Category Archives: Christian

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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Filed under Being Creative, Bible, Christian, God, Imagination, Jesus Christ

This is Now

The Time is NOW wall clock | Zazzle.com | Diy clock wall, Cool clocks, Wall  clock

It’s that time when we are reminded to reflect on the past year and set goals for the next. This is all with the hope that the new year will be everything that 2020 was not, as if that last tick of the clock at midnight will reset our lives.

Sorry to disappoint, but it doesn’t work that way.

This is now. It’s what you have.

I’ve concluded that I spend far too much time thinking about what happened in my past and, on the flip side, wasted so many precious minutes fretting about what could happen in my future. Really, how dumb is that? I don’t want to use my brain power on things I can’t do anything about.

The past is done. Over. Finished. You can’t change it. Remember the good stuff and learn from your mistakes. Move on.

The future is yet to come. Set your course to accomplish the things you need to in order to achieve whatever prize it is you’re reaching for and do it.

My point is: THIS. IS. NOW.

Are you missing the blessing, the love, the wonder, the joy of today because you’re mired in the past or caught up in what could happen in the future? Our Father, in all His infinite wisdom, gave us NOW.

Stop what you’re doing. Look around. Smile. Send a text message to someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Pick up the phone and call a friend or a family member. Write something positive in your journal. Thank God for your life, your health, your home – for His care.

No excuses.

Let this be your focus:

Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:17-19 (TPT)

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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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De-Conform

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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

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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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Grateful?

Grateful-Heart-2

This is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Feasting, family, friends, football . . . you know the drill. It’s often a busy day with the people you care about and there might even be a comment or two where someone offers a word of gratitude.

Aside from this day set aside for thanksgiving, however, are we really grateful?

Hmm . . .

I read an article this morning about the victims of what’s known as the Great Purge, some of the more than 9,000 German Mennonites arrested in Ukraine from 1936-38, during Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s ethnically motivated persecution (click here). I am of Mennonite ancestry and my family immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine, so this news story caught my attention.

I got to thinking about Thanksgiving and how my generation, and those following, have little context with which to understand the sacrifices and hardships that made it possible for us to be where we are today. We, in North America, have not experienced world wars, the Great Depression, or ethnic persecution such as the Jewish Holocaust and that which is described in the article I read. We’ve certainly had rough times, but nothing to the extent that our forefathers lived through, and sometimes even died during.

Yet, they were thankful.

I know this, because I’ve read my great-great-grandmother’s diary. I’ve spoken with elderly people who shared their stories. Almost without exception, they repeatedly express their deepest gratitude to our heavenly Father for giving them courage, for protecting them, for making a way for them, and for never leaving or forsaking them.

I am certain that the Lord pointed me to that website with the article I mentioned. Reading it caused me to stop and really think about my own often ungrateful heart and how I can become more purposeful in expressing thanks, not just to my Father, but to others around me.

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, 
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations. – Psalm 79:13 (NKJV)

 

 

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Pause

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Hit the pause button and sit down with me for a few minutes. This is important.

Too busy, you say? Too bad, I reply. You need to see something.

First, answer this question: When was the last time you experienced God – I mean really felt that God was present with you, hearing you, and showing you how much He loves you? Be honest.

I could venture a guess and say that for most, it’s been a long time. Maybe it’s been weeks or months or years. Maybe never. And that is so incredibly sad, because the Father is all about His sons and daughters experiencing Him. He longs for an intimate relationship with His children.

I’m not going to give you a methodology to cultivate a closer walk with Jesus, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m also not going to spout doctrine or theology. I’m simply going to tell you that Jesus loves you, really loves you, with a love that cannot be described, explained, dissected, or analyzed. Because He IS love. As a matter of fact, He invented love.

And He is right there loving you whether you like it or not.

Before you start protesting, you need to know that you are good enough. You’re important to Him. He is not disappointed in you. The Father’s love for you is infinite. Jesus is your righteousness and you are complete in Him. Complete! You can’t get any more complete than complete, right? There is no separation between you and the Father. Jesus made that possible. He is in you and you are in Him. As one.

Perhaps you believe that you don’t understand enough about God or the Bible to really experience Him. Perhaps someone convinced you that you weren’t spiritually mature. Let me assure you that even though you may not fully grasp the concept of the love, grace, or goodness of your Father doesn’t mean you can’t experience it.

Just pause.

Close your eyes (unless you’re driving) and think about the Father’s love for you. He made you in His likeness – how awesome! – and that’s who He sees when He looks at you. He just loves you. And you can’t do anything to earn it or diminish it. Ever.

That is truly pause-worthy.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)

 

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Shifting Gears

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I have to repent.

For years, I have stubbornly refused to use this blog as a forum to document my personal journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. Oh, I’ve posted smatterings, but I wanted to be careful to keep it generic enough to stay out of trouble, so to speak. I didn’t want the controversy or the potential criticism.

I don’t care anymore.

So, I repent. I am so sorry that I caved to the social correctness of the days we live in, despite the gentle coaxing of my Father to write what He wanted me to write. I tried to reason with Him, because He’s all over being reasoned with, right? Uh – no. I used the excuse that I had nothing of life-changing relevance to share. After all, who would listen to me anyway? Yeah, that didn’t go over so well with God either.

I’m shifting gears.

I’ve told the Lord that I want to write the words He’s given me, sharing the insights He’s revealed.

That’s scary.

Scary, because it means I am exposing myself in ways that I’m not entirely comfortable with. But then whoever said being a Christian was supposed to be comfortable?

Here’s the thing: life is short. Especially when you’re on the back end of middle age. I don’t have time to piddle around and make lame excuses anymore. I’m going to write what my Father tells me to write, in the way He wants it written. And I think He is smiling and heaving a great sigh of relief because I will finally use the gifts He has given me for the purpose He meant them to be used in the first place.

But this is hard. So hard. My brain is shouting at me, saying I’m crazy to even consider this. Well, Brain, get with the program.

We’re shifting gears.

Stay tuned.

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