Category Archives: Bible

That I May Know Him

A few days ago, I posted the following on Facebook, requesting responses from my friends:

Do you regularly read content written by Christian authors (books – fiction or non-fiction, articles, blogs, etc.)? If so, what do you like about them? What don’t you like? If you do not read Christian authors, why not Can you give examples of authors you like and those you don’t?

The responses I got were not surprising to me but would perhaps be surprising to some Christian writers and publishers.

Most of those who answered the questions said yes, they did read Christian content, although not many had good things to say about Christian fiction, particularly women’s fiction because much of it tends to stereotype women into very traditional roles and thought patterns. I have found this to be true in my own reading. Several authors’ names did come up as exceptions, though.

Of the I-do-read-Christian-content responses, preferences were primarily well-researched non-fiction books and articles. Some of the authors are well-known and others more obscure. There was an almost overwhelming negative response toward the “feel good” books that play on emotions and fail to address and deal with the root of the issues. My friends who no longer read much Christian content have been disillusioned with the shallowness of what’s out there, the poor quality of the writing, or the false perceptions such material leaves with readers.

Now I’ll tell you why I have embarked on this research.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a webinar for Christian writers and bloggers. I was looking forward to it, as most of the writers’ conferences and seminars I’ve attended have not focused on Christian content. I should have skipped this one. Let’s just say that after the webinar I was not compelled to respond to the “rate us” email. There was no option to give a minus rating. It was horrible. Worse than horrible. Not once was the name of Jesus mentioned. Not once did the speakers talk about digging into the Bible for content, answers, or direction. Not once did I hear anyone say that the focus needed to be on God the Father. As a matter of fact, the “best” advice, they said, was to go to a local Christian bookstore, look around at what is offered there, and write that. Because it’s what’s popular. It’s what sells.

Are you kidding me???

Okay, I calmed down a little and then yesterday, I took myself off to a Christian bookstore – the only one within a 100 km radius that hasn’t gone out of business. As a point of reference, I am a former Christian bookstore owner and I know the pain of having to close the doors on a labour of love.

My fact-finding mission at the bookstore uncovered no surprises. The department occupying the greatest amount of floor space was giftware. Yeah, you know. All those cheesy ornaments with Bible verses on them. The next largest area was fiction, most of which looked eerily the same as my own bookstore did twelve years ago – a HUGE number of Amish romances, a good number of mysteries (also romances), and a few really good books by really good authors.

I moved on and turned the corner and my eyes widened. Rows and rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves of Women’s Interest books. Do publishers not know how bad pastel covers look en-masse? I wanted to run away screaming. While I’m certain there were some truly excellent ones in there, anyone would have been hard pressed to find them among the volumes of drivel.

(drivel – childish, silly, or meaningless talk or thinking; nonsense; twaddle)

Seriously. A good 50% of the books even had the smiling face of the author on the cover. Who are we worshipping here? And the titles! Don’t even get me started.

Here’s my point: Where is Jesus? Who is He? What is He for/to you? Why do you follow Him? How can you know Him and the power of His resurrection?

And I continually long to know the wonders of Jesus more fully and to experience the overflowing power of his resurrection working in me. Philippians 3:10 (TPT)

THIS is what we need. To know and experience the living Spirit of God moving through us, in us, around us. To understand what He is to us and for us. THIS is what it means to be alive in Christ.

Anything that does not point you to Jesus should be questioned. That goes for so-called Christian books that offer answers for every life problem – books that make you feel good about yourself and excuse you from having to actually deal with your issues without giving Jesus the liberty to work with you. I’ve read many of the books I’m generalizing about here. I know what’s in them. And for all the money I’ve spent, words I’ve read, and felt justified in my sanctimonious attitude, nothing, NOTHING worked until I let Jesus show me the areas in my life that needed work. He and I are still housecleaning in that regard.

My greatest desire is to write what the Father God puts on my heart. Not what sells the best. Not what makes readers feel good (aka fluff). Not what other people tell me I should write. I believe that when I write what God has burned in my spirit, lives will change, and He will be glorified.

My little Facebook research project is a good indication that there is an audience for authentic writers who truly hear from God and write what He says. So, if you’re one of those, GO!

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Filed under Bible, Blogging, Books, Christ, Christian, God, holy spirit, Jesus Christ, Women, Writing

Powerful Wind

SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (WIND) | JESUS WAY 4 YOU

A powerful wind blew through our area last night, leaving wide-spread power outages, downed trees, and property damage in its wake. The sound was deafening at times, like a jet airplane flying at a low altitude directly above our house. Rain poured from the sky in torrents. Visibility was non-existent.

This morning, the sun was shining as a beautiful day began. At first glance, all appeared right with the world. Yet, the evidence of the storm’s effect was there. The wind we could not see had made its presence known in things we could see.

The same thing happens with the Holy Spirit. His role is to glorify the Father and the Son, and to dwell in us – making Him unseen. But like the wind, the Holy Spirit works in unpredictable ways. Even though we can’t control or manipulate Him or make Him to do our bidding or anticipate His next move, we know He is there. We see the evidence of His presence in us and around us. We see the effects of His work in the lives of people who yield to Him.

For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born! John 3:8 (TPT)

Be still.

Allow Him to breathe His life into you. Hear His voice speaking to you, whether that be a gentle breeze or a powerful wind.

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All Things New

All Things New - Sermon Series & Sermon Graphics - Ministry Pass

I started at the back of the Book this morning and the scripture below caught my eye.

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. Revelation 21:5-7 (NKJV)

The phrase “all things new” stood out because I really like it when God says all. When He says all, He means all. He will make all things new. He will restore all things. He will renew all things in your life story. He will renew your strength once and for all, and give you joy that endlessly overflows.

Even though you may not see it right at this very moment, God is working on your behalf. He’s dealing with those prayers you prayed yesterday, or even years ago, ensuring that they are answered at exactly the right time in exactly the right way. Have you been looking for Him? Listening to Him? Getting yourself ready for the new things He is waiting to place in front of you?

God is freely giving the water of life to the ones who are thirsty for Him. Remember to drink from that fountain. Know that He is good, He is on your side, and He will never fail you.

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In the Beginning

Was it a coincidence that my copy of The Book of Genesis: Firstfruits (The Passion Translation) lay right there in front of me when I sat down at my desk this morning? I don’t think so. Not on this first day of 2021.

Aside from the obvious, there is something deeper.

When God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was completely formless and empty, with nothing but darkness draped over the deep. Genesis 1:1 (TPT)

Read it again. When God created . . . CREATED. This word, according to the footnotes in my Bible, is used exclusively in the Old Testament to describe God’s creativity, things only God can do. He created the earth and everything in it from nothing, after all. The very first sentence in the Bible establishes that God is a creator and, until that mind-blowing event occurred, there is no record of anything being created before.

I am so awed that the beginning words of the Bible reveal God’s creative nature. But there’s more.

So God created man and woman and shaped them with his image inside them. In his own beautiful image, he created his masterpiece. Yes, male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (TPT)

We are image-bearers of the Most High God. And because He shaped us with His image inside us, we have His creative nature. Our imaginations, our dreams, our abilities to make ideas a reality are a part of God’s nature in us.

All of this might sound elementary to those who may have already grasped the depth of what this means, but I think many have not. I want to encourage the ones who have given up, the ones who can’t see anything but a dismal future, the ones who don’t believe they are important, the ones who are hurting or lonely or full of sorrow.

God has created you in His image, with everything He is inside us. Everything. You are one with Him in Jesus Christ. Allow His peace and comfort and grace and love to flow through you.

In this beginning of a new year, leave the old behind and embrace the Father’s nature living in you, His masterpiece.

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What Will You Do?

This morning I had an instructional “conversation” with my husband regarding the use of bookmarks, URLs, and deleted emails. Let’s just say I am not a patient teacher when it comes to showing others how to navigate the world of electronic communication, especially when the student does not have any desire to understand the basic mechanics.

Over the years, I have repeated this phrase hundreds of times: the computer will only do what you tell it to do. I’ve had co-workers, friends, and acquaintances lament to me that their computer is different. Their computer is frozen, messed up, stupid, corrupted, or whatever, and it happened all by itself. Uh . . . no. At least, the answer is no 99.99% of the time. There isn’t any amount of blame-laying that will change that fact. Again, the computer will only do what you tell it to do. You just have to learn the rules.

I got to thinking about how this applies to life.

We like to blame someone or something else when life doesn’t work the way we want it to work, because it couldn’t be our own fault, right? Things went wrong because someone or something else messed it up, froze our attempts, corrupted our ideas, or whatever, and it just happened. Uh . . . no. We have to learn the rules. Or in the case of us Christians, we have to learn what the rule Book says.

We have the ultimate instruction manual – the Bible – and we have God, the Father, speaking to us by His Holy Spirit. All. The. Time. But what do we do with that? We often don’t pay attention or ask for clarification or allow the words to sink into our hearts. We think we know better, but seriously, we don’t.

Like computers, we can only do what we – WE – tell ourselves to do.

Where are we getting our information? Are we listening to the right Source? Do we allow His words to root themselves in our spirits?

What will you do?

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Is It Christmas Eve Already?

25 Christmas Traditions and Their Origins - HISTORY

When I was a kid Christmas always seemed to take forever to arrive. Minutes dragged by with sloth-like speed and I’m pretty sure there were years when I’d convinced myself that the celestial timekeeper was slowing down time just to teach me patience. Things gradually picked up, though, and the years starting racing by. Now it’s Christmas Eve again and I’m fairly certain we just had that a couple of months ago. Didn’t we? Or maybe 2020 is finally showing a random act of kindness by getting us through the year as quickly as possible so we can start planning a future without masks and social distancing. It’s a thought.

This week my mind has been filled with memories of Christmases past. Taking part in the annual Christmas Eve program at my grandparents’ church, wearing a brand new prickly, scratchy, ruffly dress (I can still feel that starched crinoline), a multitude of relatives packed into the house, celebrating my Dad’s birthday (he would be 87 years old today if he hadn’t taken an early flight to heaven), and so many other traditions.

It’s different this year. Our nine grandchildren and their parents are having Christmas in their various homes instead of coming over to eat, laugh, and be a family together. We’ve all agreed to abide by the laws of the province. We understand the reasoning, but we don’t have to like it, right?

But, more than the familiar activities we’ve grown to expect year after year, the purpose for all the celebrating hasn’t changed. God was born in human form, to start the ball rolling and make a way for us to be with Him for eternity. That’s rather awesome.

Stop for a moment and think about this:

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!” Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” Luke 2:8-14 (TPT)

Prayers for a blessed Christmas are coming from our house to yours!

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Fog in the Valley

The view from our home’s perch on the side of a mountain is extraordinary. Except on days like today when the fog rolls in and obscures the valley below. We know there is breathtaking beauty beneath the mist – green fields and forests (yes, even in December), majestic peaks on the other side of the lowlands, and the ever-changing skies above. We just can’t see it right now.

The fog distorts our senses. Images waver, sounds are muffled, the air is close. It can feel like an alternate universe. 2020 has been that alternate universe for many of us. We peer out the window to look for the tiniest break in the clouds and wonder when we will be able to see clearly again. It seems endless. Heavy. Uncertain.

But know this: God is not uncertain. He’s GOD.

He isn’t inhibited by Covid-19 or any other problem we have. He doesn’t sway back and forth trying to make a decision. He doesn’t play favourites. And He doesn’t leave us alone. Ever.

So, when you’re trying to find a way in the fog, remember that He is there with you. Take His hand and allow Him to walk you through.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

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Obstacle Course

I’m fairly certain that I am not only one who feels like life is one big obstacle course. A lot of things seem to stand in the way of things I want to do, but I am beginning to realize that often my very own thoughts have been creeping through my mind, hindering my desire to move forward. Sneaky things, those thoughts. And they can present some enormous roadblocks.

It’s good to recognize and acknowledge that there will be obstacles along the way. Although I am fully aware that there are legitimate obstacles that we must overcome, it’s also good to recognize and acknowledge that we have created many obstacles by neglecting the way we think – allowing anything and everything to crowd into our heads, causing all kinds of trouble.

Remember this little piece of scripture?

So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. (Philippians 4:8 TPT)

Forgot that one, right?

This is something I am always grappling with, given my rather vivid imagination. I know that I can very easily get sucked into a black hole of self-pity, depression, stress, and even fear when I fail to keep my thoughts continually fixed on God. For me, it has to be a conscious effort, hardwired into my brain so I’m not dependent on an unreliable wi-fi signal.

I love this verse:

We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. (2 Corinthians 10:5 TPT)

The truth is that when something is blocking your way, preventing you from moving ahead, you always have a choice. It doesn’t matter whether that obstacle is self-inflicted or an outside challenge. You can either curl up on the couch with your favourite cozy blanket and Netflix, or you can actually get up and do something about it. The choice is yours.

Take those thoughts captive and go through, climb over, go around, or dig under your obstacles.

God says you can.

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De-Conform

different

To all the wordaholics reading this, I am well aware that de-conform is not a word. I made it up for this blog post. Wordaholic, for that matter, isn’t a real word either. Just let your OCD tendencies slip a little for the sake of literary license, okay?

I read Romans 12:1-2 in The Message Bible, and this is what it says:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I know, I know. I’ve caused you more grief by using a paraphrase instead of an actual bible translation. Live with it. But don’t miss my point.

Which is to de-conform.

Remember my last post (click here) about the crowd-following bridge-jumpers? The whole de-conforming thing fits right in. Read the two verses above again and get a small glimpse of what the Apostle Paul is saying here. In a nutshell, THINK! Use your brain.

In a world gone berserk – come on, let’s call it what it is – going against the culture is unpopular, and can even get you in trouble if your attention isn’t fixed on God. But when you ask Him, hear Him and include Him in your life, He’s going to give you some pretty specific instructions. He will change you. He will bring out the best in you.

I had the opportunity to pray with and speak into the life of a young woman today. The details of the situation are hers to share, not mine, but the amazing and completely God thing about it all was that because I put aside my own comfort zone in order to do what the Holy Spirit directed me to do, this young woman got something she would have otherwise missed. It had nothing to do with me, except that I was obedient. It had everything to do with her receiving a gift that the Lord wanted to give her.

As it says in the above passage, readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. I clearly recognized God’s direction in that moment (believe me, I don’t always), and I acted on it immediately. As a result, a precious woman was blessed. How awesome is our God!

So, what does de-conform mean? (Again, my own word, so my own sort of definition.) Rather than chugging along with the crowd, I am striving to hear the voice of my Father so that when He tells me to move in a different direction, I won’t even hesitate. It’s a process. But He is so patiently teaching me, waiting for me to catch up, nudging me along, and scooping me out of the ditches when I stumble. Oh, He is good!

I don’t want to be a photocopy of everyone else. I want to be what God wants me to be – a reflection of His Son, Jesus Christ. I want to be obedient and faithful and true to what He has for me to do. To say. To be. Holy and acceptable to Him.

De-conform.

It’s a real thing.

 

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Take a Look

Take-a-look-660x330

When I was a young teenager desperate to do everything my friends were doing, my parents often asked the question, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Well, of course not, but I did want to do some bridge-jumping, despite the dangers of going along with the crowd.

Admit it. That was you, too, once upon a time.

As a matter of fact, we’ve grown up now and we’re still those crowd-following bridge-jumpers.

We live in a world where we carelessly rush into things before we’ve stopped to take a look at where we’re going and why. The general masses are headed in a particular direction, adhering to particular social norms, and behaving in a similar manner; so much so that you can hardly distinguish one personality from another. And we don’t dare disagree. But we keep going along with it because they must be right. Right? Because breaking away from that crowd would make us different. And we don’t want to be different.

It’s hard to be different.

It’s hard to stop and take a look around while you’re in the middle of a crowd that’s moving along at a rather alarming pace. You put yourself in danger of being trampled. Or yelled at. Or mocked. There is a strong likelihood that your friends and/or family won’t stop with you. They’ll probably urge you to get moving so you won’t be left behind.

So, we continue along, not even bothering to question why we do what we do. We see everything changing and we might even protest a little, but it’s hard to be different, remember.

This even happens in the Church.

Yup, I said it.

We really don’t want to stop to take a look while we’re in the middle of the Church crowd because in that context, the backlash could be even greater. We don’t want to say anything to rock the boat because the Church crowd can be harsh.  And it’s Church, after all. God must be in it, right?

Right . . ?

At this point, you’re probably wondering what the point of my point is. I can’t possibly get into it all in one blog post, but I will say that I am stopping more frequently to take a look – to take a look at how Church is being “done”, to take a look at the people around me who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ (not crowd-following bridge-jumpers), and most importantly, to take a look at my own relationship with Him. Why? Because there seems to be a big disconnect between what the Bible says and what I see around me – and what I see in myself.

I have been on a personal journey (that word has been so overused, but I can’t think of a better one right now) for the past few years, and I am convinced that we Christians are missing way, way, WAY too much because we are allowing the crowd to tell us what we believe and how to believe it instead of listening to what God says. Spiritual deafness, is that a term?

Time to pop the cork on your crowd-following. You’re not going to jump off the bridge with the rest of them. You’re going to stop and take a look, regardless of the consequences, and find out how deep and wide is the love our Father has for you. His plan has always been for you to follow Him, not the crowd filled with people who haven’t got time for Him.

Take a look in the Bible. Take a look at the Father in prayer. Take a look at where you’re going with Him.

It’s quite a ride.

Want to come with me?

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