Archive for April, 2017

“Then God said,
“Take your son,
your only son, whom you love
and go to the region of Moriah.
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.””
Genesis 22:2

Whenever I read the story of Abraham being tested by God, my first thought is,

“I wonder how it would have gone if God had tested Sarah?”

Could a mother:

whose womb was empty beyond the age of human possibility,
who became pregnant as an old lady,
who felt her son’s movements in her womb,
who used more strength than she ever thought possible to push him into the world,
who counted his perfectly formed fingers and toes,
who nursed him at her breast,
who looked at his sleeping face willing that memory to be forever etched into her memory
who cleaned his scraped knees

… pass this test …SarahLaughed

I was reminded of the story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube). Although the account of this test that God gives to Abraham in Genesis never mentions Sarah, the mini series version depicts the mother-heart of Sarah in a way that I could relate to.

In this made-for-television version, Sarah realizes that Abraham has gone, with Isaac, to make a sacrifice to God.

Now these sacrifices were not anything new! At least as far back as the time of Noah, who, upon exiting the ark that had been the floating home of he and his family for forty days, and forty nights, “built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it” (Genesis 8:20). Leviticus 17:11 says, “for the life of a creature is in the blood,and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

Blood, the source of life, for the sins of living.

So, when (in the mini series) Sarah realizes that Abraham has taken her son to the mountain, to offer a blood sacrifice, yet with no lamb to slaughter, she chases desperately after them.

I do not know if this happened.

I do believe that if she did, and if it were significant to the message that God wanted for us from this story, it would have been written there.

Perhaps, there is more value in there being no account of Sarah in this story. Perhaps, what God wanted was for those of us who are women, who are mothers, to ponder:

could we …

would we …

do we …

place God before all …

even our children?

*this is a re-post, of a re-post, from a few years ago. The story of Sarah, Abraham and Isaac have captivated me since I first heard it as a child.


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I am a conundrum!

I love change, live for it really. Yet, I adore the safety and security of what I already know.

There is an energy that comes from making a change in ones life. It makes the heart beat, widens our eyes and keeps us on our toes.

Yet, change can also create palpitations, fear and anxiety. It can make one yearn for monotony.

When I read verses such as, Isaiah 43:19:

“I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” 

I think to myself, but my current situation is not a wilderness or desert. I like what I know, and feel protected by the predictability around me.

But then there is Hebrews 11:8:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

He just went, without a clue as to his final destination …

Nothing written about fear or yearning for safety and security.

He just obeyed.

He just stepped forward.


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“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.”
Ecclesiastes 1:5

As I awake each morning in spring, I open my eyes to the discovery of how much light is pouring into my bedroom. Each day there is change, each day getting brighter, bringing with it the joy of a new day with more daylight.

After arising, my next discovery is in looking out my kitchen window, which faces East. From there I view the sunrise scene of the day. The mornings I stand there the longest are the ones when the sun’s rays are pouring through the trees, as if they cannot contain themselves any longer.

This spring has brought few sunny mornings, yet I still awaken with the same anticipation.

It has happened before, so I seek it.

That makes me think about the presence of God in our lives.

Sometimes we are so aware of his presence in our lives, it is almost tangible, it is simply undeniable. Many times, though, we do not feel his presence so keenly.

Yet, I still awaken with the same sort of anticipation.

His presence has been felt before, so I seek it.

I am also aware that on a dark day the sun is still present, just hidden by the clouds, God is still present, even when I cannot feel him.

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Sleep in Peace


“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.

And if I should die, before I awake,
This I ask, for Jesus sake …”

This is a short prayer that sometimes plays in my head as it rests on my pillow at the end of the day.

I can close my eyes and be in my young childhood bedroom, with my mom or dad at my bed, praying this simple prayer. I am not sure if it happened every night, or sporadically, or just once, but the memory of it is clear.

Even today, in my forties, I receive a measure of peace simply by thinking it in my head, for it resides, not only in my memory, but in my heart.

The final line, is not the final line.

“This I ask, for Jesus sake …”

was followed by God bless …” and then I would list people in my life.

Though ever so simple and wrote, this nightly prayer keeps much in order.

  • it is a reminder that God is the one we should reach out to at the end of our day.
  • it is the submission of our souls to the hand of God.
  • it is the acknowledgement that the number of our days is not guaranteed nor know to us.
  • it is the delivery of others into the care of God.

Maybe it is the best of prayers for a good night sleep.

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IMG_0274If I were to say “look up, look way up,” you were probably a child, growing up in Canada, during the 1950s-1980s, who watched The Friendly Giant children’s TV program.

That favourite childhood show has had a lasting effect on me, for when I look at something that is tall, those five words instantly come to memory.

I often wish I had realized the value and power of repetition when my kids were younger. There is no way of erasing some of the things I was repeatedly exposed to in childhood. The memorization of Bible verses, nursery rhymes and songs. The little sayings my dad would repeat.

It is interesting to me, each time I “look up, look way up,” that there is such a profound lesson in those five words.

A numer of times in the Psalms, there are verses about God looking down from heaven, in search for someone who is wise.

“The LORD looks down from heaven on humans to see if anyone is wise, to see if anyone seeks God” Psalm 14:2

If he is looking down, we must need to look up (look way up). 

Perhaps, it is when we are in a position of looking up, that we are in the posture of one who is wise … or at least of one who is in search of the origin of wisdom.

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30

look up, look way up



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Ever caught someone doing something that they thought was done in secret?

I remember a day when I stood at the front doors of the high school I work at and I observed something that a student thought was done without anyone else seeing.

A student, with numerous, very real struggles, was waiting for his parent to pick them up, after school. Another student came along, with a bag from Tim Horten’s. As she came closer to the boy they made eye costact and they smiled at each other, then he looked down at his feet. When he diverted his eyes from hers, she looked instantly saddened, disappointed. She then stopped in front of the boy, and offered her bag, filled with some sort of sugary treat, to him. He looked up, surprised, then smiled. She smiled back, said something to him, and walked away smiling even brighter.

What she did will never win an award, a job, a good GPA.

What she did, was not to raise her profile or position.

What she did will never even be incorporated into her resume.

To her knowledge, it was simply an interaction between two individuals, and her payment was the smile on the boy’s face, which was all the payout she needed.

But, her actions were seen, and not just by my inquiring eyes.

Matthew reminds us of the value of doing things out of the eyesight, and limelight, of others :

“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself … When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either … Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”
Matthew 6:2-6 

“The focus will shift from you to God”

I love that line!

Our world notices, awards and sits on a pedestal what they see … fair enough. But God, can and does see everything … the good, the bad and the ugly. He sees us, and knows our hearts. He sees what we do in public and in private. And his reward is the presence of his grace in our lives.

God wants our hearts to be in tune with his, not for our earthly benefit, but for our eternal walk with him.

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“Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again”

The sun arose.

The dark of night was being extinguished by the light of the new day.

It was Sunday.

The Son arose.

The dark sin of death extinguished by the light of the world

In Hebrew, the name Jesus means god saves. Through his sacrifice of death and separation from his Father, then the resurrection on the third day, Jesus, the son of God, saves us even this day.

This is the day of celebration for he beat the power of death. Not just to show himself, risen, but so that we too could, through his sacrifice, overcome death.

Though we still live in a world of darkness, of sin, heartbreak and loneliness, we are never alone, and we have the power, strength and companionship of the the one who conquered sin and death.

This makes for a better eternity, it makes for a better today too.


You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King”

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“We’re you there
When they crucified my Lord?”

I remember the first time I heard the lyrics to the song were you there, and tears fell onto my cheeks.

Over a hundred years it was a negro spiritual included in a book called Old Plantation Songs, and is a song of questions … from the past and for today.

Today marks the day before the day known as Good Friday.

For some it is called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. It is a day in the Holy Week when the Last Supper is remembered, and is the model of the ritual of Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist.

For me, this is the greatest day of contemplation of the entire Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday. On this day I wonder at the events on that day of calm before the storm, for Jesus.

A day of prophesying and preparing his followers for what was to come.

A day which, he knew, was his last chance to speak to his friends who would become his church.

A day when he knew what was to come.

A day when food and wine flowed liberally for his twelve, but the reference point that they were got stuck in his throat.

They lay on their sides enjoying the celebration and sustenance of that day, yet it was his impending death that would give them sustenance and celebration for the rest of their lives.

I often think of the questions of that song, on this day. I ask them of myself, as I prepare for the reality of their (affirmative) answers. We were all there … we are all there.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

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When my kids were young, I would sometimes hear their cries from the bedroom at night. When I would ask what is wrong their response would be, “I’m scared, Momma.” And so I would ask the reason for their fear. Sometimes it was a fear of someone dying, or that their favorite toy was lost, or the dark was too dark, or they just felt scared. I would then sit, or lay, on their bed and say soothing words, sing soft songs. Inevitably, they would soon drift off to sleep.

There was no magic potion that eased them into restful sleep. What my children needed was not so much resolution of their fears, but my presence with them through their fears.

Do you remember times when the presence of someone you loved was the best comfort in the face of fear?

Maybe it was walking home in the dark, as a teenager, after watching a scary movie. Or holding your dad’s arm while walking down the aisle at your wedding (or maybe you were his comfort?). Or that friend who sat with you during chemo treatments. Or the one who held you close as you walked through a great sadness or depression.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

This Friday, Christians all over the world will walk through the valley, as we remember the sacrifice of Christ for us.

As his body hung on that cross, he was so aware that he was alone. A loneliness that he was born to bare, a loneliness that his divinity did not deserve.

Yet, Jesus, though the fear of the loneliness of the dark overwhelming, showed that he chose the accompaniment of the name above all names.

According to Elicott’s Commentary:

“how it was possible for the Son of Man to feel for one moment that sense of abandonment, which is the last weapon of the Enemy. He tasted of despair as others had tasted, but in the very act of tasting, the words “My God” were as a protest against it, and by them He was delivered from it.”

He spoke the name of his father when he shouted, “”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), and in doing so he declared,

even though I am in pain

even though my heart is heavy

even though I have wrongly been declared guilty

even though I will die a lone being

I will not fear, for you are with me as long as I have breath left to say your name.

The presence of God is there for us all, we need only to call on his name.


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They took palm branches and went out to meet him,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
John 12:13

The triumphal entry of Jesus the Christ into Jerusalem was a day of celebration, a day of joy and hope … but it preceded so many other events.

Hosanna preceded Jesus prediction of his coming death. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say?” (John 12:27).

Hosanna preceded Jesus announcement that one would betray him … sharing in the bread itself. “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21).

Hosanna preceded Peter vowing to lay his life down for Jesus, and Jesus declaration that before the light of day, he would deny him not once, but three times. “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (John 13:38).

Hosanna preceded his arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion and death.

Today, in Egypt, over fifty have been killed, over one hundred have been killed, in two attacks.

“The blasts appear to have been timed for maximum impact, as people gathered to mark Palm Sunday. It is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.” (BBC)

The people, the Christ-followers, arose to sing hosanna.

Hosanna preceded the trouble.

Before fulfilling his passion for us, Jesus reminded us of the reality of life, of a life of following him:

In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33

Hosanna precedes the trouble. But the trouble precedes the glory.

On the day of his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, Jesus foretold his own fate, but also the fate of those who would follow him:

“Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
(John 12:23-28)

May God be with those in our world who are suffering troubles. May they, once again, sing Hosanna.

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