Friday, 12 December 2014

Not Alone


And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

I’ve always been a ‘why’ girl. When being trained on a new job, it’s fine to show me how and I kind of get it, but explain the why and I can usually run with it. Understanding the logic behind something has always been key for me.

I love how Mary did not ask the angel, ‘why’ but was more interested in the how. My mind races trying to figure out what she meant by that statement. As women, we can all probably imagine the thoughts and fears that ran through that young girl’s mind.

So willing to be used by God, Mary let go and trusted the Lord in all the details. She humbled herself and submitted to His will. The Bible says she had found favor with God. From that, we can surmise she was walking a holy life and knew the law. She must have known then the shame and punishment that could have fallen on her once others discovered she was pregnant and unmarried, yet she never argued or asked the ‘why’ but basically said, ‘bring it on!’

What about you? Are you approaching this season with a heart full of questions? Has the last year been so brutal you are having a hard time even getting into the spirit of Christmas? I know the first Christmas after my mother passed away I struggled with both ‘Why did you take her’ and ‘How can I fake any holiday cheer?’ 

Life doesn’t always roll the way we had planned. It sure didn’t for Mary – you just know she shed both happy and sad tears during her journey raising the Son of God. It’s okay to feel ‘different’ this Christmas if you’ve lost someone close to you. There are questions in our hearts and wounds that are still healing. Lay down your ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ at his feet. Let the Lord meet you right where you are and be kind to yourself. He is Emanuel, God with us . . . you are not alone in your loneliness.

Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son! Oh how much we can learn from Mary’s obedient heart. Help us to remember that you are God with us and that we – no matter how we’re feeling – are not alone this season. Fill us with your Holy Spirit that we would be free to embrace all that you have for us this Christmas. Amen!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Written on Our Hearts . . . and Jeans


So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (ESV)

We’ve all had days where we feel completely alone and unloved. Even when my mother was alive (and I know she loved me deeply), there would be days when I felt rejected. So many are driven to despair and suicide by accepting a lie that there is no love or hope for them – yet the Word tells us the truth.

God is Love.

In the seventies, hippies would embroider that declaration on their jeans and use it as a mantra. Perhaps that is why we saw such revival back then – at least God was being acknowledged.

Satan hates this truth. And he hates God’s creation. He’s been bent on destroying everything God designed. Enemies do that. They live to find something of value, beauty or purpose and render it useless.

What has happened in your life to rob you of the truth of God’s love? The truth that He created you, designed you, and purposed in you great things to be done for His kingdom? For me, people – both well-meaning and not – have often attempted to blow out my candle in order to make theirs burn brighter. Sometimes with words, other times with actions, their desire was to see my destruction. Thankfully, even when knocked down, the truth of God’s love for me resonated deep within and I would recall all his faithfulness in times past – proof of his love for me.

Don’t let the lies win. Don’t let Satan destroy God’s plans. Jesus loves you, chose to die for you, and desires to have the most amazing love relationship with you. Celebrate this truth – write it upon your heart (your jeans are cool too) and live it out.



Sunday, 17 November 2013

Falling In Love


“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

I love books. I buy far too many and read far too few. Many lay in stacks next to my bed, full of good intention but with no free time to be opened. Others lay covered in dust having been opened and found lacking. Yet I tend to keep them. It’s a sickness.

When my daughters were young, I taught them upon entering bookstores, they were to pick up a book, crack it open, stick their noses in real close to the freshly inked page and inhale deeply. The amazing smell of paper, ink and glue would enhance their experience. To this day they still do this. No matter who is watching. I love them. My kids I mean. Oh, and the books too.

As much as I love books, my friend, Donna takes bibliophilism to a whole new level, (bibliophilism is a love of books – I didn’t find that in a book . . . I found it on Wikipedia).  She has books in every room of her house and confesses without repentance her addiction to the written word. Smart girl that she is, though, she spends more time devouring the Word than other people’s words. So that’s okay.

I heard of another woman who loved books. She would bring them home in multiples. One day she was very disappointed to realize that one of the volumes she brought home was not at all what she had hoped for. It was dry, lacked relevance and had symbolism that she could not embrace. Very poorly written and a waste of money, she thought. She put it on one of her shelves and forgot about it.

Years later on a rare night away from her stacks, she found herself at a party and engaged in a fascinating discussion with a young man. It was pretty much love at first word. They talked for hours and found they had much in common; he was a writer and she a librarian. A match for sure! It was hard for them to part ways at the end of the night and she floated home, not feeling the pavement beneath her feet.

Too excited to sleep, she decided to peruse her vast personal library to see if she could find any books written by her newfound friend. And indeed she did! It was covered in dust, abandoned. That’s right — it was the poorly written find from years before. She sat down with a cup of tea and began to read. How wrong she had been! It was the most meaningful, insightful and eloquent novel ever written . . .

What happened?  Had the book been magically transformed?  No?

She had fallen in love with the author.

Many of us have a book on our bookcase covered in dust. A love letter, written to us personally and ignorantly ignored. We don’t open it often.
Why?

Because we haven’t fallen in love with the author. And it grieves Him.

It’s a conundrum to be sure. What comes first, a love for the Word or a love for Him? I think the answer is found in 1 Peter 4:19. We need to ‘meet’ the author before we can truly embrace his writing. We need to fall in love with the One who loved us first.

Ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord of your life. Begin an amazing relationship that will last an eternity . . . live your own love story that includes an everlasting happily ever after. The Book will become completely engaging once you fall in love with the Author.

Tune in online to hear Lori discuss Falling In Love with the Author with radio host Carrie Cooper of U2HaveHope on November 23 at 4PM (CST) at KDKR (also available to listen to after the fact here). 
Receive Lori’s daily devotions coming soon on iDisciple.org! Email Lori at Lori@LovingKindnessMinistries.ca to receive a special sign in code.

Photo thanks to George Hodan

Friday, 8 November 2013

Missing and Lost



Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.  2 Tim 4:2 (NET)

There is a lady, Erica Schmidt, who has been missing from our neighborhood for over a month. Her daughter was one of my teen’s teachers in elementary school so this touches our lives and hearts as well. It’s an urgent need for this family to locate their matriarch; posters, news bulletins and social media are all engaged in the search. My heart aches and I am reminded to pray and keep my eyes alert whenever I come across the written pleas. That’s what these posters and social media posts do – they stir us up and keep us vigilant.

I thought about how when a child or loved one goes astray or is missing, we lose all awareness of what is socially ‘acceptable’ but instead, we cry out in malls or street corners, ‘Help! I’ve lost my child!’ and go on to describe them in detail. Suddenly strangers become trusted team members as we rally together and search.

But here’s the thing. As we walk through life, we come into contact with so many who are lost and don’t know it. We smile (hopefully) and order coffees, pay for groceries, or pass by some silently throughout our day. Unlike those displayed on flyers, these folks are not marked as missing yet are lost sheep poster children.

I am not suggesting that we all buy soap boxes and stand yelling for all to repent, but I am challenged today to realize what 2 Timothy is saying; to see the need as urgent and live with intention. Spread the Gospel and when necessary, use words. Love on people. I need to work this out as often I am so self-absorbed and running through my tight schedule, I get perturbed when waylaid or inconvenienced. Lord, forgive me.

Please keep an eye open for Erica Schmidt, (click here for the Find Erica Facebook page). Her family has been diligent in their quest to find her . . . we need to step up our search party efforts as well . . . and not just for Erica but for all who are lost.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Best Seller or Insomnia Cure?


Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)

I love a great story. Don’t you? Personally I prefer autobiographies or biographies. Full of truth, grit and the kind of grime only found in a life well lived. This requires two things: someone who has actually lived an amazing life, and an author who can convey all the action and details without adding or taking away from the truth.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would read. Would people get past the first chapter? Or would they toss my story unfinished in a goodwill box, having found it lacking any character development or significant conflict.

It’s a tough question to ask, but a relevant one. How are our lives unfolding? Are we living brave, exciting lives or are we boring our readers to sleep? A few years ago I know that my life was quickly becoming an insomnia remedy and decided to shake up the story line. The first thing I did was sit down with the author of my faith. It made good editorial sense.

“Lord, I really don’t think we are doing a good job at captivating people by my story. I mean, it’s a well written, safe book, and I know my name is written down in the great library of heaven, but beyond that, it’s a bit of a snoozer. Definitely not shaping up to be a best seller . . .”

Now here’s the thing, my author is famous for writing the biggest, most successful book ever. Once he saw me on my knees, willing to accept any and all twists to the plot, he did not disappoint.

Who is the author of your faith? Are you allowing Him to write and take your story wherever He thinks it should go? Or are you holding tight to the synopsis you planned out for yourself twenty years ago? Tear it up. Let Him develop you into the character He wants. Live your best story.





Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Spooky Judgments


Living on the cold, Canadian prairie meant that my four-year-old daughter’s Halloween costume had to fit over her big, puffy snowsuit. We found an adorable clown outfit which worked well with the large rainbow afro wig that was her favorite dress up item and headed out the door.

We weren’t out for very long as she didn’t embrace the concept of knocking on strangers’ doors and taking candy – the two very things we had trained her to never do. Back in the warmth of our kitchen, we sat at the table, sorting through her goodies. She was unusually quiet.

“Mommy,” she said, finally breaking the silence, “If Jesus was born to give us Christmas, and died for Easter, what did He do to give us Halloween?”

Wow. Seriously?

“Um, no, this isn’t a Jesus holiday . . .”

Pushing the candy towards me, she got up from the table, “Yeah, I thought it was the Devil’s thing – I don’t want to do it anymore.”

And that was that.

I had grown up in a Christian home and would go trick-or-treating with our pastor’s daughter every year. It had never been an issue to me. But, now my own daughter – at the age of four – felt convicted and didn’t want to participate.

How could I argue? So for our family, we stopped trick-or-treating, but struggled for years on whether or not to still hand out candies. Some years we did, other years we withheld. Our church held alternatives and some times we would attend, other years we stayed home. We would ‘feel’ our way through prayer every year and act accordingly. When we do pass out goodies, we try to stick Bible verses on each candy or include a Christian tract – when else do we have our neighbours come knocking on our doors? Best to take advantage!

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”

I don’t judge friends and family who choose to participate in Halloween; everyone needs to be true to their own convictions. We have noticed however, that the last ten years or so the merchandising and commercialism of the holiday has taken off big time. Celebrating Halloween for our family is definitely a no-no. We do not hang up decorations or promote ‘spooky’ haunted houses. As Christians, we are fully aware of the spiritual realm and it is not to be taken lightly.

Just remember that non-believers are watching and being divisive or judgmental is not going to win anyone to Christ.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:1-4 (ESV)

To trick or to treat . . . or not . . . that is not the question. The question is regardless to what we choose; will they know we are Christians by our love?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Wonderful Thing


Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

Sixty-three times in the King James Version, the Lord says, ‘Fear not”.

Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that He wants us to trust him and . . . not fear. Pretty sharp, huh?

Easier read than done. When I think of fear, I am reminded of the popular Winnie the Pooh series books I would recite to my girls when they were little. I’d cringe whenever I came across Piglet. I could be such a nervous willy-nilly like him; always fussing with fear of unknowns. No, I much preferred Tigger.  He just bounced through life completely in a joyful state of oblivion.

Something that has brought me from the Piglet side to the Tigger team, is a little card stuffed in my Bible. It’s my faithfulness ledger. I say ledger because each entry is not long or poetic, but short and to the point. I write down the various times that the Lord has come through for me. The big ones and the small. Of course it doesn’t include everything – I would need a library to contain all his blessings and times of protection, (many of them unknown).

Now, when I begin to roll a fear around in my head, I stop, read a few reminders of his faithfulness and the tumble cycle of anxiety stops. I think it’s because you can’t praise and worry at the same time. You either bounce in faith or worry in doubt. Start your own faithfulness ledger today and join me on the Tigger team – because a Tigger’s a wonderful thing.