Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Solid and Permanent

I’m blessed to live in a province that’s home to some of the most awe inspiring natural vistas in the world.  The Rocky Mountains.  Spiked grey crags and snow-capped peaks blaze stark and bright against a cloudless blue sky.

I gaze in wonder.  These are my friends.  Their familiar shapes welcome me.  Visit after visit, year after year they don’t disappoint.  They don’t change, they’re always there, ready to amaze and inspire, beckoning me closer to God, the Creator.

I wonder if the psalmist who wrote psalm 121 felt the same way about mountains.  He starts out by saying,

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

I look at the mountains and I can’t help but think of God.  His handy work is everywhere. 


In the brush strokes of wild flowers blooming in a mountain meadow.




In the roar of a cascading waterfall.


In the stillness of an emerald lake






In the majestic permanence of rock





In the whimsical flip of chipmunk's tail

 
In the liquid brown gentleness of an elk’s gaze.
 










I could go on, but I think you get the point.  God is everywhere.  And in the midst of it all, God is with you, watching over you.  Read Psalm 121…

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord Himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.  The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
Psalm 121 (NLT)

What an awesome thought!  Even more impressive than the mountains is God, Himself; watching over you.  Caring for you in your time of stress, of illness, of financial difficulty - whatever your trouble, God watches over you.

You can sleep soundly, knowing God doesn’t rest.  He’s always there, solid and permanent.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
What are you worried about today?  Trust God to watch over you.

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

What are you afraid of?  What thoughts fill you with stomach churning dread?

There are times and events in life we’d like to fast forward over...

  • the devastating cancer diagnosis,
  • the hard conversation at work, or with a spouse,
  • the breakdown of a marriage,
  • the loss of a loved one

The thought of any of these is enough to tie your stomach in a series of knots so tight you'd be awarded your Boy Scout Knot Merit Badge.

As I write this I’m faced with the unenviable task of a tough conversation at work.  It’s a black cloud on the horizon of tomorrow.

But throughout this week, I’ve been reading the book of Joshua and one overarching theme has come through.

I’ve lost count of the number of times the following words appear in some format…

BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.  DO NOT BE AFRAID.  GOD WILL BE WITH YOU AND WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU.

The first instance of the words, “be strong and courageous” appears in Joshua 1:6, it repeats in verse 7, and again in verse 9 and verse 18.

The Israelites are faced with many challenges as they move into the Promised Land.  It would be easy to let fear over take them, and yet over, and over again Joshua reminds the nation…

“Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged…be strong and courageous…”

This is a good reminder for all of us.  God is with us and will see us through the dreaded black clouds of life.  Pray for His divine strength and courage today.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Where do you need to be strong and courageous in your life?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Sacrifice Of Forgiveness

I'm not sure video blogging is my forte, but regardless, I decided to try something a little different this week.  The video below is a short monologue on the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  video
 
 
Things To Think About
Have you accepted the forgiveness Jesus offers at the cross?  Is Jesus your Saviour?
 
To share your thoughts click on "comments" below.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pride and Control...A Leader's Kryptonite

I wonder how many control freaks are reading this post right now.  Well, you're in good company; it's written by a fellow control freak! 

One thing I realized as I read through the account of the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land - Moses was not a control freak!

Why do I say that?  Take a look at Numbers 11.  The Israelites sing their song of complaint again.  This isn’t news to Moses.  He’s heard it before.  In fact, he’s heard it multiple times before.

This time he’s fed up and he needs to vent.  Sometimes leaders do that.  Days can be long and frustrating.  Working with different personality types is challenging and can leave you as twitchy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! 

Moses has a lot to say to God.  You can read his rant in its entirety in Numbers 11:10-15, but the last two verses give you the general sense of the level of Moses’ irritation with the people and his leadership role…

“I can’t carry all these people by myself!  The load is far too heavy!  If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me.  Do me a favor and spare me this misery.”  Numbers 11:14-15 (NLT)

Have you had days when you just want say, “Kill me now!”?  I know I have.

Moses earns my respect as a leader in the way he responds to what happens next.  God agrees with Moses and introduces a solution to the problem.  God tells Moses…

“…Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel.  Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you.  I will come down and talk to you there.  I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also.  They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.”  Numbers 11:16-17 (NLT)

Sounds like a great plan, right?  Suddenly the responsibility of the leadership role is split between a bunch of different people. 

But let’s be honest for a minute…

What if my boss came to me and said, “You know what Carol, I know you’re in charge of managing the six people on your sales team, but I’m going take away some of that responsibility.  From now on you’re going to manage one person on the team and I’ll assign someone else to be in charge of the other five."
 
Do you think I’d be happy about that change?  I’d probably think I was failing in my job as a sales manager and wonder when the pink slip was coming!

My pride would be hurt and I’d probably fight to hang onto control of what little responsibility remained of my job.

Control and pride – a leader's kryptonite.  

But here’s the lesson from Moses.  God does share the spirit of leadership among seventy men Moses collects and brings to Him.  They all begin to prophesy, a sure sign that they have the spirit within them, but Joshua, Moses’ assistant protests and asks Moses to make them stop. 

Read what Moses says to this…

“…Are you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lords people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all! " Numbers 11:29 (NLT)

What a great reaction for a leader!  Moses gets a gold star for this one! He isn’t jealous.  He’s not worried about maintaining control.  He doesn’t let his pride overcome his need for assistance in leading the Israelites.  He’s grateful for the help.

Oh that I would be as humble a leader as Moses!

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Does your pride stop you from asking for help? 

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Direct Communication From God...Are You Listening

I’m back to reading my way through the Old Testament, so be prepared for a number of posts focused around lessons learned from Moses and the Israelites. 

I really do love this part of the Bible.  The Israelites are normal people with messed up lives, and Moses struggles regularly with his leadership role.  It’s real life, devoid of the TV sitcom sugar coating!

A few days ago I came to chapter 7 in the book of Numbers.  This chapter takes 88 long verses to describe (in great detail) the offerings of dedication each of the 12 tribes of Israel brings to the Lord at the dedication of the Tabernacle.

Each one brings the same thing, over and over, and over again…x 12!!  I was getting a little bored, my mind was wandering, and I admit to scanning the text instead of fully reading it.

But then, the very last verse, number 89, caught my attention….

“Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement – that rests on the Ark of the Covenant.  The Lord spoke to him from there.”  Numbers 7:89 (NLT)

Moses heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him!  There are many occasions throughout the Old Testament where God speaks directly to the people…

  • Adam and Eve
  • Abraham
  • Noah
  • Samuel
  • David
  • Ezekiel
  • Jeremiah
  • Jonah
…and the list goes on.

My imagination was off and running!!  What was it like to have God speak directly to you? 

It terrified the Israelites when God spoke to them on Mount Sinai!  It must have been amazing and terrifying and wonderful and humbling and awe inspiring…I imagine it defied description.

But here’s what’s interesting.  Many of the people God spoke to didn’t want to hear what He had to say…

  • Eve – bit the apple
  • Moses – argued about going to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of slavery
  • Jonah – didn’t want to go and preach to the people of Nineveh
  • David – after being anointed the king of Israel, goes back to being a shepherd
  • Jeremiah – says no way God, I’m way too young to be your prophet

And yet, with the exception of Eve, all these people do eventually follow God’s call and accomplish great things for the Kingdom.

Many times I’ve wished God would speak directly to me, so I’d be clear on what He’s saying.  Today we don’t hear God’s voice speaking from the place of atonement, but we do hear His voice through the words in the Bible and through the movement of the Holy Spirit. 

God speaks through many people - pastors, church members, friends, family, co-workers, the person next to you on the bus, your spouse…

So it’s not a question about God speaking directly to me.  The real question is am I listening and willing to respond? 

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Are you listening to God?  Are you willing to respond?  What are you arguing with God about?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Strawberry Pie With Chocolate Drizzle

Normally the last week of the month is recipe week, but with strawberry season in full swing I couldn't wait to post this mouth watering creation!


What You Need:
1 frozen pie shell
2 vanilla pudding cups
1 pkg strawberry glaze (usually found with the fresh fruit in the grocery store)
4 to 5 cups fresh, sliced strawberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Bake the empty pie shell according to the directions on the box.  If you want to make a pie shell from scratch visit "A Plethora Of Pie" for a never-fail pastry recipe.  Cool the shell completely.

When the pie shell is cooled, spread the vanilla pudding cups over the bottom of the baked pie shell.


Follow the instructions on the strawberry glaze package to make the glaze.  Mix the sliced strawberries into the glaze and heap them into the pie shell on top of the vanilla pudding.

Melt the chocolate chips on VERY low heat.  Pour the melted chocolate into a small zip lock bag.  Squish all the chocolate into one corner of the bag, then cut a small bit of the corner of the bag off.  Drizzle the chocolate over top of the pie.

Chill for two or three hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Knowing God's Presence

The cloud covered the Tabernacle and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle…The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it.  This continued throughout all their journeys.  Exodus 40:34-38 (NLT)

What would it be like to wake up in the morning, yawn, stretch, scratch, and look out the window to see physical proof of God’s presence hovering over your place of worship?

Or imagine screaming yourself awake from a nightmare and peering blindly into the thick darkness to see a reassuring fire glowing over the church – a constant reminder that God is with you.

Would it make your faith stronger?  Would you trust God more?  Would you worship more?  Would you treat people better?

Or would His presence become common place, instead of sacred…just one more cloud on the landscape?

So often we struggle to “see” God, and we look for reminders of His presence.  We carry symbols with us.  We wear jewelry in the shape of a cross.  We put fish stickers on our bumpers.  We carry small polished rocks engraved with words like “faith” and “hope” and “Jesus”.  We wear bracelets proclaiming , “I am second”.

We yearn for a constant sense of His presence and we do all these things to remind us of Christ’s death and resurrection.  These are signs and symbols of our faith, but none are the physical presence of God. 

Yes, the Israelites were fortunate enough to journey with visual proof of the physical presence of God, and it must have been amazing, awe inspiring, and frightening all at the same time.  But today we don’t need physical proof of God’s presence.

When Jesus gave His life for us, was crucified and rose from the dead, God’s presence came to dwell in us in the form of the Holy Spirit. 

Admittedly there are times when you don’t “feel” the presence of God, but if you’ve trusted Jesus with your life, then you can be certain He is there with you always.


“The eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him – but some of them doubted!  Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)

Some of the disciples doubted Jesus’ presence even though He was standing right in front of them.  But He reassured them, promising to always be with them.  We can take reassurance of His presence from this promise, too.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Do the times you think God isn’t there outweigh the times you “feel” His presence?  Are you like the doubting disciples, needing reassurance?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “Comments” below.