Archive for the ‘Walking with God’ Category

My upbringing has never allowed me to see that my being female is anything but equal to my spouse, my male siblings, peers, co-workers or members of my community.

Whether it was my place in my family, workplace or the plan of God, I have never believed (or been led to believe) that I am anything but equal to men.

I know this is not always the case, for all women.

I know of and know well, women who have felt manipulated, abused, undervalued and kicked to the floor (literally and figuratively) by male counterparts.

And I will simply never get it, never understand how any individual could believe that they have that right.

Men and women have been interdependent of one another since our creation in the garden. Men need women, women need men. This interdependence is a most powerful example of the concept of yin and yang, comparable to the ‘a time to’ verses of Ecclesiastes 3.

In the Ancient History Encyclopedia, the definition of Yin and Yang is that “all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites.”ides come in to shore, then move back out to the oceans.

Women and men are different, yet equal. Their interdependence is the force which should pull them together, for mutual, societal benefit.

For men who view women as a substandard creation is antithetical to the narrative of the Bible, to God’s intended plan.

It was through Mary, a young woman, who God first shared his plan of delivery of his son to our world, through she, herself. It was to a woman, Mary Magdalene, who Jesus first revealed himself for after rising from the grave. The roles they played were complimentary and significant to the story of the life of Christ.

Never once does Jesus hurt, abuse, demean or mock a woman. Never once does he turn his back on the needs of a woman. As a matter of fact, it was when a woman was behind him, who (Mark 5:24-34) had been bleeding for twelve years, that, through just the touch of his cloak, she was healed.

He treated woman with the same love, care and tenderness that he did men. He is our model and we all (men and women alike) must ensure that we are following his example.


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In typical human arrogance, we Christians often think we have things all figured out … particularly when it comes to God. Obviously Christians, followers of Christ, should know and understand God better than those who do not, but sometimes (often?) we inflict our human understanding onto the mind of God.

Usually this happens when we look at sin … not our sin, but the sins committed by others.

I expect that because, in human/worldly avenues, we tend to prioritize or pyramid things in life, we do the same when it comes to how we understand the heart of God.

So, when it comes to sin, we also prioritize or put them in a pyramid of seriousness … and we think that God does too.

But, “Gods ways are not our ways” (Isaiah 55:8), his perspectives on the sins he hates might just surprise most of us (myself included, as I was reminded of these verses, just last week).

So, what does God hate?

According to Proverbs 6:16-19:

“There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:

  1.         haughty eyes,
  2.         a lying tongue,
  3.         hands that shed innocent blood,
  4.         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
  5.         feet that are quick to rush into evil,
  6.         a false witness who pours out lies
  7.         and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Hum … not quite the sins that preoccupy church discussions, are they? I cannot remember the last time I heard of a Christian organization worried about rampant lying, or haughty eyes.

Though I never doubt that there is a God, I love to be reminded that I am not him …

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts
Isaiah 55:8-9

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When you are seeking … for something, anything.

When your ear wants to hear … but the sound is not yet there.

When your eyes are searching the horizon … but nothing appears.

When your heart just knows … knows that there is a message coming, that there is reason why the hair is standing on the back of your neck.

When your soul is … restless.

The experience that something visceral, felt deep within is about to happen.

I learned of a song I hadn’t heard, and sought out it’s story … for every song, every piece of art, every created thing has a story … behind it, within in, for the creator as well as the admirer.

Though the lyrics of the song do not contain these words, this scripture from Lamentations 3:28-30 (Message) was mentioned in the writer’s description of it’s formation:

“When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.”

Within a few short lines, such depth, such good advice, encouragement.

When life is heavy, we often go after advice and help through people, books, podcasts. Yet, this encouragement to enter the silence, to join with God in his silence and not ask why? when? don’t keep searching for answers, but just …


wait for hope

to appear.

He’s reminding us that he will answer, he will be there … he is there. We just need to bow in prayer, rest in him, wait for the hope that is only available through him.

The waiting has purpose.
The purpose is always hope,

if we wait with him.

Then that final reminder, “the worst is never the worst.”

Hope resides in the reminder that today’s worst is never the worst. Our heavenly father knows the worst, he gave his son up to save us from the worst. Our hope is in him.

The same week that I was seeking, listening, looking and my soul was restless, the same week that this song came to my ears, that that sunrise brightened my view, a friend lovingly shared a message about hope (coincidence? I think not).

If hope is what you are looking for from every fibre of your being, or if you are just restless … check out Hope is too Heavy Sometimes, by Abby Norman.

“I do not believe that we are meant to hope alone. Hope is often a burden best shared.” Abby Norman

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So you ever want to tell your adult child what to do? what not to do?

Not me (insert sarcasm)! Of course I do! And sometimes I give in to the impulse and speak my wisdom for their not-listening ears to ignore.

The other day I wrote, in Parental Responsibilities, about how our job, as parents, is not to plan the lives of our kids.

Today, I am going to share an example from the Bible of one who did it right. By “did it right” I do not mean that pain and suffering were elevated, perfection was achieved by following a list of if thens or that they all lived happily ever after. So, right now you might be doubting this unnamed example … stick with me.

In Luke 15:12- :

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country … and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”

A young man, in his infinite wisdom, decided that he was an autonomous adult, well-aware of the world, confident in his worldly ways, and he wanted to taste freedom.

In his premature eagerness to live independent of dear ‘ol dad, he went to his father and asked for his inheritance.

Lets look at what this father did. His son, who he loves, asks for his money (since it is his inheritance, this young man should not be receiving it from his father until his father has died) … and “he divided his property”. He just gave him the money!

I am a mom. I have wrestled with wanting to help my kids, to give wisdom when they won’t hear it, to encourage them to get out more, to stay in more, to call their mom more. I have wrestled with their not going to a church, and with what church they go to. I have wrestled with who their friends are, and aren’t. I have wrestled with what they are wearing (or what is missing from what they are wearing), what (and who) they are listening to and what they are saying.

And I have lay, motionless in bed, as they head out the door, praying that they will be safe, be with good reliable friends, be wise.

And I wonder (I really do), should I put my foot down and just say NO! No, you cannot go out at this hour! No, you cannot go there! No, you cannot do that!

So I come back to the story of the ‘model’ dad in the Bible … better known as the father of the prodigal son. This father must have known what his young son would do with the money. He must have known the dangers that awaited his naive man-child. Yet, he gave him the money … the money that, he knew, would make his son’s choices less wise and more danger-filled.

Why did he do it? What was he thinking? And why should he and his parenting be a model for us?

After his son had left he must have known what would befall this child of his as he arrived in the ‘big city’ with pockets full of money and brain still devoid of wisdom. This father must have tossed and turned more than slept.

We are told that, once in the new place, his son “squandered his wealth in wild living.” I don’t think that wild living then was any different than now. There were and are drugs, alcohol, crime, violence, gambling, people who would help him spend his money and the availability of the world’s oldest profession (and the sexually transmitted diseases that accompany such practices).

That father had to have known that this is exactly what would have occurred.

Yet, he agreed to give him the money …

model father?

This father, who loved his son(s) knew that his son(s) would only truly understand and love him, in return, if they chose it of their own. He had done the tasks of loving parenthood, of providing everything parental responsibility required, yet, he knew that they would only fully receive his love by choosing it of their own free will. He knew that this son was choosing a dangerous path, but he also knew the seeds that he had planted in him from birth, and had hope that they would haunt him like a hound.

The story goes on:

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

And the hound was closing in.

And the seed, so long in the dry ground, began to germinate.

And the son, not out of love for his father, but out of his own physical need, turned towards home, towards his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

There is much in those words. Parents who love their children not just read but feel what the father here felt. The love, the compassion, the relief … for the running away of the son culminated in the the run of the father, to his son.

For the child cannot outrun the love of the father, the mother.

He ran to his son, not repulsed by the son’s loss of his money, his ‘wild living’, his sins … but eager to receive him home, where the door is always open, where forgiveness always lives, where arms are outstretched … where the parents still run to the prodigal.

As CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “the great thing to remember is that … His (God’s) love for us … is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”

One of my favourite poems is The Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson. Written over a hundred years ago, it tells of how Thompson viewed running away from God, and how, like a bloodthirsty hound on the moors, God perseveres, chases and pursues us until we surrender to Him.

John Stott, in his book Why I am a Christian,” confesses that he is a Christian not because of the influence of his parents and teachers, nor to his own personal decision, but to being relentlessly pursued by ‘the Hound of Heaven’, that is, Jesus Christ himself.”

So, this model father of the Bible, why is he a model?

Quite simply because this father of the prodigal son is God himself.

He, who said yes, to handing over our inheritance into our immature, naive and arrogant hands.

He, who loves us enough to allow us to choose to receive and accept his love.

He, who desires to redeem our brokenness, our sin, if only we would recognize that the hunger in the pit of our stomach cannot be filled by anything in the world.

He, who is always, always, waiting at the gate, searching the horizon, ready to run … not just after our children, but after us, as well.

“This won’t last, it’s not the end … it’s not the end”

Behold what manner of love
The Father has given unto us,
That we should be called the sons of God

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It’s a story I had heard enough times that I could confidently re-tell it to completion. There is a difference, though, between telling a story and fully understanding it’s message.

As I listened attentively to the pastor tell the story of the prodigal son, my mind was illuminated to the details and meaning as never before.

I have never quite understood (or maybe I did) the reaction of the older brother as I did Sunday morning, listening to the pastor share the message … but it was not that which caught my attention, my heart’s attention, the most.

It was the return of the younger son.

He is off in the big city, not a hint of any money from what he had demanded from his father, starving as he watches pigs eat their fill. He decides he will go back home and offer himself as a servant to his father.

He plans what he will say:

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:18-19).

Then he heads home.

Head bowed.
Shoulders slumped.
Moving at a snail’s pace.
Rumbling in his tummy.
Fear and dread in his soul.

Why fear and dread?

Where do you come from? I come from a small town … a very small town, that was still a village when I lived there and the population was under two thousand. Everyone knew everyone, and everything about everyone (at least they thought they did).

This young man, the prodigal son … he knew that returning to his father was the easy part (remember, his father willingly gave his son what he asked for … not what he was required or expected to do … not what was culturally acceptable to ask for). What he was fearing was his return to his village.

In Jewish society, to have left the village in such a shameful way, to go live with, spent his money on, slept with the unclean Gentiles … would all mean that he would face a kezazah (means “cutting off”) ceremony. He knew that as he arrived in the village, the people (older men) would greet him, breaking a large clay pot at his feet, as a public shaming of how he has cut himself off from his village, from his father.

This is what was in his son’s mind as he considered going home, as he took each step closer to the village.

His father knew of this ceremony too.

And the father knew his son.

So …

“ … while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son” (v. 20a).

Aristotle had said, “great men never run in public” and perhaps he knew of the societal norms within the Hebrew society at the time that Jesus told this parable.

It was okay for servants to run, even women were permitted to run (but just a bit), but a man, a patriarch … never. That would be unacceptable, disgraceful!

The father in the story (who we know to understand as representing God himself) saw his son “while he was still a long way off.” This father had to have been looking for his son, perhaps at the village gate. I think we can surmise that he was planning on circumnavigating the villagers and the custom of kezazah.

“(he) threw his arms around him and kissed him” (v. 20b).

The Return of the Prodigal
Pompeo Batoni, 1773

I love the image above, of an oil on canvas, by Pompeo Batoni. This painting, more than any other I have seen before, communicates the mercy that this father offers. Not only are his arms open wide, but see his right hand, grabbing onto his cloak, in an effort to wrap it around his son … in an effort to shield his son from the consequences that are due him.

It is then, in that moment of mercy when the father steps between the son (us) and the wages of sin, that the son abandons the speech he planned in his mind, for a confession born in his soul:

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v. 21).

And when the father says let’s party, it is a celebration of the lost sheep.

“Behold what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God–and we are!” (1 John 3:1)

Our heavenly father loves us so much that he waits at the gate of the village for our return, prepared to ensure that we will not be “cut off” from a life with him.

” When we find the insufficiency of creatures to make us happy, and have tried all other ways of relief for our poor souls in vain, then it is time to think of returning to God.” Matthew Henry Commentary

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Learning is a life-long process, with non-stop homework, assignments, societal grading of our effort, as well as self assessments.

A couple of weeks ago I published a post called Naked and Exposed, where I wrote about my struggle with the sin of gluttony.

A lifetime of struggling with this sin has taught me many things that transfer (I think) to any sin (and we all sin).

Here is what I learned about sin, through my struggle with my own:

  • the harder you try to fight it, the more obstacles are in your way of success (think of Satan tempting Jesus in the dessert, oops desert … when Jesus was hungry, he tempted him with bread)

Doesn’t that always happen?! We get it in our minds that we are going to try harder, and as soon as that iron is in our souls, something tempting is right in front of us. It is as though, right out of the gate the cosmos is setting us up for failure … of course we know, it is not the cosmos, but Satan … the same one who tempted Jesus, in the desert.

  • bad advise always comes from people who are not going through what you are going through (though his problems were not caused by his sin), Job, after losing everything, ‘advised’ by his friends at the gate, asking him what he did to deserve the struggle he was in the midst of).

How many times have I heard (perhaps in not so many words) ‘just don’t eat so much’ as advise to lose weight. If it were that easy to curb the sin of gluttony, duct tape across the mouth would do it! Gluttony is not simply about eating, there are the functions of the brain and of the emotions that also need to be addressed … as is often the case with the sins we are inclined to keep doing.

  • bad choices can lead to opportunities to sin more easily (think of King David, when he should have been with his soldiers on the field, he was at home in the palace when he sees Bathsheba bathing).

When we know what sins we are most tempted to commit, we also need to know what times, places and situations put us the most at risk of committing them. If I am down, or stressed I am more apt to sin. If I am too busy, I am more apt to sin. If I have not made time for creativity, I am more apt to sin. If I allow my schedule to be too full of people, with little alone time, I am apt to sin.

  • when you are tempted to sin, turn to the Bible, not away from it. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, his every response was with scripture, in the form of “it is written”.

So, how do we finish strong, as spoken of in Hebrews 12:1-3?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

A number of years ago I heard Mark Spurlock speak on finishing strong. He provided three encouragements for how to accomplish this goal:

  1. embrace the race – not our speed, but the quality of our run … perseverance!
  2. refocus often – eyes on the prize, the finish line
  3. run in groups – “let us” … be in the habit of being with other believers

Whatever it is, sin is hard to overcome. It takes a lifetime of living and learning, progressing (and regressing). We are not perfect beings, but that doesn’t stop our pursuit of excellence.

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A shower or bathtub are simply great places to pray.

You’re alone, its quiet (there than the soothing sound of water falling or splashing in the tub), there are few discretions and if your prayers move you to tears, the water will just wash them away.

As I watched the water circling the drain, I thought how my bathtub prayer time can, at times, be similar to that water circling the drain.

There are times when I cry a fountain of tears, releasing the tension, as I cast my cares on the only one who can do something of worth with them.

There are bath prayer times when I haul out my list and go through it like a child with their Christmas wish list, continuing my wants and perceived needs, as though God is my great genie in the sky (or shower head, as the case may be).

There are also times when I unload my wants, my needs, and my cares, but then I keep holding onto them, spinning myself into a vortex, like the water circling the drain, into worry and anxiousness … over the things that I have little control over … I have little control over much!

Why do I want to spin that way? Why do I want to hold on to the worries that fill my heart and mind?

There are two things that I need to remember when this circling the drain happens:

  1. I need to share my worries with God, but also with another person. We all need the support of others who will listen to us, pray for us and even be the hands and feet of God to us.
  2. I need to remember that God, in me, makes me stronger and more capable than I could ever imagine. He makes me strong enough … not in my strength, but in his.

These words of Charles Spurgeon are also good reminders when I am circling the drain:

“There is neither in heaven nor earth nor hell anything that we need fear when we are once right with God. Settle the centre, and the circumference is secure”



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