November 30, 2009

A Matter of Timing - Marcia Lee Laycock

Last week I watched two full grown geese land on a small pond across from my home. It was quite funny to watch, because the pond was frozen. The geese gracefully flapped their wings and extended their feet, anticipating the landing, but when they touched down they skidded sideways and plopped down unceremoniously on their bottoms. When they recovered they stomped about, seeming indignant.

When I saw them stomping around on the ice it made me think of those times when I’ve been impatient with God’s timing. It often seems that He isn’t in sync. with my estimation of when things should happen. Give me patience, Lord. Right now!

But His timing is always perfect. When my new novel, One Smooth Stone won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award, I was thrilled that it would soon be in print. Then I discovered that the word, ‘soon’ is relative. There was a delay because the publisher wanted a certain editor to work with me, and she was busy with other projects. Then there was a bit of miscommunication and I was waiting for her while she was waiting for me to get in touch. Then, when it was finally begun, the editing process took time. But finally my publisher told me the books were ready to ship. I waited - impatiently - for them to arrive on my doorstep. The book launch was to be held on the first night of a writers’ conference and, of course, I wanted the books in hand for that event. I was thankful when they arrived, safe and sound, a few days before the scheduled launch.

I remember lifting the first book out of the box. I knew exactly where it was going. I gave it to my friend – I’ll call her Barb.

Barb has had a hard life – her husband left her with four small children to raise and no resources. The family struggled through. Then one of Barb’s daughters, I’ll call her Lucy, was raped when she was a teenager. Though Barb managed to hold on to her faith in Christ, Lucy has been bitter and angry with God ever since. The day after my books arrived, Barb gave that copy of One Smooth Stone to Lucy. A few days later she got a phone call.

Lucy told her that she had had no intention of reading the book – she’d thought, oh yeah, there goes Mom with the religious stuff again. But that next day she got the flu and the only thing she had in the house to read was my book. So she picked it up and started to read. She said she couldn’t put it down. When she called her mom she was in tears because she said that after reading the book, she finally believed God does still love her, in spite of everything.

The timing was perfect. God’s timing. Not mine. Next time I get impatient I’ll try and remember how ridiculous those geese looked, stomping around on solid ice.

November 29, 2009

Faith Like A Rock




A co-worker continually enters my office for a brief chat about life, family issues, health concerns etc. He has had brain surgery several years ago, and suffers from seizures periodically. He’s been having complications due to differing medical prescriptions that doctors prescribe to get the seizures under control. What’s so amazingly funny is that each visit there is a different bruise located somewhere on his body.

On one occasion he had a fall and he came in my office with a bruised eye, a large lump on his head and a badly scraped knee. I asked what happened and he replied, “Oh I had a seizure and just fell while walking down the street.” Another day he came in and his eye was badly bruised and his glasses were all scratched up. I faced him and laughed because he was so nonchalant about it. He had taken another fall.

This scene repeated itself over and over in my office. It was as though he was preparing for a spot in a movie and each time getting more make-up on for a crash scene. Even though Jimmy was seriously ill, he appeared to be healthy and strong. Without a doubt he had strong faith. Among our conversations was a discussion about his faith in God. Even if he were to die sitting in my office chair he said that he was ready to go and he showed no fear. His confidence in God’s promises was reassuring.

Suddenly, I was taken away from the sight of the bruises and bumps and scrapes, I saw a man who was as steady as a rock. According to the Bible, this rock is Jesus.

Jesus is referred to many names in the Bible. In Isaiah 26:4, he is named the “Rock Eternal” The verse reads: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal.”

When I think about Jesus as being the rock, I think about Him as being firm, steadfast, secure, powerful, solid, unswerving and true. When I think of Jesus as being the “rock eternal,” I think about Him as being true to His promises, certain of who He is.

He promises life abundantly, peace and security in the midst of trouble, and a secured place in heaven if the decision is made to follow Him and trust Him and believe his promises. We are held up by His mighty power and He is the rock of all ages.

Psalm 139: 7 – 10 David says: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there; If I ride on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me fast.”

Yes, He is worthy of our praise, faith and love and expectations of answered prayers. The Bible says to be thankful in all circumstances of life. Who feels like praising God when we find ourselves in the heavy trials of life? Very few perhaps but our faith allows us to trust no matter what the circumstances are and since Jesus promised that he will never leave us or forsake us, we can learn to rely on Him for strength and guidance. We learn to trust and acquire faith; we learn to lean on the solid rock!

May we all learn to place our trust in Him in all circumstances of life!

Jan Keats

November 27, 2009

25 Things Challenge - Kimberley Payne

I am a member of Facebook and recently received an interesting challenge:

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

At first, I thought “no problem!” But as I got to number 16 I started to slow down the pace. I’ve decided to share my 25 things here and put the challenge out to all you.


1. I still have two baby teeth without permanent teeth following.

2. I’ve never had wisdom teeth…I don’t believe I need them, I’m wise enough (haha)

3. I don’t mind the smell of skunk.

4. I’ve traveled to the Netherlands four times.

5. I have a recurring nightmare where I’m trapped in a run-away elevator.

6. I’m reading the Bible for the 3rd time, and believe it to be all truth.

7. I’ve written 6 books: a health & fitness workbook, 3 devotionals, a novel and a children’s book.

8. I’m working on another children’s book.

9. Like my three brothers, I have the uncanny ability to find typos everywhere.

10. I’ve been in two major car accidents.

11. I’ve never filled out my own income tax (although I’ve taught accounting at the college level).

12. I’ve worked as a personal trainer, career counselor, professor of accounting, waitress, photocopy jockey, and door-to-door salesperson.

13. I’ve met Ron McLean in a bar in Calgary.

14. I’m a laughter junkie.

15. I looked forward to turning 30, but dreaded turning 40!

16. My husband introduced me to snowmobiling…and I like it!

17. I’ve gone skinny-dipping before (shhh, don’t tell anyone).

18. I’m not afraid of dying – I look forward to spending eternity in heaven.

19. I once wanted to have triplets. I now have two children and am quite relieved they weren’t twins!

20. I had a Keeshond dog named Kasey when I was a kid. He was afraid of water.

21. My favourite Bible verse is Philippians 4:6-7.

22. I’ve started my own blog on health & fitness.

23. I won 2nd and 3rd prize in grade school Science Fairs – one project was on the eyeball, the other on mould.

24. I went White Water Rafting 3 times one summer. The last time I went I got tossed from the raft (thus the reason it was the last time!)

25. I had the chicken pox, mumps and poison ivy (but not all at the same time).

Tag – you’re it…how well do you know yourself?

Kimberley Payne


November 23, 2009

THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM - Martha Anderson

The snow that fell a few days ago is a reminder that Christmas is approaching. Along the halls in our building, decorations are appearing on apartment doors. I am determined to do a thorough cleaning of our apartment before I unpack Christmas decorations. Besides, many ideas for articles are dancing around in my head, crying to get onto paper. Upmost in my thoughts right now are the events connected with the Nativity.

To think that back in the beginning of Time when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He already had laid His plan for redemption. He promised a Redeemer would come through the Seed of the woman. Over the centuries this promise was repeated with more clarity.

Four thousand years later, among the few who were actively looking for the Messiah, were a group of astronomers, presumably three in number, who diligently anticipated His coming. Spotting an unusually bright star, they believed in their hearts that this was God’s sign that the time had come for their hopes to be fulfilled. Accordingly, they made arrangements at once to strike out across the dessert to pay homage to the great King.

I clicked on the television one day and heard a priest proclaiming that the stories of the Nativity and the Resurrection are really fables from which we can draw spiritual lessons. To back up his argument, he asked, “Do you really believe that God dragged a star across the sky slow enough that the wise men could follow it across the desert to Jerusalem?”

No, I don’t believe that. Neither did Matthew, the apostle who recorded the Magi’s visit to the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Nowhere does Scripture state that the Wise men followed a star across the desert.

Mathew wrote, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:1,2).

In his book, Born in Bethlehem, H.W. Van Der Vaart Smit explained well the appearance of the star.

“An astronomical event, which explains the references in Matthew and helps and helps fix the birth year of Jesus, actually did occur in history, namely the major conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn…
Astronomy, is the most exact of all sciences; it is pure mathematics, and it’s calculations can be relied upon... The double star in the Near East was visible on any clear night for nine months from the beginning of April, and could be observed sometimes before and sometimes after midnight, and at times throughout the entire night.”

These astronomers knew the Christ was to be born in the land of Judea.
Naturally, they would assume the promised king would be born in the palace in Jerusalem. The visit to Jerusalem was not a mistake, however, but part of God’s plan for the message of Messiah’s birth to reach the leaders, both political and religious. Sadly, we have no record that anyone of them even went to investigate the truth for himself.

After receiving a cold reception in Jerusalem, the visitors may have had some conflicting questions tumbling around in their minds. Why were these Jewish scribes and teachers not excited at the birth of their King?

In any case, they set out that same night for the little village of Bethlehem. To their surprise and joy as the travelers made their ascend to Bethlehem, the star they had seen in the east appeared just above the crest of one of the two hills on which Bethlehem is situated. Any doubts that may have risen in their minds were erased by this confirmation from God that the Messiah indeed was born in this place. Through this star God spoke into their hearts the assurance that they were about to see the long-awaited Savior and they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The conjunction of the two planets could be seen three times that year. So this would have been the second conjunction. Coincidence? Mere chance? Or Divine arrangement?

Jesus is referred to in Scripture as “the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” In other words, before God brought the world into existence, plans were laid for Christ to descend to this planet in human form to die for man’s sin. Could He not schedule the movements of the planets in their orbits so that this conjunction of the two planets would occur at just the precise time He wanted to inform the Wise Men when to start on their journey and again nine months later, to confirm that they had reached their destination?

The incarnation of the Son of God was of such significance that God could have arranged the laws of nature 4000 years before to join in announcing the great event. Indeed God makes the forces of nature to display His power and purpose. This phenomena of the meeting of Saturn and Jupiter did not occur again until 1981 and is not expected to happen again until 2238.

When God speaks, every detail carries significance. As we look forward to the Christmas season, I intend to continue checking out the Scriptural account to learn more about the significance of the details mentioned in connection with the advent story that have so often been skipped over or misinterpreted.

November 18, 2009

A Peek Into My Daybook - Brenda Leyland



From Brenda's Daybook

For Today -- Nov 18th





Outside my window... Blue skies mottled with fluffy grayish clouds, leafless treetops barely moving in the breeze, a bluejay piercing the calm with his screech.

I am thinking... What is it we actually mean when we wish someone, Have a great day?

Now that you've asked... I guess what I'm wishing for is that the individual could truly enjoy their day and not have anything spoil it. That they could be free from sickness and pain. That any broken and difficult relationships could be mended, that bad hair days don't affect their cheerful frame of mind, that work situations would be fulfilling and interesting. I would wish that God make their path smooth and that things would be pleasant, even when they're in the 5 o'clock grocery store lineup.

I am thankful for... experiences that remind me that walking in the Royal Law of Love toward every living creature is really what makes life beautiful.

Pondering these words... Give and it shall be given. I'm beginning to grasp the idea that this seems to be a universal law that is meant to touch absolutely every area of our lives, not just our finances. Whatever I want and hope to enjoy, I must first plant a seed if I hope for a harvest in that area. If I wish friendship, I must offer it to others. If I wish to be treated with kindness, I must ensure I offer kindness to others. If I wish blessing to come to me, I must bless others. If I wish for favour, I must offer it to others as well.

Around the house... The sun is shining through the front window. I love how it makes the room feel cozy and comfortable.

One of my favourite things... the Yankee Candle sitting on my desk with the fragrance "Autumn Wreath". I've had the candle for a couple of seasons, and still I'll often catch a whiff of its autumny fragrance. Kind of a mix of spicy pumpkin pie, apple cider, and cinnamon. I love the surprise of how it releases its scent when I'm not expecting it.

Here's wishing you a great day, and all that it means to you!


Brenda blogs at It's A Beautiful Life



November 16, 2009

Rescued


by Pam Mytroen

I still remember the rescue. My sister and I along with my sister-in-law decided to wander off the path of Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon. Rays of sunshine fell short of penetrating the river snaking far below the suspension bridge but the shadowed blue ribbon beckoned us to a foolish dip in its cool embrace.

An innocent trickle plummeted off the cliff beside me as I leaped. Cold greedy water pulled me under and mocked me in its rebuke: “Don’t you know better?” It forgave me, though, as it tossed me back up, but I’ll never forget its icy slap. It let me swim to the next cliff and jump again. But this time mercy shook its head. When I dove I slipped and landed short of my aim. Rocks under the dark water sliced into my knee.

Numb, I swam to shore and collapsed when I tried to stand. I gazed up at the suspension bridge as a line-up of tiny-specked people began to form. The fire department held them back from crossing the bridge. A police siren echoed throughout the canyon walls. And finally, a team of paramedics rapelled their way down to me.

Onlookers from the cliffs shouted down encouragement. One generous guy threw down his t-shirt to wrap my knee. White bone protruded through my skin. Warm red blood soaked the shirt. My brother, who had stayed behind us ‘silly girls’ now joined me. I felt guilty for putting the rest of my family in danger as they had to continue jumping off the cliffs until they could reach the bottom of the canyon where a path would lead them out.

However, I was grateful for the harness and the paramedic who made a pathway for me up the steep rocky side of the mountain.

For several days after the rescue I shivered whenever I thought of what I had been saved from. The shock of icy water and the smash of my skull against granite filled my dreams. Death left an aftertaste of fear.

The Vancouver team showed great compassion and care in their rescue efforts but that was several years ago now and I seldom think of them anymore.

However, I should never forget my rescuer Jesus. Paul reminds us that He “rescued us from this evil world in which we live” (Galatians 1:4b).

How often do I think of the grip of sin that Jesus plucked me from? Do I shiver when I remember the icy-depths of selfishness that threatened to drown me? When was the last time I woke up damp with fear?

Maybe God needs to open my eyes to the darkness around me, and my ears to the cries of others who are drowning, so that I will appreciate my Savior.

Thank you Lord Jesus that you rescued me from the cold winter of greed, from the bitterness of pleasure, and from the darkness of death. You rescued me unto light, freedom and life. May I ever be mindful of your strong Hands around me, and of your selfless saving act. Touch me with the sting of sin that I appreciate the spring of new life. Amen.

November 13, 2009

Cleaning House (part 2) - Nesdoly



The story so far: Arlene has done a thorough cleaning of her house.  But now she can’t find a copy of her husband’s will, or the passwords to all her online accounts. Will her new start be sabotaged by her need for security from stuff?

*************
Part 2

            
All day Arlene battled anxiety. Besides all the money-related papers she’d thrown out, she’d surely also been too hasty about tossing things she needed only once in a while, and the spares, and the craft and hobby supplies, and the old clothes which could have been made into quilts, and the old Reader’s Digests she’d never got around to reading… What should she do?  If only Dave were here to tell her. Frantically she grabbed a pencil and scrap of paper, and began making a list of all the things she’d have to replace.
           
When she couldn’t think of anything more for the list, she turned on the TV to get her mind off the whole fiasco. But as she clicked from channel to channel and glimpsed first a young couple in sober conversation with their insurance agent, then a woman loading her shopping cart, and another dusting her well-appointed house, she felt worse, not better, until a nice young man telling a story on the Christian Channel caught her attention.

He told about a seventy-year-old Mozambican pastor he’d met. One Friday afternoon at work the elderly African man had heard God tell him to go to South Africa and plant churches among the tribal people who worked in the mines. “And so he went home,” the young man said, “and told his wife, ‘Tomorrow we’re leaving for South Africa.’
           
“On their way out of the country, a Mozambican immigration officer met them at the border. He asked them where they were going, and could he see their passports.
           
“’We’re on our way to South Africa,’ the old pastor told him, ‘and we don’t have passports.’
           
“’How will you get in?’ the officer asked.
           
“’God will help us,’ the pastor replied.

“The officer let the man and his wife enter no-man’s land between Mozambique and South Africa. Before they got to the border, someone noticed them, thought they were tardy bus passengers, and motioned them onto a bus, which took them directly into the country.
           
“Once there, the miracles continued. At one point, though they were stopped by soldiers and asked again for papers, not only were they allowed go to on, but a soldier gave them money.
           
“The pastor didn’t have a passport. He didn’t have any papers. But he just got up the morning after God called him and left obediently with what he had. In the last ten years,” the man concluded, “he’s planted twenty churches…”
           
Arlene turned off the TV, stunned. This was the kind of unhampered faith and obedience she’d imagined the day she’d begun cleaning the house. And to think that just now she’d almost forfeited it by looking again to things for security and purpose.

She had just spent a month doing the best she could to obey the first part of Jesus’ command, “Sell whatsoever thou hast.” Who knew what His “Come ... follow me,” would mean for her? She could see herself mothering an orphanage of kids in Africa, cooking at camp all summer, doing hospital visits or – even volunteering at the church office.
           
She took the list she’d written, crumpled it in a ball, and laughed out loud as she threw it across the room. She wouldn’t be needing it after all.


Web: http://violetnesdoly.com
Blog: promptings
Poetry portfolio: Violet Nesdoly / poems
Daily devotions for kids: Bible Drive-Thru
Twitter: @vnesdoly

November 09, 2009

Works in Progress - Janet Sketchley

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18-19, NIV*

“You were redeemed from the empty way of life...”

These words caught me today. They’re a promise we can rely on when we’re tempted to despair of ever changing and growing in our new life with God.

He has redeemed us, rescued us from the empty way of life. No, He didn’t zap us into instant holiness or godliness, but we can be sure that if we cooperate with His Spirit’s work in our lives and choose to turn from the old empty, self-centred ways, we will change.

He has a lot to do in our lives, and it won’t happen overnight, but the transaction has been done. Ownership of our “house” has changed, and we really are in the “renovation” stage.

God is good.

*New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

© Janet Sketchley, 2009
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For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

November 04, 2009

A Matter of Perspective - Gwen Mathieu

I just finished reading an interesting novel, The Noticer. It is a story about an old man, Jones, who notices things that other people overlook; things that are in plain sight. Jones claims people lack perspective. They don’t see the big picture.

It makes me ask myself, do I lack perspective? Do I see the half empty cup instead of the half full one? Do I dwell on the thunder and lightning and miss the rainbow. Do I begrudge all the laundry instead of being thankful I have family to serve.

Take LOL for another example. For a long time I thought it meant Lots of Love, only to find out it means Laugh out loud .I had the wrong perspective.

Back in the 60’s, I asked my father if he believed in God. His reply, “Everyone has their own utopia. The Indians have their happy hunting grounds.” That didn’t give me much of an answer back then but it got him off the hook from telling me what he believed.

It was in the early 70’s, when he had but a few months to live, that he surrendered his life to Christ. God gave him a new perspective on his need. He was waiting for someone to talk to him about his spiritual condition. His eventual passing gave him life, not death.

Paul said in Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul had a right perspective.

I pray God will give me wisdom and the right perspective, helping me to notice things that are in plain sight; things that can change my life to be more like Him.