March 30, 2009

Library Love Story by Kimberley Payne

As a child I loved libraries. I loved the smell that rushed me as I pulled open the double doors at the top of the entrance stairway. I loved the hushed quiet with only muted whispers between book lovers.

I loved the colours. Always seasonally decorated, I could enjoy oranges in autumn and pinks in spring. The book spines were a feast for the eyes with varied print sizes and multiple colours.

I loved being treated with respect. When I produced my Library Card, the librarian would smile with her eyes, acknowledging me as “one of ours”. I was only limited by the number of books my bicycle basket could carry. I did not need to justify my choices – they were all good. Everyone knew they were good, just because they were in the library.

I loved the cozy chairs I could crawl up into and get lost in comfort. I loved the round tables, perfect height for me, with chairs to share my discoveries with another “one-of-ours.”

I felt comfortable. I felt at home.

I still do. I love the library. I feel especially called to the children’s section. I still love the inviting places to sit. I still love the fun colours. I still love the joy of discovery, of learning.

I want to be part of this world still. I want to “Peter Pan” my library past.

Today’s librarians may frown at a full-grown adult sprawled on her belly in the middle of the reading carpet, giggling at a picture book. But if I were the one who wrote that book, that would be another story right? And if I read that book to a group of children on that very same carpet, and we all sprawled together, and we all giggled together, that would then be okay, right?

I want to stretch out on the floor and laugh as I read. I want to share this joy with children. I want to create magical memories for them, just as my memories are kept alive with each visit to the library.

Can anyone relate?

March 20, 2009

Of Whom the World is Not Worthy - by Lynda Schultz

His name was Robert Moffat, (1795-1883) and I "discovered" him while researching an article on Africa. When we think of the so-called "dark continent" the name of David Livingstone often comes to the fore, as it did with me. But it was Moffat who captured my attention in the end.

He came from humble Scottish roots and would always look back at the teaching he received at his mother's knee as pivotal in his spiritual growth. As a lad he took to the sea—something which caused his mother great anxiety. She was much relieved when Robbie took on the safer, and dryer, profession of a gardener. It would be in this context that he discovered his calling to missions, and met his bride-to-be, Mary.

Mary's parents were willing to give their consent to the marriage, but they were not happy with allowing their daughter to go off to South Africa. So Moffat, along with several companions, took that first voyage alone at the age of twenty-one, under the auspices of the London Missionary Society.

Travel in Africa was dangerous business. Moffat, stranded in the desert without water on one such trip, despaired that he would ever see a fruitful, spiritual garden in the midst of his chosen wilderness. But he was not a man to be easily discouraged. In 1817, to the great concern of his friends and colleagues, Moffat headed to the kraal (village) of an tribal leader by the name of Africaner. This man was feared throughout the region for his cruelty. He was well-known as a murderer and thief. But God gave Moffat favour in this man's eyes, and Africaner became one of Moffat's first converts.

Mary's parents finally relented, and allowed her to make the journey to South Africa to marry Robert. By this time, Moffat's vision was directed to a tribal group called the Bechuanas. Among these people, Robert and Mary would minister for many long and difficult years. Before the first tribesmen came to Christ, small inroads in character and conduct occurred. The Bechuanas gave up calling on their rainmaker one year, at Moffat's insistence. That was a time of terrible drought and the Bechuanas eventually came to Moffat's house and threatened him at spear point with death if he didn't leave the area immediately. Mary, with their first child in her arms, watched from the house. Her husband undid his vest, exposing his chest to the armed warriors, and basically told them to take their best shot. Stunned by his bravery, the warriors walked away declaring that this man must have many lives if he was so willing to give up one of them to their spears.

It was twelve years before the first fruit of Moffat's labour was seen among the Bechuanas. When it came, it came in abundance. Robert Moffat dedicated much of his time to language learning and the translation of the Scriptures so that these people could hear and read the Word of God in their own language.

The Moffats returned to England only once in over sixty years of ministry. On that journey, Robert persuaded David Livingstone to go to Africa as a missionary, instead of to China. Livingstone would later marry Mary, the child that Mary Moffat had held in her arms as her husband faced the Bechuana ire on that significant day in their missionary journey.

As I read the story of Robert Moffat, a small part of which I have shared here, I was impacted by the courage and faith of those early missionaries. I fuss at the small sacrifices I make to serve God overseas, only to be shamed when I realize what others before me have endured for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Has the mold been broken from which the Robert Moffats of the world were made? I hope not. We desperately need humble and faithful servants like him today more than ever.

March 18, 2009

The Voice of Truth - by Janet Sketchley

Gentle instrumental music and soft lighting drew me into the massage therapy room, and I felt my muscles loosen slightly just because of the atmosphere. A book on a side table drew my eye: Listening.

Soothing title. I walked closer and read the subtitle: “How to increase your awareness of your inner guide.”

Suddenly I didn’t feel so relaxed. I climbed onto the massage table with the sense of being in dangerous territory, and began to pray.

Lord, thank You that I dwell in the shelter of the Most High, and the Spirit of the Most High dwells in me. I’m safe in Your presence.

The Spirit of the Most High dwells in me.... I guess in the language of generic spirituality, that means the Holy Spirit is my “inner guide.” And yes, I do need to learn how to hear Him better.

We have lots of voices that try to direct us, and most are anything but helpful. Selfish desires are bad enough, but we’ve let even worse things in. As the Lord has been teaching me to listen to Him, He’s been evicting the lies I’ve accepted, the fears that have grown bold and vocal.

Father, please continue to silence the voices that would lead us astray. Tune your children’s ears to hear Your still, small voice. You see the souls reaching out for some kind of spiritual contact, looking everywhere but at You, and You love them. In Your grace and mercy, please help them recognize who You are. Give them faith to believe in You.

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

March 16, 2009

To the Top

I leaned the full weight of my body on a huge rock. My heart pounded furiously. I needed a few minutes to catch my breath before continuing on toward my goal, the peak of Guagua Pichincha, 15, 729 feet above sea level in Ecuador, South America.

As I rested I looked around me. To my left the steep walls of a volcanic crater fell sharply. There, swirling mists hid bubbling springs of hot water rising from a seething active volcano deep in the earth. The rotten egg smell of sulphur wafted upwards. It would be much easier to walk down into the crater as many people did, than to continue the upwards climb to the mountain peak. There was a well-marked route. But the return climb is a killer. That wasn't for me.

To my right was an awesome sight - green pastures, a peaceful village, more mountains, and the enormous city of Quito. This view was much more tempting. Down in the city, in the villages, people lived in beautiful houses with fragrant gardens. And I wondered what I was doing gasping for breath in the thin air.

I began thinking about my life in Christ. Thanks to God's grace the descent into an evil lifestyle has not appealed to me, but worldly beauty and comfort certainly do. Even good things, gifts of God, can pull me away from the pursuit of God himself.

My heart had slowed somewhat and I started my climb again. This narrow path I was on was the only way to get to the top. If I went into the crater, or down into the green valley, I wouldn't make my goal. I needed to remain focused. But I needed something more than determination. I needed a guide. Our son Travis had been this way before - he was ahead of me, showing me the route. I also needed encouragement. My husband Tim was climbing this mountain for the first time, too. He was behind me, encouraging me, helping me place my hands and feet in the best positions.

In life too I need a guide - Jesus. He's been this way before and He knows the way to the top. And with me are many others; we encourage each other other, cheering each other on, helping each other to place our steps.

Finally, huffing and puffing, we stood in full sunshine on the mountain peak. Waves of mountains undulated in the distance. Rivers trailed their way through valleys and over plains. We turned slowly, enjoying the 360 degree view. Was the climb worth it? Yes, without any doubt!


March 12, 2009

When is the Bible like Watching T.V.? M. Laycock

Every now and then I like to “veg.” in front of the T.V. in the evening. I get comfortable, maybe have a cup of tea in hand, a blanket to curl up under. I find a movie or program that’s decent and settle in. But then they start – the food commercials. Dairy Queen blizzards, MacDonald’s toasted sandwiches, Tim Horton’s donuts! Nothing but food commercials! To someone who knows that anything through the lips after six goes right to the hips, it’s pure torture.

And then there’s the Bible - have you ever noticed how many times the Bible records that Jesus ate? It’s like watching TV. There’s food everywhere!

I hate it on television, but I love it in the Bible. Television commercials about food frustrate me because they make me hungry for all the wrong things. The stories of how Jesus ate with the people in the Bible bless me because they make me hungry for Him. In Matthew 9:10, for instance, Jesus invites Matthew the tax collector to follow him, then he goes to his home and eats with him. Then in Luke 14 and 15 we see him at the house of a well-known Pharisee, eating again. In Mark 14:3 we even see him eating in the home of a leper. Many times Jesus stops at the home of Mary and Martha, for a meal. Then there’s the famous scene with Zacchaeus in Luke 19:7 where Jesus invites himself to dinner. And there are the wonderful miracles of bread - those times when he nourished physically those who had been feeding on His words.

And there is the most famous dinner of all, the Passover meal, which has become our Communion, that incredible time, when Jesus invited his disciples to not just eat with Him, but eat of Him, in the spiritual sense. This communion is mimicked after His resurrection, in a town called Emmaus, where two of His disciples did not recognize him until He broke the bread; and again, when he prepared breakfast for the disciples on the seashore. I love that scene - there he was, waiting for them, waiting to serve them, to give them what their bodies needed and their souls longed for after a hard night’s work – His companionship.

The word companion is derived from the Latin for with – com – and bread – panis. Over and over again, Jesus demonstrated that He is our companion, the one who will eat with us, who will share his life with us. He says – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

Next time the television makes you hungry for junk food, think about the One standing at the door, ready to truly satisfy your hunger.

Marcia Laycock won The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her devotionals have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and on the web. Visit her website -

March 09, 2009

What Makes A Christian? - Jan Keats

Sometimes it seems that the world and Christianity go hand in hand. Or does Christianity display the morals of Christian living? What’s peculiar is that many people have differing answers. Let us explore different opinions and then discover what Jesus has to say.

Read Colossians 3: 1-14

What makes a Christian?

Is it going to church on Sunday?
Is it reading your Bible everyday?
Is it praying at a certain hour?
Is it paying your church every week?
Is it living a moral life?
Is it taking your kids to Sunday School?
Is it being kind to your neighbours?
Is it a person who claims to live right?
Is it those who obey the Ten Commandments?
Is it inviting someone to church?
Is it giving to the needy?
Is it a person who eat the right foods?
Is it an honest person?
Is it a person who does not feel the need to attend church make a Christian?
Is it a person who has an immaculate home?
Is it a person who obeys their parents?
Is it a person who offers thanksgiving to God for their meals?
Is it a person who kneels in prayer?
Is it a person who prays aloud?
Is it viewing Christian programming on television?
Is it resting on Sundays?
Is it attending Bible study?
Is it holding a straight attendance record at church or a church group?
Is it reading an inspirational book once a month?
Is it owning a Bible?
Is it a sober person?
Is it when a person quits smoking?

While most of these are essential, let’s dig into the Scriptures:

Colossians chapter three tells us that we must die to self and set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. We must put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature and evil desires. Before the new life began, we indulged in earthly pleasures, pleasures that are not pleasing to God. We are told that if we look to God and live to the best of our ability to be like Jesus, we will also appear with Him in glory. It is out of earthly pleasures that the wrath of God is coming. To be a Christian, or to be like Christ we must rid ourselves of all evil ways and desires that we once had. Jesus is willing to make our vessels clean. He offers a new life. Christians are given a new life. When a person dies to self and lives for Christ, he can take off the old robe and put on the new.

When a person puts on the robe of Jesus, he is wearing something that will never decay. Jesus’ robe is eternal. There is no need to trade it or hand it down. He is bought and paid for and He is all we need. Christ is all and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11). To be a Christian God tells us to clothe ourselves with the fruits of the spirit, to live a Holy life and forgive one another. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity!

Jan Keats

March 06, 2009

Baby Steps

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:29-31 (NIV)

The disciples are a long way from shore. A violent storm threatens to capsize and consume everyone aboard the small fishing boat as it is tossed to and fro on the swirling Sea of Galilee. An ethereal apparition appears to the distraught sailors. Fear begins to consume the motley crew until a voice commands their attention. Jesus says, "Do not be afraid. It is me."

Peter, in his usual brash and impetuous manner, says, "Lord, if it is really you then command me to come to you and walk on the water."

"All right," Jesus said. "Come along!"

Peter takes that first baby step but then starts to look at the billowing waves and choppy waters. He gets worried and takes his eyes of Jesus. That's when terror strikes. He begins to sink and feels the churning waters clutching and drawing him downward. Luckily Jesus is a mere arms length away and He reaches for Peter.

"Oh man of little faith," Jesus says to Peter. "Why on earth [or on water] did you doubt me?"

I'm thinking that how we hear these precious words of Jesus, holds insight into our own faith walk. Do we interpret these words as an angry rebuke or do we hear them as gentle encouragement from a loving parent who has seen His child walk for the first time? "Be careful my are doing it. You almost made it. Now try it on your own and keep your eyes on me. Come on. You can do it. Reach for me. I am here...waiting for you."

No loving parent would ever scold their little one for attempting to walk for the first time. Instead they would encourage and be ready to catch their precious little one if they stumble. Just the same, Jesus wants us to succeed. He wants us to take that first baby step. He rejoices when we take steps of faith, even if they are small ones.

True faith begins when you take that first step. Climb out of the boat. Trust. Hold tight to Jesus.

Soon those toddling little baby steps will become strong, purposeful steps of faith as you keep your eyes on Jesus.

[Photo: Jocelyn - my sweet little 9 1/2 month old granddaughter, walked today for the first time! The steps were small but the feat of faith was great. I had a little reminder from my sweetheart granddaughter about trust today]

March 04, 2009

OUTAGES by Elsie Montgomery

Sandy’s computer screen went black, instantly. No flicker to warn her. She swore under her breath and glanced at the electric clock. It was off too, its face read 1:02. She turned off the power to her surge protector, got up, dumped her cold coffee and tried not to let the enormity of this raise her blood pressure.

“Arden Hills is a new subdivision. The power never goes off in the new areas,” said the cheerful voice at the power company. “Let me check for you.”

Sandy stared out the window listening to “hold” music that sounded piped from a funeral home and wondering if Jeff would get over his anger. She was almost able to laugh at his jealousy. Whatever gave him the idea she had time to entertain men during the day? Perhaps she was lonely — but men? Not this time. She learned her lesson. Patrick was from another era, another phase of life. She had outgrown her need to be romantically involved, to be the center of a man’s attention. Writing romance novels channeled her energies into sometime more productive — and profitable.

“I am sorry. You are right. The power is off in Arden Hills. Apparently someone hit a power pole out in that area. We apologize for the inconvenience and expect to have service restored as soon as possible.”

Inconvenience? It seemed like just another weird event added to an increasing and almost mysterious force trying to prevent her from getting any work done. I am glad the backup program on my word processor is set to save every two minutes. I didn’t lose much this time. Not like last month when the dog pulled the plug. Jeff didn’t believe me that time either. He thinks my work is held up because there is someone here all day.

She poured herself a glass of juice. I would never get into another one of those Patrick things. He hurt my marriage and nearly destroyed me. And I thought he was just what I needed. The worst of it is trying to recover . . . never mind Jeff acting more weird every day. The next thing he will be doing is phoning from work on the hour, every hour.

Sandy laughed again. If Jeff wasn’t such a tightwad, he would. His office was just out of their telephone area. Each call would cost about a dollar, maybe more. She knew his thriftiness overruled hiring a private detective.

She walked through the house to the front living room and looked out the window. Funny, that dark green Buick is just like the one Patrick used to drive. She watched it for a few minutes then saw two people with briefcases emerge from her neighbor’s house across the street and get into the Buick. They looked like morticians or maybe Jehovah’s Witnesses. Well, at least Patrick wasn’t into either of those pursuits, and thankfully, neither is Jeff. In spite of his raging jealousy, he is sensible and definitely not a religious fanatic.

In a few minutes, the power came on. Sandy sat down at her keyboard. She thought about Jeff. He wasn’t religious but he was becoming obnoxious with his suspicions. I can’t help it if the power goes off or the dog likes power cords. I can’t do anything about hard drive failure and my mother calling every two days. My, that woman likes to talk. Not that I am any different. I have to admit that I spend more time on the phone with Gail and Louella than I should. I guess I am the reason the story is not finished. She opened her notebook and tried to pick up where her computer blanked out.

Jeff watched the tow truck hoist his car and pull away. The power pole was down but not completely sheared. He wondered how he only managed to scratch the back of his hand when his car would likely be a write-off.

That was not the worst of it. How would he explain to Sandy what he was doing out here in the mid-afternoon when he was supposed to be working? How could he tell her he had come to check on her every day this week and now thought his fears were confirmed? How could he let her know that he ran into a power pole while talking on his cell phone to a friend in Motor Vehicles, tell her that he knew a Reverend Paul Moses was the registered owner of the car that was parked in front of his house, every day, for several weeks? How could he tell her he was melting down with fear and rage every time he saw a green Buick? Did she already know?

Worse yet, he found himself talking to himself, now, aloud, on the sidewalk. How can I admit to her that I my attitude pressured her into this? I know I cause her writer’s block; I know that. But now I’ve caused even worse, another green Buick and one more jerk, religious or not, whose name begins with P. This is all my fault.

He felt dizzy. He began walking, wondering which way was home. Would Sandy say come in, or would the green Buick still be outside? Would she forgive him? Would she understand? Or would she laugh in his face and leave him for Paul? Will I ever get this husband thing right? And why do I feel so odd? And why is the sun setting so early in the day?
Sorry to leave you hanging, but short story is sometimes about making readers think, and loose ends often have that effect! Elsie

March 02, 2009

Powerful Defender - Elizabeth Bunyan, Part 3 - Nesdoly

The story so far
  • Part 1 - The place is England, the time 1660. England's experiment with parliamentary government has ended with the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 and the return of King Charles II from exile. One November night Elizabeth Bunyan's husband John, a dissenting preacher, is arrested for holding religious meetings unauthorized by the Church of England.
Read Part 1

  • Part 2 - John's imprisonment drags on. But his conscience won't allow him to promise to stop preaching. When things look blackest he discovers pardons are being issued in honor of Charles II's coronation. John asks Elizabeth to go to London and seek such a pardon for him.
Read Part 2

Illustration from 1894 edition of Pilgrim's Progress

POWERFUL DEFENDER - a story of Elizabeth Bunyan (Part 3 of 4)

All the while Elizabeth made the preparations to go to London, her emotions swung between fear and excitement. What if she couldn’t think of what to say, or worse, said the wrong thing and made a total botch of it? On the other hand, this possible release for John just when things looked the worst, was a miracle. Surely God was in it.

Jack Bludgett accompanied her to London. The trip was long and tiring but after a good night’s sleep, she felt refreshed and optimistic. As their carriage maneuvered the crowded London streets, Elizabeth looked with amazement at the huge buildings and the swarms of people. She felt in her bag again for John’s laboriously composed and copied petition.

It wasn’t clear where they had to go. They tried one place, and were told to go to another. At that place, they were given directions to do their business in the House of Lords.

When they finally got there and Elizabeth entered the building with its echoing hallways, alive with uniformed officials and impersonal efficiency, she was awed. They were given directions to a hallway outside one of the chambers and told to wait their turn. She calmed her pounding heart by reminding herself how wonderful it would be to have John home again.

Finally a page opened the door and called, "Elizabeth Bunyan." She got up and followed him through massive doors, into a vast, high-ceilinged room. At one end sat a row of men wearing heavy white wigs. Beside them were other men, busy writing or looking at papers.

"Lord Barkwood, Elizabeth Bunyan,"the page said as they stopped before one of the wigged men.

He gave her a little nod, and she curtsied.

"And what is it thy matter?" he asked.

"I have this petition for my husband John Bunyan," she said, handing him John’s papers. "We have heard that many criminals are being released in honor of the king’s coronation. My husband wishes to apply for release."

He took the petition and looked through the pages, then back at her. "I must confer with my colleagues," he said. "Come back tomorrow morning for my answer. "

The next morning, after a long and restless night Elizabeth was back in the same room. She felt growing apprehension as she awaited the Lord Barkwood’s answer. It wasn’t long in coming. "We have discussed your husband’s petition," Lord Barkwood began. "We cannot release him."

Elizabeth’s head swam. John would not be coming home. But Lord Barkwood was saying more.

"We’ve committed such cases to the local judges. If you want to pursue this further, present his case at the midsummer assizes in Bedford.

All the way home she wondered, how would she break the news to John, and how would he react? However, when she did tell him, he was unabashed. "We’ll prepare our case for the next assizes in August then," he told her.

Immediately he got to work, revising and laboriously writing out several copies of his petition. "God is in this," he said, whenever she expressed concern. "Perhaps they’ll allow me to speak for myself."



© Copyright 2005 by Violet Nesdoly

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