Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Surrendering to God - Laura J.Davis

When I first felt God calling me to write about Him full time, my reaction was a resounding NO! Sure, I had written stories before, but I was mainly a songwriter. The thought of sitting behind a computer screen everyday trying to think of something to write absolutely repelled me. I began to convince myself (over the course of several months) that I was mistaken. God would not choose writing as a career for me. That was absurd! Not to mention beyond my capabilities. I knew nothing about the Christian publishing industry. Besides, I was still holding out for the return of my singing voice.

As the months of stubbornness continued on my part, I tried other outlets to release my creative side like, quilting, scrap-booking and a brief gift basket business. None of them filled the void that I knew would only be met when I fully obeyed God and surrendered to His will. Unfortunately, the desire to write about Jesus' life was almost oppressive. I was beginning to see plot lines in my head, dialogue between Jesus and his mother and a clear beginning to a story that was getting me excited. Yet, I still resisted.

The day finally came however, when the desire to write was so overwhelming that I threw up my hands and marched downstairs to my computer. Sitting there, I bowed my head and confessed my guilt of disobedience. I put my hands on the keyboard and said, "Okay, Lord. I surrender. Use my hands like you used my voice."

I placed my hands on the keyboard and an amazing thing happened! The entire story from beginning to end flooded my mind. Up until that point, I did not have an ending. Yes, it was about Jesus and yes, everyone knows how it ends, but my story was from Mary's perspective and follows her experiences as a mother who raised the Saviour of the world.

It would be three years of research and rewrites before I finally finished Come to Me. Little did I realize at the time of writing, that the theme would be on surrendering to God. Our God has a delightful sense of humour! 

I would see Mary surrender so willingly to such a frightening prospect - to be unwed and pregnant! I saw the disciples surrender themselves to Christ's Lordship and of course I learned what true surrender was all about when writing the crucifixion scene. Jesus laid down his life so willingly. He endured such a horrific death. Yet, I could not sit still long enough to write about it? I was ashamed. Especially when, during those years, God had to literally knock my feet out from under me so that I would need to be stuck at my computer to finish the job.

A fall down a flight of stairs resulted in a torn meniscus and a dislocated kneecap. I was now quite literally stuck at my computer until the job was finished. The day my manuscript was finally completed, I had one thought,"What do I do now?"

And so another journey began.

Until next time!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Making New Friends Along the Way - Meyer

Well, we’ve been traveling for almost a month now and we’ve made new friends along the way and renewed acquaintances with old friends as well.

Some of the new friends we have met have become partners with us as booksellers – and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to them.

In Winnipeg, my children’s chapter book, Pilot Error has found a new home at the Western Canada Aviation Museum located at 958 Ferry Road. This museum is a great way for you to spend an educational and fun afternoon with your children or grandchildren.

Also in Winnipeg, there is a large selection of my books now at The Forks in the Two Rivers store (the Craft Cupboard). This is a great place to purchase a Canadian made gift or book.

There are still a few of my books at HoJoes in Kenora –mostly Get Lost! and Pilot Error.

Moving on west, you can stop by in Vermillion Bay at Way North (Casually Hip) which has a wonderful selection of gifts and books – and it’s a nice place to stop if you are traveling along the transCanada highway between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.

If you are heading up on Hwy 72, you can stop in at the Tourist Travel center and they have a few of my books, just in time for Sioux Lookout’s 100th anniversary celebration.

If you decide to travel “Mom’s Way” instead of the transCanada, you’ll have a beautiful scenic drive and will want to stop at Gill’s Trading Post in Sioux Narrows. They have a large assortment of my books and many wonderful gift items as well.

Traveling along the transCanada, you will go through Ignace where there is an awesome gift store that has lots of great crafts, souvenirs and… books!    Black Bear Gifts also has bait and tackle. It is located at 303 Main St. in Ignace. It was a pleasure to meet the owners, Garry and Nicole.

Tucked away in Victoriaville Mall in Thunder Bay is a gem of a store that stocks beautiful clothes and other interesting gift items and… books! Thanks Betty for trying out my books in your store – I hope they sell well for you! “Amos & Andes” is located at 600 Victoria Avenue East.

In Fort Frances, my long-time friend, Karla Ans arranged a book signing  for me at “Northwoods Gallery and Gifts.” They still have copies of some of my books there for those who couldn’t make it to the booksigning. Northwoods Gallery doesn’t stock a lot of books but does have a rack of books by local authors.

Across the street, at Betty’s there is a large selection of books by many northern and Aboriginal authors. Blair and Doug Anderson have placed some of my books in their local author section.

John and I also spent time along the way visiting with family and spent a couple of days doing a presentation at Sunny Cove Camp in Fort Frances.

Now, we’re “heading for the hills” of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. We are really looking forward to this time of rest and relaxation. I’m also hoping to do some writing – something that gets often neglected during our busy school year.

Hope all of you are having a great summer!

Dorene Meyer


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Consider the Lilies Ruth Smith Meyer

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:28,29, (NKJV)
      Two years ago a friend gave me a small clump of what she called “Moonflowers.”  They are a variety of Evening Primrose.  Most flowers open in the sunlight.  Some close up each evening and open again in the morning, but these are unique in their ways.
       Many evenings after the sun has disappeared from the horizon but when there is still a little leftover light, I wait beside the flower bed, thrilled in anticipation.  The tightly closed buds look as though they would be days from opening, but as I watch, the stem begins to quiver a bit. Very soon the sides of the buds begin to burst open to show little slits of yellow. Then, right before my eyes, the change happens—from a closed bud to a fully open flower in the matter of a few seconds.  Sometimes the buds open one at a time, sometimes several simultaneously, but the delight never diminishes.  Last night, as I watched this extraordinary miracle, my mind opened, like the flower before me and made a connection to my present experience.
       My husband and I have been experiencing a time of darkness or deep shadows because of a rare kind of cancer he has acquired and our journey with it.  Yet through all this time we have been so very conscious of the prayers of many people as well as the faithfulness of our God. We have felt an abiding peace and gladness in that knowledge.
      It seems to me that our joy in the unfathomable reliability and dependability of God is much like the brightness of those yellow flowers blooming in the darkness. Both bring a burst of elation, a sense of awe and a sanctuary for our souls, knowing that God is working in delightful, different and unexpected ways in all the situations of our lives—even when the sunlight is hidden and the darkness envelopes us.
      Another insight presented itself to me as well.  In order to see the miracle of the opening flower, I need to go into the darkness, sit and wait.  If I stay in the familiar comfort of my brightly-lit house, working at a myriad of tasks, ignoring the darkness, I miss that quiet blessing of the opening bloom and the inspiration it brings.
      How good to know God is in charge. How delightful to discover that He brings blossoms in the night-times of our lives so that even there, we can be conscious of His presence and love.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

If Worms Could Scream and Fish Could Cry --Peter A. Black

Tom loves to fish. Rod, bait and tackle in hand, he heads off to his favourite fishing spot. Coaxing an unwilling worm from its tangle of squirming companions in the cool darkness of the can, he feeds its writhing body onto the hook, piercing it again and again – multiple times, until it is secure.

Every twist and wriggle the creature makes in response to the pain results in pricking and cutting against the vicious barb, thereby increasing its suffering in its agonizing journey to the water and death by injury and drowning, or as the prospective meal of an unsuspecting fish.

How useful worms are – invaluable friends of gardeners and farmers. They help to aerate the soil, break down stubborn clay, and assist nature in converting vegetable waste into useful, nutritious compost and enriched humus, to feed the flowers that brighten our lives and enrich the food that sustains them. What harm has the worm done to deserve such a fate as is imposed on it by the likes of Tom? None, I say. None.

I’m given to understand that the lowly earthworm and its grownup brother, the night crawler – prized by many a fisher, have bodies that are highly sensitive to pain. But what if worms could scream? Out loud? Would Tom be so ready to do his deed without sparing a thought for the suffering he’s causing?

Tom casts his line, and a healthy bass glides out from the seclusion of the reeds, and launches a strike at the morsel suspended live and tantalizing before his gaze. Sweet flesh, but part rips off and he doesn’t get the whole meal because the fisherman flicks the rod, snatching it to hover a short distance away. The fish isn’t beaten yet; his meal is still in sight. He moves in again. And strike – he’s got it! Searing agony floods his being, as the concealed hook firmly lodges in the roof of his mouth. An intense but short battle between the angler and the fish ensues. It is the battle for his life.

Try as he might, that bass can’t escape the hook. The barb sees to that. Eventually he’s reeled in. Tom nets him, scooping him from the water. A strong hand grips the fish behind the gills, and Mr. Bass’s glazed eyes stare into the face of his captor. Tom proceeds to extract the hook, wiggling it this way and that with long-nosed pliers. Unspeakable pain. The fish is drowning in air now that he’s out of the water. The hook point and the barb continue to lacerate his mouth.

Finally, he is free of them. The fish is then struck dead and placed in the icebox. Tom is jubilant. This is a good catch, a handsome specimen; one that didn’t get away!

But what if the worm could have screamed and the fish could have cried, pleading for mercy in language Tom could understand? Would he be so willing to enjoy nature and the peace and quiet of a day’s fishing? Is it fair? Life isn’t fair. Many things in life are unfair.

The inspirational point? Sensitization. May we live thoughtfully and humbly, aware that, in our pursuit of excitement and enjoyment of nature, and even the acquisition of food, many creatures often pay a high price.

Our redemption cost!
Heaven’s Best suffered, nailed to a cross.
Unfair, but necessary.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and author a children's / family book, "Parables from the Pond.". A version of this article was
published in his weekly column in the July 19, 2012 edition of The Watford Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact, and testimony.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Most Important Writing - Eleanor Shepherd

 As writers, we recognize our words have power.  We recall the many times, we have enjoyed new experiences, been challenged to change or fit new ideas into our worldview as a consequence of reading and thinking about what others have written.
What do you consider has been your most important piece of writing so far?  Is it a magazine article you wrote, the one an acquaintance sent you an email about, telling you that her life had been so profoundly changed by what you wrote, she clipped the article and has been carrying it around in her wallet?  Is it a piece that you did for your local paper on a current social issue that you found out was one of the elements gathered by a community group to spark a local initiative to address the situation?  Is it your contribution to an anthology like Hot Apple Cider that connected you with many fellow writers who shared with you their identification with your situation?  Is it a chapter in your Award Winning Book that a new friend you met at a book signing told you enabled them to have a completely new understanding of listening?  For me, although these kinds of encouragements have been great affirmations of my ability to write, my most significant writing so far was probably the hand written notes that I used to leave behind with the babysitter when my husband and I were obliged to be away from our children for a few days.  I came to understand this last week.
As my daughter and I sat chatting and playing Scrabble together after we put her little one down for the night, she said to me out of the blue, “Mom, I am so grateful for those notes that you used to leave for us when we were kids and you had to go away.”  “I hated it when you had to be away from us and I loved reading your notes.”  She has been reflecting frequently about the things that we do as parents since her little daughter was born nine months ago. 
As I see my little granddaughter, Sanna constantly seeking the smiling approval of her mother, I remember that time just a few short years ago, when her mother looked up into my eyes with the same seeking for assurance that I would care for her and all would be well.  It just keeps going round. 
            When my children were young and I was preparing to be away from them for a few days, I would take some time write them notes, seal them, address them and put them in envelopes with the date marked on the envelope that the note was to be opened.  There was at least one note for each day, sometimes two – one for morning and one for evening.  The notes reminded the children that their Daddy and I were thinking of them.  I told them how important they were to us and how proud we were of them.   I tried to find a cartoon or a puzzle or something to entertain them to include with my note.  Interestingly, when I mentioned these things to Elizabeth, she did not even remember the trinkets.  What meant the most to Elizabeth were the words that I had written just for her, letting her know that I was thinking about her. 
            There were times when I used to think I was preparing these notes for me, to ease my own guilt about leaving my children.  That may have been the case.  I was unaware of the power of my words to comfort and reassure my daughter of my love.  I did not realize that by taking the time to write these simple notes to my young children I was helping to solidify the most important bonds that define my life today, those chords of love that link generation to generation. This writing has had an impact and is being remembered.  If these are criteria for the importance of our writing, then these notes, perhaps insignificant to others, that have been read only by my children qualify as my most important writing so far.    
Winner of 2011
Word Guild Award
Award of Merit 2009
Word Guild Award

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seeing a Need- Living Your Faith/MANN

Every once in a while a person has opportunity to touch the holy of life where compassion is lived out in such a profound way that it causes new directions – new ways to understand or view life. It’s almost like looking from the underside of a tapestry where you see the leftover thread, the knots, the bulkiness of material and yes, even the mistakes.
Several years ago I travelled with nine other members of our church’s National Evangelism Team to join in the mission of a sister church. The poor, the abandoned and the oppressed often led morning worship. The message was simple: "God loves you." We sang songs of grace and encouragement. We prayed for each other. We shared communion. At different times during worship, destitute persons would testify how God was working in their lives through the mission. A homeless man might offer a prayer of gratitude for a nights rest. Someone just released from prison would stand and give thanks. People came from under bridges, culverts and alleys - it made no difference who you were or what you had done. The important thing was to celebrate God’s healing love together.

Sitting on a weathered beaten window-sill late at night after worshipping with the street community, I think of the woman who had been off the street one week. Sam asked her to serve communion and as she bend down to serve me, a small cup tipped and the red fluid spilled across her hand and mine. It was after this experience I wrote these words titled  Come into the Light

God, you hold me
as I risk new experiences
as I follow your lead
as I accept the uncomfortable
as I explore it as your truth.

God, you come to me
through the dark, sad eyes of my black brother and sister,
through the homeless,
the hungry,
the rejected.

God, you touch me
through the alcoholic
the prostitute
the vendor,
the prisoner.

God you watch me and make me feel no guilt for my wholeness, yet
you call me to share out of it.
you ask me to use my strength the take down fences and borders that limit.
you show me unconditional love that reveals itself in compassion acts.

God, you confront me to seek out those who have not discovered their need for you.
You challenge me to speak with others who have not found a voice to honour you and themselves.
You convict me to share with others all that have been graciously shared with me.
You teach me to free those in exile and you show the way to do this.
Your people have proven there is hope:
- to wait for a promise
- to listen for a word
- to receive a touch.

The Spirit is here in her fullness, giving birth to wholeness.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Donna Mann

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It’s a God Thing—Carolyn Wilker

The first time someone called a happening a “God thing,” I was sure I knew what it meant—an act that filled a need perfectly in that day and time, or an act of receiving when it was most unexpected.

 I’ve experienced those “God things” before; maybe it was our turn to give. One act involved family and the second a stranger, if one can consider a well-known musical performer a stranger.

For the previous two weeks, my husband and I babysat our young grandchildren. The babysitter was on vacation, and so we had agreed earlier to do it so the children would not need to make another adjustment over the summer. 

I knew those days would be busy ones so I took some time off work and arranged to do quotes and reading for clients in the evenings. I went through the house and baby-proofed it even more and invested in a few puzzles for the older child. With the addition of some of the children’s own toys and an extra playpen for sleeping, we were ready.

It was a busy time—playing with the children, feeding them, changing diapers, going on walks. It took nearly as much organizing to get out the door for a walk as it has to get ready to go on vacation. Diapers. Check. Bottles and food. Check. Change of clothes, and on it went. My husband prepared the lunches and we kept the naps on track. When the children napped, I napped too. Except for days when the youngest mostly wanted her mother, we were greeted with hugs and juicy kisses.

Our daughter and son-in-law said, “Thank you” over and over. It meant a lot that they knew the children were happy and well cared for and the gap had been filled. Could that be a “God thing?”

The second instance of a God thing began with prayer while I was on my early morning walk the beginning of this week. Names came to me, one after another, from family members preparing for weddings, to my aunt who was ill and not expected to live much longer. 

Along with those names came one of a stranger—Rita MacNeil—whom we would see at the much-anticipated concert later in the day. I pondered the number of concerts she’d be giving for those three weeks. It would likely be exhilarating as well as exhausting, and so I prayed for her that it would all go well.

At the concert between songs, Rita shared some personal bits from her life, including her faith and her trust in God. She performed a song she had written about it. 

She also told us  how it used to be so easy to put some clothes in a suitcase and go, but now she’s got one for her clothes and another for her pills—one for this issue and one for that, and still another pill for something else. 

Was she ever anxious about getting through a tour, I wondered. Might my prayers have already helped? Except that she wouldn’t know about mine unless I told her. 

The emcee announced that there would be opportunity to meet Rita at the end of the show, to get her autograph and maybe share a few words with her. I knew what I had to say, and it wasn’t about me.

 When I was at last standing close to her, I said that her name had come to me while I was walking and praying that morning and so I had prayed for her as well as my aunt. She beamed and said, “Thank you.” Then she did something totally unexpected. She leaned over, wrapped her arms around me, and gave me a hug. 

I had my answer. I think it was a God moment for Rita, and maybe for me too, receiving that hug.
My aunt died peacefully that morning. Perhaps her God moment was meeting him.

God moments? They happen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Faith Like Potatoes- Hird

By Rev. Ed Hird

Angus Buchan, a South African farmer, teaches that where there’s love, there’s hope. His story is so inspiring that the Faith like Potatoes DVD about his life has already sold over half a million copies. He left a 3,000 acre farm in Zambia in 1976 to start again from scratch in South Africa. There was no water, no toilet, and no lights. He couldn’t even speak the native language of Zulu. Angus was somewhat stubborn and hardworking. He literally worked night and day seven days a week and made a success of his new farm, paying back his debts. In the process, Angus went into a deep depression. He had no peace and no purpose in living. Anger, fear and destructive choices began to overwhelm his life and his family.

In 1979, he had a spiritual breakthrough and was pulled out of a deep spiritual pit. Receiving this second chance in life, he had a passion to tell others about what he had discovered. Angus began by treating his family and co-workers better. He learned to control his temper and seek inter-racial reconciliation. Angus now describes himself as a Zulu, saying that he is a white Zulu. When AIDS/HIV hit South Africa, Angus started an orphanage at Shalom Farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal to care for the children left behind.

Over the years, Angus has seen many miracles, including a maize crop driven to the ground by a hailstorm resurrected itself after three days, and unexpected rain was sent on a cloudless day in the middle of a firestorm. While speaking at Kings Park Stadium to a gathering of 25,000, he boldly spoke that he would plant potatoes in the midst of the El Niño drought. The experts had warned the farmers not to plant that season without irrigation. Many thought that he would lose his farm when the crop failed. Miraculously large healthy potatoes were harvested, giving rise to the title of the movie Faith like Potatoes. “We all learned valuable lessons from that crop.”, said Buchan. “The Lord showed us the importance of walking by faith, and not by sight, of trusting him unconditionally and never giving up.” Often like potatoes, faith is just under the surface and cannot be seen until the time of harvesting, the time of testing. Angus Buchan commented that “Peter Marshall, the great preacher, once said that we need ‘faith like potatoes’ – plain, simple, real faith that will sustain us in our everyday lives. Whenever I pick up a potato I remember those words. That’s the kind of faith I want. When we have faith and act on it, God will come through for us, no matter what our circumstances. “

Just this past month Angus Buchan spoke to a sold-old crowd in Nelson BC. As our resident Film Producer Stuart Spani filmed the conference, you could obtain DVDs of the event by contacting sales@norlynn.ca

Angus Buchan holds that “there is power in prayer. When men work, they work. but when men pray, God works.” My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may prove to have faith like potatoes, that is resilient in the various times of drought and challenge in our lives.

Reverend Ed Hird, Rector

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)


-previously published in the July 2012 Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’


p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mailed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Monday, July 16, 2012

A brand of politics that is bad for democracy - Denyse O'Leary

I don’t usually do the politics beat but recently I reviewed a book by the former editor of the New York Times Magazine, on why he thinks Barack Obama shouldn’t be re-elected. On principle, I agreed with him. I think that Obama typefies a brand of politics that is bad for representative government and democracy. But I was troubled by his tone, his approach. Anyway, I gulped, wrote the review, and published it here: (excerpt)
I have no reason to doubt that the unflattering things that Klein writes about Barack and Michelle Obama are true, because they would likely be true of anyone who made it to the top in an age of imperial presidency. The Obamas dissed the Kennedys and the Clintons, as Klein says, but does anyone doubt that those power families would have done the same to the Obamas, given a chance? They all know the rules by which they play, live, and govern lavishly.
What are we to make, however, of Klein’s complaint that Obama did nothing for Jews ( pp. 155-81)? Or blacks (pp. 187-90)? Nothing, really, if they will not vote for his opponent in consequence. Presumably, Klein’s book went to press before the failed Governor Walker recall election in Wisconsin. There, Obama did not intervene to help the public employee unions. But why should he? Would the unions have threatened to support a Republican nominee if he didn’t intervene? If not, the unions must be content with a serious famine of crumbs from the presidential table, jostling all the others who have nowhere else to go.
That is simply what the politics of an imperial presidency is like. The President’s supporters are his serfs, not his free electors. Multiple, and mostly unbreakable, ties bind them to him, with whatever outcome for them. More.
By the way, one of my posts at The Best Schools took off after a Christian notable linked to it. The post addressed the controversy over the fact that gifted African American neurosurgeon Ben Carson was attacked by 500 academics at George Mason University because he had refused to bow to Darwin. Even though Carson has saved hundreds of lives, the university’s president has promised to put procedures in place that will prevent such a person from ever speaking on campus again. Remember this when someone tells you that there is no conflict between Christ and Darwin. Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

An Introvert's Take on Write Canada

by Linda Hall

Write Canada has been over for a couple of weeks now and I am still thinking about it. I am still thinking about the many, many things I learned. I have yet to sit down with Wordpress, although that is on my things to do. I am still thinking about the worship, always one of my favorite times of the day. And even though on that first morning I did not feel like jumping around and dancing, it was wonderful.
I am thinking about and already missing the specialness of my own group of ‘fiction intensive’ writers. I came as the “expert” (“Expert” in quotes), but came away enriched and taught by them.
A few other memories: I was SO proud of my friend, Deb who won the top of the heap book award. If any of you haven’t read The Third Grace, go online and order it right this minute. I was privileged to be able to read an advance copy. I was blown away.
Being by nature an introvert (as the title of this blog suggests), I usually prefer a single room. But God gave me the most wonderful roomie! It was a delight to get to know her. If I had paid the extra bit to get a room all to myself, I would have really missed out.
I loved talking to the writers at meals and in the lounge and on the grounds. If you happened to attend the panel I was on, you would have experienced my meltdown. I walked in determined not to cry, not to cry, not to cry. Best laid plans, I suppose. (Just read Brian’s blog which follows mine here. He writes about crying and not wanting to.)
One of the things I like most about being at writers’ conferences and yet the thing which keeps me away at the same time, is introvertness. At a writers’ conference, I feel that I’m with ‘my own kind.’ I can relax. If I need to retreat to my room for awhile, everyone will understand. But by nature, introverts shun large groups of people. Hell for an introvert is walking into a crowded party where you don’t know a soul.
And most of us who choose this profession are by nature introverts. The discipline of writing requires long stretches of aloneness. It’s not a field for extroverts. Good books are not written by committees.
Yet - Write Canada is a friendly place. We introverts need not fear.
Well, I’ve gone on long enough with my Write Canada lovefest - Congratulations on a great ten years!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Little Child Shall Lead Them..............

by Glynis M. Belec

"... Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  Luke 18:17

Mr. T and Miss J stand waiting for the next instruction!
"No matter what people do - trust God!" Four year old Miss J nestled onto my lap and glared at me for a response.
I smiled. I always smile at Miss J and her wonderful words of wisdom. She and her brother had spent their mornings this week at the Vacation Bible School program in our community.

I am a little wont to write about my grandchildren at the best of times, but today I especially cannot help myself.

All week both of my grandbabies have been chattering constantly about lessons learned and songs sung. My clever daughter bought them a CD so they could practise and learn the songs at home.  When they were at my place this week, the room was often filled with beautiful Jesus songs about trusting and flying high with Jesus and loving one another. 

Miss J's age has been put into question given the amount of heart knowledge I think she has acquired over the past week. She has told me about the Roman Soldiers who took Jesus away. She told me that it was just people dressed up at VBS. But then she went on to tell me it was really true. Then she cried.
Mr. T & Miss J singing and doing actions at VBS!
"If they took the real Jesus, who is going to look after me and keep away the bad dreams I sometimes have at bedtime?"
She was serious. She had internalized the story that was shared at VBS and was now applying the death of Christ to her own little, blessed, beautiful existence. What a lesson for Grandma?
Then her brother helped her to understand that Jesus rose again and she would be okay. 
I heard about Africa and mosquito nets. I heard about Lazarus and loving our neighbour. I had to stop everything to listen to how children need to listen to their parents and God. 

In short, I was blown away by how much children absorb and trust and believe in Jesus. I know there is some sort of heavenly connection. The older we grow, the less we know, so the less we know the more we need to grow in our faith. In other words, child-like faith is natural. Cynicism and doubt have marred our vision and caused us to question rather than believe. I think questioning is good because this world can be deceiving, but how beautiful it would be if we could see the world and know God as a child (does). 

Miss J was born eight months after my mother died. She once told me that she spoke to 'Nanny' in heaven. Somehow I kinda', sorta' believe her. There is a line...one day we will cross it again on the way out. Meanwhile I will continue to cherish and learn - from my grandchildren...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Default Atheists?--Kathleen Gibson

Ever since creation, two corresponding questions have risen, set, and risen again. Like the sun and moon, they loom large on the horizon of human thought. “Who is God?” and “Who am I?”

The Bible records that God created man(kind) in his own image. History shows that man immediately began creating God in his, and that along the way, he killed the God-man, Jesus Christ.

After peering at the God of the Bible through his academic telescope, author Richard Dawkins answers the first question this way: God is a work of fiction.

“The God of the Old Testament,” he says, “is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction; jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Well, isn’t that a lovely bunch of coconuts? Dawkins, whom the media sometimes refers to as the “world’s most influential atheist,” authored the recent book “The God Delusion,” from which that quote is taken.

Mr. Dawkins, it seems to me, has his telescope upside down. “The Heavens are telling the glory of God,” I read this morning in Psalm 18 (an Old Testament reference, by the way). Those words confirmed what I saw in the crimson sunset last evening.

But here’s more, also gleaned from the Old Testament, in Isaiah, chapters 25 and 26: God is: “zealous for his people, the doer of marvelous things, perfect faithfulness, a refuge for the poor and needy, a shelter from the storm, a shade from the heat, the perfect peace-giver, maker of salvation, the Rock eternal, the way-smoother, the establisher of peace, the nation enlarger, the glory-gainer, border extender, the preparer of delicious food.”

God doesn’t need the likes of me to defend him, and he’s likely laughing at Mr. Dawkins’ list. According to the Old Testament, his justice also brings down pride and cleverness. His is the power to discipline nations and peoples; to remove the disgrace of those he loves, to swallow up death forever, and to wipe away all tears.

A high percentage of Westerners declare a belief in God, but given that the litmus test of any belief lies in a willingness to act on it, I suspect the true delusion regarding God lies in another area—atheism by default.

Like Dawkin’s outspoken atheism, default atheism has affected our world a long time. 20th century author Russian Fedor Dostoevsky once made a sober observation about the West. He believed we were in trouble—not because of the God we worship, but because of the God we ignore.

“The West has lost Christ and that is why it is dying; that is the only reason.” Dostoevsky, and many other genuine followers of God before and since, knew the truth: If you wish to kill God—you will also kill mankind. Because without God, there is no life, and no freedom.

Whichever position you take—consider it carefully.

Among other places, author, newspaper columnist and broadcaster Kathleen Gibson ponders faith and life in Sunny Side Up.


Monday, July 09, 2012

All the Way to Taz - M. Laycock

The fun thing about the internet is that you can connect with people from all over the world. Lately I've been trying to boost the number of 'likes' on my Facebook author page (www.facebook.com/marcialeelaycock), so I've been running contests now and then for a free book.  I was a little dismayed but then delighted that one of the winners was from Tasmania - that small island state off the coast of Australia. I was dismayed because I knew the postage would likely be more than the value of the book, but then delighted to think that one of my books would make its way to such a far-off place.

That's the fun thing about books too - they can and do travel. When I published my first book, a collection of devotions published in a local newspaper, I was amazed at where the book ended up. I thought it would be strictly a local effort, purchased by readers who knew me in the area where I lived. Then one day I received an email from India. A pastor there had been taking courses at a Bible College in Canada and someone had given him a copy of Spur of the Moment. When he returned to India he read it and then sent it to his son in England. That young man emailed me to say the book arrived when he was particularly discouraged and he wanted to tell me how much it had helped him. India! England! And now Tasmania! A long way from a small town in central Alberta Canada.

It makes me think of that scripture verse that says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Never underestimate the power and reach of our Lord. He will accomplish his purposes through us, no matter how small our imaginations.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Review of Theology in Aisle Seven by Carolyn Arends (Nesdoly)

“Words are sacred, and when they are used truthfully or beautifully—best of all—incarnationally, they cause us to consider and even experience our Creator” writes Carolyn Arends in the Foreword to her book Theology in Aisle Seven: The Uncommon Grace of Everyday Spirituality. In this collection of essays previously published as columns in Christianity Today she attempts and, I would submit, succeeds at doing just that.

The book’s 25 chapters are divided into six sections. In section one (The Good God) Arends introduces us to the God of the big picture in chapters that discuss things like God’s omnipresence and His righteousness, which turns out to be His love in disguise. Section two (Life in God) has chapters that deal with faith and the church. Laughter and the arts are two topics she addresses in Part 3 (Common Things that Matter Greatly).  Part 4 (Uncommon Virtues) tackles subjects like trust, hospitality, humility, and silence. Part 5 (Into the World) has chapters on vocation and neighborliness. In the final section (Last Things) she discusses our mortality and God’s eventual victory.

Arends has a wonderful way with words. Of course she’s had lots of experience if you count her years of songwriting. However, songwriting doesn’t automatically translate into column writing according to her editor Mark Galli. In the book’s Introduction he says of her literary ability: “It’s the unusual songwriter who can become an effective magazine columnist …. Over the last few years, as I’ve read and edited column after column, I’ve discovered something Billboard Magazine puts succinctly: Carolyn is ‘one of the most affecting communicators in any genre.’”  Readers of the book will be treated to passages like:
“I suspect I have sometimes unconsciously used spiritual disciplines as smoke signals to get God’s attention” – Kindle Location 168
“The old cliché is true: Laughter is a medicine that reminds us that our sickness will one day be healed and we shall be whole and holy. Until then, laughter is the Elmer’s Glue that attaches us to the goodness that inhabits this world, and to the gladness that hints at the world to come” – KL 567
"Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement; it keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given" - KL 1029. 

My favorite thing about Arends’ writing, however, is the way she brings her life and personal experiences into these essays, transforming what could be lofty platitudes into engaging, humorous, often self-deprecating, and always relatable epiphanies.

She tells of how losing her voice during a singing tour gave her a whole new concert experience and taught her that God could work through weakness. She draws parallels between parenting her children and being parented by God. She paints a picture of the usefulness of a power-washer, but also the damaging potential of its strength (“…he [a neighbour’s teen] felt an ant crawling on his calf. Instinctively, he turned the nozzle toward his leg, obliterating the insect—and unfortunately some layers of muscle and tissue” – KL 499) and likens it to God’s simultaneous power (shown in His zero-tolerance of sin in the Old Testament) and mercy (shown through Jesus in the New Testament).

The chapters are brief (800 words maximum), the stories captivating, but the ideas in this little book are huge. Summer would be a good time to download this weightless/weighty volume onto your e-reader for those rainy afternoons at the cottage. Then, with eyes opened, don’t be surprised when you too begin to recognize God in the ordinary things, like thunder storms, wasps at picnics, and misty lakeside mornings, that cross your path this summer. 

(Article first published as Book review: Theology in Aisle Seven by Carolyn Arends on Blogcritics.)

(Psst—of course you can get more of Carolyn's great writing here on the blog, on the post just below this one actually. Might we be getting a sneak-peek at her next book?)

This book is available only in e-book format.

Website: www.violetnesdoly.com 

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