Friday 28 May 2010

outer appearance VS heart


Matthew 19:23-26

The disciples were astonished to hear that it is very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, because, in their experience, the "righteous" people were the "religious" folks. And they were the ones who were wealthy enough to develop and parade their religiosity, so as to be perceived as righteous.

Don't we often see through those same eyes? We so easily assume that if people are "properly dressed" and "attend services regularly" and "give a lot of money" (which by the way, is not the same as giving generously, but that's another story) and "are involved in many church programs" and so forth, the they must be "righteous." At the same time we easily look down at people who don't fulfill those "religiously righteous" criteria.

And yet, many times people in poverty (or in chronic poor health, or suffering from depression, or disabled in some way, or "from the wrong side of the tracks") simply cannot meet the religiously righteous criteria. Truly poverty-stricken people spend their entire lives trying just to survive. And survival at that level can take a lot more effort and times than the jobs of many wealthy people. Also, because of their poverty, they often are not healthy enough to have the energy to "participate" very much. They cannot afford babysitters so they can attend and participate in events themselves. They are not well enough dressed (and often, not well bathed), and so they are looked down upon and snubbed by the religiously righteous, and thus are rejected from participating.

People in poverty also often have difficult underlying reasons for their poverty, such as mental illness, lack of education (do you have any idea how difficult it is to "be a good Christian" when you can't read?), or have been brought up in situations that have made it very difficult, if not impossible, to "fit it" with the "good, righteous crowd."

And yet my experiences with people on the street has shown me that many of them are open and willing and desiring to follow Jesus - just as those uneducated, smelly fishermen, Peter and James and John and Andrew, were - and Jesus eagerly calls them and accepts them - and they become faithful followers and disciples just as those men did. (It's instructive to remember that Jesus and His disciples lived outdoors much of the time, with pretty scrappy meals, and pretty much just the clothes on their backs. Can you imagine how they looked - and possibly smelled?)

Hmmm... perhaps it is easier to follow when you do NOT have riches and places of honor. Salvation, entering the kingdom of heaven, is truly impossible for mankind themselves to attain - and yet, if one has always been able to attain other things by money or effort, it can be very difficult to accept not being able to attain salvation those ways, too. Salvation has to come from God - who gladly accepts all who will believe in His Son Jesus, who IS THE WAY.

And Father never looks on the outward appearance, including both "looks" and "behaviors." A lot of people in poverty are seen as badly behaved, either in simple terms of "lack of refinement and manners," but also in terms of things like addictions, rough language, apparent unemployed laziness, stealing or begging their next meal. But Father looks right past that, to see hearts that are very often wide open to Him, that long for Him.

And at the same time, Father looks right past the "good, upright behavior" of well-dressed, well-spoken, highly educated, do-good people. And looking right past all that "goodness" or "religious righteousness," He too often sees hearts that are wrapped up in not only love of wealth, and self-righteous smugness and arrogance, but often far worse attitudes, desires, hatred... and worse.

People can change their outside.
Only You can change their hearts.
And the heart is what counts.
A changed outside does not change the heart.
But a changed heart changes everything!

Is the "established church" ready to equally accept those who are followers of Jesus, and yet are in poverty? It should be. But...

It has always been a problem, hasn't it?

Matthew 19:27-30

We may be called to leave everything of earthly value (even our own families) for Jesus' sake... but eternal life with Jesus will be infinitely worth it all. Small loss, enormous gain! Verse 30: "But many who are first will be last; and the last, first."

(Okay... I've been kind of wondering about the whole street ministry thing that I've been involved with. It has seemed lately as though my part in it (okay, my "involvement" in it ... maybe I have been "involved" more than "part of it" ... oh dear) has been kind of disintegrating. But maybe what's really needed is to let You change my heart, my attitudes, my arrogance, my presumptions and presuppositions...)

Oh Father,
Please cleanse my heart.
Thank You.

obtain eternal life VS enter into life

May 27, 2010

Matthew 19:
16. "obtain eternal life"
17. "enter into life"

Two very similar phrases - yet so different in meaning!

To "obtain eternal life" is to attempt to buy or otherwise purchase one's way into heaven.

To "enter into life" is, on the other hand, like going through a door, leaving the old behind, and stepping into a new way (and closing the door behind you).

Real life cannot be earned or bought.

Jesus is the way, the truth, THE LIFE.

The first is a preparation for the future, a kind of "fire insurance" for insuring life after physical death. The second is a total change starting now, a life continuing in the eternal present, from spiritual death to spiritual life, forever (even after passing through the eventual inevitability of physical death).

back to the beginning

May 27, 2010

Matthew 19: 1-9

The Pharisees "test" Jesus with questions about divorce. And He points them back PAST Moses and the Law, TO THE BEGINNING: to God's own intentions and purposes in creating mankind. The "permissions" in the Mosaic law were a reflection of the evil in men's heart, and the facts of where that evil had taken them in their relationships.

"What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." That applies to the church, too, doesn't it? In a myriad of ways! And it also applies to what we do WITHIN our marriages, too. We "separate" from each other in so many ways, without even thinking about it. No wonder we feel so much of the time that we lack one-ness, in our marriages, our families, our church families, and in all kinds of other relationships: friendships, work, even sports teams and organizations and such.

Verse 9: "...whoever divorces... except for immorality... commits adultery..." We "divorce" in the church, too, and even within the shell of our supposedly intact marriages. Oh dear...

Verses 13-14. "Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked Him. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

When I read these words, I "saw" street people, with all their problems, coming to Pastor P, the street pastor, and asking him to pray for and with them, and saw him bringing them, as little children, to You. And I remember that happening with me last summer, bringing them to you. And it seems to be that I have somehow lost that - and so has Pastor P to some extent - as we have gotten wrapped up in so much physical feeding (though some is good) and in the "politics" (oh dear) of setting up a registered society, and board meetings, and borrowing "church" space and such. And I am sure that that is what is drawing Pastor P BACK TO HIS BEGINNINGS, "walking down the streets" where he "belongs" - pastoring, SHEPHERDING Your children, pointing them to relationship with You. Wow! Father??

Street ministry - questions for Papa

May 27, 2010

Yesterday I went with K and Pastor P to Oliver to do barbequed hot dogs (and pigs-in-blankets and cow-patty-cookies) with the folks who come to the weekly food bank. We had lots of hot dogs and goodies - and every bit got eaten, very enthusiastically.

It's a different crowd there than here in Penticton, even though the communities aren't far apart. Quite a few young francophone Quebecers (ones who come out in the summer to work in the orchards and vineyards, and decide to stay), a lot more women than here, and overall, people of varying ages, including couples, moms with small children, all kinds of people. Pastor P barbeques out in front of the foodbank (and free stuff) place, and the crowd eats and visits while standing in line. It's a very friendly atmosphere, but Pastor P says the food bank was about to close down because of fights, drugs, etc, before he - and YOU! - came.

Pastor P was having a wonderful time with his family there. He was right in his element! These are people who are more often simply hard-up, rather than suffering from addictions, mental illness, and such. They live in a more rural community where jobs are fewer, and more seasonal, related to agriculture and tourism. They hang around longer, too, as they aren't rushing off to the liquor store or whatever. And of course they are there for the food bank, as well as for the barbeque, and especially for time with Pastor P and the family and You! Oh yes, another interesting difference: since the food bank is just open the one day a week, a lot of people from the community are dropping in with donations, so that's another kind of interaction. There really does seem to be a broader sense of community there.

Had a chat with K about my thoughts for "timing" for our Sunday street gathering time. This is a thing I've wondered about: when we do a big "feeding time" first, lots of people just "eat and run" ... and then we have clean-up time... and everything relational just seems to get fractured, and so the gathering to spend focused time with You seems to become almost an after-thought. People are tired, or have other things to run off to, and few stay. And we end up with maybe a quick little "teaching" (and not much discussion) - or even just decide to let it slide till next time. It wasn't like that at first; lots of people stayed and the discussion was great (but we didn't clean up first, we just started talking together, and there was still food and coffee available, and some people would carry on their own conversations, sitting on the other side, and others passing by would stop for coffee and decide to stay. But now it seems like we are under pressure to clean everything up first, which really seems to signal an "ending."

When I read in your word, like in Matthew 14:14-21 and 15:32-39, it looks like You spoke to the crowds first, Jesus, and then fed them. (In the early church, eating was very often part of the gathering time, but it really isn't clear in what "order" (if any in particular) eating and more formal meeting took place (and the meeting wasn't formal according to our standards, apparently!). Anyway, I was wondering if maybe we just had coffee available at the start (and maybe some light snacks, fruit slices for example) and had our prayer and discussion and such then, and then begin the barbeque or pancakes or whatever when more people have gathered in - and by then, people would maybe have questions from the discussion which was already happening, or at least more of a sense of Your Presence (because a lot of them are new believers, or don't know You at all), and we could really share You while we mingle during the eating time... and maybe people would feel more like it was a "family" kind of gathering instead of a "soup kitchen" and maybe more of them would hang around, and after the food was finished we could maybe continue on with discussion and such?

Maybe it doesn't really matter "how" or "when" though. Maybe I just need to have my own heart better prepared. I know I don't spend enough time "up front" with You. Maybe now that it's nice now, weatherwise, I could go really early and sit there and spend time with You ... and other early arrivers could join us (You and me!) if they wanted. And maybe we also need to have more "community" prayer at the beginning... What I remember from earlier times was that several people prayed. And then we'd have more prayer after awhile when more people arrive. Now it seems like just one, or at most two people pray at the very start, and anyone else who is there just listens...

I do think our big rush to "clean up before service" is a problem, though. I suppose maybe we do it because we are using "borrowed space" in a "church" yard, and maybe some of the church folks feel uncomfortable if we don't have everything all tidied up by the time they arrive for their morning service. But Father, I'm wondering - how far do we go to "accomodate" their "comfort zone"? They want us to be there, they see us as their "mission," but they do seem to want us to do things in their terms quite a bit. Father?? Can you please guide us in how to respond to this situation? Change our hearts, if they need changing (they always do, of course...). Maybe we just have to stop depending so much on their "facilities"? It seems like the street family are happier over at the park, anyway, even if it means they have to walk a distance to public washrooms, and the coffee is in thermoses and not as hot and fresh! (Okay, I'm happier there, too, I admit... And Papa, I do NOT want this to be all about me. If it is, please show me... and change me... please? thank You!) (Your will be done!)

Well, Father, it's already 6:30 am and I do want to get to Your word before it's 7 am and I need to make breakfast for hubby. I have been hearing from You already, of course, but I want to make sure that what I am "hearing" is from You, lines up with Your recorded word, not just (or even mixed up with) "my" thoughts.

Oh... and You know I always love to really "hear from You," personally... but I seem to get in a hurry and not stop to really listen. I think I have to get to sleep by 8 pm so I can get up earlier!

Good morning, Father! (just chatting with Papa, pretty much undistracted)

May 27, 2010

Good morning, Father!

I am waking pretty consistently at 6 am-ish without the alarm clock - and getting to sleep about 9ish. Getting 9 hours of sleep (or a bit less) most of the time. Guess that is what I need - though I am not getting enough walking, exercise, good eating - and I keep forgetting to take my vitamins. I have to change that! Also, I need to drink lots of water, and stop inhaling all the coffee and hot chocolate, which have become a bad habit during all those cold summer mornings outdoors at the street ministry.

And I do need to schedule better. Especially my priority: time with You, top of the morning. If I go downstairs, I get distracted immediately: tidying up, making breakfast, baking, doing laundry... and that dang computer! Yikes!

I need to stay up here in my room, where I have quiet, and fresh morning air coming through the wide open window, and bird songs in the background. Oh - and very few distractions!

Of course it only happens when hubby is at work. On his nights off, I can't do this. Story of my life! I used to complain about it when he was out of town working for 4 weeks - and then home for 2 weeks. Two weeks without quiet, alone time with You. Now I complain if he's at work 4 nights running, and then home 2 nights. Two mornings without quiet, alone time with You...

Oh boy. I should just get used to it (2 mornings is, after all, easier than 14 mornings!). Or find a creative alternative. Of course, I fully planned to have the "spare bedroom" as a comfy, private space for sewing, office work - and focused, quiet time with You. But so far, it's been my 20-year-old son's cave, aka bedroom. Well, we did put up the gazebo 3 days back. Now if it wasn't suddenly so gray, chilly, and very soggy outside! (I guess I could wrap up in a blanket, eh...).

Speaking of soggy, yesterday it was raining (well, raining for here - other places it would probably be considered sprinkling) and I was outside, and took a deep breath - and I smelled and pictured Haida Gwaii. Which goes to show that we have nonetheless had more rain lately than we are used to. I love that smell!!!

I have actually not written much for so long (well, several days - long for me), that now that I've gotten started, my pen is just flying across the page. Another distraction from focused time with You? Papa?? Or maybe not. I know You want me to write. And it seems that it is when I am focusing on You, that is when I get most inspired to write! I've been doing a lot of research on social networking on the webs, and on the techniques and art of blogging - but I need to DO it, not just soak up knowledge. And when I'm with You, it seems like I am learning and doing at the same time! Wow! Thank You!

Father, I also wanted to mention: I still am confused about what You might want me to focus on, writing-wise. I think You may have provided one "narrow down" yesterday, as my daughter asked me to make our "family stories" less publically accessible. I still do want to finish that project, writing our family stories - and I could do that quite easily by simply writing a new anecdote in about 15 or 20 minutes a day. But I think I will have to make that site for assigned readers only (I've already taken it off access for search engines). So anyway, family stories won't be my writing focus. Also, that means that my "novelization" of the Mother's Journey site needs to really be a novelization! (Even though I didn't put names and dates in it in its present form). So that's a help, too! Thank You, Father! I got that Novel Under Construction site started, but then wasn't sure how to proceed. So for sure that is direction from You - thank You!

Okay, I think those are the main things I needed to get down before I "lose" them. Yes, I should make notes along the way! I have, actually, but I don't always see my scattered notes as "writing." The thing is, when I post, it doesn't have to always be straight from my journaling, does it? It can be from my "notes" and I can just develop it as I post.

Speaking of notes, I'm getting curious about how You'll be using the research notes I'll be taking, because I really to believe that You are directing me on what to take notes on.

Oh yes, and I am more and more interested in really exploring the de/un-schooling and de/un-churching things in combination. That's an approach I haven't seen much of. Papa, what is "dichotomy?" That word just popped into my head... Let's see..."a splitting of a whole into two non-overlapping parts." Hmmm... yes, that fits. School and church have so much in common - and yet we have really split them into totally separate things - well, we do that in all kinds of aspects of our lives. Maybe, along with "de-" and "un-" schooling and churching, we ought at the same time to see how we can bring those back together (not to mention making them integral parts of our entire lives, our entire walks with You). (The word "dichotomy" came from You, didn't it? I mean, I've heard it before, but never really thought of it in this kind of sense ... and then I ask you for guidance in what to pursue in my writing - and "up pops" a word that presents amazing possibilities - must be from You! thank You!

Saturday 22 May 2010

Canadian Authors Who Are Christian: When the Words are Gone - Hogg

Canadian Authors Who Are Christian: When the Words are Gone - Hogg

stepping stones or stumbling blocks?

May 22, 2010

Sometimes it is better to be a bit flexible rather than totally stuck to a schedule (no matter what the wise men say!) This morning for example...

I "should have" gone straight to my "focused time with Father" this morning. BUT...

I decided to check my email first (the entrepreneurial guru-types always say to leave that stuff till after your "work" is done!). As I did it, I was "feeling rather guilty" - and yet I was really okay with it at the same time! And - well, I ended up having a wonderful time with Father, reading the "Words from the Creator" as well as some other things posted on the daily Tribes of Christ e-group email. Some of the postings are perhaps more "traditional native beliefs/ connection to Creator and creation" understandings... and I was thinking, well, Father could probably use those as stepping stones of understanding for those He is drawing, those who are seeking Him.

Some folks might - okay, do! - think that stepping stones like that are actually dangerous, because the people on them might just stay there (or even fall off into something "worse, wrong, evil..."). But Father, You are in charge, and You know when stepping stones are helpful, and You are there, holding our hands and helping us find the way.

I decided to copy a couple or three of today's postings into my facebook notes, and share them with my friends... which I did, after actually getting to my more formal "time with Father in His word"! And then I thought more about this whole matter...

I read in Matthew 17:27 "However, so that we do not offend them..." and it occurred to me that while we aren't under the rules and regulations of the law or of religious tradition (yes! we're free!), maybe we still need to be careful about "offending" those who are still operating under them?

In chapter 18:6-7 we read, "whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling blocks come!"

I don't want to be a stumbling block - and I think that this is is one of those cases where we do need to avoid offending - when we deal with those still caught up in law-bound religion.

1 Corinthians 8:9 (and verses 10 to 13) follow up on this: "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."

And I was still thinking about this whole stepping stone or stumbling block thing, when I was trying to decide about posting some of the Tribes of Christ stuff to my Norma J Hill facebook page.

Some of the postings on Tribes of Christ are clearly "Christ-centered" - although I suppose that even those ones might be puzzling or even "offensive" to those who believe thier own (non-native) cultural ways are somehow definitively Christian and should be observed, while other cultural expressions should be suppressed.

Still, there are other postings on Tribes of Christ which are "apparently" less "Jesus-centered." I'm sure a lot of people (yes, mostly non-native) could quite easily construe those posting as "new-age" or "native religion."

Oddly, though, I can't picture my native friends, even those who are "anti-Christian" because of residential school and similar experience, being offended or even caused to stumble or led astray (except perhaps for a few who have really bought into, or been forced into, white-man-cultural-Christianity-religion.)

Actually, I think maybe some of the postings might be a stumbling block mainly to non-natives who are dabbling in new-agey type spirituality, as they might interpret the posting as new age spirituality, and feel that their beliefs are being verified by the postings. (New age and native spirituality are NOT the same...)

Most native people I know would understand the postings as being written by native people who are honestly exploring their understanding of and relationship with Creator - and, if they have already encountered Jesus, or at least been "taught" about Him, as trying to understand how traditonal beliefs and knowing Jesus are related, and where Jesus really stands in their spiritual experience.

(I also suspect that "knowing Jesus" - rather than just knowing about Him - and welcoming Him to the center or core of their lives, is easier for those who already (from their traditional beliefs) already understand Creator to be at the center, and who have accepted a life that is, in all aspects, bound up in and permeated by relationship with Creator. Sadly, however, in too many cases, we (non-natives) have presented native peoples with "knowledge of Jesus" that actually is a stumbling block, and in direct contradiction to their understanding of and life experience in, relationship with Creator.

Well, of course, many of us non-native people have also suffered from this "Jesus-teaching" which does not line up with our innate need for relationship with God; nor with the Jesus we read about in scripture, and who is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit when we are in relationship with God - the real Jesus who loves us and longs to be united with us in His love...

(Does anyone "get" what I am trying to say?) (And yes, this is particularly important to me because my husband - and children and grandchildren, and many, many relations - are native themselves. And I am part of their family and life. And I need to understand!)

(Papa?? Thank You...)

Friday 21 May 2010

Caution! What truth?

21 May 2010

Matthew 16:5-12
Jesus tells His disciples to beware of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees - that is, of their teaching. Back in Mt 13:33 Jesus showed that a little leaven, hidden in a large amount of flour, works through that flour (almost invisibly) until the whole amount of flour is leavened (and thus changed, transformed). Just as a very small amount of true teaching - the teaching of the Kingdom of heaven - can can a very large, wonderful, life-giving, life-transforming effect ... so can a very small amount of false teaching have a very large, dangerous, destructive, death-bringing effect.

So CAUTION! Father I do not want to spread false leaven - but only the leaven of Your kingdom. Open my eyes, ears, heart, Lord, to YOUR TRUTH! Please do not let me be taken in by the teachings of men!

Jesus talked a lot about this in Mt 15:1-20 as well.

Jesus' disciples BROKE/TRANSGRESSED/INVALIDATED the traditions of the elders (handwashing before eating) BECAUSE food from unwashed hands does not defile a man (spiritually), but rather what defiles is the evil that comes from man's heart. THEREFORE, VALUE matters of the heart/spirit: what God values!

The Pharisees BROKE/TRANSGRESSED/INVALIDATED the commandments/word of God (honoring parents) BECAUSE they wanted to maintain their traditions. THEREFORE, THEY VALUED the traditions/ precepts of man more than the heart of God! AND YET, THEY CONSIDERED THEMSELVES ULTRA-RIGHTEOUS AND BELIEVED THAT THEY WERE HONORING GOD AND THAT HE WAS PLEASED WITH THEM.

Verses 8 and 9 in Matthew 15 quote Isaiah's prophecy: "This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." And Jesus warned (v 13), "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted." He called these religious leaders "blind leading blind" - and both falling into a pit!

Back to Mt 17, verse 16 "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This truth was revealed to Peter by Father God - And it flew in the face of all the expectations and preconceptions of the elders, chief priests, scribes!

In verse 23 we see that Jesus would not accept any "truth" unless it was God's truth. He was committed to God's interests alone - not the interests of man, even when those human interests could "save him" from the terrible persecution and death by crucifixion which he knew was coming.

This makes me ask: What are my motivations? Why do I accept certain "truths" and reject others? Am I really committed to what God wants? Or do I have my own agendas? Am I possibly being influenced by the agendas of others (including others who seem to be righteous leaders? Peter was a committed Jewish man who had always followed the "rules" - and yet when He encountered Jesus, and God revealed His truth to Peter, Peter ended up rejecting the "truths" of the "elders" which he had always accepted and believed in and followed. Have I, am I, following "doctrines of man"? Am I sure about the purity of my motives? Am I certain that what I have been "taught" is really from God?


Father, I want to follow YOU, alone! I want only YOUR way. I want only THE TRUTH.

No matter what it means to my "life" here and now.

I recognize that Your way is not the world's way. I recognize that while I live in this world, following Your way will fly in the face of the world's way - even when, maybe especially when, that way has been absorbed and accepted and acted upon by those who are in positions of "religious leadership," and by the organizations and institutions that claim to (even really believe they do) represent You.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called to (v25) deny self, take up my cross, follow Jesus.

I may well be called to (v26) lose my earthly life for Jesus' sake - but in doing so I will gain eternal life with You. (The world of course sees this as foolish, as they do all they can to "save their lives" (and institutions and traditions and doctrines of men) - and yet in the end, they lose life with You.

And in that there is certainly (v27) NO PROFIT - even though their aim is always their own profit! "To gain the world but to forfeit your soul" is the greatest loss possible.

Who and what and why do I believe? I want THE TRUTH! Please!

Thursday 20 May 2010

an amazing wonderful word from You, for me - for us! Thank You!

19 May 2010

Dear Jesus...
I am reading from Matthew, about You - and I am just praying right
now that I will heart Your words, Your Spirit, speaking to me in this

(I don't want to sound demanding, but I would sure love to hear Your
voice in one of those "My child" conversations we used to have...

Please? Your will be done, of course! :-) Thank You!)

Norma, My child,

For so many years you have asked Me - begged Me - to draw your
husband into My arms.

This is one of those drawing times.

I am unfolding My will and My purposes into his heart - and life.
You will be able to watch his very heart open and bud and bloom like
a beautiful flower, like a rich, deep-toned tulip opening to My sun,
My light.

Yes, it is My word that is warning you, cautioning you, (requesting
you!) (with love!) to hold back your own worries, thoughts, ideas ...
your planning ...

and to just be peaceful and quiet and accepting, affirming, loving...
letting him step into My plans for him without making him feel he is
being "irresponsible" or looked down upon or disapproved.

His heart is fragile. He longs to be approved, to be a man that you
can be proud of.

Yes, over the years I have been softening his heart, breaking down
the walls, healing the hurts of his childhood, the pain of his entire
people. And preparing him to step out boldly! and confidently! into
the work I have planned for him.

He needs you alongside, loving him, supporting him, affirming him,
lifting him up and bringing encouragement, hope, joy, into a life
that has been so unsure, afraid of what I might ask that he could
never fulfill it.

He can't, of course, on his own - that is the way I do things! He
needs to learn to depend on Me just as you have needed to learn - and
still are learning.

(You also have a way to go, of course, but you know I am with you...)

He needs to see I am with him, too - and when he sees you stand
alongside him, loving, approving, encouraging, sharing, caring, he
will see that I too am there with him.

You are his helpmeet. I have given you to him, and him to you, a
gift to each other, to walk together with Me,to do My will, fulfill
My purposes, lead others - yes, your children! and their families!
and all the others you have loved and prayed for, to Me.

And others, too. Others I will send into your lives for you to love
and lead and care for together.

Now you will start to experience marriage as I intend it to be,
centered in Me and reaching out to the family I have given you and to
a much larger, greater family, who are waiting for you to be their
parents, to love them and to lead them, shepherd them, My flock, to

Can you do that? For Me? With Me?!? Can you? Will you? No matter
where I take you, both of you? Are you ready to step on, on mission,
on adventure, with Me?

Keep trusting Me. Keep your heart - and your eyes and ears - and
your hands, too, open to Me. I will lead! I will provide! For all
your needs!

I will pick you up and carry you both in the places where you cannot
walk, cannot stumble, even one more step, on your own. Just let
everything go and trust in Me. I am all you need. I am your All.

Be Mine. Always. I really do love you - both! You are both mine
and I am walking with you, loving you, upholding you, caring for you,
teaching you, carrying you, leading you, providing for all your
needs, every step of life's journey - until you join me, both of you,
in the beautiful celestial city, in the mansion (or perhaps the cabin
by the sea!) that I am preparing for you.

(I know what you need and desire and long for. And yes, I do give
good gifts to My children!)

I love you both. You are mine! I am hugging you right now! Hug Me,
hold onto Me, cling to Me. I will never let you go - so don't ever
let go of Me!


Thank You, Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Thank You.
I don't know what else to say...
I ask for just a little word from You -
and You give me so much more -
present peace,
future assurance,
hope, joy,
laughter! :-) dancing laughter!
Thank You!!! Amen!!!
Amen!! :-) Thank You!

(Help me! Please! To follow You, obey You,
honor You -
and to love, obey, and honor my dear dear husband too - 100%!!)
(Or maybe even 110% to make up a bit for what I haven't, in the past,

eh... :-' )

Thank You!

[And then I read "today's reading" from Matthew 14 ... and I wrote
... Oh my goodness! This is all about Your provision and miraculous
power and how You uphold (and rescue) Your children - even when they
doubt and begin to sink! Wow! Thank You, Lord, for this confirmation
of the words You have been speaking to me! Wow! Again! Thank You!!!


Wednesday 19 May 2010

Adventurous day!

What a day!  Changes in family employment (sudden and unexpected), toilet plugged and flooded our house upstairs and down… and some wonderful comments on my blogs which really encouraged me on an adventurous day that would have sent me into a tail-spin, before I came to understand that Father really, truly loves me, and has everything under control! 

Blessings to you all!


aka penandpapermama

From: Posterous []
Sent: May 17, 2010 5:44 PM
Subject: Posterous | Re: Untitled

Posted via email from penandpapermama's posterous

if you are a believer, then you are called to minister!

(This is a response I made to an item someone posted at, encouraging women who hear God "calling them to ministry" to step out, get training, and go for it. While I understand what the writer was saying, at the same time I wanted to respond, because so many women (and men!) have been discouraged, thinking that because God apparently hasn't "called them to ministry" they are somehow inferior. Anyway, the following are my thoughts!)

Ministry is service. All believers are called to full-time serving - ergo, full time ministry! I realize you are referring to the "profession" of ministry... but I'd just like to suggest that if we offer ourselves to serve (which we are all called to do!) then God will provide for our needs.

It is possible that He might provide by putting one in a "paid position" in a church or para-church organization, or whatever ... but I'd just like to encourage everyone to serve wherever you are at any moment, keeping your eyes, ears, heart open to see what God is doing and how you can be part of that.

A mother at home, with "no income," for example, is definitely in full-time ministry, as she brings her children up to love and serve Jesus! In fact, she is just as much in "ministry" as is a woman who is a "pastor" of a "mega-church!" Same with a woman working at McDonalds flipping hamburgers, as she shows the love of Jesus to her fellow employees. And so on.

Women are often discouraged because it seems there are often so "few ministry opportunities" for women - and in some "Christian" groups, no "paid" positions at all! And yet, every woman (man, child...) who serves Jesus and others day in and day out, is in fact ministering!

This is not to discourage you from taking opportunities to develop and use the specific gifts (for example, teaching or preaching) God may have given you in those kinds of ministries, but if your gifts are in helps, hospitality, or any other kind of serving, remember that ALL the gifts are of great value, and all are needed and valued in God's kingdom, and in the church (the body of all believers, and specific gatherings of believers). Where two or three are gathered together! Even your little family gathered around the kitchen table!

God loves you and He has given you the PERFECT gift to match YOU! After all, He created you - and He has a purpose for you that is just as important in His eternal plans as His purpose for any other believer! So go forth and minister - who ever you are! Go forth and serve! Love God and love others, because He loves you!!!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

and a more "traditional" conversation with Papa ... or maybe not so traditional, after all...


18 May 2010

Father, I am reading the parables of Jesus in Matthew 13.

And I have to admit that the more I read them (through time), the more puzzled I become… and even the less I seem to understand.

Maybe I never really “understood” them to begin with. I could “parrot” the parables (stories) themselves. I could “parrot” Jesus’ own explanations about them. I could even “parrot” the “explanations” of pastors, teachers, commentators, etc.

And I often thought that was enough: I thought that “parroting” knowledge was “understanding.”

But now, it seems like I have questions all the time! Doubts about what I’ve “understood” (or possibly misunderstood!) in the past. Wonderings: How does that fit in with what else I know – or at least, thought I knew – of You??

Oh Father: I need YOU to really teach me. To really open my eyes and ears and heart. Father, I want to “know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” to “have an abundance,” to “be healed” by You from my arrogant small mind and my self-righteousness, and my independence from You, and from my lack of compassion, and so on…

Can I ask some questions?

Verses 1 to 17 (of Matthew 13) say that those who hear have been GRANTED to know the mysteries of the kingdom, and already having, will be GIVEN more – while those who don’t hear will NOT BE GRANTED, and will have what little they might have, TAKEN AWAY from them.

Why do You “grant” to some and not to others? How do You decide? Do some people then have no “choice”? Is that part of the whole “predestination” thing? The choice of the “potter?” What about fairness??? I mean, I know none of us are “deserving” – but are some “more undeserving” than others? (oh boy, are these “bad” questions? Papa????)

Further down, it says that the people You will heal are those who “see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and return…” It almost sounds like some kind of “deserving” … Or that really, we do have a choice.

But at what point? The reason I ask that is because in verses 18 to 23 Jesus tells us about different levels (or responses or ??) of “hearing the word of the kingdom.”
- hear but don’t understand: the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in the heart
- hear, immediately receive with joy: but no firm root: so when affliction of persecution come: immediately fall away
- hear the word [and apparently start to grow]: but when worry of the world or deceitfulness of wealth come: the word is choked: become unfruitful
- hear the word: understand: bear fruit and bring forth a good harvest

soooo… It seems that hearing – and even receiving and starting to grow – are not the KEY things: but rather it is UNDERSTANDING that brings forth fruit. Papa??? Does this mean that one is not truly a “believer” until they “understand” and as a direct result, bear fruit? Or are they a “believer” at the point of “accepting” the word – but can “fall away” if they aren’t rooted (and if they aren’t rooted, then did they ever really understand?), or get distracted before they “bear fruit?”

Good soil: hear the word, understand it, BEAR FRUIT (LOTS!)

(When I was growing up, “bearing fruit” was generally taught to mean “leading people to Christ.” So we were to result in at least 30 to 60 to preferably at least 100 conversions… And yet, very few people, even “life-long Christians,” could even say they’d “led 30 people to Christ” – or even 1 or 2…

And a lot of those “conversions” that did occur seemed to be of the “street-corner-4-spiritual-laws-conversions” with little or no follow up… And yes, sometimes I have wondered how many times some people might have been repeatedly “converted” that way….

I mean, even I myself really have difficulty saying at what point I was “converted” and “truly believed” [you, dear reader, can check out that story here]. I went through a number of “starts” … and there was a final “start” when I didn’t “seriously fall away” thereafter – though I of course had many stumblings, and some folks would definitely not agree that I was/ still am on the “straight and narrow.”

Though really, I don’t know if I ever really did “fall away” after those other, earlier “starts” … because no matter what I might have done “between times,” You never stopped pursuing me, and I really never stopped “believing,” as You well know – despite how it must have looked to others, when I was “acting worldly” and all!

So maybe I didn’t really “fall away” after all, especially sometimes when it seemed that others were convinced I’d “fallen away” because:
- I wasn’t “serious” enough
- I wore a bit of make-up
- I “sassed my mom” (according to them: not my intention! Rather, their interpretation!)
- And so on.

And there were times when I moved away from You (but didn’t stop believing) because I thought I wasn’t “worthy” … because apparently I’d committed the “unpardonable sin” (which changed from teacher to teacher, but generally referred to something “horrendous” like adultery and divorce, You know…)

But Papa, when it comes down to it, You never left me. NEVER. I know it now. And deep inside, I knew it then…. But…

Anyway… what DOES “bearing fruit” actually mean? Papa? Oh! Thank You! What else do You say about it in Your word? Let’s see…

Col 1:9-10 … spiritual wisdom and understanding (given by You)  walk worthy, bear fruit  GOOD WORKS, INCREASING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD


John 4:36 “reaps… gathering fruit FOR LIFE ETERNAL…”

Phil 1:22-24 “ fruitful labor…for your sake” [speaking to the Philippian church/ believers, about helping them grow in Christ]

Ah! So “bearing fruit” isn’t JUST about keeping count of how many people one “converts”! It is, partly, pointing others to You (ummm…. YOU do the heart-work, the “converting,” don’t You?), but it is also an awful lot about our walk, our relationship with You! Which is definitely a “growing” kind of thing. Including some stumbling, and doubts, and feeling lost sometimes, and so on. But always moving on with You, abiding in You, becoming Christ-like because Your Character is growing in us as our spirit abides in Your Spirit (not just trying to “imitate” You).

…. Well, I have read to the end of the chapter. Father, there is so much to understand (and so much that has been MISUNDERSTOOD…). Honestly, it boggles my brain a lot of the time…

And then You come along – and it’s like You turn on a switch and a floodlight lights up the dark space, and I see so much more clearly (though there are still shadows – and later, You turn on another spotlight, which takes care of some of those… and someday, oh someday, there’ll be no more shadows!!!).

Oh Father, I love the brightness and beauty of Your Light. Jesus, You ARE the Light of the world – and, amazingly, You want us to be lights too, Your light shining through us – through me, even though I so often feel that I am so much in shadow… Wow! Your ways are so amazing!)

I wonder, sometimes, how I could have missed Your Light for so long… I know that that is exactly what Your word says about how Your Spirit enlightens and guides and teaches Your children… But it never cease to amaze and astonish me – and fill me with joy! Thank You!!! Amen!!!

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit! Almighty God! I love You.

You love me!!!! Wow!

this is NOT what I expected from CONVERSATION WITH YOU!!!

18 May 2010

(This is my “devotional/ journaling” time from this morning… my “focused time with Papa” … just as it unfolded (with the links added, so you can figure out what I was talking about)… most definitely NOT what I expected!)

Father, when I read Your word today – I want to CONVERSE with You. You have been teaching me a lot these days, opening my eyes to many new things in Your word (and clearly reminding me of other things I guess I’ve forgotten or ignored or, well, put on the back-burner…). But I have sure been missing out on CONVERSATION with You.

I was just flipping through the ProBlogger (2nd ed) book, and was reminded, at the end, of email subscriptions.

Lord, I’m an email lover! And I do believe this would be excellent for me. Here I am tweeting and posterious-izing and so on – but not doing the one thing I’m most comfortable with: emailing!

Today I think I’ll take a good look at the email subscriptions I’m receiving, to get ideas of “how to do it” – and then I’ll start! Maybe for now, one (weekly) email subscription for all my sites: “Penandpapermama’s World!”

- latest tips – reviews – tutorials – offers – links to other sites? – guest postings? – links to new content on the site – forums? – sell advertising space, promote own products, run affiliate promotions – build community morale, launch competitions, direct readers to interactive areas on the site – branding: weekly contact builds loyalty!
- Advertise the email subscription on your site: sidebars – popup sign up box? – immediate welcome email – weekly updates
- do whatever applies to MY blog [okay, so I’m not recording everything I wrote down after all – you can find all the details about email subscriptions in the book, esp pp 204-206!]

Oh my goodness! That was NOT what I expected in my “devotions” … but thank You for the pointers anyway! My “one thing” [thanks, Leo] for today? Eh? But Your will be done, Father!

(I’m still wondering about a daily – or weekly or ? – devotional… email…) (with questions, to-do’s [practical applications], links, etc…) Father??

Oh Lord – I’ve wanted this whole business thing to be centered on You – and here You are giving me ideas, direction! Yes! Thank You!

I am glad that the ProBlogger guy, Darren Rowse, is a believer… moving away from “traditional church” to see what’s “emerging” … because so many big bloggers have good ideas and all, but their world-views are not You-centered… and I don’t want to be caught up in “worldly” ways [I blogged about that yesterday: Success in blogging? What does it really mean?]

Like “tao” themed blogs: some ideas are similar, and seem really attractive, and fit in with simple living and all … but You are so not in the picture! So thank You for a book by a man who, as part of Your family, reflects You at the center! Yes!

leading justice to victory!

May 17, 2010

Reading Matthew 12:15 – 23 in which Jesus is shown to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen… I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the street. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

What a different approach God has to justice than the justice the world offers. Or even than the justice that “the Law” of the Old Covenant presented. The world’s way (and the Law’s) is the way in which justice occurs when there is no hope, no true forgiveness or compassion or mercy. That so-called justice presents rules and consequences (punishment!) when those rules are broken. It is harsh. An eye for an eye – or worse. And in the courts and the legal system, it often becomes twisted. Injustice often ends up reigning, as both sides (offense and defense) quarrel and argue and call the other side down while defending their own position, seeking to do whatever it takes (no matter how unjust) for them to be “victorious.”

But Jesus brought a totally new way. A way of quietness, gentleness, self-sacrifice. A way of forgiveness, caring, compassion, patient encouragement. And it is a way that is available to anyone who will accept Him. It is about others, and about “one another.” It is never self-seeking.

How many times in your life have you, or someone you know, been a “battered reed” or a “smoldering wick” – barely able to survive, damaged, hurt, victimized, in pain, devoid of hope. And then the justice system of the world – or even that of law-bound Churchianity/ religiosity – comes along, and self-righteously deals out the final destructive blow, in the name of justice.

But Jesus gives us a new way, a new justice. He took the “punishment” of the justice of the law, the justice of the natural consequences of sin (destruction and death!) upon Himself. And in doing so, He offered us love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, freedom!

Under the dark reign of sin, God’s justice was held captive. And as we still live in a world where the dark kingdom is still active, we may indeed still experience the unjust justice of that way. But when we accept Jesus, we are also living in the Kingdom of God, where we can experience, in our walk with Him, here and now, His freedom. And we have an amazing hope.

Because one day, the injustice of the world’s form of justice will end, God’s Kingdom will rule supreme – and God’s amazing justice will be victorious!

Monday 17 May 2010

street church... day of rest (mostly) ...


May 16, 2010 (Sunday)

Sunday (May 16) started with Another Chance Okanagan street ministry breakfast and gathering of the street church. If you’re wondering what it is about, check out the link, or search this site (try “Another Chance” or “street church”) for my observations!

Later, after I got home, I broke my “day of rest” rule for a few moments, and signed on to! I also tagged my sites with Delicious and Twitter… hmmm…

When I went to university back in the day (University of British Columbia, 1977 to 1979), I wanted to take my last 3 years of university in 2 years. The rule was that to take 21 units per semester (plus summer school) instead of the usual 15 units, one had to maintain a 1st class average. Well! Most people were telling me that I’d have to study 7 days a week. But others told me I’d need to take a full day off each week, no matter what. I had been brought up in a church background in which “keep the Sabbath holy, by making Sunday a day of rest” was a key “Biblical” precept, so having already developed the habit, I decided to continue it. And I ended up with higher marks that I’d ever had before, in high school or college.

Later, I read research studies which strongly suggest that our human bodies do function best in 7 day cycles in which one day is always keep as a day to rest from our normal work! So here I am, really trying to follow the precept again. And generally, I’m succeeding – but sometimes I “fail” a little! I’m not going to beat myself up about it, though. Still, it really does give me time and space to relax (which I am not naturally very good at) and to enjoy Father and His world!

In the afternoon, hubby took me for a drive up the valley. When we got to Kelowna, he took me into the Chapters store, and announced that I could buy whatever books I wanted, as anniversary presents! How sweet! So of course I had a wonderful time browsing. And I ended up getting a book I’ve been wanting ever since the 2nd Edition came out in late April: ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett. Although I’d be happy to settle for a five-figure (or even a four-figure, at this point) income, I’ve been impressed enough by their blogs to want to take a look at their pointers! (Hmmm… does buying that book count as “breaking my day of rest rule?” lol…)

encouragement for my "Novel Under Construction" project

May 14, 2010 (Friday)

I had a couple of really encouraging “confirmations” about my new Novel Under Construction project! One was Gerry loaning me a book, From God to You: 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You Into His Story, by Dr. Larry Crabb. Gerry pointed out that this book is somewhat similar to this blog and My Church Journey, and especially to my A Mother’s Journey blog which is the basis for my new Novel Under Construction project!

The other “confirmation” was that shortly after I got the new Novel Under Construction site set up, I received a prayer request from a mom who is struggling with the same issues that “My Mother’s Journey” deals with. So I was able to refer her to the site, and to encourage her because I have been down a similar path, and can confirm that God does indeed answer our prayers for our wandering children. The prayer request was a reminder to me from Father that He does have His purposes in leading me to develop this novel! I also was thinking that if there are other moms out there who are struggling with these issues, or have been through them, participating in the Novel Under Construction project might actually be an encouragement to them in the process! If that might be you, or someone you know, why not check out this project and see what it is about?


May 17, 2010 (Monday)

So much for my daily blogging habit! Here I am, 4 days later! I have been jotting notes in my journal, but not getting them typed up. Anyway, here come the updates – the ones related to this site, anyway. If you’d like to see what else I’m doing, especially relating to my writing projects, check out my pen ‘n paper mama blog.

Thursday 13 May 2010

epiphany: ah-ha moment! : Novel Under Construction

May 13, 2010

(In case this seems a bit scattered – you have to understand that I wrote most of it between 3:15 and 4:00 am … but after some more sleep, and some serious thinking, and research, and reflection… I am going with it!)

I just woke up with an epiphany – that’s an “ah-ha! moment” for those of you who may not have your dictionary close at hand!

Here it is: Write my Mother’s Journey blogsite story (which is currently in the form of many chapters of journal notes, mostly conversations with God) as a novel!

So how do I go about it? Hmmm…

Read some similar novels (similar storyline, similar worldview/perspective…)

Study/review on how to write good stories; and on novel forms/techniques.

Maybe even contact writers of such novels and pick their brains, ask for advice...

Father! YOU spoke this idea into my mind – and heart! Wow! It certainly never occurred to me, though I’ve wondered and wondered what to do about that site…

E-book? Maybe… but more likely (first, anyway) paperback. Self-published? Or even produced by a real publisher?!? Oh, Father! Your will be done!

Get out those writing books I ordered and start learning…

NaNoWriMo the first draft? (You know, sit down and just write, write, write…)

Print out the online blogsite edition, and read it through. Start marking it up.

(Father, You eed to help me with that – give Your direction! Some one out there – perhaps many someones – need something this book has to offer… Or You wouldn’t have planted this idea! Something You can offer them – through this book?!?!)

Read The Shack again? Other books that feature conversations with You? Papa? Please lead me to any and all books, stories, etc, that You know I need to get prepared. Thank You!

Father, that blog/web story has seemed to have just “sat there” for so long… doing almost nothing… and yet – who knows? ___ read it, didn’t she? (And if she alone was helped by it, encouraged to turn to You, walk with You more closely, that would be enough in itself. But I sense You have more. A much larger plan. Thank You! In Jesus’ name!) Lead please! Your will, Your way…

Probably, start with a “present” incident – looking back… to the beginning. And then the story of those years – and finally, back to the present again?

Integrate any suitable material from the Prayers and Meditations part of my Conversations, Reflections & Meditations website, into the Mothers Journey material. (Hmmm… better do that on the computer since so much of it is typed already… but how? Just cut-and-paste it into the current version? But I don’t want to confuse things that way…)

I can print out and work by hand as well, of course. (Yes, that small laptop would be handy, lol… the one my son and son-in-law have been encouraging me to get the past couple days… still, I really like the one I already have…)

Maybe end up with an e-book options too? Perhaps… but I hear You saying, “Traditional novel format first!” Okay. Your will. Thank You, Father.

Oh! Integrate stories from The Hill Gang story site too? Totally makes sense. A novel is STORY - not just reflection and commentary. Well then, I better “fill in the blanks there, eh! I have jotted down so many “missed” stories since I did the original. Well, this will be excellent motivation to get those written down – and those will be great story-writing practice, too. Yes!

Father? How “real life” do I make this? Oh my goodness…. What will the “real” characters think? How will they react?

Include them in the process? Papa? Is that YOU telling me that? I mean, it seems like a great, exciting idea. IF it is from You … because at the same time it seems pretty scary….

Hmmm… maybe a multi-author book? For sure, send them the drafts, proposal, etc etc as the process unfolds. And include them and their thoughts, ideas, memories in the whole process?

Wow. That would be something! You speaking into their lives – my life too – our lives, together – through the writing process, drawing us together – with You! Oh Father, that would be so amazing!

What? Write this as the beginning of a blog? A blog that tracks the entire novel-writing process, and includes others’ comments and input and suggestions and feedback? I mean, the story is the story – but what should be included, how it should be presented, writing technique… Open to all blog followers who want to be part of the process? Their comments part of the whole process? They themselves part of the process? Maybe the process becomes, in some way, the opening chapter?

Well! That would be different, for sure. That’s what “they” keep saying new writers and new on-line entrepreneurs need to do. Find a unique niche. Offer something that not only is a passion for myself – but meets needs of others, and offers them the opportunity to participate, share, learn together, produce together. On-going conversation. Involvement. Excitement!

And of course, the process then becomes its own buildup to the book’s release down the line!

Hmmm… I could actually do the process right on the Mother’s Journey” site, couldn’t I? Or maybe better yet, start a whole new site – a site that could become a “hub” for the other sites, pulling everything together.

Record all the process. List and describe other novels I read, books and other resources I research, and what I’ve learned. Post my drafts and edits and encourage people to critique. A novel-in-process. Under construction. For all the world to see – and take part in, if they like! (Has anyone else tried this? I wonder? I know that some authors, like Piers Anthony with his highly entertaining and successful Xanth series, includes many puns suggested by his readers – and gives them credit! Very multi-authored in that sense.)

Network! E-mail the 110 plus e-mail friends I have - and also notify my nearly 500 facebook friends – and the members of the e-groups I belong to, especially the writing groups, and The Word Guild Canadian Christian writers group I belong to, and the local Penticton Writers and Publishers club I attend. Send out a survey to get initial input and ideas. (And more later on, if I get stuck). And ask questions at related blogs and websites I follow. And, oh my, guess it’s time to start tweeting on twitter and hooking up to other similar networking sites (well, yes, I need to do that anyway, on my present sites, including my two main daily blogs, Pen ‘n Paper Mama and my Church Journey blog (which, now that I think of it, also has some potential material! And my other two blogsites and my website which I’ve already mentioned…

Crazy! I love it!

Oh Father, if creativity comes from You – this is surely proof of it. You, the Creator, the Source of all great creativity! Amazing!

(If this is really from You…. yes, it has to be… please show me, Father! Thank You! Woohoo!) (Is it okay to say “woo-hoo” to You?!?!?! lol…)

The automatic sprinklers just turned on outside my window… reminding me of Your Spirit… watering the dry and thirsty ground… Reminding me of You, Jesus, offering Living Water to the woman at the well of Samaria – and to her whole city – and to the whole world! Reminding me of the waters of baptism. Reminding me of sprinkling rainfall, of spring showers, of new life!

That old song comes to mind:

It’s beginning to rain, hear the voice of the Father
He’s saying “Whosoever will, come drink of My water,
I promise to pour My Spirit out on your sons and your daughters,
If you’re thirsty and dry, look up to the sky,
It’s beginning to rain!

(Well, those are the words we used to sing! I checked the internet for the lyrics – and found many versions! The original lyrics are by William and Gloria Gaither, 1979).

Oh Father! Let Your rain fall on me, on my family, on all Your children! The world! Papa, please use this book, this story – this gift from You! Thank You!

Well, I was only going to jot down a couple quick notes to help me remember this ah-ha moment when morning comes, then turn off the light and get more sleep. But now it’s almost an hour later, as Your ideas just kept coming to me, tumbling over me – and I had to switch the light back on, and write them down… as they kept coming.

Oh! The automatic sprinkler just switched off. Does that mean I can go back to sleep now? Lol… Good night!

And to my readers: It’s almost noon now. And I’ve started my new hub site. It’s definitely in the “under construction” stages … but I’ve posted this “start” there – and your comments are welcome! Check out the original site of this story to get a general idea of what it’s about. And then come join in, and become a (recognized!) participant in this newNovel Under Construction project!

Wednesday 12 May 2010

key notes: inspiration!

12 May 2010

As anyone who has been following this blog will have noticed, I am “taking the plunge” and trying to write seriously – become a real writer instead of a dabbler! So I’ve been reading, studying, conversing with other writers - and doing a LOT of writing.

Anyway, I’ve been collecting incredible INSPIRATION on the art of writing itself, lifestyles, entrepreneurship (yes, I’d like to make some money out of this writing thing...), and so forth. And from my many notes, I’ve been making a list of KEY notes. Because this is MY list, these keys inevitably, of course, reflect me – who I am, what I believe and value, my hopes and dreams, and the core of my life, my relationship with God. Some of my KEY notes are things I learned from others. And some of them are from me.

Wherever you are in YOUR LIFE, I hope you’ll too be inspired by some of these KEYs. And I encourage you to add KEYs that are especially yours!

INSPIRATION…. (alphabetically… in no particular order! Lol…)

Analyze your emotions responses to things. Learn about yourself. Change negatives in your life that bind you and hold you back, to positives that propel you forward. Focus on things that elicit positive emotions (love, joy, peace, contentment) rather than negative ones (see the negative ones in new ways: let them become eliciters of positive emotions).
Be inspiring yourself. Encourage others to be inspiring and amazing too! Empower them to step out as well.
Be the voice for those without one.
Be yourself – the you Creator God created you to be. Revel in it. Enjoy. Dance with Him – He is the Lord of the Dance, after all
Become a fast friend. To someone who really needs a friend. And find ways to become a better friend to your already-friends. Who are your friends anyway? Try that question out for size!
Blog every day.
Childlike simplicity: avoid complications of rules and regulations. Fun, humility, good character. Living a minimal lifestyle in an often very complicated world.
Clear your mind from being clouded by unnecessary things.
Close ties with family and true friends.
Create new out of old.
Dare to be different. Brave. Bold. Honest. Surprising. Even “wrong” (by some folks’ estimation! But cling always to Papa).
Defeat the resistance. Find something so important that it is worth overcoming all kinds of resistance, all the things that create friction in your life and slow or stop you.
Do routine things differently.
Don’t compare yourself to others; be inspired by them.
Don’t get complacent. Keep growing, learning, improving, building, exploring, taking on new challenges.
Emulate the greats. And especially the Greatest.
Find focus in an unfocused world. And share it. Share myself. And yes, share YOU, my focus… The Focus! (thank You!)
Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.
Follow your heart.
Gratefulness: for life, gifts, other people, God’s love.
Great work: meaningful, challenging, makes a difference to you and to the world, matters to you, lights you up, is inspired by and integrates your passions.
Healthy lifestyle: eat healthy, walkabout frequently, write, journal with Papa, open door hospitality.
Integrate truth into all of life.
Interview. Observe.
Keep practicing. Keep doing.
Learn. Do. Teach. (And keep the cycle going!)
Limit distractions to just the essentials.
Live as frictionless as possible. Simplify your life. Clear it of non-essential tasks (and be surprised by how many of those there really are). Focus on what you love. Change your current conditions to eliminate “necessary” tasks that you wish weren’t necessary!
Live in adventure with Jesus: know Him more, love Him more … and share His love, expressed through me.
Make major life decisions in alignment with what – Who! – you truly believe in and value.
Meet others’ needs.
Never stop learning. Never stop failing. Learn from your failures: and so make them successes.
Observe! Everything is a potential source of inspiration. See from different perspectives.
Reach out to the sad and hurting. Care for the uncared-for, the “unwanted” ones.
Relationship with people who think, live simply, love freedom, see alternatively, and with those who love Jesus.
Remember: all my friends, relatives, business and education contacts – everyone I know and encounter – are support and resources in my life.
Say “yes” slowly: question why? what? when? who? where? how?
Serve. Minister. Care. Shepherd. Walk alongside. Guide. Mentor. (But don’t forget Who really leads).
Share with the world – in many small practical ways. Sharing yourself: what and who you are.
Shoot for the one great thing. Avoid frivolous extras. KISS: Keep it simple, sweetheart!
Simplify life: Less stuff. Contentedness: count your blessings. Enjoy simple, free things.
Small initial scope: better one thing done well than many things never really accomplished. What “one thing” do you want to focus on? What’s your passion? Your gifting? Your core?
Smile. And let your joy put a smile on others’ faces. Bring them to You, the Source of joy Start a wiki-type site for those who write to/about Father but fear to or don’t know how to publish their writing.
Start new things: lean, small, focused, simple, nimble, flexible, low-cost. Start now, with what you already have, what you already know and love.
Start NOW.
Start with “good enough.” Get it out there. Then improve.
Stay agile. Remain curious. Keep your eyes and heart wide open. See opportunities.
Take lots of pictures. Or better yet, sketch them yourself. In graphics. Or words. Or both.
To become “great” at something: learn from others. But mostly: do, and keep doing. For years. As long as it takes. Teaching others, too. Desire, drive, doing, daring.
Union with our Creator and God: eternal significance.
Volunteer … street ministry, home-school granny…
Walking with God: joy, contentment, unconditional love.
What is most important to you? Focus on that.
Whatever you dream, you can pursue. What do you dream? Is it worth pursuing? Does it line up with who you are and what you believe and value? How can you pursue it?
Work harder than you ever have before, on what you love and are passionate about. Pour in your heart and soul.
Write!!!! Every day!

And yes, of course this list is uncopywrited! So add to it, change it around, delete what doesn’t speak to you, improve on it, reorganize it – make it your own, and then share your list too! And post it up! And DO IT! (And remind me to keep doing mine!)

God's words - or human perceptions and interpretations?

May 12, 2010

Matthew 9:34 But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”

The Pharisees rejected Jesus’ authority and power as coming from God, and even said it came from satan (a truly blasphemous statement, from religious leaders who loved to catch and judge blasphemy in others).

We really must be careful about who and how we judge. Our immense and eternal God works in ways we don’t expect, though always within the boundaries of His unchanging, perfect character). And in our small-minded humanness, we inevitably do not know or understand Him as much as we fancy that we do.

Yes, we are to be discerning, and “test the spirits,” and line things up with God’s word. But we had better be very careful that it is truly God’s word – and not just our own preconceptions and interpretations, and those that we’ve accepted from others - that we are defending when we judge others.

The authority of Jesus rests on His followers, too (He gave it to them: See Matthew 10:1). We are not to b like the scribes and Pharisees, just parroting the interpretations of the “fathers,” but are to abide in Christ, and be led and taught by the Holy Spirit of Christ Himself.

John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…. 15. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He [the Spirit] take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Look at all the things (listed in Matthew 10) that Jesus gave his disciples authority over:
- over unclean spirits to cast them out (v1, 8)
- to heal every kind of disease and sickness (v1,8)
- to preach: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v 7)
- to raise the dead (v8)
- to cleanse the lepers (v8)

We are His disciples. We have His Spirit. We have His authority! He is the truth. We must ask Him always to show us HIS truth. And while pointing others to Him, and standing firm on His truth, we must be careful, finally, to let Him judge. And TO NOT JUDGE HIM!

Jesus – You ARE the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You are our Saviour. You are God incarnate. You are Emmanuel – God with us.

Thank You.!

healing: spiritual and/or physical?

12 May 2010

Matthew 9:2 “… Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’”

The friends and/or family of the paralytic had strong faith in Jesus – faith in His ability to heal physically. But being God’s Son – God incarnate, God with us! – Jesus wanted them to provide the true, eternal healing without which all other healing is only temporary and is ultimately meaningless as it ends in death anyway.

Jesus wanted to provide eternal healing, forgiving sin and restoring broken relationship with their God and Creator. He wanted them to know Him for Who He really is, and to come to Him for all He longs to provide for His lost, sin-bound children.

And then (v7) Jesus provided the physical healing as well. The scribes refused (vv 3-6) to accept the authority (capital-A Authority, vested in God alone) claimed by this up-start, uneducated, Galilean carpenter of rumored ill-met beginnings.

But the crowds – and surely the no-longer-sin-laden and no-longer-paralytic recipient of Jesus’ healing, and those who brought Him to Jesus – “were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (v8)” They still didn’t truly understand all of Who Jesus is – but they had no doubt that He was sent by God.

And who knows? Perhaps the two diseased conditions, the sin and the paralysis, really were bound together, inter-woven. For sin provides the ultimate paralysis in our lives, binding up all that is good, and dragging us constantly toward destruction and death.

Much illness in our bodies, minds, and spirits is, as doctors tell us, “psycho-somatic.” And surely, at the core of our damaged psyches lies sin, “crouching at the door; and its desire is for you” (Gen 4:7), leading us into all manner of pain, illness, destructiveness. And death. (See also Matthew 9:32-33). Only the forgiveness Jesus brings us can rescue us and restore the eternal life with our Heavenly Father for which we were created.

All human effort to “master sin” (Genesis 4:8) fails. Only God, by His own sacrifice – Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection victory over death – could conquer sin, and the other diseases it brings.

In verses 18-19 and 25-26 of Matthew 9, we read of the girl who Jesus brings back to life. Everyone is mourning because she is dead, and they scoff when Jesus tells them she is only asleep. And yet, He was right. Physical death is only temporary. After that is eternal life with our Heavenly Father – or without Him (and instead with all the forces of evil and those who reject God).

In verses 27-31 we read of the two blind men who received back their sight “according to their faith.” Jesus told them not to tell anyone – but they couldn’t help themselves! They told everyone about what Jesus had done for them. How could they not? Every single thing they saw with their newly healed eyes was an amazing reminded to them. They were seeing the world in a totally new way, with wonder and awe. And is this not also true of us when we are forgiven by Jesus? We too, see all things through new eyes, and are full of wonder and awe, too. Even greater than the wonder of those two newly-sighted-formerly-blind-men. And how can we resist telling others?

(And yet we so often close our newly opened eyes, or at least cover them up with dark sunglasses that keep out the glorious brightness of God-with-us!).

who are the "poor"? really? wondering about the realities of caring for the poor...

May 11, 2010

Who are the truly poor? Do you ever wonder about that? Do we really have “poor people” here in our Canadian communities? I mean, “poor” compared to, say, the millions (billions, maybe?) of poverty-stricken people in “third world countries” and such?

Certainly, we hear about the high levels of poverty. Of how a lot of children go to school hungry. Of how many families are living “below the poverty line” (which, of course, would likely be considered a “well-off” line in a lot of other places…). Of ever-increasing line-ups at food banks and soup kitchens. Of people who can afford either (low-cost) housing or heat or food – but only one of those at a time. Of the numbers of people “living on the streets.”

So, yes, I’m wondering. Who are the truly poor, right among us? We are called, as believers, to care for the poor. In fact, it is one of the most repeated commands/ directives/ principles in all of scripture. How do we fulfill those?

Who are the poor? The “working poor” who, even though they work hard, don’t earn enough to cover even the very simple necessities (simple housings, a few clothes, a bit of nutritious food, etc)? Children who don’t get enough to eat? (But what about the ones whose parents use up all the income feeding their own addictions? Are those families “poor?” If we help the children by feeding them, are we inadvertently encouraging the parents to carry on with their negative behaviors? What if they have a “good reason” like mental illness, or childhood abuse, or other forms of victimization? No doubt most people would agree that we should feed hungry children, no matter what, because they are children, after all – But then, what about the adults themselves who engage in those behaviors? Should they themselves be fed and clothed with free handouts?

What about single moms struggling to feed and house and care for their children, while dead-beat dads earn good incomes but don’t take responsibility for their children? What if the mom won’t let the dad be involved or help out? What about dads raising their children, after mom has run off? Or grandparents raising their grand-kids when both parents have copped out?

What about seniors struggling to live on tiny government pensions, not even enough to pay low-cost rent, even if it was available (which it often isn’t)? Shouldn’t their families take care of them? But what if they don’t have families to care? Or their families just won’t or can’t?

What about people who’ve lost their jobs? And can’t find work in these times of recession? What about the ones who decide to stay on Employment Insurance until it runs out, and then collect welfare because it pays better than the only low-pay, part-time jobs that are available? What about the ones who refuse to take any employment other than in their chosen field and at their preferred pay level? What about people who lose their job because they have an accident or illness, and now have a “disability,” and choose not to retrain and take other work they can still do?

What about people who have “grown up on welfare” and have accepted it as a viable lifestyle or have grown up in situations where a good education and encouragement and good health – building blocks to “bettering oneself” – have not been available?

What does it mean to help the poor, right here in our communities? Make a donation at the food bank at Christmas time (or occasionally at other times)? Volunteer at a soup kitchen? Take sandwiches to people living on the street? Pay your taxes and let the government solve the problems? Donate to charities? Help build “Homes for Habitat”? Have an open-door policy, feeding those who knock on your door, like folks did back in the Depression? Taking in that family in your church who’ve lost everything due to job loss, or illness, or whatever? Making your kids share bedrooms so those other people can have bedrooms? Share your food, your television preferences, your computer, your car, your sheets and blankets, your clothes, your dishes? Or simplify your own lifestyle, downgrade to a smaller home, sell your car and walk, grow a garden instead of buying your veggies, eat at home rather than eating out (especially on Sunday after church with all your church buddies…), so you can give more “alms to the poor”? Maybe sell the church building and the sound system and the costly Sunday School program materials? (oh dear).

And what about all those truly poor people out there, those nameless faces across the oceans? (Or just south of the border … or, yes, on the “other side of the tracks” in our own communities … maybe in our own neighborhoods). (What about the little old man or lady living in your condo complex who has been there for 40 years, and is being evicted so that the landlord can raise the rent?) What about children starving to death every day all over the world? Dying for want of a few cents worth of medicine?

Where do we draw the line? How do we “judge” who the “poor” truly are? Or do we? Can our best efforts finally overcome poverty? Or is it true, as Jesus said, that we always have the poor with us? Do we choose to help some poor but not others (the early church did, to some degree, in regards to widows with families vs widows without)? Maybe just care for the poor in the church – and of those, only the ones who “deserve” it? Who decides? Where do we draw the line? How do we choose to spread our own limited resources around? How limited are our resources anyway?

Is caring for the poor really the work of the church? (And if it isn’t, what do we make of all those scriptural injunctions?) (And how does the world see the church if we don’t?) (And how does our Father see us?) Hmmm?

What do YOU think? (Seriously) (Please comment!)

Monday 10 May 2010

and all these things will be added unto you - really?

10 May 2010

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves to do break in or steal; 21. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

You WILL take care of us here and now.

And You will take care of all our needs forever!

(And I don’t have to “worry about making enough money to survive on” if I am actually doing what You set in my path to do!)

Our heavenly, spiritual Father cares for our spiritual needs. And as our Creator, He cares for our physical needs too. But He knows we are spiritual beings most of all (created in His image), with eternity set before us. And always, therefore, His care for His children is first of all in the spiritual realm: our eternal, spiritual needs (which of course centers on our relationship with Him).

If what we see as our present, physical needs (and wants – so many of our “needs” really are just wants…) will cause us to miss out on what our loving Heavenly Father desires for us and has prepared for us – always what is best for us – we are well-advised to let those perceived needs go. And even be willing to “suffer want” right now – in light of His amazing eternal plans and care for us. Yes!

He knows our needs perfectly!

Matthew 7:11 “your Father in heaven [will] give what is good to those who ask Him.”

He KNOWS what is good, what is BEST, for us. Far more, infinitely more, than we do.

Father, please give me “what is good.”

Thank You. (And if I ask for things that aren’t good for me, please don’t give them to me…. Oh! You don’t give bad gifts, do You? (vv 9-11). But… if we insist on having them, You let us go out and get them, sometimes. Of course, then, we have to live with the consequences. And we miss out on the better things You had planned, if we’d only accepted Your good things instead.)

Be careful what you ask for, yes. And know that God knows your heart… and that if your heart is connected to His heart, because of Jesus, your heart will be asking for the “good things.” And He’ll be answering those heart-of-hearts requests – even when you don’t know you’ve asked! (Because His Spirit has asked, for you). So keep your eyes open for answered prayers you weren’t expecting! Cool, eh!

(That last bit, that ray of sunshine, was a little something I picked up from The Misunderstood God book! Thanks! To the writer, of course! And especially to You, Father! You do love me! … and in case anyone out there doubts that Father answers prayers we don’t “consciously” ask… think of the times when your earthly father – or others who love you – have given you gifts that you never thought of yourself needing, and never asked for – but they turned out to be exactly what you needed, and brought great joy and delight and provision into your life. They did it because they “know you” and love you … and Your Heavenly Father knows you and loves you far more! So very, very cool! I love You, Lord!) 

being afraid ... or letting You sweep me out into the depths of You!

10 May 2010

Oh, Papa! I just can’t go on like this!

I’m afraid!

I feel like somehow I’m getting way too far from where You want me.

Or maybe I’m just getting into deep water and fear that I’m going to be swept away.

I remember when I was a child, maybe 9 years old or so, and my family and a lot of friends were at the park at Woods Lake, where the creek emptied into the lake. The children were playing in the water close to shore, the dad’s were playing softball in the nearby field, the mom’s were setting up lunch on the picnic tables, and the older kids were playing water volleyball out in the deeper water next to the drop-off.

There really weren’t many kids around my age. I didn’t want to play with the little ones by the shore, and the water where the older ones were playing was too deep for me. Still, I tried to swim out their way, hoping they’d notice me and let me join in. They didn’t.

So I was paddling around by myself, until suddenly I noticed that I was way out past the big kids – and being swept by a strong current farther and farther out. I was terrified. I was not a strong swimmer, and could not break free from the current. I realized I was just a little kid, myself. I started to yell for help, but everybody back there were having fun, and they were making a lot of noise of their own, so they didn’t hear me.

I was splashing wildly, but only getting weaker and farther from shore. All I could see before me was a seemingly never-ending stretch of water, with waves that seemed to be getting larger and larger. And the safe shoreline was getting farther away and smaller by the moment. By now I was sobbing and hopeless.

And then, unexpectedly, a strong pair of arms encircled my shoulders, and a young man, whom I had never seen before, was pulling me out of the current with sure, strong strokes. He held onto me until I was safely close to the shore, and could stand up. He asked me if I was alright, and then swam off. Somewhere. I didn’t see him again.

Father, right now I feel like I did back then, when the current was pulling me out. I feel as though I am caught in a great current and am being swept from the safety of the shoreline. From the safety of friends and family. I have wanted to be “grown up.” I have wanted to follow You out to where the “big kids” play. But it seems as though, somehow, You’ve drawn me past the drop-off, and into the deeps. I’ve sensed it beginning to happen, but have always felt, perhaps, that not only are the big kids nearby, even if they don’t really want me around, but that I can always retreat to the safety of the shallows, and safely into the arms of family and friends.

And suddenly, I realize that You are calling me farther on. And all I can see is the vastness of the open water, and the height of the larger waves, away from the quiet of the bay. And I am panicking. I am thinking, “Oh no! I’m really just a little mama. It’s all I’ve ever really been good at, and I haven’t been that great even doing that. And now I’m really getting too old to even do that; my own children are mamas now… I have no strength. I’m too old for this. I have to get back to shore where it’s safe. Maybe I can just help set the tables for others.”

And yet. I am pretty sure that You are out here with me. In front of me, actually, in the depths, calling me to follow.

Still, the waters out there look so wide and far away and lonely. And I’m not a good swimmer. And everybody else is back there on the shoreline, safely splashing and playing in the shallows and setting up picnic lunches. Oh, Father! They don’t even seem to see me being swept away. They don’t seem to notice that I’m missing, at all. I want them to see me, to care, to rescue me, bring me back to safety and security.

And yet, again. You are out there, beyond me, way out in the wide waters. Calling me to look forward, to You. Not back to the beach. And I do want to trust You. Obey You. Follow You.

Only, Papa, I feel like I have no strength, no plan, no energy. (And hardest of all, no companionship).

Yet I do know, in my heart of hearts, that I can trust You, You alone, always, to fulfill all those needs for me.

But I also can’t see anything out there at all except water. I can’t even see where the current itself is heading. So I have no idea of even what general idea I might be swept.

And Papa – oh Papa. Do You have any idea how it feels when all the people I love, all the people who’ve been the core, the center of my life, just don’t even seem to see what’s happening?

(Maybe this is just part of yesterday’s “mother’s day” feeling? When my own mama was gone. And my children are mamas themselves now, and the special day is about them now! And even my baby, who really did spoil me lavishly, hug me wonderfully, is a man now himself, and I know he is already moving on….) (And for various reasons, it seems, I’ve pretty much lost contact, lost the security of, my “church friends” and my “work friends” too… )

Papa… I feel so alone. So way out in the water. I hear You calling. But it’s hard to really let go of all that “security” back there.

Is this what it means when You spoke of how we have to be prepared to leave everything, everyone, to follow You?

It seems like, in Your word, that people in Your family, in Your church, back in the day, were close together, meeting daily, visiting house-to-house, eating together, learning together, working together, travelling together to spread Your good news. (But sometimes You did send them out, alone, didn’t You?). And now – now I feel like we live such fractured lives. So many people, but everyone so busy. Nobody really knows anyone….

Yesterday I saw some little old ladies here and there. Out walking alone, sitting in the park alone. On Mother’s Day. And I said, “Happy Mother’s Day” to one as she walked past me. But then I wondered if that was the wrong thing to say. Because maybe she was feeling even lonelier than I was. I wanted to run and hug her. But I was afraid. Afraid that perhaps both of us would stand there in the street and hold each other and cry.

Oh Papa.

I really do want to follow You. Into the depths. No matter what.

(Even though it is awful hard not to keep looking back when you hear everyone back at the shore laughing and calling out to each other, and eating and having fun together.)

But Papa, that’s how it was for little Christian, in that children’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress. There he was, leaving his home. Alone. To follow the hard path You called him to, in that letter You sent him. And later on, when he passed through that city, and the other children were dressed in bright colors, and having fun, and calling out for him to stay. But he kept on going. For awhile, he had Faithful with him. But Faithful lost his life for You. There were times of rest, when he was cared for and encouraged and nourished by members of Your family. But always, You soon called him to travel on. Alone so often. Still, later, before he crossed to the Celestial City, he did have the joy of seeing some of those he’d left behind, coming after him, following Your road too.

That is the journey You call us to, isn’t it?

…. Later ….

Oh, Papa! You’re speaking to me. Encouraging me. Thank You for that email prayer list: I am reminded once again how very blessed I am! And how much more difficult are the paths You call others to. And thank You for that article a friend posted a link to, on facebook. About the amazing – totally unimaginably awesome and amazing – universe.. You truly are so much greater, so much more in control, than I can possibly imagine!

And thank You for Your words, quoted at the beginning and end of that email prayer list. So encouraging!

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thess 2:16-17) (and those words in response, from the prayer-list writer: “we’re all waiting for the Lord. Let’s keep our eyes on Him and our trust in Him. Praise Him for His sufficiency and His goodness.”) And then those other words from You: “God takes the time to do everything right – everything. Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones.” (Isaiah 30, The Message).


Oh Father! Please forgive me for panicking. You ARE in control. I am not being swept away, alone, in fear of drowning, with no one to notice and care and rescue me.

Instead I am being swept into the immensity and wonder and awesomeness and endless amazing perfect love and care and fulfillment of all my being – indeed, of all that is: You! My Lord, my God, my Creator, my Savior! Almighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! Praise Your Holy Name!

Thank You, Papa. I love You! Amen!

…. Reading Matthew 5 to 7 …

Oh my goodness. These words of You, Jesus, are amazing! Father, You are truly calling us to radical living – living that is only possible, even in the smallest, beginning ways, IN YOU. And yet You are calling us not only to beginning ways – but all the way. To perfection. Just as You are perfect!

So yes, we have to leave the shoreline. And get caught up, swept up, into Your mighty current. Without reservation, without looking back to our old loves, our old safety nets, our old small pleasures, our old dependencies.

And allow You to sweep us forward, out into the depths. Where we can see no hope, no landing spots, no flotation devices even. Nothing except You. Even in (most of all, in) the most stormy moments when we are tossed about in giant waves and are cold and shaking and feel like we are going down with no hope of rescue. And even You don’t “seem” to be there.

And yet. You ARE. And You are teaching us, giving us the space and opportunity we need, to trust fully in You. Alone.

It’s a funny thing. So many times I have stood on the ocean shoreline and looked out toward the great Pacific ocean. And it is gray and misty and wind-blown and stormy. I can see nothing but a hazy distant horizon that I know goes on and on and on…

And yet, I find myself dreaming, longing to set out in a little vessel. Hoist the sails and let the waves and currents sweep me away to wherever they go. To “far Cathay” or “the Bay of Benin, the Bay of Benin” …. Far-off, mysterious, unknown shores, imprinted in my imagination from stories and poetry heard in my childhood.

And that poem calls out to me over and over: “I must go down to the seas again, To the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship, And a star to steer her by”…. (Masefield).

And now, Father, now You are offering me that opportunity, to set sail on uncharted seas, with only a single star to steer by – You!

And after all that dreaming and longing – I find myself panicking. Afraid!

But oh, Father, I do want to leap in, even without a boat beneath me. And get swept into Your mighty current. Into the uncharted adventure of living in Your love. No matter when it takes me, no matter how stormy and cold. Even if no one else goes with me.

“Though none go with me, Still I will follow …. No turning back, no turning back.” (We sing so many songs about You, with such enthusiasm… And then one day You ask us to truly mean, to step out and act upon, what we’ve been singing all along.)

(Hmmm…. I’ve just suddenly gained a much more “sympathetic” viewpoint of Lot’s much-maligned wife.)