February 26, 2007

Breath of God

" We woke up Sunday morning to this silent Signature in our front yard, the 'breath of God'

"By the breath of God frost is given"
(Job 37:10)

"The breath of God all-powerful gave me life" (Job 33:4)

"I will put breath in you and you will come to life" (Ezekiel 37:5)

"This is the air I breathe, your holy presence, living in me"
(chorus by Amy Lee)

"Oh breathe on me, breath of God, Fill me with Life anew"
(Hymn -Robert Jackson)

Pam Mytroen

February 17, 2007

A Field Guide to the 'Service' Species

(With references for further study)

SERVICE: servitus

Found in every habitat from mountaintop to sea level, rain forest to desert, country to city and palace to prison. Most have plain, unremarkable plumage, although there are a few showy varieties. Regarding song - some weep others sing, one is known for its strident call but most are silent, secretive fowl.

Field marks: Most prominent features are its practical eye and generous spirit.
Voice: Often silent, though some sing a song of comfort to the weary.
Where found: Widespread. Seen often in city slums, prisons, orphanages, hospitals, roadsides.
(Master Field Guide: Isaiah 50:4 Matthew 25:36,37; Luke 10:34)

Field marks:
Note the efficient hands and thrifty outlook.
Voice: Warbles kindness and faithfulness. Is also known for its chirps of wisdom.
Where found: Breeds anywhere there is need of food, clothing and shelter. Found widely in kitchens and sewing rooms.
(Master Field Guide: Acts 9:36-39; Proverbs 31:10-31)

Field marks: Eye-catching, bright plumage.
Voice: A strident, trumpet-like call.
Where found: Found most commonly in public. Often sighted on streets, in churches and other places where it will be noticed.
(Master Field Guide: Matthew 6:1,2)

Field marks: Always lured by fine clothes, money, the aura of success and influence.
Voice: Only sings in the presence of the rich, famous and powerful – a series of fawning whistles.
Where found: Widespread - especially common in the marketplace, although this variety has also been sighted in church.
(Master Field Guide: James 2:1-9)

Field marks: Easily identified by its outer feathers of partial obedience, its defensive posture and ability to rationalize.
Voice: Sweet notes, followed by a sharp hissing when its ruse is uncovered. It has also been heard to cry plaintively.
Where found: Breeds in a climate of self-will and rebellion.
(Master Field Guide: 1 Samuel 15)

Field marks:
Note the watchful stance and habits of whole-heartedness, reliability and perseverance.
Voice: Silent.
Where found: Observed widely in the marketplace, in churches and homes. It is known not to migrate; individuals stick with duties and commitments.
(Master Field Guide: Mark 13:33-37; Ephesians 6:7; Philippians 2:12,13)

Field marks: Often seen laden with Kingdom seed, planting, watering and harvesting.
Voice: a cry of compassion which, as the season progresses, changes to joyful song.
Where found: Always near soil.
(Master Field Guide: Psalm 126:4,5; John 4:34-37; I Corinthians 3:5-9)

Field marks: Frequently sighted with water - either dispensing it as a cold drink or using it to wash feet.
Voice: Silent
Where found: Breeds and thrives in the presence of the simplest and most basic needs.
(Master Field Guide: Matthew 10:42; John 13:3-17)

Field marks: Most often observed setting a good example, rich in love and good deeds. A common sight with this variety is the imitation it inspires in others.
Voice: Sings an encouraging call with God-honoring praise notes.
Where found: On hilltops and lampstands as well as in flocks where a willing spirit is evident.
(Master Field Guide: Matthew 6:13-16; Titus 2:7,8; Hebrews 10:24,25)

Field marks:
Only one sighting ever reported. Identified by its unusual humility and obedience. Resulted in the shedding of blood and death on a cross.
Voice: An agonizing cry: “It is finished!”
Where found: Breeds in repentant hearts. Effects of this service found in all redeemed mankind to this day. Also known to presently inhabit the Highest Place.
(Master Field Guide: Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:5-11)

Field marks: Often characterized by miracles, power over dark spirits, supernatural communication and protection.
Voice: Strong clear call, proclaiming the Gospel.
Where found: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth.
(Master Field Guide: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8)

Field marks:
Note the crown of unfading glory. This variety has also been observed to cast this crown before the Almighty.
Voice: A repetitive, awe-inspiring cry: “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
Where found: In heaven, before the throne of God.
(Master Field Guide: Matthew 6:4; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 14)

Copyright © Violet Nesdoly - 2003

I wrote this parody in response to a FaithWriters writing prompt some years ago. I believe it was published in their first book of collected writings by members. I have flogged it in a few more places but with no success. It's probably too weird for most. It was fun to write though.

February 08, 2007

Loneliness - Bonnie Way

He sits
Upon the railing
Rowling at my window.
His voice
Is melancholy
As though he
Were the last cat
In the world.

I watch
From my window
The night air is cool.
His eyes
Are green as he
Looks up at me.
Green is not envy;
It is lonely.

He leaves
His railing perch,
Rubs once against the post.
His tail,
Three inches long,
Is a bottlebrush,
Held up straight,
As he trots away.

I sit
On my windowsill.
I have no sound for loneliness.
His ears
Have left me
And no one else
Hears or understands
The silent cry.

This poem received Honourable Mention in the 2001 ICWF Fall Contest.

February 07, 2007

Reminders of His Love -- Janet Sketchley

I write fiction because I love stories. Articles come as I try to capture and explore what God teaches me, and I share them in hopes He may use them to touch others. I keep them on file so I can re-learn my lessons, and here's one that first appeared in Our Family in 2000. The incident happened almost 17 years ago, and I needed to read about it again.

Reminders of His Love

© Joanna Mallory

When our first baby was born, my husband and I agreed that I would trade my 8‑to‑4 workplace for the privilege of being an at-home Mom. Suddenly we were living on almost 50 per cent less income. We'd never had to stick to a tight budget for any length of time, and the pressure left me struggling with self-pity.

We gave up dining in fancy restaurants, and tried not to use our credit cards. The hardest part for me was having no spending money for little impulse items. When the last few fish in my aquarium died just after an unexpected repair bill, I was overwhelmed. My urgent prayers that God would meet our financial needs seemed useless. Things were getting worse instead of better. Now here I was, not even able to afford the few dollars to buy some new fish.

The ringing of the phone intruded on my misery. Blotting tears of discouragement away with a tissue, I managed a shaky "Hello." My former boss was on the line. Did I have room in my aquarium for some extra fish? The latest addition to his tank was too aggressive for his smaller ones. I thanked him excitedly, then hung up and praised the One who showed His care when I was at the breaking point.

It's still hard living on one income, and from time to time we find ourselves in the same agony of finances. Looking back, I can see that God has provided for our needs at every step. And sometimes, when I'm at my most fragile, He has generously given special treats like those fish. Things I didn't need, but reminders of His love, to strengthen my faith and help me trust Him.

© Janet Sketchley, 2007
For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

February 02, 2007

Pound Puppy - Donna Dawson

Recently, my husband and I purchased a pound puppy. She was a gangly rack of skin and bone with a sad, lost look in her eye. Black fur held little lustre and the tip of her tail carried the dull yellow of urine stain. We knew Rosey and her siblings had been rescued from less than favourable circumstances and we longed to take them all home. But one dog is all this household can handle so we chose this pup--the least--the weakest.

I cradled her in my lap while my father pointed the van homeward. She shivered in fear and cold and the stench of her poor housing assaulted my senses in the close confines of the vehicle. How could anyone treat such a gentle creature in such a way. I was close to tears by the time we pulled into the drive. Too little food and even less love had left this pup in a state where I could slip my fingertips between ribs.

We settled her into her kennel, cleaned her, fed her and loved her. And now she sits at my feet in total devotion while I peck away at my keyboard. She is a picture of what it must be like for God to reach out to each of us and I hope I honour him with as much deep love as she now shows me.

Just think about it. Here we strive in a cesspool of our own selfishness, sin and corruption starving us from the bounty that was meant for us. We are caged in our own spiritual filth, barely existing, our eyes dull and listless. And then Christ appears and calls us by name. He opens the cage door, embraces us in spite of our uncleanliness and carries us far from our prison. Bathing our wounded hearts, feeding our starved souls, he loves us like no one can.

And how do we show our gratitude? Do we leap about our Master's feet? Do we make fools of ourselves as we dance and frolic to the tune of his love-filled laughter? Do we race about him in pure abandon, his presence the focal point of all we do? And when the play is over and silence comes, are we content to lay nearby and wait for the moment when he will call us again?

Donna Dawson © January 2007

February 01, 2007

Blind to the Obvious

“And as they sat down to eat, he asked God’s blessing on the food... when suddenly – it was as though their eyes were opened – they recognized him!” (Luke 24:30,31 The Living Bible. Read the whole story - Luke 24:13-35)

My nine-year-old daughter’s thick brown hair was combed into silky pigtails that Sunday morning. She’d finally recovered from chicken pox and I’d given her hair a good scrub before church, hoping that that would take away the extreme itchiness she’d had for the last few weeks.

As she sat beside me in the pew, I gave her a motherly once-over and noticed flecks of dandruff in her bangs. I tried to brush one away but it was stuck tight to a shaft of hair. I worked at removing another, with the same result. As I glanced over the rest of her hair, I saw more and more dandruff. What on earth?!

In that instant my eyes were opened. This was no flaky scalp condition. The chicken pox I’d blamed for her itchy head was only a partial culprit. I was looking at a case of full-blown head lice. Somehow, preoccupied with the concerns of everyday living and getting her through a bout of illness, I’d never noticed as the hungry critters took up residence.

I spent the rest of that day shampooing heads, scrubbing furniture, washing clothes and bedding, and vacuuming everything in sight. All the while I berated myself for not seeing. How could I have missed something so obvious?

I wonder if that isn’t how the disciples on the road to Emmaus felt after they realized it had been Jesus who had joined them on their walk. Focused on their circumstances, wearing the dark glasses of pat explanation and expectation, they’d spent hours walking and talking with the risen Christ but never realized who He was.

Like them, I too am often blind to spiritual reality. I listen to local, national and international news with a sense of panic, and miss seeing how world events are fulfilling Bible predictions. I get trapped under clouds of discouragement, distraction and defeat, and only after they’ve lifted do I recognize the fingerprints of Satan all over my situation. I talk to my neighbor but it isn’t till hours later that I realize I didn’t walk through an open door to talk about Jesus.

There is a realm of reality that we can see only through eyes opened by God. Let’s ask God to open our eyes to His presence and activity in all of life.

(This devotional has been published in a collection of devotions put out by Bethany College and in September 2006's Comfort Cafe -- where the home page links to a story by Inscribe's own Janet Seever.)