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Showing posts from 2009

The Tomorrow That Begins Forever

We look forward with eager anticipation to what this new year will bring. We hope for the best, but understand that in the midst of all those blessings will come sorrow and pain. Despite our resolutions to the contrary, we will be disappointed in ourselves and in others. No matter how pristine tomorrow's page will be, it will soon be smudged. We will do our best, with God's help, to keep those smudges to a minimum and we will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord just that little bit more during the year that is about to dawn.

Today's verse reminds me that there will dawn a day that will mark, not a new year, but an eternity of years. Unlike tomorrow, this new year of years will be greeted without that lingering shadow of reality that hangs over my shoulder as I anticipate 2010.

Here's what John says about that year of years: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has…

When a Thousand Words Aren't Enough

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Even a picture isn't sufficient to capture the full meaning of this verse. But as the sun descends on 2009 and the dawn comes of 2010, it is fitting to remember the One Who is responsible for the hours, days, months, years, and everything else we enjoy. To this One all the earth will one day bow its knee.



"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" —Revelation 4:11.

To God be the glory!

More Than a Guest

The owner of my apartment was invited to come for Christmas dinner. She graciously accepted. She arrived, right on time, ringing the doorbell at precisely 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of December 25th. She doesn't have a key to my apartment even though she's the owner. She has to wait for me to let her in.

I thought of her when I read this morning's verse. This one is usually used in the context of evangelism. However, as I look toward a new year and consider the old one I realize that it applies just as much to me as it does to the one who doesn't believe.

John writes: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" —Revelation 3:20.

No, I don't need to be saved all over again, but I do need to not overload my "house" with so many other guests that there isn't room for the owner to come in.

Life gets so full of activities and people that sometimes Jesus ends…

A Promise for 2010

Years ago, we had a summer student in my home church who always finished off his services with this wonderful blessing from Jude 24, 25.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault, and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."

God's word can be intimidating. We are instructed to do, and be, what seems impossible. Who hasn't struggled with verses like "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" —Matthew 5:48.

Faced with such seemingly impossible challenges, we rationalize. "That isn't really what he meant to say," we reason. Then we walk away from the Word somewhat relieved from responsibility, at least in our own minds.

Living the Christian life is not easy and we do people a disservice to suggest otherwise or to withhold information about the cost attac…

A Christmas Tale

A missionary was working with children in a poverty-stricken town. As she shared the story of Christ's birth, each child was given materials to make a small nativity scene. The shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, animals, and Baby Jesus were all to be cut out of cardboard and put into a creche.

As the missionary looked over the children's work, she noticed that one boy had placed two babies in the manger. "What's this?" she asked him.

"Well," he said, "one baby is Jesus, and the other one is me." He looked up at his teacher. "The wise men gave the baby presents—but I don't have anything to give Him. So I thought I'd lie beside Him and keep Him warm."

What gift will you give?

Your love…

Your warmth…

Your self?

Those are the best gifts—the gifts the Christ Child treasures most of all.


From: Wise Men Still Seek Him Today by Ellyn Sanna.

Have a wonderful Christmas. May your gift to Him warm His heart.

Together and at Peace

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Today is Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted by Susan at Forever His. Check things out for yourselves.

Abby and Lou Lou Bell very seldom touch. They get along very well—but usually with space in between them. It seems like the spirit of Christmas has invaded their little kitty hearts.





So I send you all this greeting: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men [and animals] on whom his favor rests" —Luke 2:14 NIV.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

The Best Worst Christmas Ever

Christmas Memories 5

Today marks the anniversary of my mother's passing. But please don't think this post is going to be a "downer." On the contrary, though that Christmas some eighteen years ago was the worst Christmas my brother and I will ever experience, it morphed into perhaps the best one anyone could have planned.

I didn't have the same plans that God did for that Christmas. My father had passed away three months earlier, and my greatest desire was to make this first Christmas without dad a good one for mom.

The baking and gifts that I planned to take north with me were done when I got the call to tell me that mom had suffered a massive heart attack. I wondered if I would make it home in time to see her. All night on the bus (the only way I could make the trip north just days before Christmas) I willed the driver to go faster. When I arrived at the hospital direct from the bus station, mom actually looked good. By the afternoon, she was failing and shortly be…

The Year of the Rooster

Christmas Memories 4

My mother was ill for many years and there were times when she looked for ways to lighten her load of responsibilities. One Christmas she decided that cooking a turkey was just too much work. Traditionally some kind of bird is required for Christmas dinner so she chose to buy a big chicken.

The day came and she put the chicken into the oven to cook while she prepared the rest of the meal. Everything looked wonderful, and smelled equally good as it sat on the dining room table waiting to be enjoyed.

The chicken was served. We took a bite of the long-anticipated feast.

Tough—as those proverbial nails; so tough that the bird was almost impossible to chew.

Was my mother annoyed!

That big "chicken" wasn't a chicken at all. It had been, in its former life, a rooster.

We struggled through, soothing mom's ruffled feathers as we gamely plowed through the meal.

Now I don't know what makes a rooster tough. I do know that there are even some hens that must be …

Birthday Promises

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Christmas Memories 3

It's hard to get off the Merry-Go-Round once you're on it. Somehow Christmas got to be giving gifts to each other. And somehow the One with the birthday doesn't get much out of the deal at all. We run around madly looking for the right gift for everyone on our list seldom giving much thought, if any, to what we should be giving the Lord. It IS his birthday we are celebrating after all.

One Christmas Eve in my home church someone came up with a really good idea. As we entered the sanctuary for the Christmas Eve candlelight service we were handed a piece of coloured paper cut into the shape of a Christmas tree ornament. The tree at the front of the room was bright with lights but devoid of any other decoration.

We were instructed to think about what we wanted to give to Jesus as His birthday present and then write our answer on the back of the piece of paper.

Later on in the service, in the dark of the room, with only the light of the candles and the light…

Cookies

Christmas Memories 2

I'm baking for Christmas. Though the recipes don't turn out the same (chalk it up to substitutions I have to make living here in Venezuela) Farmer's Cookies and Stained Glass Window Cookies always remind me of Christmases past.

These two cookies were standard Christmas fare at our house.

Storage was no problem for mom. We had an enclosed, unheated, porch. When the cookies were cooled and packed in their respective cookie cans, mom took them out to the porch. It was as cold as a freezer out there! Of course, being in the porch, within easy access of all of us, made temptation a huge issue—I love both those cookies!

During my growing up years, eating cookies was not a problem. Unhappily times have changed. As a kid none of those cookies ever went to waste and I never put on an ounce. As an adult, they all go to waist (you know what I mean!) and we aren't talking ounces anymore.

Oh well …

Christmas comes but once a year and if I can hold out, most of the co…

The Red Velvet Dress

Christmas Memories 1

I stood in the "wings," the annex the ran parallel to the main auditorium of the the church. The rustling began to quieten as proud moms and dads took their seats and settled themselves in for the annual Christmas Concert.

Lines had been carefully and sometimes painfully memorized, songs rehearsed, and now the moment, long anticipated, had finally come.

My while leotards sagged and I pulled them up. I rubbed a toe on the back of my leg, giving a last polish to my shiny black shoes. My braids were tightly bound, ends neatly resplendent in red ribbons.

But the crowning touch was the red velvet dress with the puffy sleeves and white collar, reserved especially for this occasion. The dress only came out at Christmas.

I carefully ran my fingers down its soft folds. Around the neck the heart-shaped crystal pendant sparkled in the light—a diamond resting on a blood-red pillow.

The first Christmas song was announced and the congregation rose at the urging of the s…

9:04:35

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Finally, something for Friday Fiction (though it is a story based on fact). I've abandoned PRIOR KNOWLEDGE for a while, but hopefully one day soon… In the meanwhile, here's an offering that connects with the season for all its sadness. Read other stories by visiting Karlene at Homespun Expressions for more Friday Fiction.

9:04:35 did well in the Faithwriters Challenge.

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On that cold winter’s morn in nineteen hundred and seventeen, no red flag waved above the stacks of the Mont Blanc. There was nothing to warn the innocent in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that she was a floating bomb filled to the gunnels with, among other nasties, some 400,000 pounds of TNT.

The absence of the flag was a safety precaution. The German u-boats prowling the Atlantic would have no way of identifying her as a carrier of such deadly, or such an important cargo. Perhaps in their search for more impressive prey, they would leave this little rust-bucket alone as she sailed with her convoy to b…

Hand-Me-Down Suffering

I was packing up some stuffed animals and used clothing yesterday—things that will get dropped off to be distributed among those who could use a little encouragement along the way.

The exercise reminded me of an incident that took place in Colombia where I served many years ago. Someone in Western Canada had taken it upon herself to collect a ton (literally) of used clothing which she then sent to us at the Bible Institute in Medellin. The huge crate arrived and we had an absolute ball going through all the stuff. Some was junk—a waste of time and money to sent. That junk included long underwear, mini-skirts, shoes without mates. I think there was even a ratty fur coat. But there was some good clothing in the crate.

We distributed what was useful and in good condition to our Bible School students, most of whom were very poor. One young man refused to take anything. He told me that he didn't wear "hand-me-downs." Pride was written all over his face so I took him aside. His…

Love Was When…

I couldn't get the song out of my head, even though most of the words escaped me.

"Love was when God became a man…"

Somehow those few words perfectly illustrated today's verse from 1 Peter 4:8.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

I had a very sinful day yesterday. Stress levels were running high drowning faith as each wave passed. Patience was as thin as tissue paper and I allowed my temper to control me. As I came back to the Lord for forgiveness I was overwhelmed again with that love that covers all my sin.

In gratitude I pray that today will be a better one, that I will not grieve Him as I did yesterday, and that my love for Him will deepen, carrying away in its wake the temptation to give in to fear and anxiety.

His love, demonstrated in that act of taking on "skin" on my behalf, does indeed cover a multitude of sin.

Shedding Skin

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Welcome to Monday Manna, hosted by Joanne at An Open Door. Be sure to visit.

Once upon a time I was young and skinny. My aunt, who always took me shopping on my yearly visits, continually complained that I had nothing to "hang" clothes on. These days she admonishes me to take weight OFF. I used to complain to God about my "flesh," considering it to be unattractive. Thankfully I have long since come to terms with my imperfect physical flesh.

I wonder if Jesus ever felt uncomfortable in his humanity? He was tempted in every way that we can be tempted—so perhaps that included wanting to crawl out of His skin.

John 1:14 says: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Somehow it is difficult to imagine Jesus with a growling stomach, with sore feet, or an itchy beard. I can hardly conceive of Him sweating. Did his childhood friends give him…

Submission, Not Subjugation

Aha, I thought, as I read this morning's assigned verses. I figured I could pass on this set of instructions.

The verses come from 1 Peter 3:1-5 which, as most people know, like it or not, have to do with wives submitting to their husbands. Since I don't have a husband, I thought I'd just skip over the passage without a second look.

Then I took the second look. Some people wave these verses under the noses of wives like rotten cheese in a strong wind, admonishing them to behave themselves appropriately in their spousal relationships.

A blog is not the best place to discuss all the issues that are raised here—and there are lots of them. But what strikes me is what this particular passage is actually addressing, quite apart from any other references.

Take a look.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of…

It's All About …

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may live, love and be happy all the rest of your lives" —I Peter 2:9 NIV.

Don't you just love this verse?

What? I misquoted? No way! Isn't the purpose of our salvation to give us abundant life? Isn't abundant life a nice home, a modest bank account, kids who turn out well, two cars, a beach apartment or lakeside cottage, health and freedom from anxiety, a comfortable pew in a comfortable church where I can be served a comfortable gospel? It isn't?

Well, paint me red with embarrassment!

So what does the verse actually say?

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" —1 Peter 2:9 NIV.

You mean God saved me so that I could go on mission for Him? No kidding!

Declare? As in speak for Him?

Lift Him up before others?

Te…

Unwavering Faith

Remember the wishy-washy faith described by James in chapter 1, verses 6 to 8? "But, when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

If you ask for wisdom, believe that wisdom is exactly what the Lord will give you.

At the end of his little letter, James returns to the theme of unwavering faith, this time in the context of other issues that plague our daily lives.

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will rise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray from each other so …

Fallow Fields

Winter is coming in some parts of the world. The fields that yielded so much abundance over the last few months lie barren. Soon they will grow crusty with frost, then the first skiff of snow will brush them. Eventually they will disappear under a blanket of white, their glorious harvest all but forgotten.

There are times when our lives seem like those barren fields, frozen in time. We are dormant, unproductive to the naked eye.

But there is something that the farmer knows that most of us don't consider. While we struggle with boots, gloves, and scrapping ice off the windshield, the farmer is planning for the spring. He's thinking seeds and plowing. He's already looking toward the harvest.

James 5:7, 8 says: "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near."

At the…

Running Hard to Keep Up

There are times when God doesn't seem to be moving very quickly. There are other times when it seems we have to run very fast to keep up with Him.

I have my "hurry up, please" list and my "slow down, please" list. Some day soon I'll give you all the details of the items that are currently on both of those lists. Right now, this "work in progress" is not quite ready to be revealed.

Is there a verse of Scripture that covers both of these variables?

Hang on, I'm looking!

Aha, here there are in Psalm 37.

The key word in verse 3 is "trust" followed by "delight" in verse 4 and "commit" in verse 5. All these actions are directed to God. Any success we anticipate in the business of crawling or running with God is found in our attitude toward Him. Trusting Him, delighting in Him and committing ourselves to Him daily, are essential to that process.

Then comes what is specific to crawling with God. "Be still before the Lo…

Perfect Gifts

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” —James 1:16-18

James began his letter writing aboout trials. He encouraged us to rejoice in whatever trials God sends us because they ultimately are meant for our spiritual growth. We are encouraged to persevere so that we get the most value out of those trials. We are to ask for wisdom in dealing with them. We are to trust without wavering.

A little later, James deals with temptations. From Satan’s standpoint what God uses as fertilizer to promote growth can also be a gopher hole to cause us to fall and break a leg. James reminds us that it’s our choice to give in, the desire to sin comes from within, not from influences without.

We know that the paragraphing and the numbers assigned to the Scriptures a…

Youth Renewed In Praise

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It's Word-Filled Wednesday once again. This week we are hosted by Susan at Forever His. Check it out.

In celebration of American Thanksgiving I am going to share this delightful picture of my third cousin, Morgan. (Even though I am a Canadian, it's good to be thankful all the time so I'm going to join hands with my American friends here.)



"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins ad heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfied your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." —Psalm 103:1-5

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving my friends.

Without a Doubt

Tucked in between James' teaching on trials are two verses that we hold close to our hearts.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" —James 1:5, 6 NIV.

Obviously verses like these apply to everything in life, but I find it interesting that they appear in this particular spot like sliced beef between two slices of whole grain bread. Since nothing in Scripture is irrelevant, the placing of these two verses must have a special meaning in the context.

What do I do in the face of this trial? That's the kind of question that demands that we go to God and ask for His wisdom. We are never more vulnerable to making wrong decisions or reacting badly as when we are undergoing trials. During these times we need to lean heavily on God so that we make no mistakes in our hand…

Keep On Keeping On With a Smile

The office staff at mission headquarters in Guelph meets every Tuesday for devotions and prayer. During my few months there we were working our way through the book of James. I remember clearly the discussion on these verses:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" —James 1:2-4.

In a world of "instant" perseverance has gone the way of the dodo bird. We seldom ask God for perseverance to remain firm in in our faith in the face of a trial. We ask for relief as quickly and painlessly as possible. From what James says "quick and painless" is not the road to spiritual maturity.

Well, we say, at least give us an explanation of the reasons behind this trial and what the gains for us are going to be in the end. More often than not the heavens are silent on those subj…

Contentment in Crisis

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" —Hebrews 13:5.

In the present economic crisis, thinking about money is the stuff of everyday living. It's a good thing the Scriptures don't tell us not to think about money; we'd be hard pressed to manage an instruction like that. This particular verse from Hebrews reminds us not to love money for money's sake. In other passages, like that of Matthew 6, we are told not to be anxious about the supply of our most basic needs. Instead, we are to put God first and watch Him take care of all of our necessities.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us to not be anxious, AND to be content.

But it's the last statement that struck me this morning as I read it. Not being greedy and being content with what we have is based on something other than the "power of positive thinking". "…God has said,…

Storage

I'm recycling paper. In this case that phrase means I am going through the files in my good, old-fashioned four drawer metal filing cabinet—an antique in this technological age. Most of the files in the cabinet are ministry-related, but there are a good number that have housed the many recipes I've cut out of magazines over the years. The weight of the paper alone represents a lot of dead trees. I bought some software which should help me to warehouse all the recipes that I want to keep. IF I get this project done, I will have stored that weight of paper and all that information inside one little laptop. Isn't that amazing?

It will be even more amazing if the hard drive doesn't crash and if I don't lose all that I have so carefully saved. I guess that's why someone invented jump drives, or whatever the current name is for those little sticks that act as external memory "just in case."

I had the privilege to visit my last remaining aunt recently. She jus…

WORD-FILLED WEDNESDAY — Some

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Today is Word-Filled Wednesday once more, hosted by Christy at Critty Joy so stop by and check things out.

There are reasons why I'm thinking today about those many people who have heard the Gospel over the years that our team has been here in Caracas, Venezuela. There have been more than a few times when the work has been discouraging. But as I remember, I thank God for those who came to faith and who are walking confidently with the Lord.



"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" 3 John 4.

Stop Whining

The conversation had an ironic twist. My friend was harshly critical of those who think they have troubles when their little frustrations in life are nothing compared to the major challenges that others face. She, on the other hand, considered herself in the latter group. Then she proceeded to tell me all her problems—all of which are of her own making and could be easily remedied if she chose to do so.

Of course, when any of us point at finger, there are always other fingers that point directly back to us. I know it's of small consolation to tell someone that things "could be worse" so I'll refrain from saying that to anyone but myself. Like everyone else, I sometimes give my challenges more weight than they actually deserve.

Everyone struggles. Whether those challenges are major battles or minor skirmishes is often a matter of perspective. But there is one struggle that often isn't included in our repertoire of daily battles.

"In your struggle against sin, y…

I Wonder Where Daniel Was?

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Today is Monday Manna, hosted by our very own wonderful Joanne at An Open Book. Stop by to read some of the comments on these wonderful verses from Daniel 3:16-18.

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up'."

Faith is proved not necessarily when we ask for a miracle, not even when we ask for a miracle and don't receive what we expected, but when we submit ourselves to the brutal actions of others without the expectation of a miracle but with complete trust and commitment to God.

That's a long sentence, but I think it aptly describes what happened in this wonderful story from the Old Testament. These three men, facing a …

The Final Consummation

Hebrews is the most amazing book. Take these two verses for example:

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sin of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" —Hebrews 9: 27, 28.

HUGE theology in two verses.

Man's state: Destined to die.

The question of sin and its consequences: Judgment

The introduction of the Saviour: Christ

The remedy for our sins and their consequences: The sacrifice of the perfect for the imperfect.

The efficacy and finality of that sacrifice: It will not be repeated.

The second coming and its purpose: The final piece to our salvation.

Our posture: Waiting for Him—not for judgment but for completion.

The Gospel in a nutshell. One of the wonderful things about Scripture is the ability it gives us to find an explanation of the Gospel throughout its pages. From Genesis to Revelation we find illustration afte…

On Second Thought

The verses assigned for today were "no brainers."

"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" —Hebrews 9:22.

All believers know that these verses combine an Old Testament ritual with a New Testament truth: To satisfy God's requirements, blood must be shed and Jesus Christ replaced once and for all, the need for the continual sacrifice of lambs when He took our place on the cross and died there, atoning for our sins. His blood made it possible for those who believe to receive forgiveness.

Then something else came to mind.

The Apostle Peter wrote: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

In the context, Peter is referring to suffering for the cause of Christ. But I got hooked on the idea of shedding blood as paving the way for forgiveness.

Most of us believe that when someone h…

Remembering

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In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Today is Remembrance Day. May we never forget the sacrifice that others made to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today. May we never forget the sacrifice of Christ that resulted in our freedom from the consequences of our sin.

Too Much Testosterone

Obedient as I am, I arrived exactly three hours before flight time yesterday. It took me five minutes to check-in, another five to go through security. So what was I to do with the other two hours and fifty minutes?

I shopped a little, had coffee, then sat down in the lounge to wait. High above me was a television screen. Yesterday, November 9th, marked the anniversary of the day that the Berlin Wall was torn down. The interviewer was speaking to a man who had been there on the day the wall was demolished. He had escaped from East Germany and later became a border guard at the famous wall. He remarked that it always bothered him that across the barbed wire and the no-man's land, a cousin or some other family member might be facing him with a rifle in his hand. Would family or friend one day be called to exchange shots, perhaps kill?

When I arrived in Caracas, all the news was about the dispute between Venezuela and Colombia. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is constantly speaking ab…

You Don't Understand…

Over the years I've had the opportunity to talk to singles about their emotional needs. In my counseling I take Hebrews 2:18 quite literally. The writer states: "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." It's hard for us to imagine that the Son of God felt the same emotional needs as every single who has, and will live on the planet—and I mean ALL of the emotional, physical, mental, spiritual needs that we experience.

To truly be able to identify with us Jesus had to experience every need and face every temptation presented to Him to meet those needs inappropriately.

I confess that it boggles the mind to travel down that road in my imagination and to try to picture Jesus looking at a woman and being tempted. It almost feels like blasphemy. But in order for Him to know how we feel, the temptations we face, and to be able to help us face them as He did, He had to have encountered them personally.

And He never sinn…

Room With a View

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My birthday present to myself—a room with a view.

I listened to the thunder of the waters as they poured over the falls from the Canadian side of our mutual border. And as I looked at the beauty and power of a natural phenomena that no "accident" can explain, I could only praise the One of whom the Scriptures speak in Psalm 103:22: "Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul."

May God's Spirit flood our Dominion of Canada as these majestic waters flood the gorge below.

If in Doubt, Don't

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Today's Word-Filled Wednesday is hosted by Christy at CrittyJoy. Visit her site for more pictures accompanied by golden words.

God doesn't keep us in the dark about what He wants us to do though we often think He does. Perhaps the lesson to be learned when we are unsure of the direction He wants us to take is to stand still and wait until His path is clear to us. That's the message of the picture and the verse to follow.



Isaiah 30:21 reminds me that I will know which way to go when His timing for any move on my part is right.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" —Isaiah 30:21.

Sleeping on the Promises

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When my parents died I was forced to reexamine a truth that I had believed in academically but had never, until that moment, tested.

Did I, or did I not, believe in the afterlife? If I didn't, then the road ended there. All I would have left would be memories and a few momentoes. If I did, then I would see mom and dad again.

Curling the mind around such a concept is difficult. After all, I don't know anyone personally who has come back from the dead—except Jesus.

That's a huge exception, and the point.

Paul writes: "Brothers we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him" —1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14.

As Jesus is our example in everything else in life, He is our example in death as well. He lives, and because He lives, so do mom and dad. And so will I. When I fall "asleep&…

2, 1, 3, 4, 5 …

The gentleman got up in the middle of the service, walked to the platform and took hold the the microphone. He called three young girls to come to the front. To one he gave a man's jacket, to another he gave the Bible, and to the third he gave a hammer.

"The first represents humanity," he said as he placed the girl with the jacket to his right. "The second represents God," he continued, placing the young girl with the Bible in the middle. "The third represents …" and here he fumbled for a word, finally settling on the word "work." She was placed off to the left.

He went on to explain that we generally think of that we, humanity, initiate every process. For example if we are sick, or someone else is sick, we pray. God moves in response to our prayers and things happen.

Then he took the middle girl and moved her to the right, placing the one with the jacket in the middle.

"But we have the order wrong," he said. "God moves, we respon…

All I'll Ever Need

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Welcome to Word-Filled Wednesday. Be sure to visit Lori at All You Have To Give for more of the word through pictures.



Jesus used flowers to describe how well He looks after His children.

My verse for today follows up so beautifully on that thought: "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" —Philippians 4:19.

Contentment is a Matter of Trust

No matter how much we have, it never seems to be quite enough. We are all to aware of how the advertisers play on that crack in our armor, convincing us that we just need their product to be fully satisfied. Ask me about my MAC. I'm totally content with what I have until I see the newest version. Since new "toys" are introduced practically every other week, I find myself never satisfied, especially since I can't possibly afford to keep up.

So Paul's words have special meaning. He writes in Philippians 4:13-15: "…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

I find it interesting that this much-quoted last verse refers to resisting greed. And it is to our greed that the advertisers appea…

Come, Thankful People, Come

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I had the opportunity yesterday to visit my Toronto home church. It was truly a cross-cultural experience. Over the forty years I've been associated with the church, the colour of its' congregation has changed. Added to that, the guest preacher yesterday was a man from Grenada, a convert of one of the members of the Toronto church. He preached a fiery sermon which gave rise throughout to hearty "amens," hallelujahs," and "preach it, brother" expressions, not to mention applause.

Since this is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada the message was appropriate to the subject. Though I was an unexpected visitor the pastor squeezed me into the program and gave me a few moments to share during the service. Since the congregation had just finished expressing some of the things it was thankful for, I added my bit of praise by reminding them of Paul's words when I said how much I thanked God for every remembrance of them. Over all these years they have been a spec…

A Gentle Reminder

I just signed a contract to publish the English version of my book, Diseño Divino (Divine Design). Celebrating is in order. None of this would have happened if God hadn't been in the project from start to finish. But just in case I am tempted to forget that, today's verses are a gentle reminder.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" —Philippians 2:3, 4.

In the midst of working on the Spanish version, there was little time for anything else. When I get back to Caracas the whole business of marketing this book will consume a lot of time. Now I will work through the same process with the English version. My challenge will be to remember that while all that is important it can't take precedence over spiritual interests that concern others. The book is part of that but only a part. My mission is not peddling …

Christ, and Christ Alone

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This verses says it all:

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" —Philippians 1:21.

Armor-plated

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When I fall before temptation, where should I look to to find the weakness that Satan took advantage of?

Check the armor. God has equipped us to be victorious no matter what means Satan uses to attack us. If we fall, there must be a chink in that armor somewhere. Look for the hole. That's where work needs to be done to prevent the failure from happening again.

"…put on the whole armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and re…

The Ultimate Mark

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It's time for MONDAY MANNA, hosted by our dear Joanne over at An Open Book. Please check out the other contributions that you'll find over there.

How do you know that you "belong?"

Yesterday I did a presentation in one of my supporting churches. After the service I had lunch with the chairman of the missions committee and his wife. As we talked I discovered that their two daughters had both been adopted from Russian orphanages. The oldest, about to graduate from high school, had been in the family since she was six years old.

How does she know she belongs to that family? There are documents to prove that she legally "belongs" to John and Anthea. But the documents are only paper. It's the love evident between the members of the family that make each one truly a member of the family.

Circumcision was the outward sign of what was to be an inward reality, something like baptism is supposed to be an outward sign of an inward reality. God knew that the outward …

All Others Need Not Apply

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Okay, I confess I was going to ignore these verses. But let me put them in along with a picture and you can apply them as the Spirit so moves you.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything…husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy…and to present her to himself as a radiant church" —Ephesians 5:22, 24-25.



It would have been helpful if Paul had changed the order of the verses, but gentleman that he was, it was women first. In any case, I still contend that it wouldn't be hard at all to submit to a man who loved me as much as Christ loved the church: a man committed to helping me be the best I can be even to giving his life to accomplish it.

I'm taking applications.

When No One is Looking

Who’s to know what I do behind closed doors? One of the advantages of being single and living alone is the privilege of total anonymity when I am at home—if you don’t count my two cats. If I watch something on television that might not be entirely appropriate, if I read something that might have been better left unread, or check out a website that is more black than grey, who’s to know?

As a believer I know theoretically that God is always present, that he observes my every action. Proverbs 15:3 (NIV) reminds us: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” It’s odd that my practical reality denies that truth so stubbornly.

David has this conundrum between what I believe in public and how I live in private covered in this verse from Psalm 101: “I will walk in my house with blameless heart” (v. 2b NIV). And with a flash of prophetic insight, he includes the information highway in the next verse: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (v. 3 NIV).

Th…