Archive for the ‘GOD’ Category

It was an opportunity …

a gift …

one that we knew, but they did not.

It wasn’t huge, nor was it small …

it wasn’t a need, nor was it just a want …

but it would be helpful,

make life easier,


Though we didn’t communicate this as a gift, we also did not, not communicate it.

The offer was in our wording, to be revealed if asked, if the one condition was met.

The one who could benefit from this offer, this gift, had only to meet one condition.


that condition meant hard things …





for us to follow through, to give the gift, they had to take the next step.

The gift had a condition, a hoop to jump through.

I was frustrated as I realized that they were so focused one their goal, they were going to miss what was being offered. That they would miss out on the thing that would bring greater help and ease, long term, because they were so focused on the short term desires.

Then, it came to me …

that’s me.

I want what I want, when I want it. Often, my mind is so focused on my goal and my expediency to accomplish it that I miss out on the longer term goals, that can bring better results.

When I think of this sort of impatience, I often think of times of buyer’s remorse. When I have seen a shiny item that lights up my moment and have to have it! Often I spend too much, or spend money on something that truly has only momentary gain … at the cost of something of better quality, because I refused to wait.

God’s love for us is freely offered to all. It is a gift that satisfies us, not just today, but for always. There is nothing hindering our receipt of his love … except that we have to accept it, accept him as our one and only way to a better life, to redemption.

His word reminds us of what is offered to us, the opportunities and gifts that are ours if we would …

Even John 3:16, no doubt one of the most often verses quoted, has an if – then statement.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The eternal life that is offered to all of humanity is an offer with a condition … and conditions come with some sort of sacrifice. In this case the condition is to believe in God … sounds easy enough. But, when we are in the midst of why God moments … belief is a sacrifice … to our understanding, to our pride. It requires patience and humility. But, our understanding and pride are short term … this life that God offers is eternal. It is the long term goal, over the short term.

When we really take the time to understand the offer, we also have to realize that our sacrifice is nothing in comparison to the cost of it … that of the Son of God.

May our … my … eyes be open to what is being offered to me, every day. I pray my focus is on what lasts.

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When one thinks of creative expressionists one does not think of ritual or routine. Impulsivity, openness, flexibility … those are more closely associated descriptors of creatives.

Yet, anyone doing creative work does so with routines that often go unnoticed by the casual observer, whose gaze is focused far more on the creation that the creator.

Maya Angelou would get a hotel room when she was writing. “I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible. Usually a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles.”

George Bernard Shaw had a writing hut constructed on a turntable, so as to follow the suns light as he wrote. It contained a typewrite, heater, food, a bed and a phone in case of emergency. (Roald Dahl and poet Dylan Thomas had writing sheds as well).

Virginia Woolf, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens, comic writer Stan Lee and Ernest Hemingway all wrote standing up.

JK Rowling wrote often in cafes.

Ann Voskamp writes in a 10-by10 foot cabin along a cornfield.

Jane Austen was the queen of simplicity, requiring only a desk, paper, quill and ink.

Though not all, it would appear that most of the aforementioned creatives seek or sought quiet, a solitary, silent place

where the audible and visual
noise of the world
could be eclipsed
by the voice inside.

Our human creativity originates in our DNA, for we create from the genetic material that we have inherited, from our Creator (father) God. Our creativity is an expression of his ability, his beauty, that we can be creative within the uniqueness of the creativity he placed within each one of us.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness”
-Genesis 1:26

As his creation, we are image-bearers of the God of creation. Within our creation we bear the image of God the father, but also the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, for we are made in “our image, our likeness.” So when creativity flows from us our need to be still, be silent makes such sense.

Silence is the catalyst for hearing the Holy Spirit within us. When it is his voice we listen to, we create from the riches of our Creator, from the greatest story ever told.

“Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.”

Wayne Dyer

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It’s early … faint with infrequent songs from the birds.

The sun, though still hidden behind a structure, providing shadowy light.

Dampness … on the chairs, the table, the leaves of the plants and trees, from the early morning rains.

Early Sunday morning.

The Sabbath.

The day of rest.

Since the arrival of the Pandemic, Sundays have been different. Sabbath has been different.

Worship has, largely, not been experienced in church buildings, not with congregations, nor large worship bands, nor communion under one roof. The Sabbath has been Sunday mornings and Saturday afternoons and Tuesday evenings. The Sabbath has been spent on the sofa with a cuppa, a pouch or two and pajamas. It has been spent on hikes in the mountains, over a book on the patio, making a puzzle on the table, listening to a podcast, talking to a long lost friend. Worship has been through the work of the hands of the Creator, in nature, or as we get to know our neighbors, or as we take someone a meal, or send money to an agency who brings His love to others, or share an online worship service with others who would not darken the door of a church.

We are the church.

We carry His message wherever we go.

Worship flows from us … like a the first morning …

the birds. the light. the rains.

All worshipping together …

because they just can’t not worship,

because we just can’t not worship.

Sunday morning has broken,

and just like that first morning, His creation (us included) are worshipping Him.

This is life.

This is Sabbath rest.

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day
-Eleanor Farjeon

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So, you made it to Friday … after thinking it was Friday twice this week already.

You feel like you simply are doing your best to put one foot in front of the other, accomplishing each expectation upon you one slow step at a time.

You are living for the end to this day, this week … knowing within your soul that this is not satisfying, not life-giving … not what you were created for.

Bone tired … that is what you feel, what describes you best right now.

It is a weariness that zaps your energy, your joie de vivre (joy of living), drying up the body, mind and spirit.

Refreshment …

That is what you need. Like a cool lake on a sizzling hot day, a tall glass of water when utterly parched. You need to be refreshed, from the inside out.

come …

It is a beckoning, a pursuing, an invitation. A word that opens the door for one on the outside.

to me …

To Jesus, to God himself. He is the one giving the invitation. It is personal. Not an invitation delivered by another, but offered personally, physically.

all …

Not everyone except, not only a certain group, but all.

that labor and are heavy laden …

This covers the things that encompass our work (jobs, physical work) as well as the weight on our hearts and souls. Are you tired from your work and your heavy heart?

and I …

This is gonna be the promise, the commitment. And it comes from the Creator of heaven and Earth, and of us.

will give you rest.

This is the outcome of the promise. The result, the then of the if/then.

This is for you who are bone weary.

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As I sat outside, feeling the warm sun on my skin, I thought of how this feeling has always made me feel so good, so grounded in the time and space I was in. I then reflected on other constants in my life that have an expected joy response, when I encounter them:

Things I see:

A sunrise or sunset can catch my attention and take me off to a happy place immediately. A hint of one coming might have me angling, walking or driving to position myself for a better view to appreciate the glory of such a sight.

Things I feel:

Rose petals, cat fur, pussy willows. They are all silky soft, lush between my fingers. They create a sense of warmth and pleasure.

Things I hear:

The delight of the dawn chorus of birds can bring a smile to my face like little else. For years in a previous home we would often hear the local coyotes cries at night, though haunting, they also were a reminder that we lived in a world beyond ourselves. And I cannot talk about sounds without mentioning the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore.

Things I smell:

The scent of baking bread, rising from the oven, or lilacs in spring, or, perhaps best of all, in my estimation, the scent of wild roses. In an instant I am a child at my grandmother’s house, carefree and exploring. Salt air … to me that is the smell of growing up on the East Coast and when I arrived and inhale I know I have returned.

Things I taste:

Ah, that smell of the first, fresh coffee of the day. Folger’s had it right, when they said it is the best part of waking up. But, then the enjoyment of taking that first sip, the flavors awakening the taste buds.

Each of these sensory joys have memories connected, encouraging and delightful teleporters to other places and times. They bring a smile to my face, warmth to my heart. They are beyond the mind, the thinking that we humans love to spend our time on, they simply are reactions to stimulus that awaken a joy response.

The Bible uses the power of our senses to communicate His message to us frequently:

Psalm 34:8:
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Matthew 5:13:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?

Matthew 13:16:
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Ephesians 5:2
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

John 20:27
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.

Though our minds are fantastic, we were not simply created for what we produce, but we are also natural beings, created in the context of a world of senses. With these senses we can be reminded of joy, of delight and even of worship … not for what awakens our senses, but whom.

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As I walked, I glanced to the empty lot. Dirt and rocks, grass and weeds.

I became alert to the lyrics playing in my headphones,

“in the soil I now surrender, you are breaking new ground”

Then something caught my eye. Color in the middle of the dirt and mess. One solitary poppy, standing straight and tall, like an oasis in the midst of the desert.

The poppy, a symbol of peace, sleep, death. Growing in the midst of land in between what was and what will be.

I’ve walked that in between place, that liminal space. Knowing that what was is gone, what is to come is not yet announced itself.

I feel that with vaccines we are all planted in the dirt between what was and what will be. What is our new normal? Will it resemble our old normal? Do we want it to?

That beautiful flower, standing tall in a vacant place … reminding that life comes from death, that beauty can grow out of dirt and weeds, out of nothing.

“Break new ground. Plant righteousness, and harvest the fruit that your loyalty will produce for me.” It’s time to seek the LORD! When he comes, he will rain righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12


new ground

We are required to surrender our today, to enjoy the fruit of the time to come. Though we humans are usually people of action, this is not a requirement through any effort, other than surrender. I love the Oxford dictionary definition of surrender, “cease resistance … and submit to their authority.” We people aren’t so fond of submitting either! Yet, that is the surrender that God requires. It is what can carry us from what is gone to what is to come.

Through the dancing poppies stole
A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul.

John Keats

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I am an if-then person. It is most encouraging, even comforting to me to know the effects or consequences of my actions. In my perfect world if I spend time making a good meal – it will taste well, if I am kind to others – they will be kind to me, if I eat a salad – I will awaken the next day having lost ten pounds (sigh).

As I was reading in Philippians (2:1-4), the other day, I was excited to discover an if-then statement (until I realized that I am the conditional part of this equation) :

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

  • if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
  • if any comfort from his love
  • if any common sharing in the Spirit
  • if any tenderness and compassion

Four ifs!

Lets take a look at them!

if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
Encouragement from being united with Christ? Heck ya! I’ll be totally honest, I cannot imagine a life without the encouragement that Christ brings to daily life.

if any comfort from his love
His love is the ultimate comfort. Because of his love I can face any future, for he is the comforter of our souls.

if any common sharing in the Spirit
I am never alone, for the Spirit of God lives within me. He is my eternal helper, as Jesus declared in John 14:16.

if any tenderness and compassion
Have we any tenderness and compassion? Have we received these from the Creator of all? Have we been given compassion, albeit undeserved? But of course, yes to all!


Here’s where the rubber meets the road! This is the consequence part, this is where we are responsible for something, because of what we have received.

then …

“make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others

One could re-word all of this within the idea of the Golden Rule …

do to and for others, what I have done and for you.

This is not a suggestion, folks, but an expectation of those of us who claim the name of Christ as ours.

Love and humility … these are the gifts given to us, these are the mode of how we have been treated (undeservedly) by the God of all humanity. These are the expected byproducts of our receipt of his redemption, of his compassion, of his help.

May we honor Him as we strive to follow his example.

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Beginnings are great. We look forward to beginnings. Count down to them. Prepare for them. They come with feelings of novelty, fresh start, resetting.

Beginnings are the capital letter at the start of the sentence.

Endings often miss the adrenaline rush of beginnings. They signify completion, farewells, closing.

Endings are the period at the end of the sentence.

The thing is, they go together … beginnings and endings. One follows the other. Each are dependant on the other. You can’t have one without the other.

As this work week ends, the weekend begins. As spring is coming to an end, summer is going to begin. As the tulips and lilacs droop and complete their blooming season, the hydrangeas and roses are taking their colorful places.

This cycle of beginnings and endings is everywhere in our lives, reminding us …

of our Creator (Revelation 22:13) :

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Whether we are living in a time of beginnings or endings, we are living with the beginning, the end right along with us.

He knows what is going on in our lives.

He knows what has gone on in our lives.

He knows what is to come in our lives.

(Revelation 1:8)

Who are we to fear?

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There she was … beautiful to the eye, beautiful to the heart.

She emerged, just as those who came to witness had anticipated. Dressed in white from head to toe. It seemed that light emerged with her, from within her.

Her face glowed. With each step forward, closer to him, there seemed to be an increase in her radiance.

Her lips moved …

she was singing. Though her words were not audible, her lips moved, over and over, singing thanks be to you.

Everyone in attendance was hushed, captivated, as in a spell. The attention of all was given freely, yet inescapably. For her beauty, her luminescence, her effervescence was wholly captivating, drawing the attention of each one in attendance fully to her, to him.

Her eyes did not look left or right. Her eyes were for him alone and he was her focus.

She was not born this way, though this was always her purpose, her destiny.

The closer she moved toward him, the more beautiful, more radiant, more pure in every way she became. For he was the source of her allure.

The way he looked at her … love, desire, hope for the future. She was that for which he was willing to sacrifice everything. She was his muse and he was her one true purpose.

The bride, who is the church of Christ. This is who He created her to be, in all of her beauty, and draw, and purpose. This was the intent of the Church, by the author of our lives. We are this bride, his bride, his church.

He spoke to Peter (Matthew 16:18),

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”

The gates of hell …

But what if gates of hell do seem to prevail … in the church?

This past week, here in British Columbia, Canada, we have been gutted to learn of the discovery of the remains of 215 children found at a former indigenous school. These were not graves with markers, with names, but the remains of the bodies, covered by the dirt, the dust of our feet. These remains are of souls who God saw as fellow members of the bride, his church.

We cannot imagine how humans could do such a thing. We cannot imagine how those who claim Christ, especially, could do such a thing(s).

We, who claim Christ, who are part of the Church are shaking our heads.

How can such evil exist under the name of God???

How can this be the bride of Christ???

We lament, “how long O Lord? …”

The Church has forgotten. We have forgotten our first love, our purpose, who gives life and breath. We forget who are … not because of how the world treats us, but because of how we treat each other … because we have taken our eyes of the bridegroom.

In the Word of God we are told over and over to choose humility, to pray. Perhaps this is where we must start.

Dear God,

We come to you, in humility.

We come to you with heaviness of heart and tear-stained faces. These souls that were lost each tell a story, each bore your fingerprint, your image. They were your children. We mourn for them, their families.
God we who claim you are aghast that anyone could do such a thing. And that they might have claimed to be part of your Church has us shaking our heads, bowing our heads.

God, we come to you and ask that you show us how to right the wrongs … these wrongs. How to end the evil within your Church … within ourselves


But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Ephesians 5:3-13

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Just this week, I realized I have never written about Elijah. A giant of the faith! A hero. A prophet. One who God used to orchestrate miracles. One who teaches us so much … about God.

Not only have I not written about Elijah, but I realized I did not know well the stories of Elijah. So, guess what I have been reading this week?!

A friend had referenced the story of Elijah and how God encouraged him to eat and sleep when Elijah was in the depths of despair. That it is a model of how God encourages the same of us.

I checked out the story.

Elijah had done the work of God, faithfully, confidently. He was the one through whom God’s plan to thwart the intent of Ahab and Jezabel in the indoctrination of the worship of Baal upon people of God. Through the challenge given by Elijah, 450 prophets of Baal were killed after they could not elicit a response from their god (thus proving the lack of existence of such a god).

Lets just say Jezabel was a bit miffed at this loss of ‘her’ prophets (and perhaps the egg left on her face) and she threatened Elijah’s life.

Now, one might think, after such a great success that the threatening words of a mere mortal would be as nothing to the ears of one who had just shown God’s strength and power through such a large scale miraculous show. But this was not the headspace of Elijah … (1 Kings 19:3):

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”

Fear is a response. Sometimes our fears are valid. But, sometimes fear is a response not to the threat, but because we are weak, tired, not in a place of good health.

Elijah’s fear, that took him to fleeing … it (his fear) originated in his own deficiencies, not in his fear of Jezabel.

Not only did he run away (into the desert), but his fatigue was so great he didn’t even want to live (1 Kings 19:5)

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Then he lie down and slept … I expect there was nothing else that he could do at this point.

We don’t know how long he had been sleeping, but (and I love the next verses, v. 5-6)

“All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

So … this angel shows up with a midnight snack, which he eats then goes back to sleep. No awe, no wow … he just eats and drinks and rolls over. Why? Because he is so exhausted that the natural responses are muted.

“The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 

So (v. 7), the angel comes back, wakes him to yet more food and drink. This time introducing a journey.

“So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.”

Without a word (v. 8-9), Elijah just does what he is told. He gets up, eats and drinks, then travels for forty days and forty nights (still in the desert … hum, didn’t Jesus spend the same time in a desert?). He went into a cave and slept yet again. He is exhausted! Yet, he does as he is told. Is it because he is too exhausted to put up a fight? Does he instinctively know this angel of the Lord is God’s own messenger? Why doesn’t God correct Elijah’s despair of life? Why doesn’t God tell Elijah to pull himself up by his bootstraps? Why doesn’t God frown and say, “stop the naval gazing and get on with it”?

God knows that Elijah is exhausted. God knows that he cannot see the forest for the trees … he is not thinking right. God knows that Elijah’s soul needs are best first met through physical ones.

Eat, sleep, move …

These are the instructions that Elijah receives from this angel of the Lord (a pretty significant entity throughout the Bible).

What is the lesson? Well, I am still studying this one, but this I am coming to see … God’s medicinal care instruction for us, when we are exhausted, is to care for our physical needs … the basic needs we have as a newborn … so that we can begin again to live.

This is the way of the Lord.

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Karla Sullivan

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