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Showing posts from July, 2010

Confirmed and Reconfirmed

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Every so often the soul cries out to God for a word of affirmation. Is this the right direction, Lord? Is this what you want me to do? What should my priorities be in the midst of so many opportunities and options?

Last week I was in "retreat," participating with our staff and missionaries in our annual get-away for fellowship, refreshing and teaching. Over my years with Fellowship International I've been to many of these "MI" gatherings but somehow this one was different and special. It was wonderful to see how international the mission has become. Just at MI alone we had Indian, Lebanese and African personnel present along with our more traditionally "Canadian" crew. There was a freedom to share even the most intimate details and some who had carried the burden of deep family pain were able to tell the rest of us and experience the blessing of being prayed for.

The retreat center, Crieff Hills Community, is one of those spots where quiet and meditati…

People In My Life

People: Sometimes frustrating creatures, but fascinating all the same.

There is a young woman in the neighbourhood around the church who intrigues me. Every day as I walk to work, she is out walking too. When I go home at night, she is out walking. I've seen her on the street at other times during the day when I've had occasion to leave the office. She has Down's Syndrome. Her clothes are neat and clean. She is polite, speaks, and smiles at me when we pass each other. I have never seen her come out of any of the homes in the neighbourhood though I assume she lives somewhere close by. There are times when I find her walking and conversing with other people. She appears to be well-known and obviously liked.

But why does she walk all day? Who looks after her? Does she live alone and look after herself (she seems to be quite capable) or does someone shove her out the door in the morning and tell her not to come back until later?

Then there is a man I have never met from whom I…

Just On Time

I can hardly read the printed words for all the scribbles and notes I've written alongside Isaiah 40. The bulk of the chapter is a huge praise-fest, exalting God and all that He is to His people. Then I got to the end of the chapter and was reminded again how all the power, love, compassion and glory of God works for me in practical reality. Boy, did I need to hear the promise once more!

Do you not know? (Yes, I do, but my memory is terribly short sometimes.)
Have you not heard? (Yes, but please tell me again, and again, and again, and…)
The Lord is the everlasting God,
     the Creator of the ends of the earth. (Right down to that last and littlest end—me)
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom (I'm so glad you understand how I feel, Lord)
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak. (That's me and thank you)
Even youths grow tired and weary
and young men stumble and fall; (I remember those days—a lot like these days!)
but th…

MONDAY MANNA: Ultimate Comfort

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Today is MONDAY MANNA, hosted by our very own Joanne over at A Open Book. Go over and take a look. Joanne has chosen Psalm 34:18 as our verse for today.

Let me give you the context:

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken" —Psalm 34:17-20, NIV.

As I read these verses a woman by the name of Betty comes immediately to mind. Betty had a terrible life, just about the worst kind of life anyone could have. When friends of mine who lived next door to her had occasion to meet her in the hallway or the elevator, they were afraid of her. Her face reflected the reality of her life.

Until she met Christ.

You knew that the Spirit of God had transformed her inside because her outside, her face, was totally changed. Betty …

FRIDAY FICTION: Cereal Killer

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It's time for FRIDAY FICTION once more, hosted by our one and only Joanne at An Open Book. Make sure to pop over and take a look at some of the other stories posted there.

And speaking of "pop" what follows is my contribution to the FAITHWRITERS CHALLENGE when the theme was "Snap." Hope you enjoy it.

CEREAL KILLER

Hither, thither, up and down,
Across the factory floor,
“Where is that boy, what has he done?”
Yelled Crackle with a roar.

“We can’t proceed, there is no chance,
Everything’s too quiet.
Production’s stopped, no means to find
A place in human diet.”

Pop was annoyed; there was no doubt—
Perhaps a bit afraid.
Some evil could have entered here
And made a nasty raid—

To steal a third of Krispies' fame
And hide it in a dungeon
A ransom ask, or worse to come,
To kill the sweet curmudgeon.

‘Tis true Snap’s temper was quite short,
But that should not require
A punishment as foul as death
A fate that is so dire.

Crackle paced and Pop thought hard.
The probl…

Focus On the Giver Before the Gifts

Well, I got past the first few words of Romans 1:1 (see yesterday's post) but not far. These days I'm juggling more balls than is sometimes comfortable and one of those "balls" is a workshop I'm preparing on spiritual gifts. I collected all kinds of resources on the subject—and there are lots out there—including a little book by Henry and Mel Blackaby called: What's So Spiritual About Your Gifts? Sometimes the balls I am trying to juggle get in each other's way and such was the case yesterday as I moved passed Paul's reference to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ.

Here's the verse again: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—" Romans 1:1, NIV.

The Blackabys' book has an unusual perspective (unfortunately) on spiritual gifts. I say "unfortunately" not because I believe they are wrong, but because that perspective is unusual in our "me" society where believers …

A BIG, little Word

Okay, it's an ambitious scheme, and if I don't get past the first verse of the book soon, it will never happen, at least not in my lifetime.

I've been working on a revision of the original series of studies I did in the Book of Romans. It struck me yesterday that perhaps I should be thinking bigger than just a nine week series, that maybe I should turn the course into a book.

So I went back this morning to my first study and began to amplify it. The trouble is—I haven't been able to get past the first verse! This project could take a while.

Since I'm on the first verse, allow me to share it with you. Paul writes: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…" (1:1, NIV). Not only can't I get past the first verse, I haven't managed to get past the word "servant." Who could know there was so much in a word.

Paul not only committed himself to being a servant of Christ Jesus, he also committed…

A Voice in the Silence

The other day I asked the Lord for a word of encouragement. At lunchtime today he delivered.

A friend was telling about an incident that happened out at her campsite. She, her sister, and her sister's husband were part of a course on Angels I taught in the spring. The hubby was the only man in the study group and I really felt sorry for him and was actually surprised that he hung in right to the end. He never said a word all through the weeks we met together for the study. That wasn't a surprise since he's a quiet soul even among his own family. So everyone was astonished when another sister, visiting the camp that afternoon, asked a question related to angels and he proceeded, not only answer to her question, but to tell her a whole raft of other things that he had learned from the course.

My friend commented that if she or her sister had answered the question, or interrupted with their own contribution, it would have resulted in a "ho-hum" from the third sister…

FRIDAY FICTION: Bide A Wee, Bully

Today is FRIDAY FICTION day, hosted by Patty over at Patterings. Don't forget to go over and read some of the other stories.

This one was a story that did very well in the FAITHWRITERS CHALLENGE. In honour of our very own Calgary Stampede, here it is. Hope you enjoy it.

BIDE A WEE, BULLY

From between two of the steel rails in the gate, a rich brown orb placidly observed the crowd. The animal was tightly wedged in the box, but even if he had had more room, he wouldn’t have moved.

“Bide a wee, bully,” his Scottish ancestors would have said. So he’d waited. There was no use wasting his energy at this point. He contented himself with looking, listening, and feeling.

The stands were full of Stetsons, blue jeans, checkered shirts, and leather vests adorned with glitter and glitz—an eclectic mix of real cowboys and wannabes.

He knew the spectators were watching him. He looked back at the crowd with the one eye at his disposal. From somewhere beyond him and above them, he heard …

Sweet Or Sour?

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The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada is about to launch a new service to its members.

I'm not sure if we've landed on a "real" name yet, but right now we are called Fellowship Authors. The task of Fellowship Authors is to encourage those within our Fellowship who write by providing some added exposure for their work through the Fellowship website, Fellowship publications and Fellowship 48, our National Convention.

At the moment, the members of the committee are working through a list of criteria but I know for certain that Eric Wright's recent novel, Captives of Minara, certainly meets them. Eric recently won a Word Guild award for his book, published by Word Alive Press. So check it out.

It must have been my devotional reading this morning that inspired the thought to include Eric's book in this post. The book of Isaiah is full of grim warnings about what was awaiting God's people because of their rebellion against him. Captivity, and…

Hindering the Kids

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It comes back like a boomerang, or the incessant buzzing of a mosquito in my ear. Over these months of adjusting to my new role, getting to know people, and observing ministries, I've forgotten to count how many times those in leadership have mentioned how difficult it is to get workers.

Last night was no exception. I sat with the gal in charge of children's ministries and heard the dreaded words: "we need more workers" once more. Actually it was more than once since much of what should be happening with the kids' program can't happen because there are not workers to help make it happen.

If you ask, reasons as multiple. Some refuse to jump through all the legal hoops now required of people who work with children and youth. Others don't want to miss the church service during the month they are on duty with the kids. Some have health or family issues. Many say they don't have the "gift." A few claim "prior commitments" which take the…

Vicky Victorious

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I sent Vicky the pictures I took at the wedding of a mutual friend. When she replied to thank me I asked her how she was doing. It had been a long time since we'd "conversed." We used to live within shouting distance of each other in Caracas. She now lives in Mumbai and I am back in Canada. She left Caracas as a child about to burst into her teen years. Now she is a mature young woman about to finish off a post-graduate degree. When she emailed me back to bring me up-to-date with her life, I was reminded once more of God's faithfulness. Vicky is a trophy of God's grace and how she has gone on with the Lord through some difficult times is an encouragement to the fainthearted.

In her email, Vicky was lamenting her failure to accomplish something that was at the top of her priority list when she left Spain to go to India. She desperately wanted to be a witness for Jesus. And while she's had many opportunities to do that, she feels badly about the times when she d…

FRIDAY FICTION—Der Kessel

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It's been a while since I posted anything for FRIDAY FICTION. But here goes. Friday Fiction is hosted by Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Drop by and visit.

This piece was a submission for the FAITHWRITERS CHALLENGE. The theme was "Winter" but the story might warm your heart.

DER KESSEL

By some miracle, the shed at the farthest end of the alley had survived the massive bombing raids. Everything else around had long since been reduced to rubble.

Sergei huddled inside, behind the door, waiting. It slowly opened, rusty hinges protesting loudly. He lunged at the intruder, the pain in his damaged leg temporarily pushed aside. Caught by surprise, the figure in tattered field gray, crashed to the dirt floor with Sergei on top of him. The old man blindly reached for the neck, and using every ounce of strength he had, squeezed. The man in uniform struggled weakly. His coalscuttle helmet rolled off to one side.

He’s only a boy, Sergei thought, like my Arkady. He stopped p…