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Archive for February, 2022

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ad·vo·cate
intercessor, consoler, comforter, helper

1 John 2:1 came to mind:

“we have an advocate with the Father …”

It was the word advocate that drew my attention.

An advocate is one who intercedes, who speaks for, who pleads a case to a higher authority. We do not have to argue our case for justice, because an advocate will speak on our behalf, will fight the fight for us.

To have one to plead our case is such a gift. Because, sometimes we need an advocate simply because we don’t have what it takes to speak for ourselves, to stand up for us when we are weak, when we are ill, when we are not at our best. One who will look at us and our condition and says the words and makes the decisions that we do not have breath to speak.

Someone who is willing to get dirty on our behalf.

I think we all, instinctively, look for such a person. One who knows us so intimately that they will speak and do for us when we cannot. Though we may come up empty in looking for such a one with skin, we do have advocate.

Who is our advocate? “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One,” (1 John 2:1b).

But, Jesus also refers to the Holy Spirit, “I will not leave you comfortless” (John 14).

Jesus, the righteous, sinless, virtuous, good. He is our advocate, it is his spilled blood that has corrected us so that we can stand before the God of this universe as righteous, sinless, virtuous and good. In a sense his blood is the rose-colored glasses through which God sees us.

Jesus who, as Charles Spurgeon said:

“Jesus.” Ah! then he is an advocate such as I want, for he loves me and takes an interest in me. Jesus is the name of one who became man for my sake. He knows what sore temptations mean; he understands what trials mean, what afflictions mean. I am glad I have one who will be interested in my welfare, and will plead for me as a friend for a friend, and as a brother for a brother.”

No better advocate can be found than one who loves us, who is interested in us, who understands what it is to experience human temptations, trials and afflictions. Not only that, but he is one who will argue our case … to death, to his own death.

That is how much he believes in us! How much he loves us.

We have an advocate, and his name is Jesus.

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I awoke early, in the dark, to a dusting of snow on the ground, the sliver of a moon shining brightly. It was a glorious awakening. As I sat down with a steaming hot cup, facing East, the grandeur of Mt Baker already being illuminated by the dawn’s earliest light.

Ahhh! A smile spread across my face.

I inhaled peace, hope, joy …

Joy.

Exhale …

Joy comes in the morning.

Words of comfort by the Psalmist (30:5).

And it occurred to me that every morning is not so glorious. I mean, would joy come when it’s dark, starless and pouring rain for the fifteenth day in a row? I know how I would greet such a morning and it wouldn’t be feeling peace, hope or joy. I would scowl, turn my back to the firmament.

Maybe it, maybe this joy that comes in the morning (after a night of weeping) is dependent not on who offers it, but how willing I am to receive it? How willing I am to greet the day as a blank slate, as gift like a wrapped box with a golden bow, held out to me by the God of the universe, the God who created all things. And all I have to do it stop wiping the tears of the night before and hold out my hands to receive it … to receive the joy that is there regardless of my mood, my feelings, my perspective regarding rain.

Joy … it’s there in the morning.

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yup … I just used this image …

Wanna laugh?

I think that laughter is always the best medicine … except maybe in funeral homes, though …

As my mum, brothers and I sat around a table with a funeral director, organizing the final farewell for my dad, the director offered to play a music CD at some point. It was then that I got very … honest. “There is nothing worse than ‘canned’ music at a funeral. We do not want that.” All heads pivoted in my direction, eyes wide. I immediately knew I had, perhaps, been a bit too direct in the manner I responded. The director looked down and said, “but, I specialized in CD playing at school for funeral directing.” An awkward silence filled the room, followed by uproarious laughter. It felt so good to laugh in the midst of mourning!

I love a good sit down with cat and dog videos … seriously the best way to waste time and turn a bad mood into good.

Working in a high school, there is often laughter during the work day. What is fun is how students will either misspell or misuse words when they are writing assignments or on tests. In a Christian school, confusion between the words Gentiles and genitals makes for great conversations and laughter.

Then there are errors in church bulletins. Such as, some of the following :

“Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.””The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.”

“Next Thursday, there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.”

“At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What is hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

“Announcement to the Moms Who Care ladies group: There will be no Moms who care this week.”

“Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It is a great chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.”

One of my favorite stories that makes me laugh hard every time I read or hear it is the story told by Dave Barry (click on link … it is SO worth it!) about a journey into his colon. Nothing like a colonoscopy story to give one a good ‘ol laugh til you cry moment.

People, I don’t know about you, but my need for laughter, for good ‘ol belly laughs, with tears pouring down my face has increased exponentially over the past couple of years. There has been so much to bring us down, to make our moods sombre, to steal our hope … to divide us. But laughter … it soothes the soul, lightens the heart and brings people together.

I hope this helps to give a smile to your day.

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I know I don’t know it. When I am praying, I don’t know it. When I am making an important decision, I don’t know it. When I am looking at the future, I don’t know it.

God’s will … I don’t know it.

I have been thinking about God’s will quite often lately. As I have been returning to work after a bit of an absence. As hubby and I look at what a new business could look like. As I have been praying for healing. As I try to envision personal purpose in this life God has given.

Then, just yesterday, as I was driving I heard this quote, definition really, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

“God’s Will is
what we would choose
if we knew
what God knows”

and I have been mulling this over in my mind ever since.

I think we sometimes use God’s will and God’s heart interchangeably.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us of the importance of the Word of God in knowing his heart, “all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” If the Bible is, indeed the Word of God, to know it, to dig into it often, is the best way to know his heart.

But, his will … that, I think, is a different thing. His word does speak of his will:

We know that we have been instructed to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

We know that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Similarly, that “he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And our repentance, our redemption is of such value, he made the biggest of sacrifices for us, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

And maybe that is the will of God that we need to keep our focus on. Maybe it is imperative that the goal of our lives be our repentance, be our accepting of his love in our lives? Maybe, if we keep our own focus on the value of his redemption of humankind, we would then see that his will is not just our redemption, but the redemption of all around us. Maybe it would mean that we would live our lives as a sacrificial offering to the one who saves us. Maybe it would mean that we so reflect our God, that others cannot but help to be drawn to him.

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For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10

Death and taxes … that is said to be the only guarantees in life. Sounds kinda grim and it is, if one lives without God in their life. For God in our lives guarantees one more thing …

hope.

The thing is that even for those who do not walk with God, he walks with them. I often visualize him as that shadow that is just on the edge of our periphery, that presence in an otherwise empty room, a whisper that is only heard inside our own heads, the sense of touch, of embrace when one is alone.

I kinda think of the Spirit of God like a stalker, who hovers, awaiting an invitation to enter into our life, to lead rather than to follow. His ghostly presence, causing the heebie jeebies for those who have yet to welcome him in, is the essence of peace for those who rely fully on him to do life.

For those in whom the Spirit lives, there is another reality …

you cannot get away from the Spirit.

There is no hiding, or ignoring or running away from him. He is simply always there.

Always near.
Always loving.
Always right beside.

His presence is comfort, peace to those who know him. The awareness of him in our lives gives hope for the future, whether it is decades of life on this soil, or hours.

The other day the song (below) started to play and was absorbed into my otherwise preoccupied mind and soul as I’d spent that day in constant prayer for another. My heart was heavy, immersed in the weight of those circumstances. Then these words pierced my mind:

You love me when I’m lost
You love me til I’m found
Your love it surrounds me
I can’t get away

I tell you, he’s always there, you can’t escape him.

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Yesterday was the day of love (does anyone else hear the voice of Barry White?). At least, the day of love, the Hallmark version.

So, I am thinking that the day after a day with so many expectations (and we have all had them at some point), some expectations that may have come to fruition, but probably many more that did not … and that is real life.

The other day, I was reminded by a poet about the love that

exceeds expectations …

every. single. time.

"He said love is patient, then He said: I am love
He said love is not not easily angered, then He said: I am love
He said love keeps no record of wrongs, then He said: I am love
He said love always protects, then He said: I am love
He said love always overcomes, then He said: I am love
He said love never fails, then He said: I am love"
- Unka Glen


As I read each line, I could (literally) feel the love.
The love of truth of those words. 

The love of One who is love. 

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, today (did you know?) is Galentine’s Day. It is the day to celebrate friendships.

According to Cosmopolitan magazine online, Galentine’s Day is worth celebrating “because regardless of whether you’re coupled up this month, romantic love isn’t the only kind of love that deserves all the attention.”

The Greeks had multiple words for love.

Philautia is love of self. Though it can become selfish, it is actually really important as a foundation for loving others (many verses in the Bible refer to loving others as self, so if we do not love self, how can we love others?).

Philia is the love of Galentine’s day … it is the love between friends who share mutual affection and devotion.

Ludus, or playful love is like the flirty interchanges between people who just meet.

Eros, or sexual love. THIS is what seems to be most ‘advertised’ leading up to February 14.

Pragma is the long-haul committed form of love.

Storge is love within families and/or friends who feel dependent on each other.

Mania is … not a healthy form of love. Think obsession.

Agape is the most unselfish, undemanding. There is NOTHING required or expected from someone loving in the agape way. Truly, I think it is other-worldly, for how can one love, and love, and love and never (not once) expect something in return, yet keep loving? There is only one who can love like that.

Jesus love is that agape love. He loves and loves and never, not once, expects anything in return. That is not to say that he does not hope for us to love him.

Whenever I think of agape love I think of the love a mum has for her newborn. That is full-on, full effort love. There is no payback, no guarantee of the love being reciprocated. It is just 24-7 work! And yet, mums do it. They love, because this child is theirs … irregardless of whether or not the child chooses to (ever) love back.

Love is … so varied.

My mind keeps coming back to the Cosmo quote,

romantic love isn’t the only kind of love

Don’t get me wrong, lit candles, sweet words whispered and spine-tingling touch are delightful, but love …

love is more than flowers and feelings. It is more than wrapped gifts and going to a restaurant.

It is more than receiving …

it’s giving, and hard, and for the benefit of another/others.

Here’s the thing …

We love each other because he loved us first

1 John 4:19

No manner of love, be it for ourselves, our family, our lover, our friends or neighbors …

none of it is possible except that the ultimate love was offered to us, at a cost, by the very creator of heaven and earth and us.

And so, as we stock up on Hallmark’s priciest greeting cards, and boxes of chocolates, and light the candles, and share heart-shaped cookies, this love of a day or of 365 days … they are all possible because we are loved, because He loved us, giving his best and brightest as evidence.

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Numero uno?

Top dog?

Big cheese?

The main thing?

What’s yours?

Now, think about it … give it some time, thought.

What is the main focus of your life?

Got an answer for it? If not … keep thinking. If so … keep reading.

To know what is our main thing
is to look at how and where we spend
our time, our money, our energies.

This explanation of what defines our main thing is kinda clear in the Bible. Matthew 6:33 says it straight and to the point:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.”

Ugh! This is now humbling … agreed?

What I want my main thing to be is Christ.

But, if my main thing is defined by how I spend my time, money and energy, I am not sure that what I might say my main thing is, actually is my main thing.

So, we know the goal … for God to be the main thing in our lives … now, to live it. But, we cannot aim for such a lofty goal in a solo trek. This life isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. So, to make it through the long and winding race of life, we need help.

In Luke 4:1-13, Jesus was alone in the dessert … or was he?

The telling of this event indicates that Jesus went into the desert “full of the Holy Spirit” (V.1). Each time Jesus was tempted by something he humanly might have desired (you know, things that could have become his main things), he replied each time with “it is written:” (v.4, 8, 12). He knew the Word! Therefore we need to know the word!

Keep in communication with God … all throughout your days.

Spend some time each day in the Word.

Aim to make God your (my) main thing.

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Once upon a time there was a lumberjack who was hired to cut down several trees atop a mountain.

He went to the first tree and noticed a bird, building a nest.

Now, this lumberjack was a compassionate soul, who loved all living things. He knew that he would be cutting that tree down and he didn’t want the bird to build its nest there. So, he picked up a wooden mallet and hit the tree hard and loud. This disturbed the bird in the tree and she flew to another tree.

Now, the lumberjack knew that he would also be cutting that tree down so he walked over to it and hit it with his mallet. Again the bird moved further into the forest to another suitable tree to build a nest for her babes.

This process reoccured numerous times, taking the lumberjack further and further from where he desired to begin cutting trees. Each time the bird flew off, each time the lumberjack banged on the tree to discourage her from nesting there.

Finally, hours later, the bird was out of the area where the lumberjack was to cut the trees down. So, her turned and walked back to where he was to begin to fulfill his job.

I heard this story told this weekend and could see myself in that determined bird … maybe you will too.

So many times in my life I am distracted from what I want to do, what I hope to do … even good things, by irritations, noises and even struggles. So, I alter my course, but stick to my plan, getting irritated again by other irritations and noises.

Those are the times I often have words with God. Saying something like,

“what the heck?!”

“why is this happening?”

“why don’t you intervene?”

“why?”

“you are supposed to be good”

I bet all of these prayers sound like the angry, irritated chirps of that momma bird. I bet she had no idea that the irritating noises, causing her to move from tree, to tree, to tree were actually saving the life of she and her babes. That the temporary struggle was actually an act of compassion, of love.

“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

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It is a fantastic start to a movie. A simple sign indicating the town name, videos segments of various locations in the town, with individuals offering up prayers for one man. They are the prayers of those who know God intimately as well as those who do not. Who they all do know is George Bailey, the man who is in trouble, who needs an intervention by God himself.

This scene, this opening scene of the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, is actually just a Hollywood depiction of a normal, everyday event. It might seem unique, unreal, but every day, all over the world, people raise up others to God in prayer.

Why do we do this? Does it make a difference? Would God answer the prayers of those who do not know Him?

The why is easy … it is modelled by Jesus and the direction we are given in the Bible,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

Does it make a difference? Well, consider these words,

“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.” 1 Timothy 4:8

Then there is the question of whether or not God would answer the prayers of those who do not know him, personally. Well, if what is being asked is within the will of God, whoever we are, it would seem that God hears the prayers of his will,

And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14

Not only that, but these words, speak to the heart of anyone who is praying.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

So, prayer for others. Let the movie of our lives open and close with everyone in town praying for another, in need of intercession.

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