Saturday, April 18, 2015
“I’m going to give you some wisdom that you might find simple and a little strange”, I said to the harried woman sitting across from me. "But please listen as I explain." Her jaw dropped and her forehead produced a few extra wrinkles as I started to sing a simple nursery rhyme.
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.
I probably didn’t seem smarter than a third grader, but I quickly went on to explain my version of this uncomplicated, picturesque piece of advice. I felt compelled to help her because I knew what it was like to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I went on to explain how many of us feel a delusional sense of responsibility for things that don’t belong in our boat. “And further”, I said, “we end up listening to all the things we ‘should’ do because we are comparing ourselves to T.V. commercials, Facebook bragging and unrealistic expectations.”
To feel fulfilled and joyful we must learn to row our boat gently down the stream. This means learning to quit paddling and working so hard work and go with the flow of life which is generated through the power of the Holy Spirit. The bible tells us that: “In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3 NLT), and that we “…have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16 NLT). God has given you and me everything we need to flow merrily down the stream. But, we must decide to dock our boat, stop and take the time to listen to the Holy Spirit who will help us make the next move.
I had to eat my own words the last two years as I found myself exhausted, frustrated and depleted. When I clearly felt the Holy Spirit telling me it was time to retire and trust Him for my future, there were many heart pounding moments wondering what my new stream would look like. I’m in my new boat now, but in order to get settled I had to unload many oversized toxic boxes and debris that should have been chucked years ago. These days I feel so free and merry that I can hardly contain my joy.
Am I certain as to what my future looks like? No, but as I told the woman sitting in front of me, “God is smarter than you and me. We need to take deliberate steps to find a place of solitude where we can listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit to tell us what unnecessary stuff we need to cast out of our boat. God is on our side. No matter how easy or difficult our situations are, God will gently and lovingly guide our boat down the stream of life on the route that He designed for us to take.”
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca
Friday, April 17, 2015
I was a pre-teen when I began to tithe 10% of my meagre allowance. There were no school buses or free textbooks so my parents bore the education bills for all nine children - booklists that were longer than my knee-length pleated uniform - and the cost of the uniforms too - and taxi fares.
I started to tutor at age fourteen and my "income" increased, and happily, my tithe. My mother was convinced that we were successful because of obedience to God, and that belief steered me to tithe every resource I had. I was torn as to which pair of socks to "tithe" to the girl who lived two houses behind ours, but it was much easier when it came to tithing my time. Not that I had much of a choice at first. My mother supervised our prayer and Bible reading times, and if I added church attendance, my time to the Lord surpassed the requisite weekly 10% goal of seventeen hours I had set for myself.
I tithe hours to God up to this day, and during my time with Him, I draw inspiration. Jeremiah 33:3 promises, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (NIV). The word "unsearchable" means " not lending itself to research, hidden". This implies that research has not captured themes and topics that can be written. The KJV replaces "unsearchable" with "mighty". It astounds my mind at the potential of "great and mighty and unsearchable things" there are to write about.
To whom will Father God give the heads-up of this not-yet-known intelligence?
For me, those insights and fresh material come in prayer, through my tithe of time with Jesus. Proved and tested.
Have you considered tithing time to God?
(Credits- Cartoon image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Meaning of "unsearchable" from Dictionary.com).
SUSAN HARRIS is the author of six books and her work has appeared in several other publications. She also hosts the 1-Minute Prayer on Facebook.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Have you ever asked yourself, where is the best place to live? Where is the best place to grow-up? Where is the best place to find work, settle down and raise a family? Where is the best place to retire? I'm sure we all have given some thought to these questions.
But I have spent the last forty years living in the city—actually three rather large cities with populations more than a million—Edmonton, Alberta, Nagoya, Japan and Ottawa, Ontario. Is the God of the open country the God of the city too? The psalmist seemed to think so. He begins Psalm 48 with this declaration: Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Of course the psalmist was referring to biblical Jerusalem, more specifically Mount Zion, the fortified citadel within the walls of Israel's capital. The psalmist states that God is in her citadels. During the reign of David the Ark of the Covenant—the seat of the LORD's rule—was housed in the sacred tabernacle on Mount Zion. This was where God dwelt. He lived among His people.
I think it's best to live where God lives.
Where does God dwell today? Does He live in the city or in the open country? As partakers of the new covenant, through the blood of Christ we are individually and corporately the temple of God. Paul, the apostle, asks, "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?" (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV). God lives in us. We are the habitation of the LORD.
God can be seen on the prairies, in the jungles of Borneo and the Siberian tundra. But God dwells in the city too—your city. Whether it's Toronto, Halifax, New York or Tokyo, God is within her because His redeemed people live there—because you live there.
Response: LORD, I thank you because you live within us! Help me to let my light shine in my city. Amen.
Your Turn: How would you characterize your city? How is God revealing His presence there?
Sunday, April 12, 2015
One would think that with the arrival of printed copies of a book that has been the object of one’s labour for an extended time, there would be a feeling of elation and satisfaction. Initially, that was my reaction when Out of the Ordinary arrived. That had been my reaction with my other books, so that is what I expected this time too. However, there was a difference! My other books were novels and a children’s story. Because I didn’t know for sure when the books would arrive, there were about two weeks of waiting before the launch I had planned. In that time, I felt “the howling storms of doubt and fear assail.” This book was just about me—my life—would anyone really be interested? Was I delusional to think my life could make a difference to anyone? What if nobody came? What if everyone thought I was being presumptuous? What if no speaking engagements emerged as they did with my novels?
The library where I was to have my launch told me that 10 or 12 was the usual size of crowd out to this kind of thing. Then I was asked to speak at a senior’s event two days before. Should I make my books available there, or should I wait for the launch?
Several days before the launch, the library let me know they were getting extra chairs in since many people had said they’d be there. That assured me enough that I did take my books along to the speaking engagement and I sold almost as many as there were people there. The same happened to quite a crowd who came to my launch. At three events since it was the same story. People came waving their $20 bills saying “I want one, I want one.”
The phone calls are coming in asking me to speak to different groups in quite a large area, and I have several engagements confirmed. In fact, I’m having to be careful to keep them within the limits of my physical stamina. I’m amazed, astounded and yes, refreshed and reassured! I feel as though my calling has been reaffirmed and I am full of joy. I feel the renewed hope that Easter brings.
Again, I know that,
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit's call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.
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