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 window...to 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