January 28, 2011

A Wise Answer For Christian Schoolchildren - Bruce Atchison.

Evolution is now the default belief system in public schools throughout western countries. This places pupils of faith in an awkward position. Should they answer test questions as if they believed the textbook or should they stay true to the Bible and risk receiving a bad mark?

One church friend gave me a clever answer to this quandary in 1974. From my upcoming How I was Razed memoir, here is a valuable reply which satisfies the faith convictions of students as well as the needs of teachers.


I faced a dilemma when I returned to science class that January. Like millions of public school students, teachers taught me that the theory of evolution was the only reasonable explanation for the origin of the universe. "What can I do about this?" I asked Sister E one Wednesday evening as we sipped coffee in her kitchen after the meeting. "I like science but I hate that Evolution junk."

"I know how you feel," she said as she set her cup on the table. "When I was going to school, I had a lot of difficulty with science. I didn't want to write that this or that was true. Brother H told me I should say 'scientists believe that...' or 'the book says...' when I answer test questions."

"Wow! I'll have to remember that. That's so cool. You mean I could just say, 'According to the theory, this happened,' or something like that?"

"Sure. You wouldn't be lying or betraying Jesus. All you're doing is telling them what you had learned."

"That's brilliant," I smiled. "Thanks for telling me that. I'll do that the next time I write a test."


How I Was Razed is the testimony of the way I was mislead by a cult church, how I turned my back on God after I felt he perennially failed to heal my eyes, and how he graciously brought me to my senses.

My previous books, When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), are now available online by clicking here or by clicking here to e-mail me directly.

January 26, 2011

What's the Point? - Karen Toews

I've been reading in Ecclesiastes. I didn't particularly decide to read this book right now, it's just where I'm at in my devotional bible-reading. This pointedly honest and somewhat despairing commentary on life is hardly an uplifting study for launching into a new year. However, I have been open to what God might be speaking to me through this Old Testament author (some scholars suggest it was Solomon), as this book must have been included in the scriptures for a good reason.

Call it a twisted version of inspiration for 2011 or my dose of "this is the real world, girl" - here are some of my January meditations.

"I accomplished some great things......But when I turned to look at all that I had accomplished and all the hard work I had put into it, I saw that it was all pointless. It was like trying to catch the wind. I gained nothing from any of my accomplishments under the sun." 2:4a, 11 NIV

"I saw that there's nothing better for people to do than to enjoy their work because that is their lot in life. Who will allow them to see what will happen after them?" 3:22 NIV

"You learn more at a funeral than at a feast - After all, that's where we'll end up. We might discover something from it." 7:2,3 The Message

"So I recommend the enjoyment of life. People have nothing better to do under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves. This joy will stay with them while they work hard during their brief lives which God has given them under the sun." 8:15 NIV

"Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, For there's neither work to do nor thoughts to think In the company of the dead, where you're most certainly headed." 9:10 The Message

"Words from wise people are like spurs. Their collected sayings are like nails that have been driven in firmly....People never stop writing books...Fear God, and keep his commandments, because this applies to everyone, God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad." 12: 11a, 12b, 13b, 14

What am I trying to accomplish and why? I can become a better person through sorrow and pain. Enjoy life. Work with gusto while I'm still able. Fear God, keep his commandments, and write with wisdom.

There is a point.

January 24, 2011

Ink Spots on My Shirt — Lynda Schultz

Have you ever had an itch in the middle of your back that you simply could not reach? Or a craving for that "something" that you could not quite name? The word is on the tip of your tongue but somehow your mind can't capture it and fling it out? How about a project whose whose finish can't even get to the start point?

One of my dreams while I was overseas was to be involved in a writer's group once I got back to Canada. I couldn't find an already established one here in Timmins, so last fall I asked  Marcia Laycock to send me all the information available for beginning my own group. In the meantime, I had discovered a gal in our church who is a writer and who has, in fact, published a book. She mentioned that she was working on a second book but was stuck and really wanted to bounce the material off of someone who might be able to help her with the ending. I had an "aha" moment.

The trouble has been that I haven't been able to string together enough of those moments to even read the materials Marcia sent me, let alone start a group!

This month we began a women's ministry as an outreach from our church. As part of the larger events, we are beginning smaller and more intimate, special interest groups. I sent out a survey to poll the women in the congregation in an effort to discover their interests. Writing and journaling turned out to be quite high up on that list. Another "aha" moment.

So, what's my desire for this new year?

1. Read the material.

2. Call together the interested women and discover our common ground.

3. Determine a time and place when we can meet.

4. Do it!

Oh, and maybe I'll buy a backscratcher.

January 23, 2011

A Generosity of Words - Dorothy Bentley

A new year stretches out ahead of me, beckoning me to come and give of myself.

As a Christian writer, my words need to build up the body and draw people to the Lord.

I can give little snippets here and there, shallow stories, pretty poems, but will they touch a heart and change a life? That is what my writing needs to do. But how?

I don't have all the answers, but here is what I am trying: to dig deep into my heart, and pull out things that may be difficult or painful, examine them, and include them in my writing along with how the Lord has helped me through. Or, I think of other peoples' difficult lives and try to relate. It's challenging. That sort of writing is costly. Afterward, I am tired, spent. But even then I'm not finished. Praying more over the work and sleeping on it, I'll wake with another insight to add. Or I'll be washing dishes and mulling over the story and I'll ask the Lord where to include more of His Light.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 3:12-14)

I want to be generous with my words, and generous with the Light.

Do you have specific writing challenges to conquer this year?

January 20, 2011

Improve your writing - Kimberley Payne

On The Word Guild listserv, Denise Rumble asked, “How are you, as an individual, improving your writing? What are you doing to accomplish this? What other ways can we use to improve our writing?

Earl Silver believes in taking courses. He shares, “I am taking a course taught by professor Brooks Landon entitled Building Great Sentences. I plan to follow that with a study of Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition.”

Lisa Wilson improves her writing by reading books on writing. She says, “I'm reading Donald Maas' new book ‘The Fire in Fiction’. I'm highlighting as I go. When I'm done, I'll begin reading some of the works he quotes. I did this with his other book "Writing the Breakout Novel" and found some great books that I might not ordinarily have read and learned a bunch.”

Donna Fawcett agrees with Lisa. “I try to find 'how to' books that continue to give me new ideas on writing. I also try to read as many new authors as possible as this gives me an idea of trends.”

Tammy Wiens takes a different approach and asks her readers. She shares, “I have found that I've gotten so caught up in trying to please the industry at times that I've forgotten my audience. In the end, they are the ones who buy my books and let me know if they are good or not--not editors or publishers. So I've expanded my test readings to include more diversity in my readers.”

Sara Davison uses a combination of techniques. “I've done a lot of different things to try and improve my writing - attended Write!Canada and other conferences, classes, workshops etc., read books in my genre and on the craft of writing, had my work professionally edited - but the absolute best thing I have done is join a writers' group. I belong to two different groups, both of which meet once a month. We read our work to each other and give and receive feedback. Not only has this (hopefully) strengthened and improved my writing skills, it has also increased my confidence and comfort level with public speaking.”

Eric Wright also believes in the value of critique groups. He says, “I try to participate in 2 online critique groups, including The Word Guild's, and 2 local face-to-face critique groups. I find that keeps me on my toes through repeated revision. Also I keep referring back to the books that have helped me most; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and Making Shapely Fiction, etc.”

D.S. Martin is also a big believer in editing. He shares, "With poetry the answer lies, first, in reading lots and lots of the very best contemporary poetry. The second step is to be a fanatic reviser --- trimming, fine-tuning, and improving poems. Usually a short poem takes longer to write than several pages of prose ever would. For fiction it's not quite so intense, but the same principles apply.”

How do you improve your writing?

January 18, 2011

News and Views from Corner – Martha Toews Anderson

Reflecting on the year we have just left behind, we can say with thanksgiving, “Jesus led us all the way.” There were both joyful experiences and sobering ones. My husband, Eilif, continues to battle with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. When he could no longer tolerate the treatments, his oncologist said, “There is nothing more we can do for you.” Eilif’s response was, “But there is still God.”

Despite that prognosis, he carried on, though spending more and more time in his lift chair. Just days before Christmas, he woke one morning unable to lift himself off the bed. He fell to the floor and the next day tests showed that the cancer is increasing and his hemoglobin very low. He was given two units of blood with no positive effect.

Our family gathered for our Christmas celebration in the social room in the complex where we live. Although Eilif was not up to leaving the apartment, the family visited him a few at a time and before dispersing, everyone crowded into the apartment to sing Silent Night and pray with him.

Since then we have been introduced to Soursop, a fruit grown in tropical countries. According to reports on Internet, it is a natural cancer fighter, much more effective than chemotherapy and with no side effects. He is using that, but this is too soon to know if it is effective.

In the past year, both my sister, Anna, and her husband, John, have left this earth for their heavenly home. Both in their nineties, John was growing weak in both body and mind, and Anna suffered extreme pain from a major stroke and several falls as a result. Both were living in anticipation of going to be with Jesus.

For those of us who remain, parting naturally brings a feeling of loneliness and sadness, but as the Bible promises, “We sorrow not as others who have no hope.” We know because Jesus came 2,000 years ago to bring salvation, we can anticipate a glorious reunion in Heaven some day.

What a day that will be when we meet again in Heaven and with all those who have accepted Christ’s offer of eternal life, we can sing praises to the One who came to earth for our sakes, those many centuries ago. That is what Christmas is all about. And that is what gives us joy in all circumstances.

Goal Met

We are rejoicing in one goal attained in 2010. I have finished my novel, Echo Valley, and expect it to come off the presses at Word Alive Press in two or three months. Eilif has been a real encouragement in getting this done so I owe a lot of the credit to him and all of our family for standing by us. If you would like to put in a request for a copy at a special price before it is released, you can contact me by email.

My next project is to compile in a series of booklets of the devotionals I have written over the years with some revision to make them relevant to today.

May you experience a joy filled and victorious 2011.

Martha Toews Anderson

The Unknown Road Ahead - Martha Toews Anderson

To stand at the threshold of a new year is like standing at the crossroads staring into the darkness ahead with no road signs or maps. Daily the world news paints for us a picture of devastation caused by natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, and on top of that, stories of man’s inhumanity to man.

I am reminded of the words of Minnie Haskins, made famous by King George VI, when he quoted them in his Christmas Eve address to the nation as the world was teetering on the brink of World War Two:

I said to the man at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I might walk safely into the unknown.”
And he said to me, “Walk into the darkness
And put your hand into the hand of God,
And it shall be to you safer than the light
And better than the known way.”

We cannot do better than to step into the unknown with our hand in the hand of the One who created and sustains all things. The same God has a plan and purpose for our lives and knows what is best for us and He will not lead us astray. Elvera Denning’s song expresses that confidence in God’s leading:

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have to do is to follow,
Strength for today is mine all the way
And all that I need for tomorrow.

For God to be free to lead our lives in the path that He has planned, requires that we relinquish all control to Him, confident that wherever or however He leads is the best for us as well as for His glory. It requires total trust in the One who holds our hand. Jesus promised never to release His hold on us. 

He said of those who follow Him, “”They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand, ---No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand" (John 10:28-29 nkjv). That’s like a safety lock, doubly ensured. What greater security could we have than that as we step out into the unknown days ahead. “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Martha Toews Anderson

January 17, 2011

A Renewed Focus

It is bewildering how your writing career is like a roller coaster ride. There’s a beginning followed by a continuum of peaks and valleys. Writing, be it novice or professional, is a learning process of developing skills, connecting with editors/publishers, timelines, creativity, disappointments and rejections to name a few.

What if there were few or no attempts put forth to garner those accomplishments and pitfalls that enable us to grow and stretch our abilities? Don’t rewards come from hard work and perseverance? Recently I hooked a magazine with my personal faith story and publication of a review of my book, A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism. Did it come easy? Not at all. My initial contact with the magazine was 10 months ago. I submitted a query about a review of my book and I waited for a response. It was 10 months of waiting and wondering and being placed on hold. In the middle of that came a change in their personnel department. I had to start from the beginning. My assignment was left in limbo, which added to the lengthy delay. Finally there were a few emails of decision making and the actual format and content of what they agreed they would print.

I could have easily given up in mid-stream but I felt the urge to press on. I persevered because, not only did I believe in my product, I wanted a clear answer. If the editor had decided that my query was unsuitable in the beginning I most certainly would have accepted that, but it was merely misconstrued dialogues. At any rate, I was surprised at the pending turn of events. I was most interested in getting my book review published but that connection led me to another opportunity. I received an email from another editor from the same magazine requesting my personal faith story. Wow! What a surprise. That was totally unexpected but I was equally delighted to submit my faith story.

Many times during the process I would ask myself, why do I continue to press on with this? Most people would have given up. I would stop and sigh after reading certain emails and responses from the magazine and then pick up and continue again. I believe God had a plan from the beginning. Publication of my personal faith story was His plan but it was oblivious to me. That was an exciting lesson to learn. I am so glad I followed through and forged ahead when it would have been easier to drop my submission and toss it into my own slush pile. Because of my perseverance, potentially thousands of readers will see and read my faith story. What’s more important and hopeful is that many will be impacted in some small way.

“Boys, there ain't no free lunches in this country. And don't go spending your whole life commiserating that you got the raw deals. You've got to say, I think that if I keep working at this and want it bad enough I can have it. It's called perseverance.”-- Lee Iacocca

My goals for this year include persevering with my submissions to various magazines with many of my unpublished articles. I also recently completed an audio book of my poems that I must focus on promoting. And, may I add, continue to wait upon God.

Janice Keats

The Whine Cellar

Today I would like to invite you into my whine cellar. I don’t go there often, preferring to pretend it doesn’t exist. In fact, I keep a bookcase of Bibles and solid Christian books in front of the door to hide it.

But I do need to check it. Once I tried making my own ginger beer, but the bottles exploded. Unexplored whines have the same potential, and I think there are bottles I have forgotten about. They are the most dangerous.

Of course, I have divided the cellar into vintages. The most tasteless are those laced with gripe water, whose contents complain of personal inconveniences and adversities. I think I’ll unplug a few and let the contents out.

Here’s one that bleats I can’t find help in department stores when I need it, except furniture stores, where I am harassed by salesmen—or should I say salespersons—better unplug that one, it’s pretty weak anyway!

Come and see how many of these I have. I can collect a dozen a day without effort. But they get very heavy, hauling them around. Glad of the cellar to store them. The larger the collection, the more justified I feel keeping them.

A slightly better vintage are bottles containing personal injustices. They’re good for future use; I can reinforce new grievances with those.

But the best whines are for others unjustly treated. I can hold forth eloquently on this subject. Trouble is, few of these bottles have distilled any personal action. Perhaps they will mature more with time. I’ll just leave them to age some more.

Most of the time I feel miserable down here, but opening a bottle or two helps. More of the same—hair of the dog—copes for a while, even if it leaves a remorseful hangover tomorrow. So it’s a good place for a pity party. Let’s open a couple and stretch our scruples a bit.

On second thoughts, it’s dark and chilly down here. I think we need some fresh air. All the good things of life are back upstairs. A coffee and cookie will help forget about this gloomy place. Besides, ours is a life of joy, we must accentuate the positive.

Unfortunately, that bookcase full of Bibles won’t let me forget. It’s almost as if they reveal the door they’re supposed to hide. I must admit looking forward to an occasional retreat down there. Even the bitter whines taste good and help bolster my sagging vanity.

OK, I will have to deal with the contents of that cellar soon, but I’m too busy right now; I have to get ready for church.

January 15, 2011

Purpose Refocused - Tracy Krauss

January is half over and I find myself reflecting on how well I am keeping up with my 'resolutions'. In relative terms, things are going pretty well. I've joined an aquafit class three times a week, I'm spending more time in Bible reading and prayer each morning, and I'm keeping up with my writing and promotional goals. Pretty good, huh?

Yes, things are going well so far this year - for me. What a shock to hear just a few days into the new year, that a young friend died unexpectedly of cancer. When I first heard of her death, I thought she must have been involved in a car accident. As far as I knew, she was a healthy, robust, 23 year old with her whole life ahead of her. To my surpise, I found out that she was diagnosed with cancer just days before Christmas and died during the first week of January, only a little more than two weeks later. Although the 'C' word is never welcome, I am sure her friends and family expected to have a little more time with her than that.

It got me to thinking. Did she have time to reconnect with the Lord? I recall a commitment made years ago at a youth group meeting, but was it genuine and did that prayer come to mind in her last moments here on earth? Did someone take the time to visit in the hospital during those busy days before Christmas, or were their good intentions put on the back burner until after the busy holiday season? I can hope for the positive alternatives, but only God in His sovereign wisdom knows the answer.

Life on this earth is so fragile. So unexplainably unpredictable. My own goals for the new year seem rather shallow in camparison to the grief this family is now facing, and could be just as quickly snatched away in the twinkling of an eye. And yet, I believe God wants us to set goals for ourselves. In His wisdom, He keeps the future secret, yet gives us that desire to plan for it, come what may. I sometimes laugh when I hear certain 'doomsdayers' lamenting the coming date of 12/12/12. (Didn't you hear? It's the end of the world!) But God's word says no man knows the day or the hour - of the end of the universe or our own personal demise. Instead we are exhorted to "fear God and keep His commandments", doing "whatever your hand finds to do, with all your might..." (Ecclesiastes 12:13, and 9:10)

This is sound advice, and reminds me of Violet Nesdoly's Jan. 12 post on prayers for a writer.  In everything we do, we need to dedicate it to God and pray for his blessing upon it. And so, this is my prayer for each of you for this coming year. "Fear God, keep his commandments, and whatever you do, do it with all your might!"

January 12, 2011

A praying-the-Bible prayer for writers - Nesdoly

I have, over the years, collected and memorized Bible verses that encouraged me as a writer. I'm also a great fan of praying Bible words back to God. For today's post, I have combined those two things into a prayer for writers. Pray it over yourself and your work in 2011 — and be blessed!


Dear God, as the One who created words and who came as Word, we acknowledge that You are the creator of our tongues (the urge and ability to communicate) and the source of all wisdom about words. Today we bring to You our work of producing and spreading written words.

Help us, first, to hear from You. May Your words sink deep into our own hearts. Help us to listen to them carefully for ourselves and then afterward go and tell our blog, e-zine, magazine and book readers, "This is what the Lord God says."

Help us not only to write but to be bold to submit what we've written, for You have told us to cast our bread upon the waters with the promise that we will find it after many days. May we steward our time, talents and opportunities wisely, for from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Help us to resist the urge to draw attention to our successes and praise ourselves, choosing instead to wait for You to lift us up and make us great.

May You be the one to expand our influence, the place of our tents, the curtains of our dwellings, the numbers of our blog readers, book buyers, friends, and followers. May we spare no effort but rather lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes in excellence so that the good news of Your kingdom will spread to the left and right. As a result of our words may followers of Jesus inherit the nations and make desolate godless cities alive again.

We roll our writing work on You. May You cause our thoughts to become agreeable to Your will so that our plans will be established and succeed. We need You to guide us continually, to satisfy our souls when we feel dry, and to strengthen our bones when we are tired. Help us to be as productive as watered gardens, our words as refreshing and life-giving as springs of water.

May the beauty and delightfulness and favour of the Lord our God be upon us: confirm and establish the work of our hands, yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it. Amen. 

You might also like "A Blogger's Prayer" by Ann Voskamp

The verses (using various translations) in the order which they appear: John 1:1,14; Exodus 4:11; Ezekiel 3:10-11; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Luke 12:48; Proverbs 27:22; James 4:10; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Isaiah 54:2-3; Proverbs 16:3; Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 90:16-17.

By Violet Nesdoly


Website: www.violetnesdoly.com

January 11, 2011

Here I Sit - annual confession - Stephen Berg

I often live with a sense of abandonment...yet with a keen anticipation of epiphany. I live with the idea that natural life is a miracle and a mystery; but that it is also the arena of science and reason which may at any moment curb my understanding of miracle and mystery.

I believe that we are beings suited for contemplation, meditation and prayer. But I'm not always sure what prayer does or doesn't do.

I revere the self-gift of Jesus, but don’t believe in Anselm’s satisfaction theory of atonement. I'm deeply attracted to the Eucharist, what I used to call the Lord's supper; I consider it a dramatic enigma.

I'm never far from asking for guidance but I can’t tell if God guides my life, let alone has a detailed plan for me. (I have great regard for those who know God's plan for their lives.) It seems that time and chance happen to us all. But when I'm in a crisis I jettison every fatalistic cell and plead for light.

I often dislike myself and at these times I do one of two things: I sink into a deep funk, or I emotionally preen myself beyond recognition while going out of my way to solicit praise, surreptitiously of course. But too, I often find myself to be a fair friend and good company. And when in this way, I am pleasant to be around.

I hate sickness, violence, seeing people I love hurt, seeing anyone hurt; I hate the loss that chronic pain forces upon lives, the inevitability of decay, the death of friends and relatives. I used to think, and was given to believe, that God allowed of these things and I called this, God's unsearchable wisdom. But even as I regurgitated this theodicy, I really didn't know what to make of it. And now I believe the idea and the language to be unhelpful if not harmful.

Learning to let go of loss, pain or anger, seems the healthy thing to do; but I don't think it's always possible. And I have arm-loads of mercy for those who can't let go and let god. Insanity, or drink, or drugs, or the many other possible addictions are not unreasonable options in the face of some forms of personal suffering. Oddly enough, an untroubled life may also court addiction.

I'm a distracted, but just as often a captivated reader of the Psalms and gospels. I've pretty much left off reading the rest of the bible except where I intuit a reference.

Once a month as I lurch along through the Psalms, by way of morning lectio divina, I come upon this coordinate: Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part, thou shalt make me to know wisdom. And while I have no hope of arriving at anything like untarnished inner truth before my three score and ten, I'm figuring here that the spirit of Love, the spirit of the maker of the cosmos, the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of the mysterium tremendum is as patient as a desert, and fancies my liberation from every form of distortion and self-delusion. As it is, I believe that the I Am has no issue with my doubts or my ravings (consider the ancient Hebrew  poets), but is concerned primarily about pulling me toward personal verity and inner integrity (well, I guess I do believe in guidance).

And what I've found, dear reader, is that when I stray from this inner compass, I place myself in peril of living life without breath, of living a life of fantasy, dead directionless fantasy at that. I may as well exhume the corpse of Dean Martin and ask it the secret of sobriety.

So this coming year, I will continue doing what I do: I will listen, watch, wait, doubt, believe, chronicle and so perhaps fashion a few true sentences. And if that should happen—about the sentences—I will try as best I can to see that my life catches up to them.


January 08, 2011

A Family Resemblance -- Janet Sketchley

Some people inspire younger relatives to cringe at the thought of becoming “just like Mom/ Dad/ Grandma/ Grandpa/ Auntie Mim.” Since there’s at least one in every extended family, we’ve probably all had that thought.

Next time it surfaces, instead of squashing it, consider it. Look at the person you don’t want to be. What is it you want to escape? Why? What choices or traits do you think shaped this person?

Do you see glimpses of these things in yourself? If so, neither shudder nor resign yourself to meet your fate. Bring those characteristics – and any other potential trouble spots – to God.
Don’t just ask for strength of will to bury them. Ask Him to change you.

© Janet Sketchley, 2011
For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

January 06, 2011

Control Freak (Retired) - Glynis Belec

I really was trying to take the healthy route when I told my dearly beloved I was going to walk to church. But lo and behold, I barely got past our own driveway and WHOOSH! my life flashed before me. In a nutshell, I didn't make it to church. I am now sporting a lovely elbow to finger cast and my time clicking away on computer keys is a snail's stride, compared to my usual run rabbit, run pace.

As I contemplate and commisserate with me, myself and I, suddenly I am reminded how quickly life can do a  three sixty. When things happen and plans are thwarted, I am also suddenly reminded Who is at the helm. [And it isn't me, sugar!] I wonder how many more prods it will take for me to realize that I don't need to worry or fuss about one single thing. I cannot sit back thinking that I have no work to do in this life, but I do need to sit back and realize that I don't have to run the show.

I'm chalking this up to another God prod. When things happen and plans are thwarted, I always wonder about what God has in mind for the coming week/month/year.

Already I am contemplating the Word in a different way. I was slacking off a little in my quiet time with God. Time to pull up my socks. My spiritual life was a bit dependent on my mood. Time to forget about me and think upon Him. Excuses for not doing what God required of me were rampant. Time to seek to serve instead of seeking to take life easy.

This new year is a time to make some radical changes for Jesus. I think I will start by focussing on the Creator and the Controller of the  Universe. When I stop and think about it, He is the one who will decide if I wake up tomorrow morning! So I've decided not to whine and complain about the wretched, heavy cast (did I just complain?) Instead I will sing "Holy, Holy, Holy is our God..."

January 02, 2011

Psalm 84, Revisited - M. Laycock

A friend posted a cartoon on Facebook the other day. The big dog is asking, “What exactly is a New Year’s resolution?” The answer made me chuckle – “It’s a to-do list for the first week of January.”

Like many people, I’ve been working on my to-do list, hoping it lasts a little longer than the first week of the new year. I’ve been pondering my writing life, assessing and setting goals and trying to decide what’s next. The sequel to my first novel will be released this year, and I know there is a long editing process yet to be done to bring that book to the marketplace, but once that is finished, I’ve been trying to discern what path I should take. I’ve been praying, and have asked others to pray, but so far no clear direction has been given. The options lay before me like juicy pieces of tropical fruit on a platter. I know all of them will taste good, all of them will be nourishing and all of them will bear more fruit according to their kind. But which one is what God wants for me?

I was getting a little tense because the answer wasn’t clear, until I remembered something I told my daughter when she was trying to make a decision about the direction of her life. I’d come across Psalm 84 and e-mailed verses 3 and 4 to her, because they struck a cord. I pulled out my Bible and read them again.

“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Ps. 84:3-4).
As I read those words I pictured those tiny birds flying high over the temple in Jerusalem. I thought about all that they would have seen and heard – the priests and believers coming and going to offer sacrifices, the songs sung in praise and worship, and above all, the presence of God in that place. I thought how true it is, even today, that we must nest close to the Lord and his people.

So many times God has told us this – stay close, let me gather you under my wing, hide yourself in me, abide in me. I think he said it so often because He knows how prone we are to not do it. We pull away so quickly; we find reasons to stay away, to our detriment.
It’s interesting that the very next verse talks not about resting in one place, but about those “who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” The principle is clear: You don’t have to stay in one place, or make any one decision, to stay close to the Lord. Whether we choose one path or another for our lives or our careers, as long as we stay close to the Lord, depending on Him for strength and guidance, praising and thanking Him, we will be in the right place. It was because those little birds were nesting in the courts of the Lord that they could fly high and far in any direction they chose.

So my prayer has changed from, “Lord show me what to do,” to, “Lord, help me to stay close to You.”

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