Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Back

It seems like the end of the calendar year is a time where we look back at where we've been in the last year, and also to look forward to what is coming in the next year. There's something about the change in how we write the date that causes me (and maybe you) to think.

The last couple of days have had me thinking about the last year of writing on this blog. I've been writing for 5 years here. I didn't realize it had been that long.

This year: I wrote more than I have before. I reached the milestones of 300 posts, then 400. I never thought I would get to that point.

I wrote some of my favourite posts this year (you can find those ones here, here, here, here and here). I wrote posts I never thought I would write and actually post for others to read. I even attempted some poetry that I've shared (you can find those ones here and here).

Some other posts were favourites of those of you who read this blog. (The 3 most read posts from the last calendar year can be found here, here and here.)

I don't know what the future holds for my blog. I know I want to keep writing. I'll see where things go with the coming year.

I went back and read the first post I put on here. I wrote about service and the impact that it can have on our lives as we serve and on the lives of those we serve. Every word I wrote in that post is as true to me today as the day I wrote it. So much has changed for me since then, and yet so much is still the same.

I don't think I've written a post like this before, but I've often taken the time to look back at things I've written on my blog. It's always interesting to me to do so, but I've always wondered if it would be for anyone else.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

God Still Speaks

Once again, this post comes from an experience a few years ago, that God is using now to teach and remind me of things...

I pulled a piece of paper out of my mail slot at church on my way to find a seat. Once I was seated, I began to read it.

Women Connecting. Women's Bible studies on Monday nights.

"Well, I won't be going to that," was my first thought.

I mean, I was honestly only in church that Saturday night because it was a habit. After all that had happened in the last year, I wasn't sure I wanted to believe in God anymore.

I read the bulletin I'd been given at the door to the sanctuary. There was still a few more minutes before the service started, so I started reading the paper about the women's Bible studies.

I had no intention of going, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to read it.

Three different choices for studies. I read the first two. Your typical Bible studies.

Then I read the title for the third one: "Believing God."

As soon as I finished reading the description, I was sure I heard an audible voice, "You need to go to that one."

I looked around quickly, but no one was paying attention to me, so I must have been the only one who heard it. It was pretty clear now that it was God talking to me.

An argument began in my head: "Why would I go to a Bible study if I'm not sure I want to believe in God anymore? And why would I go to that one? I'm not going to go. No way!"

As usually happens, God won the argument and at the end of the service I walked over to where I could register for a study and signed up for it.

Fast forward two days . . .

It's Monday night and I pull my car into the parking lot. I'm not convinced I'm actually going to go yet. I turn off my car, but I don't get out.

I just sit and watch other ladies going into the church. If I wait long enough, maybe it will too late to go in.

But I can't seem to shake this feeling that I have to go in. Finally, I grab my Bible and get out of my car. I walk in and pick up my workbook.

As I begin looking for a place to sit, I tell God I'm not staying if I can't find someone I know to sit with. Across the room I notice someone waving at me.

A friend calling me over to her table.

I guess I'm staying.

Things get started. Some announcements. Some worship. Then everyone heads to the study they signed up for.

My friend signed up for the same study as me, I guess I really have to stay now.

Some information about the study we're in. Then the video teaching starts.

I can't stop listening. I don't want to take it all in, but that's all I can do. It's getting right to where I'm at - to the questions and struggles I'm having.

I guess this is where I need to be. I'll be coming back next week and every week to come.

When I look back on this, I'm amazed at how God speaks even when we stubbornly try to ignore Him. And how He will speak to someone who isn't sure they want to believe in Him anymore.

God knew I had just enough belief left to get me to the Bible study. And that's all I needed.

I just needed to get there, because once I was there, I heard what I needed to hear. I began again a journey of believing in God and believing what God says.

It really is amazing to me how God cares so much about a person who is struggling that He would go to any lengths necessary to draw them back. That's pretty cool! What a reminder of both he vastness and the personal nature of God's love.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Too Perfect?

The month of December has had a theme of Christmas posts this year. I think that might be a first for me on this blog. I get frustrated with the endless Christmas "stuff" you see everywhere you go in December and so I tend to avoid it on my blog. But for some reason, this year the Christmas posts is what came. Since it's Christmas Eve (almost Christmas day) as I write this, it will (probably) be the last until next December.

Right now I'm sitting in my living room after a busy, but really good day. Just the lights from my tree on. And one of my favourite Christmas CDs playing. It's one of those moments where I find myself reflecting on the events of the day.

Lot of different things happening. Work. Time with extended family. Laughter and puzzles with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. Christmas Eve service at church. A good day.

At the service tonight, the kids acted out the story of Jesus' birth, and another kid read the story as they did. It wasn't perfect, but that didn't matter. They were definitely cute as they acted it out.

Honestly, the birth of Jesus wasn't perfect either.

A stable. Surrounded by donkeys and sheep. Greeted by shepherds.

A scandalous story of how his mother became pregnant with Him.

Two people who trusted God when given a challenging task.

I wonder if sometimes we get so caught up in trying to make things perfect that we miss the point. We work so hard at trying to make sure everything about Christmas goes exactly as we want it to.

The right gifts for every person and lots of them under the tree.

The perfect meal prepared and everyone gathered around the table.

A house decorated just right. Nothing out of place. Everything clean.

But, in our pursuit of perfection we miss it. We miss that Jesus didn't come for the perfect. He didn't come for those who have it all together.

Jesus was born in the furthest from perfect scenario you could imagine. To the "wrong" people. His birth was not the birth of a King.

But it was exactly the way He needed to come into the world. He came in humbly. He came to save everyone, no matter the circumstances of their life.

Maybe we don't need to be so focused on everything being perfect this time of year. Maybe what's important is to remember the birth of our Savior - a birth that changed the world.

There's nothing wrong with the rest. But it can't be all we focus on. We have to be careful no to get so caught up in trying to make things perfect that we miss the point.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

We All Have a Story

A few nights ago at my staff Christmas party, I was looking around the bowling alley where we were gathered. People talking . . . laughing . . . enjoying time together outside of work. The same was true of dinner afterwards.

As I drove home later that evening, I started reflecting on the quality people I get to work with. They have roles at work that can be very challenging at times, but they keep showing up to do the same thing. And I hear the stories of the ways they help people - the way they show people someone does care.

It makes me grateful to have the job that I do. I can't imagine doing anything else. I'm behind the scenes in what I do, but I get to call some great people who are on the front lines co-workers. And to me, that's pretty amazing.

I still remember the first time my heart was stirred to be a part of something that helped people. At the time I had no idea how it would play out in my life. I didn't know if it would be volunteering. Or if it would be a job.

I was in grade twelve and was on a missions trip working in Seattle. One evening we were on a street where a lot of homeless in the city, talking to them and getting to know what their experience was like. It was more than I little bit out of my comfort zone, but I was with the rest of the people from my youth group I'd come with so I figured I wouldn't have to say anything, I could just listen.

There was one guy we started talking to and he started sharing about his life story. I don't remember the details of his story, but I remember walking away thinking that he really wasn't much different from us.

Sure he lived on the street. Sure he had made some choices that had resulted in him being where he was. Sure he had a lot less material possessions than any one of us who had been talking to him had.

But, he had a story that brought him to where he was. And it was a story full of choices he had made and others in his life had made that affected him.

I have a story too. A story full of choices I have made and that others in my life have made that affected where I am now.

The same is true of you as well. It's true of every person who had ever lived.

And so I know that people taking time to show someone they care makes a difference. And that is what I see when I look at my co-workers. People who are giving their time to show people someone cares. It's not always easy. And the difference it makes may not always be obvious or even know. But they keep doing the job and I want to acknowledge them for that. The work they do is important, and I'm grateful to play an unseen role.

So, if any of my co-workers are reading this, I just want to say thank you for all you do. I feel privileged to work with you. You do great things in all the things you do.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Advent?

Walking into church one early December weekend, I saw the familiar Advent candles set up on the stage. It was the first weekend of Advent.

Would it be a bad thing to say I kind of dreaded the next four weeks?

The truth was, I'd lost sight of why we lit the same four candles during Advent year after year after year. It had become nothing other than something we had to do. I'd lost sight of what it was all about.

The expectation of the coming Messiah.

The waiting for Jesus' birth as prophesied long ago.

I'd heard it all before. I could recite it for you.

Four candles. Hope. Love. Joy. Peace.

We light a new one each week.

Then on Christmas Eve, you light the fifth candle - the one that represents Christ come as the Light of the World.

But that Advent, God decided to remind me of why we take that time each year. I was being reminded of the purpose of Advent - at least, the purpose God had for it in my life.

Those four short weeks represent a very small season of waiting. The Israelites had waited hundreds of years for Jesus to come to earth. And then when He did come, most of the missed it because it wasn't what they expected.

Taking four weeks to focus on waiting for Christ to come is s good practice in our lives. It makes us focus on Who Christ really is and why it's important to celebrate that He came.

Hope . . .

Who couldn't use some hope in their lives? Jesus came to bring hope.

Love . . .

Who couldn't use more love in their lives? Jesus came because of His great love for us.

Joy . . .

Who couldn't use more joy in their lives? Jesus came to bring us joy that isn't dependent on our circumstances.

Peace . . .

Who couldn't use more peace in their lives? Jesus came to bring us peace in the midst of our worries and the hard things in life.

And taking the time to focus on this makes the celebration of Jesus' birth that much more important. It reminds us why He came.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Peace on Earth?

Over the last few days there has been one Christmas song that has continued to come up in different settings. But always with reference to the state of the world today.

Many Christmas carols speak of peace on earth. That Jesus came to bring peace on earth.

But, when we take a look at the world we live in, peace seems far away.

Nations are warring against nation. Or against the people within their own nations. Shootings happen in elementary schools and shopping malls. And conflict occurs regularly in everyday life.

Peace on earth . . . it kind of seems like a dream.

I love the words of this song that has kept coming up. It acknowledges the mess in our world and still holds out hope that all will be right in the end. That peace on earth is possible.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Hod rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Till ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Saturday, December 15, 2012


My soul lifts up the Lord!
My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!
For though I’m God’s humble servant,
     God has noticed me.
Now and forever,
     I will be considered blessed by all generations.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
     holy is God’s name!
From generation to generation
     God’s loving-kindness endures
     for those who revere Him.
God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
The proud in mind and heart,
     God has sent away in disarray.
The rulers from their high positions of power,
     God has brought down low;
And those who were humble and lowly,
     God has elevated with dignity.
The hungry – God has filled with fine food.
The rich – God has dismissed with nothing in
          their hands.
To Israel, God’s servant
     God has given help,
As He promised to our ancestors,
    remembering Abraham and his descendants
          in mercy forever.
(Luke 1:46-55 The Voice)

Mary's song of praise in these verses has always been a passage I loved in the accounts of the Christmas story. She had accepted a message and a task from God that would have been hard to take on in the culture in which she lived. And then she praised God because of Him fulfilling His promise.

She declared Who God is and what He had done. How He had kept His promises. How He had cared for His people. How great and mighty God is.

Over and over in her song, Mary talks about how God lifts up the humble and brings down the proud. This is something that plays over and over elsewhere in Scripture as well. Jesus modelled this time after time in His ministry.

Even Jesus' birth in humble circumstances speaks to how God raises the humble and brings down the proud. Instead of being born in a nice place withe the appropriate welcome for a King, Jesus was born in a stable.

Jesus' welcome in that stable was by animals and shepherds. Hardly the people you would think would welcome a King. But the humble shepherds heard the message from the angels and went to welcome the King. Then they spread a message of the birth of the King as they went.

The humble person is the one who can be used by God. The humble person is the one follows God's plan not their own.

I don't always do it well, but I pray that I learn to walk humbly before God better every day.

What about you?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Recapture the Wonder

Sometimes I find myself stopped somewhere in awe of the beauty that surrounds me. Usually this happens when I'm outside somewhere.

It could be overlooking a lake.

Or looking down from a mountain top.

Or looking up at the night sky.

Or watching a sunset.

Or standing in the middle of an open space in the snow or rain.

Usually the place is quiet - at least from the noise of people or vehicles or TVs or phones. All I hear is the wind and the birds in the air.

In those moments I feel a sense of wonder. A sense of awe as I do what I can to take enough in to never forget the moment.

That sense of wonder isn't something I feel often. And it's often fleeting. A few moments and then I'm back to all that's going on in life.

But this Christmas, I want that sense of wonder again. The sense of wonder that comes with the story of Jesus' birth.

It's a story I know well. I've heard it read hundreds of times in my life. But I want to look at it with fresh perspective this Christmas.

I imagine there was much wonder at it all that night all those years ago when Jesus was born.

Wonder for Mary and Joseph as they looked at this tiny baby they had been told was the long-awaited Messiah.

Wonder for the shepherds as they saw the angels and heard their message.

Wonder for the shepherds again as they too looked upon the tiny baby in the manger who was supposed to be the Messiah.

That's something I don't want to miss this Christmas. Wonder over how God chose for His Son to enter our world to save us. I think it's something needed in the midst of a busy season. It makes us take the time to reflect on why we celebrate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Promised Messiah

"Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
     a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son
          given to us; a living gift.
And even now, with tiny features and dewy
     hair; He is great.
The power of leadership, and the
     weight of authority will rest on His shoulders.
His name? His name we'll know in many ways -
     He will be called Wonderful Counselor,
          Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
     Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace."
                                                                     Isaiah 9:6 (The Voice)

This is probably one of my favourite verses in Scripture that prophecies Jesus' birth. I know it well. But earlier today when I read it in a translation I had never read it in before, I found myself slowing down to pay attention to what was being said. It truly describes something amazing and the reason we celebrate this time of year.

"For unto us a child is born,
     to us a son is given,
     and the government will be upon His shoulders.
And He will be called,
     Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
                                                                   Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

That verse out of the NIV is probably more familiar to many of us. But I read that one more quickly and move on without really thinking about it. A different translation often makes me pay attention again.

In one verse the prophet Isaiah says a lot about the coming, promised Messiah. It's a great prophecy. And it describes Jesus so well.

The hope of the world in a tiny child come down.

But no ordinary child. And certainly no ordinary circumstances for His birth.

Just stop and think about what Isaiah's prophecy says His name(s) would be:

Wonderful Counselor
     The One who will always give the best guidance in our lives.
     The One who will always listen when we need to talk.

Mighty God
     The One who is all powerful.
     The One who has control of all creation, because He created it.

Everlasting Father
     The One who is "ever-present never-failing."
     The One who will always be there for us, waiting for us to come back to Him no matter
          how far we wander.
     The One who we can always count on to be there, even when everyone else fails us.

Prince of Peace
     The One who is the "Master of Wholeness."
     The One who came to bring peace in the midst of the chaos life became with the fall.

Isn't is amazing what we're privileged to celebrate this time of year?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

why Christmas matters

Sitting in my living room, looking at the tree. Lights and decorations that reflect that light.

I turn off the rest of the lights in the house to just enjoy the lights on the tree. It's not enough light to do much, but that's okay, I just want to enjoy them.

As I sit, I start to think about the holiday this tree is named from - the day that we'll be celebrating soon.


I've had many years when I've dreaded all that comes with this time of year. The sappy music. The pressure to buy more stuff that we really don't need.

But, the last few years, I've looked forward to this holiday. I stopped letting everything the world around me says it's about impact my thinking.

To me, it's about celebrating Jesus come to earth as a baby. The day Jesus was born is a day that changed the world.

And whether all care to acknowledge it or not, Jesus coming to earth is acknowledged in many things in history today.

As much as Jesus' death and resurrection changed our relationship with God and sometimes I feel like we need to make a bigger deal of remembering and celebrating that day, that never would have happened if Jesus hadn't come to earth first. It's important we celebrate the day that Jesus was born, because it is a day that changed the course of history.

And so, as I sit here by a tree and think about this holiday, I can't help but look forward to it.

What about you?

What does Christmas mean for you?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas traditions that really matter to me

With Christmas quickly approaching, I've found myself reflecting on various Christmas traditions in my family. What they are. And what it is the makes them special.

As I've reflected on them, I've noticed that most of the traditions I see as special are that because they involve people I love and care about. The other things are nice, but it's the people that make them special.

Things like Christmas day brunch. My mom, my sisters, and I in the kitchen together. It's always crepes with fruit and whip cream. And sausage or bacon or maybe both. We've done it for so many years, we work efficiently together. Other people stay out of the kitchen so they don't get in the way. Everyone has their job to get it ready. And the fun part is working together to do it. I can make crepes any time I want - it's special on Christmas because we do it together.

Or things like the big family dinner. It's work to make it happen. But having all of us together as extended family is what I like about it. Even in the imperfections of us all and how we sometime drive each other crazy, I love it. Because they're the most important people in my life and I want to spend time with them.

And decorating the tree and the house at my parents. My mom, my sister, and I usually do it together. We turn on Christmas music and get started. We laugh. We make it fun. And time goes by quickly while we do it together.

What about you?

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

What makes them special?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

learning to be me

For the last while, God has been using things I've experienced in my life to remind me of or reveal to me things He has taught me. This post is another one of those memories. It's sometimes strange to me how clear a memory becomes, but then I see what God is saying through it and it makes sense. With that, on to what the post is actually about...

The drive seemed never ending. Field after field of the same thing. A few houses and farm buildings dotted the fields.

As darkness fell, I found myself watching the sky. The stars. The moon. A clarity I wasn't used to. No city lights obscuring.

It was the beginning of a new journey for me. As I sat in the backseat of the car watching the sky, I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness.

Bible college.

A small prairie town.

A sixteen hour drive from the only place I'd ever lived.

I could hardly believe it was actually happening. I'd thought about going to this school for a few years and never felt the time was right, or had the courage to actually go. But now it was reality.

New town.

New roommate (and back to sharing a room after years of not).

New friends.

The chapel was visible from a distance. It's how we knew we were getting close. Finally, we turned into the two that would be my home for the next eight months.

New student registration.

Pick up my class schedule and other important information.

Find my dorm.

Moving my stuff into my room seemed almost surreal. My Mom wanted to help me unpack it all right away. I wanted to do it myself . . . later. But, I did let her help a little, then left the rest for later.

It seemed like doing that myself was a necessary beginning of my new adventure. The beginning of a journey of learning to be me.

At home everyone knew me (at least it felt that way). Here, nobody did . . . yet.

At home everyone knew my family. Here, a handful recognized my parents' names, but didn't really know them.

At home it felt like I had been put in a specific place where I was supposed to serve at church. Here, I could do what I wanted.

Those things excited me.

They also scared me.

I like the comfortable. I like to know what to expect. But I knew I needed to learn who I was. And this was a place to do that.

I knew God had led me here. I knew it was the right place for me to be right now. I had to trust Him.

Following where God leads us. It's not always the easiest thing, but it's always the best thing. When we go where God wants us to go, He does great things in our lives because we let Him in.

Sometimes He takes us away from what is comfortable and familiar to teach us who He made us to be. That's what going to Bible college was for me. For you it might be something different. What is important, is that we follow God into those strange and uncomfortable places so we can learn.

By the end of two years, Bible college had become a comfortable and familiar place for me. But those two years had served their purpose. I had a better idea of what God had for me and how He had created me. And I was sure enough of it that I could go back to a place where people had known me for a long time and still be who God created me to be instead of anything else.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

the beauty of the family of God

A room full of women. Laughter. Conversation. Food. Games. Enjoying one another's company.

Different ages. Different things that fill our lives.

But one thing in common - we all love God. And we serve together.

As I sat at the table and listened to the conversation I was struck by how odd this may be in the world we live in today. All of us from different walks of life brought together by what we do have in common.

We may not be family in the normal way we think of it. But, we're family in so many other ways. The family of God.

And I felt blessed because of it. My life is richer because of them being a part of it.

As I drove home earlier this evening after spending time with these women, I began to think about how that time had been just a glimpse into how things should be. We need each other. And we need to learn from people whose lives look very different than ours.

They can teach us things we would never learn otherwise, and the women around that table have taught me things just by being a part of my life.

I truly believe that is the way God intended for us to live. Not always dividing ourselves up by age or life stage (although there is a place for that as well)), but learning together and learning from each other.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

a God of beauty and love

Laying in the middle of a field. Watching the night sky. Lost in what we see.




Nothing but those brief words were exchanged. The rest of the time spent in silent awe.

Lights dancing in the sky. Greens. Blues. Yellows. Purples. The Northern Lights were putting on quite a show that night. They filled the sky as far as we could see.

It didn't matter that it was cold. We stayed huddled close together.

It didn't matter that it was late and we should have been sleeping. We would go to class in the morning tired.

We were captivated by what we were watching. By the awesome beauty of a sky come alive. We didn't want to miss a moment of it.

Finally, we got up and headed inside to get some sleep. The cold had become too cold and we had to move. Even then we walked in silence back to the dorm enjoying the last moments of what we had been watching.

Sleep didn't come easy for me that night. I lay in bed wondering at the God who had created what we had just watched.

What kind of God would take the time to create something like that?

What kind of God would cause light to dance across the sky at night?

What kind of God would care enough about the details to create something so incredible, yet so small in the midst of all creation?

A God of love.

A God of beauty.

A God who loves to create beauty.

That is the God Who would do that.

And that is the God I serve.

What an amazing reminder of Who God is. A glimpse of His character.

With those thoughts I finally drifted off the sleep. A sleep that seemed much to short when my alarm went off. But I didn't regret that lack of sleep. The beauty of it all and the revelation that God gave me made it worth it. I wouldn't change anything about that night just to get more sleep. Sometimes other things are more important. This was one of those times.

The evening I've written about here happened just over eight years ago, but it's a night that I've never forgotten. There was something about the beauty of it all and the reminder of Who the God I serve is that I don't ever want to forget. Sometimes life has moments like that. Moments we don't want to forget.

Friday, November 30, 2012

accusing others of legalism?

Yesterday, I wrote about legalism. A few of the thoughts I've been thinking about it in the last few days. You can read that post here.

There's one more question that has been running through my head the last few weeks:

Do we too easily accuse people of legalism?

Growing up in the church, I've heard the word legalism thrown around often. And I've sometimes wondered if all of the times it was actually the right word to be using.

It seems pretty obvious to me that we do need to do things to grow in our relationship with God. That does involve doing things like reading our Bibles, spending time in prayer, etc. And we'll all do those things in ways that are different from other around us.

Sometimes I've heard the term legalism thrown around when someone was talking about what worked for them in their relationship with God, when it really wasn't the right term to use. The person wasn't saying that everyone had to do thing the same way they did, or that what they were doing was how they were saved. The person was simply sharing about their own relationship with God. That's not legalism.

We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of legalism in our own lives. But we also need to be careful that in our attempts to avoid it, we don't wrongly accuse other of legalism just because what works for them is more scheduled or specific than what works for us.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

the trap of legalism

It seems as though I've been hearing a lot about legalism as Christians lately. And it started me thinking about it.

What actually is legalism?

How does it differ from obedience?

Growing up in the church, I've heard people talk about legalism before. I've talked about it. I've judged people who I thought were being legalistic. And I've been legalistic at times.

In many ways, legalism makes things easy. It tells us what to do and how to do it and when to do it. Basically, it tells us that 1 + 1 = 2.

I guess the most basic definition of legalism I've heard is thinking that something must be done in order to somehow earn salvation. It can come in terms of thinking if we get up early enough every morning to read our Bibles and pray before we do anything else, we'll earn God's approval of us. Or, if we just attend church regularly and go to enough Bible studies, we'll be saved.

But, most often the things that we can become legalistic about aren't things that are necessarily bad things or things we shouldn't be doing. Reading our Bibles, praying, going to church and Bible studies . . . these are good things. These are things that help us to grow in our relationship with God.

But, they don't save us. And when we start to make them or how we do them a means of being saved or keeping God happy, we've strayed into legalism. That's a mistake we can't afford to make.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

playing the comparison game

Walking in the room, I did the first thing I do every time I walk into a room. I looked around at the people who were there. Not so much looking for someone I know, as making a quick comparison of myself to those who are already there.

How are they dressed? Am I dressed the same?
How successful are they in life?
How popular are they?

Those are just some of the many questions that run through my mind.

The comparison game. We've probably all played it at one time or another.

Sometimes we walk away from it feeling good about ourselves. Our comparisons put us in the better position than those we were comparing ourselves to.

Sometimes we walk away from it feeling bad about ourselves. We lost the comparison game that time. At least, in our eyes we did.

Why do we do this to ourselves? How did we get stuck in the trap of playing the comparison game? How do we get out of it?

I'm not even usually aware that I'm playing the comparison game. I realize after that I played it, because I either feel good about myself or bad about myself, depending on whether I won or lost in my mind. There are times when I know I'm playing it, because the conversation is all about figuring out which person is the best. But, most of the time the comparison game happens subtly.

We live in a society that tells values people based on their popularity. We follow celebrities. We seek to be the popular one in the group. And this gets us stuck in the trap of the comparison game. We're taught how to play it from day one.

To get out of the trap, we have to decide to do so. We can't stop playing if we don't stop on purpose. We have to choose not to play. It's not easy, because it goes against what we're told.

The easiest way I've found to stop playing is to intentionally look for something to compliment someone on or encourage them with - especially if they're someone I would usually compare myself to. I've found this works for both situations - where I would compare and feel good about myself and I would compare and feel bad about myself. It takes the focus off of how we look in comparison and focuses on the other person.

How are you doing at playing the comparison game?
Are you stuck in the trap of it?
Do you need to get out of that trap?

Friday, November 23, 2012

what does a smile cost?

Well, it's been a week since I issued the challenge to take the time to offer a smile and maybe a hello to everyone for no reason other than they are another person. (See the post here.) I said I'd come back and share what I noticed. And ask you what you did if you took up the challenge.

The biggest thing I noticed is that lots of people were taken by surprise - especially when they were people who usually get ignored. It caught people off guard because they were used to everyone being in their own world as they passed by. Some returned the smile or hello, but others were too surprised to do so.

The biggest thing I noticed was how it impacted me. I enjoyed my day more, and "bad days" weren't near as bad and didn't seem to last all day. It's interesting to me how something so simple can have such an impact.

We need to learn to notice the world around us. I'm as guilty as the next person for walking down the street ignoring everyone or being so busy with my phone that I don't acknowledge those who are providing a service to me in the grocery store or coffee shop. But I'm seeing that I need to change things. I need to learn to notice people. To pay attention.

I've known for a long time that it can change my day when someone notices enough to give me a smile in passing, but I've not always done the same in return. It's time to make that change. It's time to make it a habit to notice people around me.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Psalm 37:4

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

I've heard this verse often.

I've believed this verse.

I've loved this verse.


That verse has also frustrated me.

And made me mad.

Depending on what is going on in my life, that verse can be one I love or one I wish I didn't have to hear or read again.

It sounds so simple and straightforward. Almost a cause and effect kind of situation. If you do one thing -in this case: delight yourself in God - the other will happen - in this case: He will give you the desires of your heart.

But the reality is that it doesn't always feel like this is the case. It sounds so simple, but living it doesn't seem to be quite so simple.

I often wrestle with why it's so difficult. As I've done this, I've begun to wonder if it's because what we think are the desires of our heart really aren''t.

What if we're confused about our real heart's desires? What if the things we think are our heart's desires are actually just things that are covering up our real heart's desires?

Obviously, God won't give us the desires of our hearts if they go against what His Word says. That's why the first part of the verse is so important. We have to delight ourselves in the Lord first, so our desires can be transformed into things that are pleasing to God.

But what about when we're already doing that and our desires are good things - things that line up with God's Word? Why do we sometimes seem to have to wait for the desires of our heart to be fulfilled? Or sometimes wait and never see them fulfilled?

As much as I don't like the conclusion I've come to on those questions, I don't see any other way to look at it. In those times we have to choose to trust that God knows best and that He has something better in store for us that wouldn't happen if He gave us the desires of our heart we're seeing as unfulfilled currently.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

a smile costs you nothing

I know you saw me. But you just walked by as if I wasn't there. It's okay. I'm used to that. Most people do the same.

The ones who just ignore me are some of the nicer ones anyway. If everyone just ignored me, that would be okay.

There's a few who won't ignore me, and the definitely won't help me. They're the ones I dread. The ones I do my best to avoid.

Some people call me names. Or talk about me like I can't hear them. Those are the ones I never get used to.

There's a few people who make my day. They smile. They say hello. They treat me like I'm a person.

I'm not asking anything from you. No money. No food. I don't want your stuff.

I simply ask for one thing that costs you nothing. The respect of being treated as a person. It costs you nothing to smile as you pass me by. It costs you nothing to say a simple hello.

Who am I?

I could be many people.
I might be a homeless person. (I wonder if that's who you thought I was talking about when I wrote this.)
I might be the one who is left out of the group.
I might be the one who is sitting by themselves at church.
I might be your brother or your sister.
I might be your neighbour.
I might be your co-worker.

So often in our culture today we ignore the people around us. We walk by pretending that we didn't see them. Or maybe we really didn't see them. And sometimes we make fun of the person we see alone, whether behind their back or to their face.

This behaviour isn't right when you get down to it. It costs us nothing to treat someone with respect simply because they are a person. But, for the person on the receiving end of our smile, our hello, or our simple acknowledgement that we saw them, we can change their day.

I've been that person who had their day changed by a simple smile from someone passing by. I know it's true, but I don't always do the same in return. I'm deciding that I want to change that.

I'm choosing each day to slow down and look up from my phone long enough to smile at those I see. To take the time to give everyone I pass respect simply because they're people like me.

Anyone else in?

OK, I'm going to do something I don't think I've ever done on my blog. I'm challenging you to join me in doing this for one week. For the next seven days, do this. Take note of how people respond. And what happens for you. Then come back here and share it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

escape the hurry

I love the first snow fall of the season. It always seems to transform the world as everything is covered in a blanket of white. Sounds are muffled. Hurry is often impossible.

Somehow. Some way. The snow makes us slow down. It causes us to pause in the busy-ness we usually live in.

Our response to the pause is what matters. We have two choices.

We can get frustrated and angry.

Or we can choose to enjoy the slower pace. We can choose to enjoy the pause - enjoy the quiet.

There really is no use in getting frustrated and angry over it. It won't change anything. It just wastes our energy.

When we choose to enjoy the slower pace and the quiet, we put ourselves in a place to hear from God. A place to recognize His voice in our lives.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Turning the world white.
Silence falls as a blanket covers everything around me.
The only noise is the crunching of the snow with each step I take.
Peaceful. Quiet.
It feels so different from the usual.
Rushing. Noisy. Hurrying to the next.
Sometimes we need to just get away from the noise and hurry.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

seeing God's glory

Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face not must be seen."
Exodus 33:21-23

When I read those verses earlier today, I was struck by what they said. Especially in comparison to something I've often heard prayed or sung in church.

God made it pretty clear to Moses that seeing His glory was a big deal. And God provided for Moses to see just a glimpse of it.

By this point in the story of Israel, we know that Moses is a man who talks with God. Moses and God have a close relationship. Yet, even Moses, still cannot see the full glory of God.

We sing songs. We pray. We ask to see God's glory today. I wonder if we do it with a full realization of what we're asking.

The way we relate to God has changed from Moses' day because of Jesus Christ. But, Who God is has not changed. God's glory today is as powerful as God's glory in Moses' day.

That means we need to take it seriously when we ask to see God's glory. It doesn't mean we can't ask. We definitely can (and should) ask. But it does mean we should be conscious of what we're asking for.

God protected Moses from seeing more than he could handle seeing by hiding Moses and covering him with His hand. God allowed Moses to only see His back after He passed by. And that was enough.

When we ask to see God' glory, we may only see a glimpse of it after God has passed by. But that's enough. It's all we need to see.

Friday, November 9, 2012

they're people too

They’re people too. Those people who are the outcasts of our society. The homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill. For some reason, we’ve come to think they’re not really people.

We treat them like they’re not people. We refuse to make eye contact when we pass them on the street. We think its okay to call them names. To treat them as if they’re less than human. We teach our children this.

How did we ever come to think this was acceptable?

They’re people too. They have feelings. They have ears to hear what we say. They have eyes to see our looks of disgust in their direction. They feel pain. They know when we look down on them.

The sad thing is when some of them get used to this. And think this treatment is what they deserve. This is a travesty. It never should have come to this.

We’ve done something terribly wrong to get to this point in society. It shouldn’t be some peoples’ job to befriend these people. All of us should be doing this in our own small way as we go. For no other reason than they’re people too.

Take a moment to hear their stories. Take the time to care. You just might be amazed by the stories you hear. Stories that could be any of ours if things had gone differently or we had made different choices.

Some of them don’t want to be where they are. They’re looking for a chance to change. They’re reaching out for help. When we stop to give them a chance we can truly change their world. Not all will accept or even want our help. We can’t force it on them. But maybe that moment of caring will be the start of change for them.

Be smart about it. But don’t excuse poor treatment of them all based on just a few.

They’re people too. We must learn to treat them as such. It’s the only acceptable choice as followers of Christ.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

refreshing rain

It was still dark when I opened my eyes. In the quiet cabin I could hear the rain tapping on the metal roof. For a few moments I just lay there listening.

So quiet and peaceful. It felt like I could stay there for hours. Listening to the rhythmic drum of the rain on the roof.

I've always loved the sound of rain. The feel standing and turning my face to the rain. It's always been refreshing and restoring.

Somehow the rain seems to wash things away. The stress of the day. The frustrations of life. They seem to disappear as I stand in the rain.

After standing in the rain for a while, I head back inside. I'm wet. Leaving a trail of water behind me. But I'm ready to face another day. Ready to move forward.

In the same way as a rainfall refreshes and washes away the dead, a rainfall of God's Spirit working in our lives will refresh us and wash away the dead. Just as after a rainfall new life appears, a rainfall of God's Spirit working in our lives will bring new life.

When was the last time you put yourself in a place to receive a fresh rainfall of God's Spirit in your life?
Is it time for that again?

What areas of your life need refreshing?
What areas of your life have dead things that need to be washed away?
Where do you need new life to spring up?

Ask God for a fresh rainfall of His Spirit in your life to do that. It's so worth it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

be still

Grabbing a life jacket and a paddle, I headed towards the row of canoes on the beach. The sun was just beginning to peak over the mountains. Mist was rising of the lake.

I put a canoe in the water and climbed in. Cold water splashed as the canoe rocked while I pushed off. Then the canoe steadied and I began to paddle.

Gentle waves rocked the canoe as I paddled to my favourite spot on the lake. Reaching the middle of the lake, I stopped and just sat in the canoe taking in the view around me.

The sun was slowly climbing higher. It's rays beginning to feel warm on my face and arms. The silence is broken by the call of a loon somewhere on the lake. I see a few fish jumping just beyond the canoe.

Something is special about this moment. This time spent enjoying God's creation. What a beautiful world He created.

Then I hear it. It almost feels audible. God speaking to my heart.

"Be still and now that I am God."

I'm really not sure what exactly this means. I know the verse. But I wasn't expecting to hear from God right now.

"Be still. Stop doing. Listen. Look. Experience. Be still."

A few more minutes taking it all in and it's time to head back to shore. Breakfast is starting soon and I don't want to miss it.

As I turn the canoe around, something clicks. Getting out in the canoe and taking it back to shore are both things that are work. But once I'm out on the lake and I just stop and sit, I being still. I'[m enjoying God's creation around me.

I need to do this more often. Stop. Be still. Sometimes it feels like I'm always running to the next thing. Life offers little time to be still if I don't make it happen.

It might take work to get there. To get to where we can be still. Work to look after life responsibilities so we can get to that place. But it is work we must do. Those moments to be still and know that He is God are needed.

I feel the bottom of the canoe hit the sandy beach. Climbing out, I drag it back up on the beach. The sun is shining brightly now. The mist is no longer rising from the lake. Looking behind me, I see the water is as smooth as glass. Nothing breaking the perfection of the surface.

"Thank You, God. I needed the reminder today."

Being still is counter-cultural. Being still is more difficult than we think. Being still is vital. We cannot really live without learning this.

Being still refreshes us. Being still renews us. Being still can change us more than one more good church thing will.

In the midst of busy lives we must find time to be still. Times to enjoy all that God has created. Times to let God speak. Times to listen for His still, small voice.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lord, have mercy

I heard a song a while ago that caught my attention because one often repeated line of the song is not in English. I liked the song even more when I discovered that the line meant" Lord, have mercy." That's often the cry of my own heart.

I want to share the song with you today. I hope you'll take the time to listen to it and read through the lyrics I've included.

Kyrie Eleison (by Mr Mister)

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old it holds my memories
My body burns a gem-like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie Eleison
Down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison
Through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison
Where I'm going will you follow
Kyrie Eleison
On a highway in the night

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

The sentiment of those words is something I often find myself crying out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I grew up as your typical “church kid.” There was never a week that we missed going if we were in town. We had to be really sick to stay home.

I never knew anything different than getting up Sunday morning and getting dressed in your nice clothes and heading off the church. I knew that not everyone did that, but I thought they were the ones who were strange. My family was the normal in my books.
Because church was such a regular part of my family life, I have very few memories of childhood that don’t relate to church. My life revolved around Sunday school, kid’s clubs, youth groups. And I enjoyed most of it.
There were times growing up when I wondered what it would be like to not go to church. I thought maybe I’d try that when I was an adult and could choose for myself. But, then that point in my life came and I chose to stay. Church had become my extended family and I didn’t want to leave.
I grew up in a great family, surrounded by parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but church had become a larger family to me. One that my biological family was a part of. And I’ve learned that when you have that kind of blessing in your life you shouldn’t too easily let it go.
My work with a ministry that reaches out to the outcasts of western society has driven this point home for me over and over again. The homeless, the addicted, and the mentally ill are often left to face the world by themselves, without their family by their side. And seeing this each day makes me even more appreciative of my biological family and make me hold tighter to the extended family I have found in my church. With them on my side, I’m confident that I’ll never have to face the world alone.
When you have people to walk beside you, life seems so much easier. When I need advice or encouragement or a push to get moving again, my extended family at church is there to do just that. And I’m learning that I need them much more than I ever would have thought.
Sometimes it just seems like I need a person who isn’t related to me biologically to look at something in my life and give me their opinion. If they don’t have a personal interest outside of being my friend, then can show me things I didn’t notice and that people closer to the situation wouldn’t point out. Since this is my extended church family, I can be sure that they still have my best interests in mind. I don’t have to question their motives.
Growing up as your typical “church kid” is something I’m glad I have in my background. I feel like my life is richer for the people church has brought into my life. I really don’t want to imagine what my life would be like without it, because I feel like there would be some gaping holes I wouldn’t know how to fill.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

conquering fear

“Just take the first step,” she called from below.

I wasn’t sure how I managed to get up to this point. I didn’t remember climbing the ladder, but I was the start of a high ropes obstacle course. Harnessed in and 20 feet off the ground. I hate anything that takes me up so high.

“You just have to start. You can do it,” she called again from below.

I almost looked down, but knew if I did that I would never get started.

Cautiously I took the first step onto the rope I was supposed to walk on. My hands tightly gripped the guide ropes to keep me balanced. With my second step everything started shaking. Each step got more challenging as the rope swayed more. My hands couldn’t grip the rope they were holding tightly enough. A few more steps and then my foot slipped. I didn’t fall, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue.

“Don’t give up. Just get your foot back  on the rope and keep going,” she encouraged from below.

I knew I couldn’t turn around on the narrow rope to get back to where I started and I wasn’t going to try to do it backwards either. I kept moving forward. This wasn’t so bad after all. I decided I could do this.

I finished walking the rope part. Next came a swinging wooden bridge. Conquered that. A balance beam. That high up? A single guide rope to hold onto. Slow and shaky steps, but I reached the end of it.

Then I reached the zipline. The last part of course. I froze again. Flying through the air? No way! I can’s do this. And from here, I could climb down and be done.

One more call of encouragement from below, “You’re almost done! You can do this!”

I was pretty sure I couldn’t, but she kept encouraging me. Finally, I closed my eyes and jumped. Well, more like I fell off the platform. A few seconds of falling before I was caught and then I sailed off the end. I couldn’t open my eyes until I reached the end. Feeling my feet hit solid ground was the greatest feeling in the world.

“See! I knew you could do it,” my friend exclaimed.

She was right. I had done it. I had faced my fears and done what I never thought I could do. It was so freeing! I have proved my inner thoughts wrong.

That day was my biggest life lesson on fear. Sometimes we just have to do it anyways. Stop letting fear keep you from trying. If I hadn’t put on the harness, if I hadn’t climbed up to the platform, if I hadn’t taken the first step, if I hadn’t kept going when I slipped, I never would have known the freedom of facing my fear and conquering it. There’s no better feeling I have found.

The same is true in all areas of our lives. We may be asked to do things that scare us to even think of trying. But, if we actually take the first step, we may just be surprised to find that we can do it. With each shaky, unsure step our confidence grows and before we know it we have done the thing we were most scared to do.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

take a holiday?

Okay, I'm sitting here and just realized the clock says 11:45pm . . . meaning I only have 15 minutes left in the day I'm supposed to post something here. It's crazy how even just the first day off for holidays can mess with your schedule enough that you forget things. Sometimes change from the "normal" schedule does that.

I've been thinking a lot about our need for times we take a break lately. I think it come from realizing that it had been almost two years since I'd taken more than a day or two at a time for holidays. So now to have a week and a half off seems strange.

But, I'm learning that sometimes we need to take breaks from the busyness of daily life. We need time to rest. We need time to rejuvenate. Sometimes we just need a change from the everyday life we live for a few days.

At a leadership conference I was at last week, one of the speakers said, "you can't sprint for 6 months, but you can for 6 weeks." He was talking about it within the ares where we lead, but I started thinking about it in life in general. I can give something everything I have for a short, set period of time, but I can't do that indefinitely. I need breaks from doing that if I'm going to survive.

But I wonder if somehow in our culture today we've gotten ourselves mixed up on this and we're trying to sprint indefinitely. And when we discover we can't do that is when the catastrophic happens in our lives. Something that can take us out permanently.

Maybe that's why we need to once again embrace the importance of taking breaks - of taking holidays. You don't have to go somewhere and spend a lot of money to take a holiday. This holiday for me consists of lots of things I can do within an hours drive. But, I'm taking a break from most of my normal, everyday life. Somethings go on, but much of it is put aside right now. And I'm doing other things I don't always do.

It's what I needed. Maybe it's what you need to. To somehow figure out how to take a break - to rest, to rejuvenate. Not an endless break, we'd get bored then, but a break with a set end date. Time to remember why we do what we do each day and to be ready to jump back in with new energy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

contentment or longing?

What do you think of when someone brings up contentment?

What do you think of when someone talks about a longing for something?

Contentment and longing. Two words that bring a variety of responses.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I like contentment more in my life or living with a long for something different. I always thought it had to be one or the other. That’s how it was taught to me.

I would tell people I long to get married one day and they tell me I have to be content with being single first. I would tell people I wanted children of my own one day and they tell me I have to be content with not having children of my own first. Rightly or wrongly, these comments told me it’s an either or.

But, lately I’ve discovered something about these two words that changed things in my life. It’s not and either or. It’s a both and.

Contentment and longing can both exist in my life. It’s not a case of choosing one or the other. I can embrace both at once. And it makes my life better. I can be content with things in my life right now and still have a longing for things I don’t have.

I can be content with a great job, a ministry to serve in at church that I love, an amazing family, and good friends. But, I can also have a longing to be married and have a family of my own. The contentment and the longings can coexist in my life.

A life without contentment sees us always running to the next thing. Our longings start to rule. Life becomes hurried and busy.

A life without longings is boring. We just go through each day doing what we always do. Nothing seems to change.

But when we combine the two, we live a better life. We learn to fully appreciate all we currently have. We also keep things moving as we long for something more and different.

It’s a challenge to find this balance, but I believe it is a must. We have to stop telling people they must be content with things the way they are and have no longing for anything else before God will allow anything to change in their circumstances. This simply isn’t true. And if they really followed that advice, nothing would ever change because they wouldn’t want it to change anymore.

What we need to do instead is learn how to keep our longings in check. We can’t let them rule our lives, but we can’t put them away for good either. We have to learn to walk the line between being controlled by our longings and becoming so content with how things are we don’t ever change.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

share the stories

I've heard it said many times in different ways, if we don't learn from the past we're bound to repeat it. We keep repeating the same mistakes in new ways. And we forget the good things that happened that we can learn from too.

It makes we wonder about how disconnected we are from our past in the church today. I remember when I was growing up, every time my church anniversary rolled around we took the time to celebrate and remember both the good and hard. Pictures of the churches past were brought out and stories were shared. I don't remember the last time that happened. I was still a child when it did.

There is so much we have to learn from that history. But with each year fewer people know it. I wonder if we're losing the stories of God's faithfulness and provision in the past. The stories of  how that part of God's family followed God and made decisions.

We have our current stories. We have the memories that we make each year. And those are all great. But we can't forget the times before that. The current stories are built on top of the older ones to record the God-filled history of our church.

We need to hear the good stories, the exciting ones. We also need to hear the stories of the struggles and God's faithfulness in the midst of them. These stories give us courage and renew our resolve in the midst of current struggles. We need to understand where we came from and why things were done the way they were. Knowing them makes us stronger going forward.

When we know the stories of our past, we learn from the good and bad of them. It helps us make decisions going forward. It encourages us to keep going.

If we refuse to learn from the past of our church we're making a huge mistake. The stories must be shared. They are what make us who we are today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


It was time for church again. Parking in my usual spot, I headed for the doors. I was early. Typical for me. A few people were already there. A grabbed a bulletin as I headed to my seat.

My seat. Isn’t it strange how we get possessive over a place to sit on a bench? The place where we always sit at church. We feel lost if someone is there when we walk in.

I watch the people coming in as I wait for the service to begin. Families. Couples. Singles. Some come together. Some come alone.

The ones who come alone, they seem to stay alone. No one comes to sit with them. Others don’t seem to see them there. They are invisible.

It’s how I often feel. Invisible. As I sit alone. No conversations. No hugs. No handshakes. Just me alone. Invisible in the crowd.

The service is over. I linger a few moments, then gather my purse and Bible to leave. I smile and maybe say a quick hello as I walk past the families gathered around.

Longing to be noticed. Hoping to be seen. I take my time at the coffee bar, seeking familiar faces. A chance to have a conversation. Still I feel invisible as others pass me by. I am still invisible.

Finally, I leave. Crying as I sit in my car. I wonder if the day will come when I’m no longer invisible.

A week goes by. It’s time for church again. Do I really want to go? No one will notice if I don’t. I am invisible. I think I’ll skip this week.

Monday comes. My phone rings.

“Missed you at church. Is everything alright?” the voice on the other end asks.

“Yes. Just had a busy week.” is my reply.

I can hardly say the words. Tears are forming in my eyes. A lump in my throat. I’m not invisible. Someone noticed. Someone cared.

I guess I’ll keep going. Maybe I’ll even be bolder in my attempts to talk to others. They may feel invisible. I need to let them know they’re not. I notice. I care. Like someone did for me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Psalm 130:7-8

Today I'll finish with my thoughts in Psalm 130, by talking a bit about verses 7 & 8:
Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
     for with the LORD is unfailing love
     and with Him is full redemption.
He will redeem Israel
     from all their sins.

The psalmist is pretty clear about where our hope should be and why it should be there. God is where we should place our hope. He is worth placing our hope in. The kind of hope we place in God is placing all our expectations in Him.

The psalmist also give reasons why we should place our hope in God. He says that we can put our hope in God because God's love is unfailing. God's love will never fail us - He will never betray us, or hurt us, or turn His back on us when we need Him.

The psalmist also tells us that we can put our hope in God because He redeems us. God purchases back everything that the enemy has stolen from us or that we've allowed the enemy to take from us. God will redeem all those things in our lives because it is to His glory to do so.

Where have you placed your hope?
Do you trust God's unfailing love for you?
What areas of your life do you need God to redeem from your enemy?
Ask God to do that as you place your hope in Him.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Psalm 130:5-6

Today, I continue in my thoughts on Psalm 130, talking about verses 5 & 6:
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
     and in His Word, I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord,
     more than watchmen wait for the morning,
     more than watchmen wait for the morning.

I love how these verses talk about waiting for the Lord expectantly. A waiting that is looking for something to come, not just sitting back. A watchman's job was to keep watch for any possible attacks on the city during the night. That's a watching that speaks of being ready to do something and being expectant of something. That's definitely not a passive waiting.

It challenges me on the concept of waiting in my own life. Am I passively waiting? Or am I expectantly waiting, ready to act?

The psalmist speaks of waiting for the Lord. There weren't just waiting for something - they were waiting for God to come. The knew Who they were waiting for. And that Who they were waiting for was worth waiting expectantly for.

What about the waiting in your own life?
What are you waiting for?
Are you waiting expectantly? Or passively?
Is what you're waiting for really worth waiting for?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Psalm 130:3-4

A couple of days ago, I started writing some thoughts about Psalm 130. Today's post and a couple of more posts after this will continue to talk about it. Today, I want to spend some time on verses 3 & 4 of Psalm 130:
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
     Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
     so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

When I read those words, I'm so thankful to be reminded that not only does God offer forgiveness for my sins, but He also doesn't keep a record of them. I don't think I would ever want to see how large a record of my sins would be. That would be overwhelming and more than a little bit depressing. But, thankfully, God doesn't keep that kind of record of our sins.

God offers us forgiveness of our sins. How great is that? To me, that's a pretty amazing thing when I stop to think about it.

The last part of verse 4 really stuck with me as I reflected on this psalm ". . . so that we can, with reverence, serve you." God's forgiveness isn't conditional - all we have to do is come to Him and ask for it and then turn from our sin. But, God's forgiveness should show something in our lives. According to the psalmist, God's forgiveness is so that we can serve Him.

As followers of Christ, our lives should be lived in service to God. And we are freed to serve Him because of the forgiveness He gives us when we ask. God's forgiveness is something truly amazing to live in because it frees us to do exactly what the psalmist says - to serve God.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Psalm 130:1-2

I've been working on a study of the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) recently. It has been a great study. The other day, we got to what is probably one of my favourite psalms out of this particular collection - possibly one of my favourite psalms overall.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD,
     Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
     to my cry for mercy.
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
     Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
     so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
     and in His Word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord,
     more than watchmen wait for the morning,
     more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
     for with the LORD is unfailing love
     and with Him is full redemption.
He Himself will redeem Israel
     from all their sins.
(Psalm 130, NIV)

I love the psalmists honesty with God and declaration of truth about God in this Psalm.

I want to focus mostly on what the first couple of verses in this Psalm have to say today.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD,
     Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
     to my cry for mercy.

God hears our prayers when we cry to Him. He hears our cries for mercy. God listen attentively to us. No matter what the depths we may in when we call to Him, He is there and He listening and He answers our cries for mercy.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I need the reminder that I can call to God from anywhere and He will hear and answer my call. It seems like it's something I far too easily forget, but the Psalms give us an examples of exactly this over and over. It's an example we would do well to learn from. But, it is also only the beginning of it. The psalmists never stop at this cry, but always go on to praise God for who He is.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


It seems like there is always one weekend a year where I'm far more conscious of all that I'm thankful for than any other time of the year. That weekend would be this weekend. I think with the holiday this weekend being called Thanksgiving, ti makes me stop to think.

As much as there things in life that I don't have that I really desire, I'm reminded once again of just how much I have to be thankful for - how much God has blessed me. Both people in my life and things I have. I can't imagine what my life would be like without the people in it, who I'm thankful are a part of my life.

I find myself wondering why it seems like it so often takes a holiday called Thanksgiving or something else that specifically speaks to that for me to think about this. Most of the time I just go through life with all that I have and don't even think about it. Often, taking for granted that I have those things and that those people will be there for me. Maybe this is something I need to learn to make a more consistent part of my life - not just a once a year thing.

How do I make thankfulness more a part of my life? What will that look like for me? What does that look like for you?

I think for me, and maybe for all of us, it has to begin as something we intentionally choose. If it doesn't come naturally to us right now, then we have to decide that we will stop at regular intervals and take a moment to thank God for all He has given us. And, over time, that becomes a more regular part of our lives. Over time, we learn to live a life of thankfulness rather than always needing a reminder to be thankful.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

why should we love the church?

Since I wrote my last post on Tuesday, I’ve continued to think about the topic of loving the church. I started to think about why we should love the church. Since I feel that we should love the church, then it seemed natural to me that I would want to know why I should.

I just started reading a book that speaks to this from the first chapter, Messy Church: A Multigenerational Mission for God’s Family by Ross Parsley. Right from the beginning, the book talks about church being about family. That the church is a family that we are part of.

One particular quote from the book, explained it in a better way than I can:

“We need the kind of family that knows us, our fears and faults, but loves us anyway; the kind of family that will invest and forgive no matter what. It’s a community of people who share privileges and responsibilities as we learn how to live together in harmony. Church can’t be a place where we feel like a visitor, or somewhere we’re afraid to allow others to see our messages. It’s got to feel like home.” (Ross Parsley, Messy Church)

To me that describes church at its best – a family where we feel at home. And I think that makes a pretty good case for why we should love the church.

If you stop and think about it, we love our families even when they drive us crazy, or do something that hurts us, or make us mad. And we love them when they do good things too. If we do this with our families, doesn’t it make sense that we should do the same with our church families? In my books, it does.

I think when it comes to answering the question of why we should love the church, it comes down to how we view our church. If we view our church as a family, then we should be loving it the same as we love the families we grew up in (or wish we grew up in). A church family loves each other through everything – whether it is good or bad.