April 09, 2020

Unchanging by Steph Beth Nickel



An earlier version of this post first appeared on Janet Sketchley's blog, Tenacity.

Livestreaming church services. Economic upheaval. Social distancing. Self-isolation. Pandemic.

It’s what we talk about. It’s what we think about. It’s what we pray about—when we can muster the energy to pray.

It seemed like a very good time to focus on some of those things that never change.

Here are 11 things to consider:

We are called to be outwardly focused.
As Christians, we’ve known this all along. But true confession time … Until recently, I didn’t realize just how self-focused I was. Do I really do what I do to 1) honour God and 2) bless others? I want these goals to be my motivation, but too often they haven’t been. These days provide the perfect opportunity to ask God to refine our motives. (All the while, we must extend grace to ourselves and remember that self-care isn’t necessarily selfish or self-centred. See below for further encouragement in these areas.)

There are always opportunities to minister to others.
Even now, there is so much we can do to bless others: post something encouraging on social media; pick up the phone and check on a senior who doesn’t have access to the Internet; offer to drop off groceries to someone who is apprehensive about venturing out. Even with social distancing, there is much we can do for one another.

Turns out our parents and Kindergarten teachers were right; it is nice to share.
This truth needs no explanation except to say there will be people who need financial assistance, a kind word, and/or a smile today. If we have the opportunity, let’s be generous with what we have and trust the Lord to provide for our needs.

We need one another.
Of course, this is another truth we’ve known all along, but it’s crystal clear with the current situation. Kindness and acts of service are crucial. There may be restrictions as to how we can help, but we certainly need one another.

Our healthcare workers need our prayers—as do our government leaders.
There has never been a more important time to add our government leaders and healthcare workers to our prayer list. With the everchanging information about this virus that is circulating—even among the professionals—it’s difficult for them to know what the right thing to do is. They need the Lord’s wisdom and protection. (If you're either a healthcare professional or a government worker, thank you so much for your service!)

During difficult, uncertain times, we have Someone to turn to.
We’ve all gone through difficulty in our life: illness, loss, economic hardships … God was faithful then, and He’s faithful now. When we’re confused, overwhelmed, and struggling to make sense of it all, God invites us to draw near to Him, promising that He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

God loves us.
Don’t you love the fact that the Bible teaches not only that God is loving but also that He is love (1 John 4:7)? We can rest assured of His love when things are going well—and when a worldwide pandemic has changed so much.

God was not taken by surprise.
When the world changes overnight—and sometimes, hour by hour—we don’t feel equipped to keep up. Could any of us have seen ourselves in this situation two months ago? I know I couldn’t. Still, God wasn’t taken by surprise. And whether or not we feel prepared to face the days ahead, He’ll see us through.

No matter what happens in our world, we can rest assured that God never changes.
This is, perhaps, the singular truth that sees me through each day. While my life hasn’t changed all that much, I still sense the heaviness of this new reality. I can vegetate on the couch and watch Netflix and sleep more than usual—or I can trust in our unchanging heavenly Father and seek to accomplish the tasks He has set before me.

We are called to extend grace—to others and to ourselves.
The word should can cause big problems. Of course, the Bible lays out hundreds of clear Shoulds and Should Nots. However, when it comes to facing our current, unprecedented situation, we must be careful how we seek to impose our convictions—even God’s—on others. Even as believers, there are many times we’d be in big trouble if it weren’t for the Lord’s grace and Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. We must remember that many of the people we interact with do not know Jesus as Saviour, which I believe provides the opportunity for us to show them we are Christians by our love—not our judgment.

There is a balance between self-sacrifice and self-care.
We can find several examples in the Scriptures that indicate that we are to put others’ needs ahead of our own. At the same time, we must remember that, unless we care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, we will soon have virtually nothing to offer those the Lord has brought into our life.

May we prayerfully seek God’s perspective in this uncertain times, as in all others.

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor (among other things). Steph is a regular contributor to HopeStreamRadio. She and Paralympian Deb Willows are working on a follow-up to Deb's memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. During these uncertain times, Steph is thankful for the new opportunities the Lord is bringing her way. You can connect with her on Facebook, where she spends far too much time: https://www.facebook.com/stephbethnickel

April 08, 2020

A Time of Rest By Vickie Stam

I can build a relationship with fear faster than a plane can take flight or I can let it develop slowly and more methodical. Either way, God doesn't want me to fear.

God knows how vulnerable people are in the midst of a crisis. He wants us to lean on Him.   

Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid, I put my trust                                                       in you." NIV  

This past winter, my husband and I were snow-birding in Florida. Life down south was moving along at a busy pace when the coronavirus broke. Conflict and confusion arrived right behind it. People everywhere were talking about it including Tony and I. It's an automatic response to a crisis.

Do we go home right now? Are we safer here? Do we drive? Do we fly? What do we do? The questions mounted. Our friends opinions were divided. Some were adamant that they were staying while others were planning to leave ASAP and after days of listening to the news I felt my level of fear building. Suddenly, I too wanted to go home.          

A few days later we packed up the truck and drove our usual route on the I-75 north. The highway was quieter than normal. The rest areas were less than sociable. People seldom made eye contact. Whispers among people traveling together were barely audible. No one touched the doors of the facilities and everyone kept their distance as advised. There was a blanket of truth in the air - an undeniable fear of catching Covid-19. The tendency during any crisis is to become all consumed by it and this was pretty obvious. 

As I am writing this we are now on day eleven of our isolation period back home in Ontario. I must admit that I feel more at peace, less fearful now that we are back in our native land. Seeing the world being dominated by this crisis has many of us on edge. In a time when we are forced to slow down, stay home and refrain from socializing we're finding life difficult. Many of us have devoted our lives to busyness. 

There are blessings in the storm, maybe not ones that we can see as of yet but we will. For some of us it leaves emotional scars that will need time heal while others might be enjoying a much needed time to re-establish our family life.

Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom."

The world feels different right now but God is still the same. God will take care of us. He will provide for us. We can use this time to draw closer to him and rest in him. Use this time for what is good. Notice what you have been missing in life. God wants us to depend on him. 

When I feel my circumstances spinning out of control I need to lean on God and trust that he will provide enough for today and tomorrow - trust that he has all my fears in the palm of his hands. 

April 07, 2020

Bread Brings us Home by Pamela Mytroen


 



It’s amusing to discover what humanity holds dear when the sand shifts beneath our feet and we scramble, searching for solid ground on which to stand. Certainly the charade of ‘Charmin’ hoarders comes to mind, but have you also noticed that flour and yeast are in short supply? We turn to the basics, the things that speak comfort and security, and what could be more universally comforting than bread? Whether rye or sourdough, Nann bread or challah, flatbread or bannock, tortilla, or pretzels, hardtack, lavash, bagel, or taboon, gluten-free or traditional, we find our rhythm as we mix and stir. During this season we are folding and rolling, gathering and kneading, around and around. The yeasty aroma swirls about the kitchen and out the door, beckoning all who hunger. Bread brings us home. And when we gather to eat, we long to be filled and satisfied. Do we realize how broken we are? Do we see ourselves collapse at the table? Do we get a glimpse of how we cannot even crawl through another day without nourishment to heal and strengthen us?  
I remember walking home from school and the yeasty aroma of fresh bread invited me, enticed me, up the driveway and into our home. The poorest of peasants is the richest of kings sitting at a table before a slice of my mom’s bread, slathered with butter and raspberry jam. Or thick cream, spooned from a quart sealer, dolloped on a steaming slice and topped with a spoonful of brown sugar. 
It is simple fare, easy to make, with a few ingredients, and satisfies the most basic nutritional need. Every culture depends on some type of grain that at the very least keeps them alive and provides a daily rhythm of feeding their souls and finding sustenance, and at the very most is styled into an elegant glazed and breaded design fit for a queen on her wedding day. 
But at its beginning, bread was never intended to be fancy, but food, just food for the famished and for the family. How like Jesus. Jesus never came to be admired, but to be broken. He is for the body and the soul. He said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty” John 6:35 NLT. 
Jesus, like bread, claims to be foundational and essential for every culture and every people group. He is not fancy, but simple; not costly, but free. “You who have no money, come buy and eat! . . . Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:1 NIV.  He is not gourmet but oh so satisfying. 
My mom always wanted the crust of the bread. I don’t know if she was being thoughtful and allowing us to have the softer more pillowy slices, or if she really liked the crumbly crust, but Jesus is like that, as humble and unassuming when He calls Himself the Bread of Life. He could have called Himself Chicken Parmigiana or White Fish Provencal, but instead he compares himself to what would have been like the little boy’s offering of five small loaves – almost overlooked. In his listener’s minds he was a portable lunch you tossed your child as he ran out the door. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school. Fare to strengthen an army, durable for every road travelled, and tough enough to last the winter. An everyday constant taken for granted. Oh how humble is our gentle Jesus, and yet what a delight He is. We feast on His loving kindness. We survive only by His lavish grace. “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world” Psalm 31:19 NLT. 
“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavishedon us” Ephesians 1:7 NIV. 
Unadorned is the loaf that sits central on a table scarred by the trials and tragedies of its people. They come desperate, and the bread will see them through. There is no other way to take that which saves us from certain death; we must come starving if we want to be filled.  We live and breathe by grace alone, through the gut-cleansing fibre of forgiveness, which washes from us the cancers of our soul. 
This Easter I remember my Lord, broken for me. My sin crushed Him. There was no other way that I could be made whole. I stumble Home now, to that scarred table, and I take Jesus. I come desperate for forgiveness, starving for grace, and I stay for the Feast. I never want to leave, for He, the Bread, brings me back to Life.  
“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me,’ ” Luke 22:19 NLT. 
by Pamela Mytroen


April 06, 2020

What Have You Learned In A Pandemic by Bob Jones


This whole COVID crisis is sad, senseless, and at times, traumatic. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through trauma is to help them find the potential positive outcomes they can effect. What can you learn, in big and small ways, from this crisis?

I'm learning how often I touch my face. Now that I can't touch my face it's all I want to do - rub my eyes or scratch an itch or rest my chin on the back of my fist. Ugh. I’d like to know what you are learning. At the end of the post there is a way for you to join the conversation.

Look and Listen
Seeing the resiliency, tenacity and ability to pivot quickly in the leaders around me is inspiring. Bob Jones

Our comfort zone is not a growth zone. Les Paulsen

I’ve made an observation more so than learned anything. In places where you encounter other people I’ve noticed more eye contact, incredible respect for each other and distancing, and way more hellos from a safe social distance. Daniel O'Neill

How amazing people are. When we have had a need it has been met. And how great technology and internet is! Rebecca Pearse

I am learning that ‘waiting for it to be over’ translates into a lot of time wasted now that could be intentionally productive. Now that we are headed into Week 3, I’m starting to listen to what God is calling me to in this time, in this place rather than planning for a future activity He may not care about quite yet. Lori Masse Bourgeois

Aha Moments
I realized that we as Canadians say "how are you" in our greeting. But now I hear people actually asking each other how they are doing. Sounds very different. Charity Mongrain

Besides all the good points already made, I've noticed many family members of our residents who are, perhaps for the first time, gaining insight into what their parents went through, were traumatized by, and with God's help survived and thrived. Towards a greater understanding - for some their folks are already with the Lord, but there are 'aha' moments! Karin Laser Ristau

Relationships
I appreciate the people on the front lines of this battle. Nurses, doctors, police, fire fighters, people who work in grocery stores. We need to lift these people up in prayer. That God would continue to give them strength, protection, and provision for supplies. I say thank you. Angela Woods

Fruitful
I’m currently reading Chasing Vines by Beth Moore & it has been so timely because she’s writing about abiding in the vine. How the Bible uses the vine in so many scriptures. We are the branches grafted into the vine through Christ’s death & because of this, as we Abide in Him we can be assured that our lives can be fruitful. In all of this , let us “the church” be fruitful! Kathy Miller

I have learned how much I NEED a place of fellowship and worship. C.J. Godkin

I like to think that the old normal has passed away and He's doing a new thing - transformed normal. Moving us from normal to a new season, a new normal for the church and Canada to a transformed nation. New transformed normal not "back to normal" but drawing us to being transformed again by Him with a new zeal!! Lerena Greig

Grace is amazing!! Grace for one another - not only as a “global” concept but it the nitty gritty at home. It really helps!! Anita Pearse

APPLICATION: What are you learning? Please leave a comment below.

April 05, 2020

Adorning the Dark (Book Recommendation) by Brenda Leyland


Adorning the Dark
Thoughts on Community, Calling, and
the Mystery of Making

____________________________


Author: Andrew Peterson
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, 2019
Length: 200 pages
Paperback: $22.95Cdn | Kindle: $9.34Cdn
Subject: creative writing | creation (literary, artistic, etc.) | spiritual gifts




"Making something beautiful in a broken world
can be harrowing work. And it can't be done alone."
ANDREW PETERSON 


From the first glance, I knew it was going to be a treat to read Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson. That quote above, found on the back cover, resonated and pulled me in. The author, also a singer-songwriter, was new to me but the book promised a rich spiritual and literary experience. And that’s how it turned out to be upon reading it.

Part memoir and part handbook, the author delved into his own personal experiences and struggles starting out as a songwriter. In exploring the process and mystery of creativity, he assured readers the book was not just for musicians, but for people everywhere who have that inward calling, the deep desire to create beauty in a broken world. He also believes for that to happen, artists need a community that will help to 'nourish good and lasting work'. He talked about artists needing ‘resonators’, an idea Andrew gleaned from Diana Pavlac Glyer in her book Bandersnatch—a resonator being that person "who gets what you’re trying to do, who is moved by your work and will encourage you to keep fighting when the battle is long".

One area that artists often struggle with is the feeling of being unqualified to follow their deep desire to create. Andrew dedicated a chapter to the lesson he learned from J.S. Bach. When Bach began a new musical work, he would write ‘Jesu Juva’ at the top of his manuscripts. In Latin the words mean ‘Jesus, help!’ Peterson reminded his readers they’d be fools not to ask for aid. He considered there’s no better prayer for an artist to pray than "Jesus, you're the source of beauty, help us make something beautiful."

Andrew tells the story of how he used to hope one day to nail down the 'secret formula' to writing a great song, to make his future writing easier, less painful. One day after coming through a hard session with success, he thought he had it. But, according to his tale, the supposed formula so clear one minute faded away the next. Amnesia set in. As Andrew discovered, the next time he picked up his guitar or opened the notebook, he did so with fear and trembling, unsure how to proceed. He was starting from zero. He mused, ‘It’s a wonder anything ever gets done.’ Ha, as a writer, I’m relieved I'm not the only one. Apparently, it seems to be part of the mystery of creating.

Adorning the Dark is a joy to read. His writing flows like music—sometimes words sing off the page. I do like how Andrew shares what he’s learned from other well-known creatives, some who also resonate with me—not only J.S. Bach, but Dorothy Sayers, Madeleine L'Engle, Seamus Heaney, Rich Mullins, Mary Oliver, Frederick Buechner, to name a few. Andrew makes it clear that no one can make something beautiful for this broken world, alone. Artists need the community of others.

Not only is Andrew Peterson a successful Nashville singer/songwriter and fantasy novelist, he is the founder of The Rabbit Room, a ministry that ‘fosters Christ-centered community and spiritual formation through music, story, and art’. You’ll learn more on his website here: andrew-peterson.com/rabbit-room.




A long-time InScribe member, Brenda Leyland writes from her home in Alberta, Canada. Inspired by beauty, she connects with readers at It's A Beautiful Life and on Facebook.


April 04, 2020

A New Thing by Susan Barclay

New life, from the ashes
This is certainly a very different spring than any we have experienced in our lifetimes. Don't you agree? Has there ever been a more apt moment to recall the words of Charles Dickens as he writes the opening to A Tale of Two Cities?:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Coronavirus, Covid-19, pandemic, plague. Call it what you want, it has certainly brought us to the threshold of a brand new world. I hesitate to call it brave, though there are certainly shining examples of bravery from our front-line workers, those who seek to bring health and wholeness to the sick, weak and vulnerable, those who are doing their part to maintain essential services, and those who are being called upon to lead and govern at such a time. 

There are among us those who declare we are at the beginning of the end, that these are the last days, that it won't be long now before we have a cashless society, a one-world government. While we don't know the day or the hour - and can't - God tells us in His Word to look at what is going on and recognize the seasons (see Luke 21:5-36). Even though we're not to set dates (we only look, and are, foolish when we try), we're not to be ignorant or stick our heads in the sand. We're to be ready when Jesus comes for His bride, at all times watching, waiting, and eager (see Luke 12).

I'll be honest. I don't know if we're on the cusp of the seven-year Tribulation or not. Psalm 90:4 and Peter 3:8 both say that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord. From personal experience and Bible stories we know that our God is patient and long-suffering. We also know that at some point the end of the world will come. God is faithful to His Word and He has said that things will not go on as they have forever. His plans will be accomplished; He will bring His original creation to a conclusion and make a new heaven and a new earth. All will be righteously judged.

Regardless of whether or not this world will continue for a short time or a long time, I believe there is little doubt among believers that God is doing a new thing. Some would say He is shaking the earth, trying to get people's attention. I wouldn't disagree with this assessment though there are people in my own household who still resist the good news and persist in rebellion. Thank God for those  whose eyes and hearts are turning toward Jesus. And may God continue the hidden work He is doing in my children, the evidence of which I cannot yet see... 

It's also possible that God is demonstrating His patience with us, that He is using this crisis not just to get our attention but to bring renewal to our planet. I have read, for example, that pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have decreased as a direct result of efforts to control the spread of the virus, and I imagine that wildlife populations are having a chance to return from the brink of extinction or endangerment, and that habitats are being restored. Perhaps God isn't bringing the world to an end just yet, but revitalizing it so there is more time for prodigals and unbelievers to be saved. After all, He doesn't desire that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He made us in His image; He loves and cares for us.


Father, thank You for keeping us safe under Your wings. Thank You for Your love for us. You never leave us nor forsake us. Since You are for us, who, or what, can be against us? Thank You for the new thing You are doing in the world even through this pandemic. We all want it to end and many of us are praying for that, but I can't help feeling that if it ends too soon, we may all just go back to our old untenable and unsustainable habits. So Your timing, Lord. Your perfect timing. Help us to change in the ways that we need to. Help us to follow Your ways.

We ask also, God, that You would be with those who are particularly vulnerable, those who have immune deficiencies, diabetes, asthma. Give them special protection. Be with those who are in quarantine or in places like nursing homes where they can't receive precious visits from family. Comfort them with Your presence and reassure them of Your love. Be with those on the front lines, those working to bring health and wholeness to the sick, those racing to find an antidote or a vaccine. Strengthen them, give them wisdom and insight, keep them in health and peace. Be with those who know You and soften the hearts of those who don't.

May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Lord. Thank You that You are doing a new thing, whatever it is. Thank You that You are God and we are not. You are sovereign over all things, and all-wise. Thank You that we can trust You. Amen.
______________________

You can find out more about Susan Barclay's writing at www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com


April 03, 2020

Breathing in Spring at Easter by Lynn J Simpson


Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

There's a greenhouse just a five minute drive from my home. Not a greenhouse in a traditional sense as it is open year around with a restaurant serving organic greens and gluten-free treats, and gift galleries that change with the calendar celebrations.

Christmas time fills the floor with decorative trees and already overflowing shelves with ornaments, wreaths, and garland.

Approaching Valentine's Day more red and white candles, silk and real roses rest on bursting shelves of trinkets, jewels, and framed mottos.

At Easter, pops of pastel colours normally adorn the interior design with baby blue vases, soft pink stuffed bunnies, and sun set orange ribboned baskets.

Last year at this time, I remember walking past all this splendour in the greenhouse into another room unseen from the entry. And all my senses refreshed in a humidity that seemed to steam from the hundreds of cacti plants that rested on shelves against the walls, stood in tall pots in the corners, and were aesthetically arranged on round tables creating a centre aisle.

And I breathed.

I breathed in this place where not a ribbon or jewel or ornament occupied.

I stepped slowly scanning the various cactus plants, some barely two inches in length, some warped in their roundness, others gangly in their tallness. Some bodies plentiful with spines, others edged with scattered thorns.

mar14

And it was all so beautiful, in it's rawness, it's unadorned form.

What was it that drew me to this place where beauty and refreshment comes from the misshapen, the undressed? Where symmetry isn't and where thorns are exposed?

Maybe it was the stirring in me from a restlessness for that perfect place of ancestry, in a Garden where all was perfect, nothing hidden until tampered by temptation.

Maybe it was the stirring in me to remember, to be, to come exposed, scars, wounds, prickles, and thorns, no adornments that mask.

Because we are all so most beautiful, my darling, in our raw, unadorned form.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7




Come to the Cross by Michael W. Smith 


Lynn J. Simpson understands the need
for creating spaces for rest, renewal, and
transformation. She’s rarely without her
camera, capturing breathing spaces to
share. She’s published Breathing Spaces: A
21-Day Journal of Rest, Reflection and Renewal
and 30-Day Journal of Thankfulness,
Success & Joy, and contributed to Short
and Sweet Too (Grace Publishing, 2017).
Read Lynn’s musings on faith, hope, and
love on her blog (lynnjsimpson.com).




April 01, 2020

A Higher Perspective by Sandi Somers

Image by Pinterest
A month ago I prepared my blog for April, and then the world turned upside down as the Covid-19 pandemic burst upon us. Then on a personal level, my nephew Kevin passed away suddenly on March 18 of a massive heart attack.
Before all this happened, I was asked to write a devotional for our church’s Holy Week meditation, based on the Biblical lectionary readings.  The verse that caught my attention is a lesser-known quote of Jesus during the Last Supper with His disciples:
“The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him” (John 13:31).
Little did I know how much this devotional would speak to our world situation and my own need! (Thank you for your Lenten meditations in March which also ministered in my grief during this time!)
I share the devotional with you.

A Higher Perspective.
Image by Pinterest
Astronaut Chris Hadfield gazed down at the earth from the International Space Station in 2012-2013. He said later, “There was the Sahara, there was Lake Victoria and the Nile, snaking all the way up to the Mediterranean. Explorers gave their lives trying to find the source of the Nile, but I could detect it with a casual glance.”
 Hadfield's view of the earth is a vivid metaphor to describe the difference in view between Jesus and his disciples during His last hours on earth. While Jesus told them of His anticipation and glory on returning to His Father, the disciples were still fixated on their idea that Jesus would establish a kingdom on earth.
 During the next hours, how could the disciples square everything that contradicted their expectations of Jesus, as he gave Himself to those who betrayed, mocked, beat and crucified Him? They couldn't, because they didn't understand His higher perspective. They understood only later when they saw the risen Christ and received His commission to carry on His work.
 This difference in perspective speaks to us when our world comes crashing down. We experience hardship, pain and loss. We wrestle with what can appear to have no connection between our quandary and the faithfulness of God.
 God speaks into the outlook we need. "My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts," God told Isaiah (55:9). God knows the whole purpose of His plan, and we don't. He calls us to look beyond the complications of life and lift our gaze to His higher intentions. He will give us meaning in our brokenness and will strengthen our faith as we believe in the goodness of God.
How can you choose to praise God in the middle of a crisis?
How can you determine to trust God's higher perspectives and so glorify Him?
~ ~ ~
What Does Coronavirus Mean?
Painting by
Luigi Sabatelli 1772-1850
The word corona means “crown” in Latin. Under extreme magnification, the virus looks like a thorny crown; therefore, it is—quite literally—the thorny crown virus. This is Satan’s destructive counterfeit of Jesus’ crown. (Is it any coincidence that the virus is gaining/ becoming more vicious and worldwide during Lent and leading up to Easter—in an attempt to further take away the world’s attention from Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection?) Let us pray that God would strip this virus of its crown, end the pandemic and bring spiritual renewal.
Several years ago I discovered the background to the song, O Sacred Head Now Wounded which has a long history. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) wrote the lyrics, and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) composed the music. I love its deep meaning brought down to us through the centuries.
~ ~ ~
On Holy Week and Easter Sunday
For the rest of my blog which I prepared a month ago, I’m inviting you to engage in links to readings and music. (The readings from our bloggers come from our Easter theme in previous years.)
Marnie Pohlmann wrote about the events in Jesus’ life during each day of Holy Week, and then asked questions about her own walk with Christ.
In one of my sources for Lent, Peter Giersch helps us prepare for the evening of Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday morning, the time when the entire church year focuses like a laser beam on the center point of the Gospels: the passion and resurrection of Jesus.
Good Friday
Painting of himself by Rembrandt
Good Friday focuses our thoughts on Jesus’ sacrifice for us. From the Slice of Infinity (devotions from the Ravi Zacharias ministries), the writer discusses our pain in light of Jesus’ sacrifice  
Glynis Belec approached the death of Jesus from Mary’s perspective and her own as a mother in Awaiting Resurrection From a Mother’s Heart 
Bob Jones blogged about Jesus’ last words on the cross and how we can find hope and courage in these eternal words.
Holy Saturday
While we often consider Saturday as “the day in between,” Sharon Espeseth shared how the liturgy on Holy Saturday makes the transition from Lent to Easter, from the solemnity to eucharisteo of joy and thanksgiving.
Easter Resurrection Sunday
Image by Pinterest
Steph Beth Nickel brought the significance of Jesus’ resurrection into our lives and the lives of our loved ones in her blog, Waiting for a Miracle of Two
God bless you during this time.



March 31, 2020

Easter Reflections - guest post by Janice Mansell

Art by Hannah Lenz used with permission
While reflecting on Easter and the Lenten season preceding, I remember how I used to enjoy the Easter sunrise service and breakfast at church when our four children were young. I also remember that I didn't feel good leading up to events of the remembrance of the crucifixion. The actual aspects of it and when I later heard a detailed account of physical aspects of crucifixion, it sickened me to realize how brutal it was.

The hymn, 'He Arose ! ' became my theme and anchor as the Joy of the Lords’ Resurrection and sacrificial love filled my mind, soul and body. For me as a child, Easter meant a new outfit, and some coloured hard boiled eggs, that mom and dad hid so we could 'hunt for them'.  As far as the actual meaning element of Easter, there was some contact with one of mom's aunts who was a Christian, but she was considered to be too radical to be taken seriously.

Sometimes my dad took us to a nominal church that didn't preach a saving gospel. However, when I was 12, my oldest brother and I went to a rustic Bible camp in Northern Saskatchewan and on the strength of John 3:16, accepted Christ and got a lot of new rules to follow.

I don't remember being assured of God's loving presence or His intervening in our lives. Later on, my dad, then mom, gave their lives to the Lord, and we started to attend a Bible believing church when we could. There was a form of Godliness, but still I didn't know the power of God on my behalf.

When I first married, my husband and I "did the right thing,” and attended church regularly.I still often wondered about the cross of Easter, and what was good about God - the man who was brutally treated and crucified on ' Good Friday’?


A recent quote by J.I. Packer  in 'Knowing God'  made me reflect. He suggested for many unbelievers, the really staggering Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth was  God - made - man .. as truly and fully divine as He was human.  I wondered if, even though I have been a Christian for for 68 years now if I was still struggling with that understanding or not appropriating the blessing and power and forgiving love of this Saviour?
 
As for Lent, we have been unable to attend Easter services for many years and can't really identify the humble and worshipful steps and feelings that bring me to reverence at this time.
I know my God personally but often don't experience His presence in fellowship withothers. I know Christians are to uphold, encourage and help each other, but I feel at times to be  'on the outside, looking in' on the fellowship and absolute love that should flow because of the Christ who died and rose again triumphant.

The song ‘Up From The Grave He Arose!’ Is one where there lies my hope, joy and peace for time and eternity. Lent is not just about giving up, but also giving over all of ourselves and life experiences to God. I watch in wonder as others seem to have a genuine experience of being blessed in honouring God in these ways. Sacrifice of self and nurturing  my daily walk with Him has been important to me.

Although I know the importance of Good Friday and the resurrection that Easter represents I think the Christmas song,  ‘Ring Those Bells ' sparks more of a full response in my soul and lets my spirit soar with the limitless beauty of God's wild and gracious and giving love for His own.
________________

Janice Mansell has been writing for fifty years. She has come and gone from Inscribe since it originally started. A one time community correspondent she has spent the vast majority of her writing life chronicling the day to day, and memories.

March 30, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Reflections - Guest Post by Robert Stermscheg

St. Patrick’s Day is a special day indeed. Commemorating the day and its patron saint can be traced back throughout the centuries. It has particularly evolved over the last hundred years to include much celebration and revelry, but largely ignoring its foundation, that of introducing Christianity to its people. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world by all sorts of Irish adherents and revelers. Many cities and towns honour the venerable Saint by holding three days of music & culture festivals.
Even the use of green ribbons and shamrocks stems from as far back as the 1680s. It’s always been fascinating to me, how those of no traceable Irish ancestry can fit right in, taking full advantage of the regalia and celebrations. And then there are those add-ons over the years: the leprechaun, the pot of gold and the promise of good fortune. It’s interesting how these harmless oddities have over time been incorporated into the folklore and have slowly replaced the original meaning of the celebration: Christianity in Ireland
I’m not of Irish ancestry but I can appreciate how those that mark their calendar look forward with anticipation to March 17th and its festivities. As so often happens, I was looking for an anecdote in an old datebook and stumbled upon an entry that surprised me. During that particular week in 1984, I was quite sick – with the flu. There I was, off from work, fighting flu symptoms, in effect quarantined from neighbours and friends. As I read through my notes, it dawned on me how roughly 35 years later, people are experiencing something similar, but on a far more serious level. Whereas I contracted a common strain, a mild case of flu virus, that is not the case today.
Watching the news, it’s a sober reminder of the misery cruise passengers are having to endure these days. They’re dealing with a strain of corona virus – covid19. From what we (non-medical personnel) understand, this latest virus originated at an open-air market in China. Indicators vary, with some patients experiencing mild symptoms, while others like the elderly and infirm, quickly succumb to the disease and require hospital treatment. Sadly, death has factored into a few cases, a sober reminder of our human frailty.
Looking back to 1984, I was a young man and in good health. I was fortunate in that my fever and discomfort quickly subsided and that only three days later I was feeling normal and already back to work. I had no fears that the malady would linger, or worse, spread to those around me. What a stark contrast to what is happening today. The corona virus is indiscriminate and spreading rapidly, ignoring physical and political borders. To highlight one example, unprecedented measures are being taken by the Italian government in northern Italy, in an attempt to curb the spread of this highly infectious virus. People all over the region are frightened and rightly so. Yes, the circumstances don’t look great, particularly if you’re in the midst of an outbreak and are quarantined.
Basically, we have three choices: rebel, resign or surrender. Choosing to rebel is not a great option. In effect – I don’t care what others do, I’m going ahead with my plans. Resignation isn’t much better, e.g – life is hard and there’s no future. Surrender sounds similar but it really isn’t.  In summary: face the reality and surrender to God. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up.
            “We choose to actively trust God….and bow our stiff necks to Him. We don’t demand that God plays by our rules.”       Dr. Rob Reimer in DeepFaith   
So, what does all of this have to do with St. Patrick’s Day? I’d like to think that it’s a good reminder – an invitation if you will – to accept that there are lots of things beyond our control. But, like Saint Patrick, we can surrender our fears to God’s will and trust that He will see us through.
The pot of gold, even it were attainable, is fleeting at best and will not meet our deepest needs; only God can. A better way is to claim the psalmist’s promise:
               “He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2

March 29, 2020

Write For FellowScript and Congrats to Winners

FellowScript, InScribe's quarterly magazine, is one of the many benefits of membership in ICWF. It is a quality magazine full of tips, writing helps, stories, devotionals - and so much more. Our dedicated editorial staff are also always looking for fresh content... which is where YOU come in!

If you would like to write an article for FellowScript - and even get paid for it, send your submission to:
fellowscripteditor2@gmail.com with 'Submission' in the title.

For all guidelines, deadlines, upcoming themes and more, visit our website:
FellowScript Submission Guidelines

The deadline for the August is is on May 1. 

As well, a huge congratulations to the winners of this year's Winter Contest!

Nonfiction - Sharon Espeseth - “Publishing God’s Glorious Deeds”Poetry -  Kathleen Friesen - “Creativity”Devotional - Pat Gerbrandt - “Looming Mountains” 




March 28, 2020

365.24 Days of Lent - Bruce Atchison

To me, Lent is my year-round practice. Being one of those who esteems every day more or less the same, I try to avoid all the things which Christ and the apostles told us to eschew. Colossians 3:8-10 (BBE) is a partial list of what we must avoid, even unintentionally. "But now it is right for you to put away all these things; wrath, passion, bad feeling, curses, unclean talk; Do not make false statements to one another; because you have put away the old man with all his doings, And have put on the new man, which has become new in knowledge after the image of his maker;"

Even so, I sometimes slip, Railing at politicians and stupid people. My computer takes the brunt of my curses as well. I'm amazed that the paint on it hasn't blistered yet.

It's a good thing therefore that our Lord and Master forgives us when we slip back into old behaviour patterns. In 1 John 1:9 (BBE), we read, "If we say openly that we have done wrong, he is upright and true to his word, giving us forgiveness of sins and making us clean from all evil."

Imagine if a piano teacher tolerated no wrong notes. All the students would fail and the teacher would lose all his or her customers. Though our Lord and Master tolerates no sin, he's ready to forgive any of us who apologize and ask for his pardon.

I also want to be more caring toward people. It's hard for me since I've suffered so much verbal abuse in the past. That's why this part of what people call The Lord's Prayer greatly worries me. Matthew 6:12 (BBE) says, "And make us free of our debts, as we have made those free who are in debt to us." This "debt" is the wrongs which people do to us.

I must admit that there are some bad memories which I still struggle with. But prayer and letting the Lord deal with those miscreants and inconsiderate people who abused me has helped me let go of many bad incidents in my past. Romans 12:19 (BBE) reminds us to, "Do not give punishment for wrongs done to you, dear brothers, but give way to the wrath of God; for it is said in the holy Writings, 'Punishment is mine, I will give reward,' says the Lord."

Of course we still have our human urge to hold onto past hurts. That's like a certain English demolition expert who was called out to a farm because a woman found a stick of dynamite on top of the coal in the shed. When he picked up the stick, one end felt softer than the other. Then he heard a large dog barking from inside the house. He stood there, stunned that he was actually holding onto something the dog left behind. That stick is what our past hurts are like.

May we all let go of the messes of our past and let our heavenly Father deal with those who wounded us.

March 27, 2020

Releasing Control by Lorilee Guenter

Growing up, we did not observe Lent. Until the last few years, I did not even consider the meaning behind the tradition it was just something other people did. Since then, I have observed it sometimes. Most of them came with much struggle, human struggle. My struggle to be in control through this time, as with other times, reared its head. The more I strive and struggle on my own, the harder it becomes. Words get lost in the turmoil. Ideas hide behind walls. Everything becomes difficult.

During all my struggling a gentle voice calls  but I don't hear it unless I pause to listen:
"Come and rest. Come enjoy my company. Let me show you my grace and love through my sacrifice for you. Come let me remove your old ways of thinking. Let me heal you as I teach you. Come walk in my peace and power. Then my peace, love, grace and mercy can flow through you to others."

When I listen, when I step out of the way, the words return along with the peace. I stop overthinking and striving. I give up control and I gain peace. I gain ideas and words to share encouragement, to share story, and to share so much more.

As I wrestle this season with what it means to sacrifice and prepare, to remember the reason we celebrate Easter, I realise that control is something that I need to regularly release. I keep taking it back until I am once again reminded that His sacrifice is enough. I can trust the control of my life to the Lord  Jesus Christ and His Spirit at work in me. He is always enough.