Saturday, 28 February 2015

What Do You See?

And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” (Amos 8:2a ESV)

And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs . . .” (Jeremiah 24:3a ESV)

He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:23b-24 ESV)

I love that the first time the Lord touched this blind man, he saw people as walking trees. This is not a coincidence as we are compared to trees many times in the Bible. And, not just any tree – but fruit bearing! God wants us to see fruit. Not just a harvest in our own lives, (an indicator that He is at work and that we are in obedience), but also that we see people as walking trees; full of productive potential!

But, so often we only see the rotting, fallen fruit that lies at the bottom of our brothers and sisters trunks. Failed marriages, abortions, wayward children . . . we don’t look up to see the growth and change – we look down and back. Oh what a shame! This is not what He has called us to see!

The Lord has been speaking this into my own life. Not just to be seeing others as He sees them – full of life-giving potential – but also to see myself as a tree, planted by the Living Stream of Water. Yes, there is some rotting junk lying amongst the base of my trunk, but the Lord redeems and uses these past hurts as fertilizer, building up my roots and giving me a stronger foundation.

Oh that we would all have eyes to see!

Father, we thank You that you use all things for Your honor and Glory. Help us to keep our eyes looking up – expecting to see fruit and growth in ourselves and others, and not looking back or down to focus on the rotting mistakes. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with Your redeeming, empowering, transforming power. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Popcorn Throwing

As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women. (Song of Solomon 2:2 ESV)

Where would the world and movie theaters be without love stories? Chick flicks dominate at our house and my sweet man has learned to embrace a good tear-jerker or two. We like to see the boy find the girl, overcome adversity and conquer whatever stood in their way. Sigh. Everything tied up nice and neat in less than two hours.

This is not a new deal . . . Shakespeare wrote love stories long ago.  One of my favorite scenes is the balcony scene where Romeo and Juliet declare their love for each other. Funny though, one of the most quoted lines I always attributed to Romeo was actually said by Juliet, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

As children from warring families, their surnames were the obstacle they had to overcome in order to be together. I love how it was Juliet who told Romeo that their names were a stupid reason to stay apart!

Ok, so that story didn’t get tied up nicely in two hours . . .

But, the best ever love story is . . . His story. The pursuit of our hearts by the One who created love and desires intimacy with us! What is the obstacle that stands in the way?

Look in the mirror.

We sabotage his love advances. If our love scenes with Him were projected in a movie theater, there would be groans and popcorn hitting the screen by frustrated viewers. We can be so obtuse! He’s waiting for us to come and sit next to Him, to hear his sweet whispers of love and we turn away and flick on the television, completely ignoring Him. On the table, His love letter remains unopened day after day as we stumble through unsatisfying relationships wondering when we’ll find love. The audience screams, ‘Open the letter! Turn off the TV!’ Viewers look around at each other, incredulous at the horrible story unfolding. What is with his heroine?!

Not seeing the Truth, we walk through life seeing ourselves as unlovable – a bramble amongst lilies.

When our Lover says we are lovely, wanted, desired.

Father, oh how we – Your daughters – walk around needlessly in lonely rejection. Forgive us for getting it wrong again and again. Let us see ourselves as You do – as a beautiful lily – and help us to get ourselves engaged in Your Love story. Thank You for Your perfect love! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Foggy Vision

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5 ESV)

Anyone who’s ever been caught on a foggy road knows how terrifying it can be to suddenly not be able to see two feet in front of the car. Sure, if someone is ahead of you, you can try to inch up behind them and follow along . . . but here’s the deal . . . they probably can’t see either! Best case scenario is that they fall off the cliff first!

My daughter was on her way home one night on a back country road when her car lights just shut off inexplicably. She stopped and played with the controls, finally getting the high beams to go on and crept her way home. There was nothing else she could do, but she felt terrible for the few drivers that came towards her – she knew that her lights were probably blinding them!

We like to see where we are going . . . it is only human nature.

So many people are lost and are just following their friends or family down a dark path, not really knowing for sure if they know where they’re going.

Others are being blinded by people who are giving off a false light, making them unable to see the Truth and putting them in danger.

The Word is full of verses about lamps and lights. We are called to be a light to the world, a beacon of safety. We best be knowing where we are going and that we are speaking the truth into the lives of those around us. And remember, His light is gentle, not brutally blinding.

Father, we thank You that You are the Light of the world and that You choose to use us as vessels to show others The Way. Help us to shine a sincere light and to stay on the path that will lead them to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Photo by Linnaea Mallette

Friday, 16 January 2015

Kicking and Screaming

And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14 ESV)

As a city chick, born and bred, I never truly understood what ‘kicking against the goads’ meant. I recall a Christian band called ‘The Goads’ that sang a song my kids learned, ‘God Made me Thumbody Special’ but that was about the only context I had. I never dug in to find out more.

So when our pastor recently told us about how the goad was a stick with a sharpened iron end that was used to prod on stubborn oxen, I giggled at the sense of humor Christ had.

And people ask me if God laughs!

Saul (later known as Paul) was determined to wipe out Christianity. He was a zealot amongst zealots! He himself was at the stoning of Stephen and our pastor mentioned how it must have been such an amazing testimony to behold. And still, the stubborn Saul kicked against the Truth.

His kicking finally lead to a sentence of three days of blindness in order to see The Way.

Now before we gang up on poor Paul, let’s acknowledge that we ourselves have been known to do some kicking and screaming ourselves. I know I have! In fact, whenever I hear myself say, ‘I never will’ I stop myself now. I’ve read the Word and lived through a few good goad pricks of my own . . .  repercussions of telling God, ‘no!’

God is going to use who He’s going to use. And if He is tapping on your shoulder as you read this, best to just surrender and let Him lead you. After all, who wants a sharp prod to the backside!

Father, we thank You that You mix Your lessons with humor. Help us to hear Your voice with clarity and that Your character would shine through giving us glimpses of You. Forgive us for our stubborn kicking and fill us each day, Holy Spirit, that we would walk controlled by You instead of by our own willfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

I Resolve

If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.  (Malachi 2:2 NIV)

Never join a gym in January. You can’t get on any of the machines and the parking lots are always full. No, much better to wait until February when you’ll get all kinds of discounts and the workout equipment and parking spots will be vacant. It would appear that people tend to lose their resolve faster than their excess weight.

So, what do you resolve this year? What changes do you wish to see in your life?

I, for one, never make New Year’s resolutions. As a youngest child, and as a competitive person, I don’t like to fail at things. So why on earth would I commit myself to change something that I haven’t been able to make happen in the previous 365 days? On January 1st, does my entire DNA suddenly align differently giving me new miraculous abilities to overcome horrible ingrained habits? 


For most of us, it takes a strong desire, or critical health issue, to make such changes.  To think we change with a flip of the calendar would be downright silly.

Not so silly is the decision to start the New Year with a fresh commitment to the Lord; to resolve to honor His name and to listen and seek His face in obedience each day.

That is the key to all worthwhile change, His Spirit living within us. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is actually a great listing of most of the character flaws that we need help with in order to see any positive, external changes in our lives:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

So we should take time alone on New Year’s Day, asking God to direct our paths, to transform us, and to stir up a renewed fervency for our First Love.

Lord, we thank You for this fresh, new year, full of promise. Please help us to walk in Your light, allowing your Holy Spirit to make the changes You desire in our hearts as we resolve to honor You and Your name in all that we do.  Amen.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Sacrificial Gift

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 (ESV)

Every Christmas for the first few years of our courtship and marriage, my husband would give me a dead cow.

Sometimes the gift would take on the form of a purse, other years it would be a jacket . . . wallets, gloves and even scarves too. But regardless to the shape, there was bloodshed to bless me – an ultimate sacrifice was made.

I don’t know if my man was just really into symbolism, or if he just found it convenient to shop at the leather store near his house, but he blessed me this way for several years. Then, we put an end to the slaughter. We agreed to tone down the Christmas gifts and make them smaller and more sentimental.

But the awkward tradition does stay with me. I still have all the leather goods he gave me. Leather tends to hold up well and stands the test of time (thankfully it also stretches a bit as I am no longer my petit pre-wedding size). God made hide tough and resilient.

Unlike my husband who traveled an hour to see me, the magi gave months of their life to take a treacherous journey. And then, upon arrival, before they even unpacked their treasures, they fell down and worshipped Him.

The Magi were not just delivery boys. It was not about the gifts. They had risked all that they had to come and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, saying “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Christmas should not be about what we are giving or what we’ll receive. It’s about bowing before the One who left his throne in glory to walk amongst his sin-filled creation and in love-filled obedience, laid down his life as the ultimate sacrifice. An eternal gift that is one-size-fits-all. Let’s bow before Him and lay down our gift of time. Oh Worship the King!

Father, we are so thankful that You gave us examples of worship from those who held earthly status and education. Lord, may we too find time this season to fall on our knees in humble adoration and awe of Your Gift. Help us to shine the Light and Truth into the lives of those who are seeking this Christmas. Amen. 

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Friday, 19 December 2014

Tip-toeing Thru Temptation

And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23 ESV)

When I got to the top of the stairs, I saw it . . . a trail of pieces of thin mint wrappers that had fallen from the tall sofa table that sat next to our couch. The singing Christmas Mickey Mouse was knocked over and the nativity scene looked like Godzilla had marched through it.

Which she had.

Our little terrier, Mona, had managed to jump onto the table from the arm of the couch and snuck across to the box of mints, helping herself to a few, (all the while terrorizing the tiny Bethlehem village).

And then I saw it.

A slightly chewed and regurgitated pile of chocolate, minty goodness. Clearly she had been deceived by the chocolate scent – not knowing that a sharp, strong mint taste hid underneath. We all knew that Mona’s weakness is chocolate and that is exactly why we placed it – we thought – out of her reach. We weren’t trying to tempt her or put her at risk! Chocolate can be fatal to canines!

I saw Mona’s mess as a result of her weakness and was more upset with myself for having not protected her properly.  My daughter Tia, on the other hand, considered the dog’s actions as willful and wanted to punish her, to fill her with fear in order to protect her from ever trying the dangerous Evel Knievel stunt again.

Just like Mona, we Christians can be deceived and find ourselves in dangerous messes! Which is why Jude commanded that we watch over each other.

Matthew Henry in his commentary of Jude had an interesting thought:
We must watch over one another; faithfully, yet prudently reprove each other, and set a good example to all about us. This must be done with compassion, making a difference between the weak and the wilful. Some we must treat with tenderness. Others save with fear; urging the terrors of the Lord.

It’s important when we approach struggling sisters that we do so carefully and with discernment. Only the Lord knows their heart. First, we should go the tender route, assuming that their actions are a result of weakness. But, if it’s apparent that they are in flat-out, willful rebellion, then it’s time to turn up the heat and attempt to save them with the fear of the Lord. Because deception can be deadly.

Father, we thank You that you designed us to be in community and to care for each other. Help us to be tender towards one another, yet brave enough to know when to be strong and instill godly fear into the lives and hearts of those who are tiptoeing through dangerous territory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!