Archive for the ‘Walking with God’ Category

Anniversaries of events are wonderful for providing reflection, perspective and thanksgiving.

As I write these words I am reflecting on the events of one year ago. A day that dawned early for us, as I still had a bit of last minute packing to do before the movers were to arrive. That day was full of reflection, perspective and thanksgiving as well, as we packed up a home, a life of fifteen years.

Now, looking back at the day and all the days since, I am full of thanksgiving, for though there were hard days, lonely days, even dark days, never were we left alone without hope.

This remembering brings to mind Joshua 4. This is the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan, which had parted for them to cross, when the ark was carried across.

I love this story, as it is the completion of the trek to the Promised Land. Though there were two leaders, directing the way (God’s way), both leaders were given a route that required them to go through deep water … the Red Sea for Moses and the Jordan for Joshua.

Moses, as he was dying, told Joshua (in Deuteronomy 31:6) :

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (those who may stand in their way), for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is the same message that Joshua was given from God himself, after Moses’ death (three times in one message from God (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9) :

“Be strong and (very) courageous”

Then, after Joshua took his place as leader, after he spoke to the people and shared the plan, they responded, in affirmation of his leadership, ending with those familiar words (Joshua 1:18) :

“Only be strong and courageous!”

He was their leader … Moses knew it, they knew it, Joshua knew it, God knew it … but this message was was not just theory, not just something to frame and place on the wall. This message was to be the mantra of Joshua, of the Israelites … of us.

Where the rubber hit the road is in the application of the message, for we cannot prove the meaning of strength and courage just when we are on our knees … we have to hold onto the meaning of this message when we are in deep water.

Soon, as Joshua and his followers were approaching the flooded Jordan, they were given opportunity to prove their allegiance to the God of Moses and Joshua … to their God.

As those carrying the Ark entered into the water, it parted, just as the Red Sea. When the Ark had reached the middle point … when they were truly in the deepest place, Joshua gave the Lord’s instruction … to have one from each tribe pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan.

Once they had crossed the river. Once those carrying the Ark came up from the Jordan, the waters returned to where they had been. Joshua had them lay their stones together, then he piled them … and there was a good reason for this.

The Lord had a reason for instructing Joshua to have them brought out of the river and then piled on the the other side :

“In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24)

These rocks/stones were part of the story of going through the place of deep waters, that their descendants would know and fear their God. But also that they would know that the strength and power of God were available to them, and to us, if we would be strong and courageous … not in our own power, but in the power of God.

These stones provide reflection, perspective and thanksgiving for a God who parts the waters.


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While I was scrolling through Instagram images, months ago, I stopped to read what is written, above, and I knew, I knew it was planted there for me, for that very day, that very moment.

When I read it, I wasn’t interpreting it as some sort of prosperity gospel. No, I was reading it as a message from my loving God, who knew I needed the equivalent of someone placing their finger under my chin, lifting my face and saying it’s gonna be okay.

It’s gonna be okay …
That’s the message of the Gospel

There is a saying in this time which says, “there are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

It is often attributed to C. S. Lewis, and he did say it, but what he was saying was in reference to what is to come once we walk through the shadow of the valley of death. In essence, Lewis was saying,

the best is yet to come

… maybe not in this life on planet Earth, but for eternity with our Saviour.

In our world, our society, our lives today, there is little emphasis on heaven. Perhaps it is a pendulum shift away from the messages of the past that were always focused on eternity. Today we look to the words of Jesus in the Gospels, “the kingdom of God is at hand” and we sometimes interpret that to mean that this very life is the goal, the kingdom … yet, what he was saying was hello, look at me, I am the kingdom of God, I am the goal.

and it is a goal that we, who have submitted to his leadership, share in.

Yet, the gospels also remind us that our current lives are not the be all, end all:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” Matthew 5:12

“great is your reward in heaven.” Luke 6:23

Trust God.

Trust your whole entire life to him.

He IS in control.

It will get better!

“The happy ending that God has coming is going to ROCK. YOUR. WORLD!”

“O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are”

Helen H. Lemmel

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June has traditionally been the month of weddings. The weather is warmer, but not hot. The days are longer. Outdoor photographs are more beautiful with gardens at their peek of beauty.

We got to attend a wedding a few weeks ago and I found myself feeling rather broody.

Just days before hubby had received a letter informing him that he is no longer licensed in our home province to officiate weddings. Though that letter’s communication was the equivalent of water off a duck’s back, for hubby, it initiated an unexpected mourning for me.

I could unashamedly brag about the way he conducted weddings over the years.

He would take the position of intermediary, between the bride and groom and … anyone who could make the event stressful, in the most gracious yet firm manner.

The message that he would share would be one that was agonizingly prepared to represent the couple, from what he knew of them and what he had learned through the premarital sessions.

Then there was the ceremony, personalized as the couple chose, for he was committed that it would reflect them.

My personal favorite part of the weddings that he officiated were how he made the pronouncement … “by the power given me by the province of —-, but, more importantly, by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I pronounce you husband and wife.” It just always made me smile.

So I sat at the wedding, just a few days ago, missing his ceremony, what he did so well, each part conscientiously planned and executed, always bringing the message back to the original installation of marriage.

As I got home from that wedding I got to thinking about how, in the Bible, marriage is used as a parable for Christ (the bridegroom) and the Church (the bride). As husband and wife become one, so too the Church and Christ become one … this is the “mystery” spoken of in Ephasians 5:32.

When a couple marry, their unifying is actually a re-unifying, since woman came from man’s body. Adam, meaning earth, and Eve, meaning life … woman literally puts life into the man, from whom she came. For woman to have life, she was taken from man, marriage is the redeeming of that physical separation at Creation, and the two, once again, become one.

The work of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, to the grave and resurrection is also a redeeming of relationship. From the very beginning God intended that we, his church, would be one with him … and then sin happened. Christ, through his sacrifice, brought the church back to him … and the two, once again, become one.

As I pondered this metaphor I realized that though I was feeling sorrowful for this end to hubby being such an amazingly talented part of the union of souls, this story goes on. In the hands of God himself, who officiates the most spectacular of marriages of souls, back to himself.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free, 
there is no male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28

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irish blessing

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day that we celebrate the arrival of the promised advocate, the Spirit of God.

While the resurrected Jesus was walking and talking with his disciples for the forty days, he told them that they had a job to do … to go and make disciples of everyone (all nations) (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). He said that once he was gone, he would send the Spirit to them and then they would need to go throughout the world and share what he had taught them.

So, Pentecost arrived, the Holy Spirit entered them and an odd thing happened … they (mostly Jews) started to speak something other than their own languages. As a matter of fact, they were speaking languages that they had no previous knowledge or training.

Why would they have the ability to speak a new language once the spirit had come to ‘lite’ on them?

Recently, I saw a young man who is the son of a someone I know. I introduced myself, and he remembered my hubby and I. We chatted a bit, then went our separate ways.

A few minutes later he returned and told me a story of his experience with an individual from a Christian organization I was once a part of. It was a sad, shameful story of how this mutual acquaintance reduced the work of God to a very small group of believers (of which he was a part, but this young man was not). I, guiltily, apologized for this other believer’s attitude and words.

I spent the rest of the day vacillating between sorrow for how this young man had been hurt by the arrogance of a follower of God, and anger that one, who knows of the love of God for all people, could be so wrong in his assertions that his (any) particular group of Christians were superior.

This recent story actually relates to Pentecost. You see, Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations. To ensure that they could fulfill this calling, the holy spirit enabled them to speak the languages, or tongues, of other people … not just the Jews, but the Gentiles.

This was day one of the Christian church.

We, as Christians, have never been called to stay in our churches, our cultural communities. We have received the Great Commission to go and share this love that has been shared with us … with all people.

” … as high priest (Caiaphas) prophesied
that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 
and not only for that nation
but also for the scattered children of God,
to bring them together and make them one.”

John 11:51-52

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Sometime a word can change your day …

The other day our daughter messaged to share with us the news her doctor had delivered … the Crohn’s disease that she was diagnosed with would appear to be in remission.

This is the ultimate goal of the extremely expensive (thank-you to her work health care plan, but especially to our province’s Fair Pharmacare Plan) medication she has been taking. This does not mean that the Crohn’s is gone, but that the inflammation in the intestines and colon is gone, resulting in healing, absence of pain and a reduction in fear if she is out where there are not bathrooms. Remission has been achieved … now to pray it can be maintained!

Since the disease will not ever be gone (unless medicine advances change that reality) remission means that the effects of her disease are suspended.

As that word has been sinking into my mind I couldn’t help but think of remission in regards to sin.

This remission is a bit different, for, with regard to sin, remission means both forgiveness as well as passing over. With God our sins are forgiven, because, at the cross, Jesus took our sins (past, present and future) and covered them with his blood, as a magic eraser.

Acts 10:43 says:

“through His name whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Acts 2:28 says:

“through His name whosoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

The effects, the pain of our disease of sin are gone … we are no longer condemned, no longer have our heads hanging in shame when we stand before God.

Sometimes a word can change your day … sometimes it can change your eternity.

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It’s been happening again … the stalking.

Every once in a while it will seem as though a word, or phrase of meaning will be in my face, sung on the radio, preached from the pulpit, whispered in my ear … over and over and over again. I refer to such occurrences as God’s way of stalking me with a message he wants me to know.

Sometimes I am alert and catch on right away, other times it seems to take quite a few attempts until my eyes and ears are open to what I need to know.

I just realized the other morning that he’s doing it again, that he’s been whispering this message in my ear for many, many weeks … months even. How could I have been so deaf, so unaware that he was speaking to me?

Proverbs 3:6-7 seems to speak to this stalking of God:

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!”

I know I have been guilty of assuming that I know it all … or at least relying on my own abilities and knowledge. I know I have been guilty of not running from evil … sometimes it is evident in how I apathetically just let the stuff of life happen, rather than living purposely, walking closely with God.

I also know that I can keep myself quite busy, quite preoccupied with running my race, that I start running in the wrong direction and I easily get off track.

So, now I am on a mission. I need to uncover and understand the whole message that has been shared with me. I need to be still, just breathe and and listen for his voice, his leading.

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A wise man (who I happen to live with) has said that the most important question for any of us is the question that Jesus asked (Matthew 16:15) of Simon Peter:

“But what about you?” he asked. 
“Who do you say I am?”

I have been thinking of this question this week after helping a student through Revelation 3.

Revelation 3 contains letters to three (of seven) churches in Asia (modern Turkey): Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

I admit that I often avoid Revelation … more out of it’s complex mysteries, metaphors and multiple interpretations of experts. Quite simply I just struggle to understand this book.

The letters to these three churches make sense to me, both as letters to churches (then and now) as well as letters to followers of Christ.

To Sardis the author (possibly the apostle John) says, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (v. 1) This church did all the stuff that was expected of an early church and they probably did it bigger and better than everyone else, but there was little substance in who they were in Christ. He referred to their style of Christ-following, to them as “dead”. They were cold to Christ.

To Laodicea he says, ‘you say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing’ (v.17). This church didn’t have a care in the world, for every worldly need was met, and more. This church chose just enough religion. You know, prayed before a meal, gave money to good causes, but never really made a life with Christ a priority. They were lukewarm to Christ.

Then to Philadelphia he praises, “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (v. 8). Though this church has little, is under threat (or will be), and has gone through great struggles … they have not denied the name of Christ. They are holding firm to their faith. Their faith in Christ was hot.

In verse 16, to the church at Laodicea, he say, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

We cannot hear what the Spirit says when we our faith in him is lukewarm, our hearing is most clear when our faith is hot, fully given to him … no matter our circumstances. Faith is not about how others see us, but how we answer the question:

“But what about you?” he asked. 
“Who do you say I am?”

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