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Archive for the ‘Walking with God’ Category

Driving to work the other day, singing along to a worship song, words leapt out at me:

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
Your family and your children
And their children,
and their children

As the words settled in my mind, my grandmother came to mind.

A woman of faith, who lived a very real, intentional, consistent life. She worked hard, played hard and knew when and how to rest. She loved her family, would go to the ends of the earth for any one of us. She never allowed our poor behavior, immaturity or way we chose to live impact her unconditional love for us.

But … she did not leave this world under any illusion that all of her loved ones chose, or would choose to follow her God.

I am certain that her greatest hope would have been that her family walk with God … her children, and their children, and their children and their children …

We all have loved ones who have not accepted Christ as their redeemer, or ones who have chosen to walk away from the gift of grace … the favor that is offered. We all have ached for the peace that they do not even know is missing in their life. This desire for their lives is a good one, perhaps the best anyone can hope for another.

Yet, if we sing the words of this blessing we can feel as though our loved one, as though we have been overlooked by God, missing out on his favor, his grace for life, everlasting.

One thing that my grandmother taught me, that is still resonating in my mind and heart, is to trust God. Or, as Corrie Ten Boom said,

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God”

So, we trust God, who loves our loved ones even more than we do. And we hold on to his promises, knowing that though with man this is impossible, with him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

Psalm 102:18

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It has been over six months since I last stood in a sanctuary with my church family and worshiped in song … and I miss it.

There are local churches which have started meeting again for worship in the safety of small groups.

For me, church has little to do with the place.

I am not even sure if I am interested in going to our church service ‘live’ when that day does come. Sure it will be nice to be back in our church place, but … there will be a limited number of people (seated in our family/bubble/cohort units), socially distanced from others.

I can listen to a sermon and tithe online. I can pray wherever I go and I am learning to sing in praise and worship in my vehicle, but …

there is nothing better than sitting, standing, singing, praying … elbow to elbow, with one’s church family. Then there are the greetings of vocal and physical warmth … the hugs and pecks on the cheek. The whispers of weeping and rejoicing.

It is the shared intimacy of Christ in us. We are each other’s because we house our saviour … we are his church, and he holds residency in us.

It’s not so exciting to consider being physically distanced while in the same room. Yet, let’s not rule this out too quickly.

It is also good to remember that going to church, to worship together, is about us, the believers, the followers, the Christ in us people. We go there to worship, to be fed by the teaching, to practise the sacraments, to care for one another.

It is in our going out that is our calling … it is the great commission.

In the meantime everywhere we go, whoever we speak to, how we do our jobs, how we treat our neighbors, our families, even our enemies … how we are seen to be worshipping our God in our daily lives, as the outpouring of God in us … that is our grandest call to worship

Don’t you know
that you yourselves are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 3:16

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I love looking ahead, anticipating the next long weekend, school break. This forward thinking provides a goal, a desired ‘carrot’ at the end of the week or season. It also helps me to not take my job too seriously, to not allow it to come before the more important things in life … worship, family, friends.

This summer I have been stalked by a message, that I realized I’d been hearing without listening when I heard these lyrics in a song:

“Keep me in the moment
‘Cause I don’t wanna miss
what you have for me”

Something about the first line … keep me in the moment … it stirred something visceral within me, as though those words were intended specifically for me.

To keep, or stay in the moment is to not look forward, or back with longing, but to be completely in the now, the present. It is to fully attend, to be mind, body and soul in the present task, with those present.

It is in the attending, the being fully present that we see the purpose, the learning, the value of that time, that moment. We learn the contentment of leaning on God.

As I look to the fall, to the return to work in a high school, in this season of Covid, I know that I need to focus on the very moment I am in, giving my full energy and attention to this moment.

“This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

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As I opened the bedroom door I was temporarily blinded by the light shining through my office window, illuminating that room and the hallway.

A bit startled by the abrupt visual awakening at such an early morning hour (due to the need of the Wonderdog to go out), I squinted, raised my hand to shield my eyes.

Once the startling awakening subsided, I was able to take joy in this fleeting gift of light beauty to start my day. What a lovely way to start the day … walking into the light.

That dazzling early morning moment stayed with me all day long, bringing a smile to my face as I remembered the joy of my entrance into a new day.

It was startling, unexpected, overwhelming, heart-stopping.

All words that also fit those moments in our life when we are walking with God, our very own sunshine-maker … and we know it. Moments that are gifts to us, that keep us spiritually afloat when the waves of life rise threateningly.

These are the moments that linger … like that gleaming morning light that greeted me one morning.

In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses tells the Israelites,

“be careful that you do not forget the LORD,
who brought you out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery.”

This warning is valid, because we humans are quick to forget the blessings, the gifts, the good times and where they come from. When times get tough we are often quick to pull out the woe is me complaint.

In the Bible, memorials (usually with stones) were created so that people would not forget the faithfulness of God in a difficult time or situation. These memorials are also a testimony to others, showing evidence of the presence of God in our lives.

I just took a picture, saved it on my phone, then told my sunshine story here to you … and you.

Be careful that you do not forget …

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  his mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

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Lord, use me in your will for my life in this world.

I long to be used by God. To be his hands and feet in my small corner of the world. I don’t need his pat on my back, I just long to be used … needed.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16

When you don’t know how God wants to use you and you so desperately want to be needed. When you feel certain that you have something to offer but you’re not exactly sure what it is, why doors aren’t opening and just feel useless.

Walking with God, being in his will, in his purpose for life and breath is simply heaven on Earth. It is what gets us up out of bed each day.

But we (I say ‘we’ but, let me tell you, I am preaching this one right back at ‘me’) are always walking with God, when we choose to rely on him, on his provision of opportunity to shine for him.

Being in his will, being used of the God of creation doesn’t mean we are always walking in a surreal, sweet-smelling rose garden. It doesn’t mean that our every more (or word) is flawless. Doesn’t mean that we ‘feel’ good about what we are doing all. the. time. It doesn’t mean that we ‘know’ we are doing God’s work.

Micah 6:8 reminds us of what God’s will actually is for each of us … what he requires of us all:

He has shown you,
O mortal,
what is good.
And what does the Lord 
require of you?

To act justly 
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly 
with your God.

Spurgeon writes (of this scripture), “it was a spiritual worship that the Lord required; not externals, not outward gifts, but the heart. If thou wilt bring an offering, bring thyself; there is no other gift that the Lord so much desires. The prophet mentions three things that the Lord required of his people: “To do justly:” here are the equities of life. “To love mercy here are the kindnesses of life, which are to be rendered cheerfully. The prophet does not say, “to do mercy,” but to “love” it, to take a delight in it, to find great pleasure in the forgiveness of injuries, in the helping of the poor, in the cheering of the sick, in the teaching of the ignorant, in the winning back of sinners to the ways of God. “And to walk humbly with thy God.” These are the things which please him; and when we are in Christ, and he becomes our righteousness, these are the sacrifices with which God is well pleased; they make an offering of a sweet smell, a holy incense which we may present before him. Talk no more of your outward ordinances, your will-worship, with abundance of music, or human eloquence and learning, and what not. These things delight not the Lord; no offering is acceptable unless the outward conduct shows that the heart is right with him.”

And so we walk today, in his will.

Not because of something we are doing for him, but by allowing him to do a great work in us.

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In the New Testament the word beloved mostly refers to a love of God toward his son, Jesus, to his people and a love between fellow Christ-followers. It is intimate, deep and unifying.

Matthew 3:17 might be the most familiar use of the word beloved, in all of the Scriptures:

“And a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with him I am well pleased.”

We read those words and yearn for them.

I believe it is part of our inherent human nature, I believe it is the magnetic force that draws us to our Father God.

CS Lewis has said,

“And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved”

We seem to know, instinctively, we need to hear, to feel that in the eyes of God, we too are his beloved.

For some it is in our experience of being beloved of our earthly father that we come easily to understand how deeply loved we are by our heavenly Father.

For many others, it is the absence of being beloved by our human father (or mother) which pulls us away from God … for if our own flesh and blood reject us, how can the God of the universe call us his beloved?

Yet, he does. He does so in word and in deed. His declaration of pleasure with his son is the reminder to us of the sacrifice he made … for you and for me … that we should be called children of God … beloved children of God.

“And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved”

“You called me (be)loved
You called me (be)loved
By the blood of the Lamb, of Your Son
Comes to me, sweet salvation”

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Just love.

I knew the response as clearly and confidently as if I had heard with words spoken, verbally … but they weren’t.

I have been praying over a specific person and situation for quite awhile now. Each time I bring this one to the creator of all, I ask, what do you want me to do? to say? Each time, I hear, not with my ears, but my heart,

just love

It doesn’t feel like it is enough, most days. It doesn’t even feel like I am doing anything. How can I claim this one, this situation, for God, if my words never speak his name, never direct to him?

Yet …

God is love.

That’s what his word tells us (1 John 4:16). His existence is the definition of love.

That passage doesn’t just stop there.

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

So, as I abide … as I stick to love, living and dwelling in love, I am dwelling or living with God …

and his love dwells in me …

His message, the Gospel, or Good News message of salvation and redemption … it is told when I love others. In doing so I am sharing his Good News.

just love … there is no more important thing to do.

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I have come to be a believer in the words of the most influential artistic voices in Britain during the Victorian period, William Morris :

“Have nothing
in your house
that you do not know
to be useful,
or believe
to be beautiful.”

With each passing year, the more I desire, no … need the presence of beautiful things things around me. Beauty reduces my stress, puts a smile on my face, reminds me that there is good in the world, inspires my creativity and whispers to me “I was thinking of you when I dreamed up these lilies.”

Just a couple of weeks ago I decided to cut a few lilies from my small garden, to place in a vase in my house. Before they even began to open their scent filled the room. Each day has been exciting to watch them slowly go from no hint of the color to full and opened beauty.

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27

As I embrace my inner lover of beauty I find that there is more out there. The sunrise, or sunset. The seasonal rotations of plant and flower growth. The scent of those vintage roses. The reflection on a pond or lake. Birds singing out the dawn chorus. The coastal and sky horizon. The grandeur of the mountains. The sound of waves crashing on the beach. Fresh snow falling (you knew it was coming).

The more beauty we see … the more beauty we see.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

whatever is lovely …

It’s an awaking of awareness of beauty. In a sense it is a change of thinking.

” … as a person thinks, so is he”

We are encouraged in Philippians that we are to direct our thoughts, our focus on the ‘good’ things … what is true, noble, pure, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy … lovely.

The practises of living prescribed in the Bible are ones that are truly best practise for us as God’s creation. In this scripture we are encouraged to focus on the true, the positives, the good, the lovely …

if we are practise life in this way, perhaps we will experience less stress, anxiety, weariness, sorrow and hatred.

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.” Frank Lloyd Wright

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This summer the Wonderdog has been teaching me something …

we listen to and follow
those who know and care for us

It has been four months since work turned toward home, giving me ample time to spend my days with my fur friend. He is constantly with me, following me from the bed, in the morning, to the kitchen, the office, the family room or the bathroom. When out and I return home, opening the door from the garage, there he is, tucked into the back of the sofa, eyes transfixed to the door, ready to leap towards me as if I were coming home …

just. for. him.

He reminds me of that song we sing at Christmas time, about father Christmas …

“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake”

Now he also stays close to my husband, sleeping under the desk, at his feet.

But … I am the one who most often feeds him, takes him out to the grass, gives him medicine, fills his Kong with treats, invites him for a walk, or orders him a puppucinno in the drive through. I am the one who invites him onto the bed for a nighttime cuddle, who taught him to love (or simply to endure) snuggles, who put drops in his ear and eye last winter. I am the one who takes him to sit outside … where he is so very tempted to bark at every passerby.

I care for him.

the good. the bad. the ugly.

And he knows it because …

we listen to and follow
those who know and care for us

As I was writing on my patio the other day, I realized that my foot was warm with his soft head resting there. Then I remembered that each day we had been outside lately, this is where his head would be … could he get closer to me?

He feels protected, secure in my attention to his needs. Even in my discipline and ear drops (his least favorite thing) he knows he is cared for. I know this because …

we listen to and follow
those who know and care for us

 “My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me.”

John 10:27

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The practises of Sabbath have been different during these months of working collectively to help hinder the spread of the Coronavirus.

No more do we head to our local meeting places of faith families, where we gather together to worship in prayer, song, reading the Word of God, giving of our tithes and being encouraged in our faith through all of those shared practises as well as through the sharing of a message that encourages us to hold close our relationship with the God of creation.

My Sabbath today has had a fine start.

Sundays are a backwards day for hubby and I, as I oddly sleep later than he, who rises to prepare for a full day of work. This is my solitary day … a day I am completely aware of and immersed in the presence of God in every area of my life.

My call to worship began when I awoke to staring from my bedside, the Wonderdog eager for an invitation onto the bed for snuggles.

After a leisurely awakening, the morning ablutions for my fur friend and I, I was off on my weekly trip to a small grocery store, just after it opens … still quiet, barely a shopper to be seen.

I listened to songs of faith.

Enjoyed a hot steaming cup of coffee while wrapping a gift for a new delivered one, unable to contain whispered prayers of thanks.

Listened to a podcast about the Christian faith that stimulated curiosity to go into the word.

Poured myself a cold glass of cranberry juice, spread fresh strawberry jam with a hint of lemon, on a scone (not a typical breakfast, but … the Sabbath should be a sweet day).

Filled the Wonderdog’s treat toy with his favorite mixture, then out to our small patio.

A gentle breeze brought scents from my hydrangea plants (once blue, that are now pink), and other floral perfumes from the neighborhood.

Though this patio, this property does not provide the peaceful quiet of our previous acreage, peace lives here, in the contentment of the provision, in the peace that passes my human comprehension.

I sit in my chair, sip from my glass, breath in the scents, smile at my sleeping Wonderdog, hear the sound of texts arriving from my sweetest loves.

I pray, words of thanks, or appeal for the needs of others, I seek wisdom and comfort from the scriptures.

No benediction … the Sabbath goes on.

“Then he (Jesus) said to them,
“The Sabbath was made for
humankind,
not humankind
for the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:27

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