast forward to the following day]:

Settling into the reality of shingles today has been less pleasant than the initial relief of just knowing. There are more pox today. The accompanying pain is distracting and the itch that was merely annoying yesterday is maddening today. I'm back to where I began--having to take my mind off the unseen things that are so acutely felt and to turn it to less tangible but more significant unseen realities. For instance, this object lesson staring me in the face: What other crazy false presumptions am I carrying around and allowing to drive my thoughts and actions day by day? If I can mistake shingles for bed bugs and all their accompanying paranoia, what other wrong beliefs am I allowing to commandeer my life energies? In what other areas am I convinced of a lie that needs to be uprooted by truth?

So, today I'm no longer desperately asking God to help me find marauding bugs, I'm asking for wisdom and for eyes to see the lies I believe and the truth that will set me free. What are my real problems and what is their antidote? And more importantly, what do I need to see more clearly about my God and His sovereign ways? What wrong assumptions do I hold about the way life works best, that run contrary to God's design manual for my life?

Let me not waste my life chasing phantom bedbugs and miss recognizing the idols of my heart that undermine my enjoyment of Christ. Let me be free of all that obscures His image in me.

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Ps.25:5

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name (not a host of other fears that rob me of the life You've intended for me). Ps.86:11

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jn.8:31-32

I am grateful today for His indwelling Spirit to guide and teach me all I need to know in His perfect timing. This has been a good wake-up call.

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."—Jesus Jn.14:16-17

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God...” (I Cor.2:12)

But for now, I think I need a nap...without fear of bedbugs!

Thanks for joining me here today.


May God, the Father of glory, give you [and me!] a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe!... Eph.1:16-19

God chose... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." I Cor.1:28-30

"...that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (I Cor.2:5)

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just...Rev.19:1

April 30, 2016

Always Abounding…

I arrived this week at the end of a passage I've been memorizing since January. At just two verses per week it's been a slow but steady crawl. But I can now recite it thoughtfully to the echoey walls of my new home beginning with:

"If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep…" (I Cor.15:19)

And concluding with the resoundingly familiar:

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
(I Cor.15:58)

It's that last verse I'm stuck on, not because I can't say it, but because I wonder, is it true of me? here? now? And I've had to go back and be walked through the reality of what this "work of the Lord" is because I don't feel as though I am abounding in anything right now.

It sounds somehow more descriptive of saints who have gone before--great 'missionary statesmen', or even of friends we trained with who are still pouring out their life energies in poorest Africa.

What is 'the work of the Lord'? Is it synonymous with 'full-time Christian service' (interesting old expression...)? Or maybe my Grandmother would qualify; she was a cheerful servant to whomever she met. But me? I am just a 'stay at home Mom' in a place that does not yet feel like home and minus the kids that merited me the title. I do still qualify mostly for the 'stay at home' part! People ask if I will get a job. Maybe. New friends inquire what I've done with my life. No, I never worked. (HA!) I homeschooled my five kids. (That falls flat--an alien thought for most of my current social group). Well, so yes, I suppose I'm retired, sort of...

But just now as I was beginning to slip into morose self-pity I glanced to the wall beside my desk. There hangs a strategically placed photo--a precious reminder of why I am in this place:


Four eager faces grin back at me. I can’t help but smile and wipe away happy tears that I am here, at home, ready to welcome them in the door tomorrow, to have a special dessert ready, to go out for a nature hike, to play another game of Crazy Eights and stick some more decals on the front get down the little wooden tractor and trailer my Dad made and let them zoom it across the floor... These kids are what I'm here for, at least in part. I am here so they can come to Grandmom's house, as I once went to my Grandma's house--just to be welcomed and loved and known, to belong.

To be here for them in this season of our lives is to abound in the work of the Lord.

How did I acquire so grand a calling anyway? I who could have, would have (but for Jim, but for God) been a single woman Bible Translator to some remote tribe, I who did not grow up playing with dolls or dreaming of a houseful of my own babies--preferring the company of the woods and a ramble with Shags and some time in the Good Book... How did I inherit this high calling--to have these little folk look up adoringly at my entrance into the room, or race eagerly now to my door: "Let's do something!"

And though I sit here alone for now, dreaming up baby quilts for the new one coming along next month, and wondering how to shake the echo from our new suite and make it feel like home... I am not alone. God's Word marches through my thoughts bringing truth to dispel the lies that threaten to swamp my boat, bringing LIFE in its timely reminders of who I am--God's own child, accepted in the Beloved, His workmanship created in Christ Jesus... I am not the sum of my earthly accomplishments.

I am the work of the Lord, and as I walk each day by faith in His power to transform the ordinary into the eternal…I showcase His glory.

These are some of the verses I've been reflecting on this week:

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.  Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

...It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. Jn.6:27-29,63

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph.2:10

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Eph.1:11,12

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I Cor.10:31

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
I Cor.12:4-7

...and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places...Eph.1:19,20

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil.2:13

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. I Cor.15:10


These good Words remind me that because of the Gospel, I am delivered from the need to DO in order to be acceptable in God's sight. Jesus did what was needed. He died. And conquered death. In Him I live and move and have my being.

By faith in Him I am declared righteous and enabled to please God.

By His Word, His truth, I am led in paths of righteousness---even as I sew baby blankets, make chocolate cake for the kiddies coming out tomorrow, and prepare hot lunches for my hubby...


By faith I can abound in the work of the Lord, in unseen homebody ways, giving thanks for His enabling, asking for His guidance, and walking in the works prepared for me from the foundation of the world...

By His grace I am what I am...and by His energy working in me I am sufficient in all things at all times to fulfill His calling in my life.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
II Cor.9:8

When I get side-tracked into worrying about my productivity for the Kingdom I find I must go back to the basics of the Gospel. It’s not about what I’m able to do, but about what Christ has already done. My confidence in Him as I attend to His Words is what will bear fruit over time. And as I’ve been considering what passage next to memorize I’m drawn back to the beginning of I Corinthians 15, the verses I skipped over:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…that He was buried, that he was raised on the third day…and that He appeared…” (I Cor.15:1-5) 

I think I’ll begin there—at the heart of the Gospel.  It’s my only hope of ever abounding in truly Good works.  Jesus Christ is our hope, not only for this lifetime, but for an eternity to come when these perishable bodies have been transformed into His image.  And all this is by faith.

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith...Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Rom.9:30-33

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Cor.15:56,57

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.  Rom.10:4

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen! Heb.13:20,21



April 24, 2016

No Words of My Own Today…

I have no original thoughts today, but these words--my gleanings from the Word of God--are enough to make the guilt-ridden rejoice, the rejected take heart, the fearful relax, and the richly blessed give thanks!…. Who is a God like our God?!

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity, and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.... Micah 7:18-20

You will say in that day: "I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger tuned away, that you might comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." Is.12:1-2

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning...Lam.3:22,23

The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil...Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD you God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zeph.3:15-17

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"...heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ...What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I am sure that [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom.8:15,17,31-33,35,39

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! II Cor.9:15

As Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, and we are rooted and grounded in His love, may we all have strength to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth of this love that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness God intends for us! This is my prayer for all who read here.

--LSPrairie Crocus

April 16, 2016

Come and drink…

I found myself in a new place among unfamiliar faces this past weekend, but sharing in a very familiar tradition—the passing of tiny cups of juice and bitty cubes of bread while old, old verses were read:

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. I Cor.11:25

There was an invitation for all who are trusting Jesus as their Saviour to partake.  It was a rightly sober few moments of remembrance and of gratitude for a Lamb slaughtered, for blood shed…for me.  How many times before have I chewed and swallowed, upended the tiny plastic cup of Welch’s best…but a new thought occurred to me in the process this time, perhaps because I am currently making my way through the book of Leviticus chapter by chapter.  And there is so much blood there!

For every infraction of God’s law, an offering must be made, an animal sacrificed.  Even unintentional sins resulted in bloodshed.  The procedures were very specific—a perfect and specific animal, an exacting procedure. This was holy business. Just this morning I finished reading the instructions pertaining to sacrifices. I don't quite get the distinctions between the burnt offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering but one thing they have in common is BLOOD and always this blood is poured out at the base of the altar after being applied to the horns of the altar or thrown against the sides of the altar. And never is this blood to be consumed. It was strictly forbidden to eat blood.

"If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.”. Lev.17:10-11

The explanation God gives is this: "the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Lev.17:11

Life is represented by the blood. Under no condition was it to be consumed, always poured out.

But something changed when the perfect Sacrifice came along, God’s Lamb, Jesus.  He invites, even commands His disciples to drink His blood--not literally, of course, but symbolically, to take the cup in recognition of their participation in the New Covenant. "Drink of it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Mt.26:27-28

This marked a radical departure from the endless round of sacrifices required by the Old Covenant.  At last an offering had been made which put an end to all other offerings. At last here is an offering that actually has the power to do away with sin, to nullify its deadly effects, to pronounce the worshiper clean! 

And at last, the worshiper is offered the LIFE that is represented by the blood.  For the perceptive follower, this new paradigm had already been strongly hinted at.  Jesus had laid it out in pretty graphic language:

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Jn.6:53-56

Many of His followers had turned back at those words.  Drinking blood? They would have known this was a violation of the law.  What then could He possible mean?  They didn’t stick around to find out.

But those closest to Him persisted in following, listening, and believing, even when they did not understand. What alternative was there?  Peter put it well: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jn.6:68,69    They hung on His Words and they followed even when they had questions.

And I too have been chewing this week on His words, considering this Life that I’ve been invited to participate in, to drink deeply of,  to let flow through me… Do I understand completely how this works?  How do I ‘feed on His flesh and drink His blood’ daily?  Do I comprehend how the Spirit makes this life real in me?  No, but I am counting on this Life to be lived out in me by faith, this Life like no other, that God has provided at the cost of His own life…

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I Jn.5:11-12

The Gospel makes some pretty bold claims, some would say exclusive claims.  Is there really no other way to find life?!  Aren’t other religious systems plausible means to life?  

I heard it explained this way—yes, the Gospel is exclusive in this sense--it excludes all the ways that lead to death! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about Life, the way it was meant to be lived. And it is in fact exceptionally inclusive! Consider this all-expenses paid invitation:

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Rev.22:17

Unlike any other offers this Life is free, not hinging on my performance, my goodness, my devotion, or my ability to keep the rules.  And it’s all made possible by the blood of Jesus having been poured out as the ultimate Sacrifice.

So I come in awe, and I come grateful. I believe and drink deeply. The whole weight of who I am (and who I’m not) I cast on Jesus.  His Life is for me and for You. He tasted death for us so that we might experience True Life!

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Jn.17:3

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Heb.2:9

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Is.55:1-3


Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. ... If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you… I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me…(I Cor.15:50;Rom.8:9,11;Gal.2:20)

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.Heb 9:13-14

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight Eph 1:7-8… making peace by the blood of his crossCol 1:20 

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood  and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Rev 1:5-6

April 8, 2016

Too good to be true?

We have arrived—it seems too good to be true, and yet, here we are, unpacked and at home in a new place with a one-year lease. 

We arrived in town on a Monday morning with a job promised but no place to live. It was time to get our feet wet. We'd booked a hotel for four days hoping somehow against all likelihood to find a permanent place by week’s end...

We checked ads, booked appointments, viewed places, and got invited out to a community dinner! That was day #1.

Tuesday Jim started work and I checked ads alone, followed up on appointments and viewed places I could certainly not imagine living long-term—a makeshift basement solution, a dismal miniscule condo. Then came the last viewing of the day, a suite we had supposed would be too small, but may as well have a look…. It was just out of town on a quiet street at the top of a hill, backed by towering mountains. A great field sloped away at the doorstep, (a frisbee-golf course actually) and I could imagine my city grand-kids coming to play here, to visit 'Grandmom and Grandad'. I have dreamed of this for a long time. And when the viewing was over I was so excited I could hardly sit still. It was beautiful, affordable and had wild places for grandkids to run. YES! This was it--just what we needed. And it was only day #2. Unbelievable. Surely God had gone before and held this treasure for us.

The rest of the week was just a matter of hoping and waiting for approval, getting papers signed, and meeting at the appointed time on Friday, the first of April to get the key! Incredible. God had made a way for us in a place where this sort of thing just doesn't happen. Long are the wait-lists and many the persons looking for a place to live in this town. Yet here we are, that river crossed; all we had to do was take a step of faith and get our feet wet and God did the rest.

That is the short and sweet story of our week's home-hunt. We had braced for a long drawn out 'crossing', for the awkwardness and inconvenience of temporary housing of some sort, for dashed hopes and rugged perseverance, stress and strain... Instead God simply led us right away to the place He had reserved for us. And more than that, he gave us harmony and peace together in the process and a calm trust that all would be well in His time...We had a sense that we were being buoyed up by the prayers of God's people and carried along on the current of God's great grace. If you were one who prayed on our behalf, THANK-YOU!  God gave me courage to make my way around a strange town and meet with strangers alone...He gave me sweet repose each morning as I sat quietly with Him in a quaint chapel with stained glass windows reading and meditating on His Word...He filled my days with beauty and peace…

I won't pretend there weren't moments of anxiety, especially in the night when things overlooked by day become monsters breathing terror: " What will the heating bill be like?...what have we gotten ourselves into?! Surely there's a 'catch' to this; it's too good to be true. hiss, hiss.." But God is faithful, present by His Spirit restoring my faith with the reminder that we are just sheep having entrusted our lives to the Good Shepherd. What happens to us is His responsibility. Sheep are not expected to recognize every potential pitfall in the path ahead. They are not noted for their cleverness. They need only follow the Shepherd and trust His leading. The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He lead me beside still waters. He restores my soul...

River view panorama

One peaceful afternoon with nothing left to do but wait, I sat on a bench by the river in brilliant afternoon sun, water sparkling, runners passing on the trail, dogs being walked, families enjoying vacation time together... Snow-capped mountains rose in front of me and all around in an impressive panorama bringing to mind the psalm: "As the mountains are round about [our town], so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever." Ps.125:2 I don't yet know the names of these peaks that surround us but for me they bear God's signature, and have become a constant reminder of His presence and protection.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing!

What more can I say? It has been a week (now stretching to two weeks, as we've unpacked and gotten organized) of things too good to be true, were it not for the True and Good God that we serve, who sees and grants the desires of our hearts and has only good in store for His children! He is a good, good Father. Thank-you for sharing the journey with us. Now please share our joy!


The lyrics of this hymn come to mind as perfectly apropos for my heart to sing:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to his temple draw near,
Join me in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee!
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew
What the Almighty will do,
If with his love he befriend thee!

Joachim Neander,pub.1680
tr. by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Ps.34:8

"Behold the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in his holy Name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

….your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you…Mt.6:32,33

Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, "Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!" Ps.35:27

The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. Ps.34:22

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Ps.23:6

March 25, 2016

On the brink…

Two men camped at the brink of the Jordan about to cross over to the land of their enemies.  One wrestled the night away in terror and unbelief, intent on wresting from God what He had already promised: “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea…” Gen.33:12  He was lamed in the process and walked with a limp ever after, a reminder that no man shall hold God hostage.  He will bless whom He will bless. God had already chosen to bless him and to make him a blessing. He would father the twelve heads of the tribes of Israel.

Five hundred years later this man’s descendants would camp on the banks of this same Jordan awaiting their crossing to the land of their enemies. Though the Jordan was flooding its banks the man who would lead them was ready.  He had waited forty years for this opportunity, forty years of watching an entire generation die in the wilderness because of their unbelief. Only he and Caleb had lived to see this day. 

In those forty intervening years He had been Moses’ understudy. He had seen the glory of God and when his time came to lead  He had believed God’s reassurances: "just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to al the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go..." Joshua 1:7,8

His name of course, was Joshua and there he was, up early and ready to go.  The Ark of the Covenant was with them, a  sacred symbol of God’s covenant promises and of His presence with His people.  What more did they need?

The instructions were simple.  The priests carrying the Ark were to lead the way because the people ‘had not been this way before.’   They had only to take a step of faith, to wade into the water and God would do the rest.

This story resonates for me right now.  I’m not sitting on a riverbank exactly but there is quite a torrent around me—boxes and totes and  antique apple crates being filled and stacked and ready for a crossing in the morning…We’re going to get our feet wet, ready to make a move into a new province, without knowing the particulars of where we’ll get to unpack and settle. But we have a calling—to a job and to family.  And we are ready to take a step of faith.

Would it be stretching the analogy here to observe that we as believers, are also priests?  We’re ‘a kingdom of priests’, appointed to trust God and follow His directives, to step out in faith even if it means getting our feet wet,  because others follow behind us and may find dry land on which to follow….

This miraculous crossing was to be for them a sign that the living God was indeed among them and would go before them and drive out their enemies. (Joshua 3:10) And sure enough, as the priests carrying the Ark took the first steps, the waters stood up like a heap and the people were able to cross over on dry ground.

During the crossing twelve stones were chosen to be set up on the far bank as a memorial for the generations to come, as an object lesson for the stories parents would tell their children “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever." Jos 4:24

Joshua's story inspires me—the way he just believed God and 'rose early in the morning and set out...'Joshua 3:1 to do what God had prepared him to do. He didn’t know all the details but he knew God would lead the way. I want to be like that, strong and courageous, trusting, obeying, moving forward as He directs, overcoming obstacles in His timing...

Joshua’s name is the Hebrew equivalent of the One we know as Jesus, meaning, “The Lord is salvation”.  This is the likeness God is pleased to conform us to as we walk by faith. Christ in me, my Hope of glory. Rejoicing in His strength, I am strong. Believing His promises I am made courageous. Holding His hand I am led to my inheritance…

And now, I had better get closing up boxes and readying for the ‘crossing’ .
Thank you for your prayers.  The next post, Lord willing, will come from Alberta!


Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever. Ps.146:5.6

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

March 18, 2016

Requisite to Encouragement

Encouragement, whether you’re extending it or receiving it, requires faith. Ability to encourage is contingent on believing that what will be is more than what is now.  It takes vision, hope in what is yet unseen.  For faith is the stuff of things hoped for, things not visible, things yet to be...

If I have doubts that things really can get any better, I will be a poor encourager.  If I want to ignite faith in you, I must have faith myself. This makes sense to me.

But it occurs to me this week that receiving encouragement also requires faith. If I don’t believe that what you say is true, how will it encourage me? if I doubt your motives or overthink your kindnesses, your attempts at encouragement may only serve to strengthen my cynicism. “You’re just saying that.”  “That’s sounds too good to be true.”  “No, really? I don’t think so…”  Whether I find encouragement where it is offered all depends on faith.  And faith is strengthened or shattered by the messages I choose to believe.

Twelve spies took a peek at the land the Lord had promised them. It was good, very good.  Too good to be true.  Their gaze was quickly averted from the good things God intended for them to the obstacles that lay in the way.  Fearsome giants. Fortified cities.  Their own weakness. “We are like grasshoppers before them.” Only two spies believed, disregarding the strength of the opposition in comparison to the Word and proven character of their God. "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." Num.13:30  Their encouragement came not from what they had seen but from what they knew to be true. But the people chose to listen to the faithless voices:  "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are." Num.13:30-31 They refused the encouragement that comes of faith and ended up in despair and rebellion, looking for a leader to take them back to Egypt! They missed out on the good land God had for them.

We've been spying out  the land ourselves this week. It has resulted in an invitation to work an hour away from our grandkids, something we've dreamed of for years now. (Our oldest grandchild will be 7 this summer!)We can start the job any time, as soon as we can get there.

But rent is high and places to rent are very scarce. Looking too closely at rental listings is demoralizing.  Are we crazy? Why are we moving there of all places?! And yet we are confident that God is making a way and we are intent on following by faith.  So yes, I’ll be packing up a contingent of things this week, enough to live on, and just after Easter we plan to be heading out, for new beginnings in a new place.

It is not clear just how this will work out.  But we want to be like Joshua and Caleb, not focused on the impossibility of doing this thing, but trusting that God will provide as He leads the way.

God knows my sometimes faint-hearted faith; it is not beyond His ability to encourage.  I noticed a sweet thing yesterday as I meditated on the story of the two Mary’s showing up at the empty tomb early ‘Easter’ morning (in Matthew 28) What did they expect to find? Jesus had told them he would rise from the dead yet they came with spices to anoint His body…Did they not understand?  Did they not believe? 

All the truth in the world will fail to encourage the broken-hearted if it is not believed. 

But there is help for the faint-hearted. God knows. When they arrived at the tomb they found the stone blocking its entrance had been rolled away. Why?

Did Jesus need it out of the way in order to escape the tomb?  Certainly not.  I have a hunch it was rolled away in order that His followers could see and believe.  God Himself was at work to encourage their faith in what Jesus had already told them.  The only thing holding them back from the joy of the resurrection was their unbelief.  Now they are given opportunity to see and believe. “Come, see the place where He lay”  the angel invited.  “He is not here, for he has risen.” Mt.28:6

They hurried away to spread the good news with fear and GREAT JOY! Mt.28:8They had seen and believed. Faith had made the difference.

I know my faith falters easily. At the same time I know it is faith that pleases God; without it there is only sin and its assorted miseries (Rom.14:23).  But I don’t always know what to do about my feeble faith.  But God does.  Here I  glimpse the heart of my God who not only desires faith, but also encourages us toward it.  Here He arranges for the stone to be rolled away so we can see.  He arranges for a welcoming committee of angels who point out the obvious truth: “He is risen” and more than that they give instructions for a rendezvous:  “…behold he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.  See, I have told you.”  And He graciously repeats Himself as often as needed:  Fear not, fear not, fear not…. 

But best of all He gives us His Word, with its abundance of outrageous promises that would all be too good to be true if they were spoken by anyone but Him. There are things here that should make us live out the rest of our days skipping like spring lambs! Things like:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom.8:1-2

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. Jn.15:9

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Mt.28:20

God has given us His Word and He has given us His Spirit to breathe life into those words, to ignite faith and so to fulfill in us His joy. May He soften our hearts always to believe that we might be perennially encouraged and able to encourage. 

May He give us all ‘a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him’ that we may know ‘what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places’Eph.1:17-19

This is my prayer for me, and for you  ( :


Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said….See, I have told you. Mt.28:5

“…let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” Ps.105:3-4

You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." ...  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Ps.27:8,14

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Jn.20:29

March 11, 2016

The Only Thing that Counts

How do you measure the worth of a day?
What’s your criterion for ‘a good day’?

Most of my life I’ve kept journals—recording happenings, feelings, revelations, and just plain history.  They’ve become repositories of words that track my life.  When I was young I wrote of actual things that were happening.  Things that seem mostly mundane now, or overrated, or downright silly: “Today is Friday.  I played at the shale pit and took Heather to see the fort and to feed the geese…I watched Brady Bunch and Partridge Family.  They were not re-runs.” [March 16, 1973]

These days journaling is mostly a record of my inner life and of God’s words intersecting my own thoughts in ways that beg to be recorded.  But at night before I turn out the light, there is a book for the little things, the happenings, just a few lines per day.  I’m not sure why I keep it, really. “What did I do today?” is a pretty mundane question at this stage in my life. [I need perhaps another question that would help me milk the beauty of the day for the record, if you have any suggestions?] Though this book comes in handy for verifying dates when ‘such and such’ happened I’m not sure why I feel compelled to keep jotting down things in it every night, as though the day doesn’t ‘count’ unless I’ve recorded something here.

My measure of a day’s worth is pretty warped.  I feel good about a day if I’ve checked off the things I’ve chosen as priorities.  If I’ve spent time in the Word, if I’ve done a bit of writing, if I’ve created something, and if I’ve spent some time reading a good book…these things frame the essentials of a ‘good’ day. My ‘to-do’ list is pretty basic.  You can no doubt see some glaring deficiencies with it.  So can I.  Some ‘givens’ are simply not listed…feeding my husband for instance! Getting exercise. Praying. And there are other priorities that don’t lend themselves to a check-off list, relationships, for instance.

But the question I’ve been asking this week is: How does God evaluate the worth of a day’s accomplishments? My checked off lists, mental or written, console me that the day wasn’t wasted.  Does He see it that way?  Or can lists become false comforts, distractions even, from the opportunities that matter most? If my list takes priority over the things that pose as interruptions but are really God-sent moments, what then?  Where do random conversations fit? or the phone call that catches me ‘in the middle of something’?  What of interruptions, sick days, and changes of plan outside my control?  Do these ‘count’ in the valuation of a day? Or are they just irritants that prevent me from ‘getting stuff done’?

Though their value is not quantifiable or visible the value of these unplanned moments may far surpass the value of reading # pages toward my monthly goal, or adding a daily doodle to my portfolio.  Hindsight shows that it’s the interruptions to my routines that have brought flavor and richness to my life.  (Thank God for a husband that drags me away from my desk to ride and to ski and to sit in the sun!)  In retrospect I am thankful for the non-routine elements that shape my days. I see in them God’s hand going about His work to rub off my sharp edges, to mellow my compulsions, to bring me delight and shower me with undeserved mercies.  They remind me that it is not my work but His that matters most.  The orderly things over which I claim control are the least likely to build my faith.  Of course, being faithful in the small things matters, but this is different than being compulsive about the small things! If I do them to bolster my self-worth or gain ‘brownie points’ for my diligence while neglecting weightier things (like relationships) they have become dead works, a waste of time and energy!

There remains a sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Heb.4:9,10

What matters most to God is not my compulsive need to be ‘doing something’ but my persistence in the hope of the Gospel, that teaches me that it’s what God did that matters most and my role is to believe and to rest in the reality that Christ has done all the right things in my place. He has finished the work that matters most. The real ‘to-do’ list is done.

He has canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col.2:14

This changes the way I operate.  I will probably always be a list person. I work best with goals and schedules.  But these do not measure the worth of a day or a lifetime.  Complete or incomplete they do not establish my worth or a day’s value. Faith does. In inviting me to share His yoke Jesus calls me to walk by faith, to allow Him to direct and energize the good works He has prepared for me to walk in. He must be Lord of my ‘to-do-today’ lists, with the right to cancel them all and re-direct my focus completely.  They are not the measure of a ‘good day’. 

The only thing that counts is faith
expressing itself through love


By faith…I can still establish priorities and carry them out, but also by faith I can welcome interruptions, alternatives, and days when nothing ‘gets done’.  I can trust that God is working where my best efforts are stymied, and that He will enable me to do what He wills me to accomplish.  By faith every day can be a good day.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil.2:13NLT

The obvious question becomes how do I know whether I’m operating out of faith in the mundane of day-to-day?  Where’s the evidence that I’m actually depending on God as I go about my work?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this question.  So far what I’ve come up with are these two attributes that will be present in a day walked out by faith.  Can you suggest others?

  • Thankful prayerfulness—The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Phil.4:5-7)  Faith expresses itself in praying without ceasing, committing what I am doing to Him, and even welcoming what I didn’t intend to be doing, in His name.  Talking to Him about everything with a thankful disposition reflects faith.
  • Peace of mind—a deep seated contentment with the way things are at this moment, even with the things that need to change eventually, reflects faith.  There is a patience in faith that reflects the knowledge that God is in control and will accomplish all that concerns me in His perfect time.  He is the Head of the Body.  He orchestrates its growth as its members are yielded to each other and to Him.  And He gives the ones who trust Him peace. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil4:7) 

And those are qualities I want to be the measure of my days! 
I’d very much appreciate your prayers that they would be so.

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest!” Heb.4:11


Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Ps.25:4,5

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1,2,20,21

Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ. Col.3:23,24


March 4, 2016

Good and Plenty


My box ran empty at last. I've been parceling them out a few at a time ever since our Christmas trip to the states. Now they're gone. I quite like these delectably disguised nibs of licorice with the pink and white candy coating; they remind me of my childhood somehow. But that's beside the point. As I plunked the empty box on my desk the other day I realized what an apt descriptor it bore of the God we serve. He is good and He is plenty--all we need, ever, to handle anything and everything.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. II Cor.9:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
II Cor.12:9

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Ps.84:11

It's a simple concept really, with endless Scriptural support, but it’s not so easy  to grab hold of in the day to day demands of our lives—God is Good and Plenty for all our needs.

I am easily intimidated by open-ended tasks, especially creative ones. What if I can't come up with what is needed? What if it's not good enough? What if it's not ready in time? What if I-just-C-A-N'-T?! These questions are ultimately only answerable by faith. What God calls me to accomplish He will enable me to accomplish, maybe not in my timing, maybe not to my specifications, maybe it will be a different product than I envision, but He will enable me to do whatever He has called me to do for His glory. He is GOOD and He is always enough for my lack; He is the definition of 'PLENTY'.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want...right?

I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard this week with its picture of the Master we serve. The early birds agreed on the day's wage before starting in at the crack of dawn. They slaved away through the heat of the day. As they worked others were added to the workforce, some at mid-morning, others at noon and mid-afternoon, and some didn't get to work until an hour before quitting time. To each the master promised: "Whatever is right I will give you." But when the foreman handed out the pay, not only did he start with the late-comers, but he paid them a full day's wage, the same as everybody else, even the hard-working early birds who had born the brunt of the burden in the vineyard that day.

When they protested to the Master, despite His having paid them exactly what was agreed upon at the start of the day, his response was:

'Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' Mt.20:15

We serve a good and plenty God. He is lavish in dispensing His grace. It is enough for the first and the last, for all who serve Him, no matter what strength or weakness they bring to the task.

Oh, there may appear to be inequities in this lifetime. Some are called to suffer the heat of the day while others seem to get a free ride. Most of us live in mansions while multitudes live in ramshackle huts. Life doesn't appear to be fair. Some people seem to have all the talent while others get stuck with the grunt work...but in the big scheme of things, God's wage is good and plenty. And His grace is sufficient for each and every calling. And besides, what present challenge can compare with what's to come at the end of the Day? Those He calls He grants an inheritance. We are God's heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ!

"This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. Ez.44:28

But I digress. Because God is Good and because He has Plenty He is only too willing to share, He is well able to equip us for whatever He calls us to do.

This couldn't have been better illustrated than in my morning's reading in Exodus 31. The detailed plans for the tent of meeting have been given to Moses. God has designed it to be gloriously beautiful--with gold and silver and bronze and fine linen ornately embroidered in blue and purple and scarlet yarns... The details go on and on. Now the people must create it as per His instructions. But He doesn't leave them to their best efforts. He gifts them two men and He fills these two men with His Spirit and "with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones fro setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft." God gives the ability He requires to accomplish the task He commands.

"I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you." Ex.31:6

His designs are grand and His Spirit will bring them to pass using mere men (and women). Wow!  So take heart if you have a calling that seems way over your head.  God is Good and Plenty to bring it to pass through you for His own glory.

He calls us to assess with sober judgment our calling according to the measure of faith that He has assigned and then... “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...Rom. 12:3-6

We serve a God who is GOOD and who is PLENTY for all we need.

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Ps.34:8

Good and Plenty


Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Zech.4:6

Truly God is good…to those who are pure in heart.  Ps.73:1

February 26, 2016

Anchoring Fickle to Faithful

I am fickle. The longer I live with myself the more I realize it. Adolescent mood swings gave way to mommy tantrums (I never thought I had anger issues and then came a husband and kids, even once a flying saucepan). Then once the kids were gone and you'd think peace might reign over the middle-aged empty nest, there have come menopausal moments and the uncertainty of who I am to be in this new stage of life. Life is forever dishing out change... And I am forever reacting. This is part of the biological definition of life I suppose--this capacity to grow, reproduce, and continually to react/adapt to change until this body dies.

Some days it is laughable, this fickle me. And I wonder aloud to Jim what it must be like for a Mr. Steady to be married to someone so subject to change without notice--looking like she's headed to her doom on the drive out to the ski trails and bubbling over with endorphins and happy exhaustion at day's end...

Other days it's not so laughable. I am prone to carry things in my head, to ponder in my heart, and to carry the weight of me too long alone...weighing and wondering how best to balance all the shoulds and coulds and mights(?) that rattle around in my head.

I've been thinking lately, for instance, about what 'taking up my cross' and following Christ is meant to look like in this strange middle-age. At the same time I'm trying to figure out exactly who I am and what I do have to offer... What does it look like to lay down my life in the day-to-day? to die to self? to be crucified with Christ and yet to be fully alive, a living sacrifice fulfilling all the 'good works' He has prepared from before the foundation of the world for me to walk in?! I scrawled in my journal this morning on the way to the gym: "Lord, deliver me from myself. Free me to live wholly pleasing, wholly yours according to YOUR design. Let me be content with that."

And while I carry all these thoughts around I'm prone to lapse into an introspection that is my undoing. In wanting to lose myself doing His bidding I end up fixating on myself. (Am I doing what I'm meant to be doing?...) Chris Rice's lyrics resonate in the background:

Curse-reversing day of Jesus
When You finally seize my soul
Freedom from myself will be
The sweetest rest I've ever known...

Amen to that!!

Paul said it this way: "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?!"

He then continued: "But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord...the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death." (Rom.7:24,25)

And that’s where I’m at, the law of the Spirit of life at work in me, despite me, working out the realities of Romans 8 in me…this life as God intends it to be seeps through my fluctuating feelings. This Spirit I have inherited as a child of God woos me to another mindset, one of life and peace, again and again! Here's what it looked like this week.

It came in the suggestion of my good man this afternoon to just take a break and go out and sit in the sun for a few minutes. Too cold, too much trouble, I have things I should be doing, no place to sit, sun's almost gone... all these objections murmured in my head but I knew he was right. I took my Bible and went, out to the sunny slope where the deer and elk sometimes loiter in fall and winter, the slope I first discovered last year at this time. The snow has finally melted away... I sat, and opened the Word and felt the sun on my face for the first time in too long and cried "Abba, Father"...

"I need you, Father", is more and more the best expression of my heart. I murmur it often; “…I always need you…."  And when I don't know what to ask, as is so often the case, I am reassured that the Spirit knows; He helps us in our weakness; He intercedes with groans that transcend words' ability. And into this sweet quiet space, this rest on a sunny slope, came the Word. God's perspective. Words He spoke through his prophet, Isaiah, many, many years ago. Words that never grow old, or dim, or meaningless. Eternal words directed at His people Israel in a dark age. I paraphrase:

Comfort, comfort my people...Tell her that her warfare is over; her sins have been forgiven. Make way for your God--He's coming. Get ready. (John the Baptist would repeat this call to repentance; it is apropos still...)

And then this, who I am, who He is, what matters most:

"All flesh is grass..." it withers and fades when the Lord blows on it "BUT the Word of our God will stand forever."

Perspective. I'm listening...

Good News is here! Get a herald to shout it: "BEHOLD YOUR GOD!”

And the verses that follow are all about HIM...

He tends His flock like a shepherd.. he holds the oceans in His hand and measures the skies and weighs the mountains! Who can fathom His Spirit? He consults no one.  [But think of it, this Spirit is alive in me, now-- wooing, instructing, reminding, renewing my mind to line up with God's Word, at this very moment!] The nations are no more than a drop in the bucket to Him. Who is like our God? What idol compares to Him? "Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning?..."

"It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers..."

As the Word speaks, my perspective is lifted away from myself to its rightful Object--

"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?"

I look up to the trees towering all around and above me, the blue skies beyond them. How can I not see His greatness? It is all around me.

Then the Word becomes more personal, directed to Israel but applying to my own heart in principle--

Why do you say, O Jacob,...'my way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God?' (Is.40:27)

"Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength...

they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength..."

I was glued to the page, my heart drawn to listen to God's words echoing down all these ages to a woman on a hillside yearning to know and fulfill His purposes despite her incorrigible self-centeredness...

And here is meaning and purpose declared by my God and Creator, first to Israel, but by extension, as His redeemed one, to me also...

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine...created for my glory, whom I formed and made...

You are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may KNOW and BELIEVE ME and UNDERSTAND that I am He....besides me there is no Saviour.

“I declared and saved and proclaimed, ...and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.... I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King....I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake and I will not remember your sins...Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.’"

Here is purpose, plain and simple, and yet big enough for a lifetime: Know me, Believe Me, Understand that I am God (and you are not!) and that you , as part of a corporate Body are my witnesses. God's priority for my life is first that I know Him and believe Him. His Word serves this purpose. It must be my first priority.  In it He reveals who He is; feeding here faith is born. ("Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God"). Meanwhile life happens... with all its opportunities to exercise faith.

Picture the children of Israel in the desert, coming to know the walk of faith, coming to recognize the ways God worked on their behalf... Actually, they failed in this endeavor. They refused to believe and failed to see His faithful hand. They died in unbelief. "They have not know my ways...they shall not enter my rest" Ps.95:10 But their children were brought into the promised land and God brought Himself great renown through their conquests. He led. He gave the victories. He used their lives to showcase His glory. They were His witnesses by default as they came to know and believe Him.

Our lives too will showcase His glory in unique ways as we come to know God and to believe all He has said. For this I am created and molded. For this purpose He directs my days even when I cannot see His Hand at work...If there’s something to be learned from the children of Israel in the wilderness, it’s that whether I co-operate or not, God will be glorified in his dealings with me.  He is faithful.  He is sovereign.  But if I harbor hardness of heart, I will be the one to die in the desert and miss out on the inheritance He has prepared… Hmm.  Don’t want to take allegory too far. You can take or leave that last thought…just pondering ( : 

At this point in the Bible narrative, with the nation of Israel in view, it's not so much a matter of their going out and intentionally BEING a witness (in the Great Commission sense). There is a sense in which our lives simply become testimonies to His greatness as we yield soft hearts to believe His Word and follow His leading. We are transformed and in the process, God gains renown as one who works wonders with clay!

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." II Cor.3:18

I formed you for myself to declare my praise (Is.43:21)

But what does this all have to do with me and my fickle heart that is so readily turned inward and disheartened? My afternoon time on that sunny slope soaking up Son-shine through the Word put my focus back on this One who works wonders with clay and spins galaxies from air. Here is a worthy focus that won't come up short. He is a Rock like no other to steady my fickle heart.

And as I read from Isaiah Paul's advice to the converts of Phillipi resounded in my heart: Rejoice in the Lord, let me repeat it, for it is a safeguard for you, REJOICE in the Lord. If I only rejoice when I've had a 'good' day--gotten stuff done, gotten a shot of endorphins, been encouraged by what I've seen or heard...whatever it is that entails a 'good' day--I will know only erratic rejoicing. I will be disheartened when my source is myself. I was never intended to be satisfied with my own glory; it falls short. But His never does. When I anchor my thoughts in Him, taking Him at His Word, there is always cause to rejoice. He is a Rock like no other. His Words anchor Fickle to Faithful.

For who is a rock, except our God? Ps.18:31

This post is already longer than I'd intended it to be. There is all manner of treasure in Isaiah 40-44. I've only touched on a smattering of it. I commend it to you if ever you need a focus shift to something greater than yourself...

So, have I found all the answers to my ponderings about laying down my life in this strange middle age?

No, but I've been reminded of my primary purpose:

To Know Him

To Believe Him

and as I go on my way rejoicing in Him to be a living witness to His Greatness.

That should be enough for a lifetime!


“We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Rom.8:23IMG_20160224_164907496

"...who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Pet.1:5-7

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
I Pet.1:8,9