Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Seems Impossible by Ruth Smith Meyer

A new writing assignment in my inbox—my heart quickened with anticipation.  I am always delighted when they appear, so I eagerly looked up the scriptures on which I am to base the devotional writings. The first, Ephesians 4: 7-16 held some promise. Then I turned to the next ones, 1 Corinthians 5:1–13, 1 Corinthians 6:1–20. My heart and my enthusiasm dropped to my boots. How am I to come up with an inspirational, family-type devotion based on those scriptures that talk about sexual sin and turning the sinner over to satan? My first inclination was to cry out, “God, how can I possibly do this?”
The process hasn’t gone very far past that yet.  I still don’t have the complete answer, but I’m glad for past experiences when I was faced with something I felt entirely incapable of doing.
          When I was fifteen, I was working as a mother’s helper.  One morning, she presented me with a length of red fabric and her daughter’s favorite blouse.
          “This morning you can sew a blouse from this material,” she told me.
          “Where is the pattern?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t have a pattern—you can just use the blouse as a pattern.”
I examined the blouse more carefully.  The back extended a few inches over the shoulder to form a yoke at the front.  From that yoke the blouse front had gathers.  It had long sleeves with wide buttoned cuffs.  There was an elongated, lace-edged collar.  It definitely was not a simple pattern for beginners!
“I’m sorry,” I told my boss, “I don’t think I’m capable of doing this.  I’ve never made anything without a pattern and I’ve never done something as complicated as this—even with a pattern.  I just can’t do it.” I ended emphatically.
“Oh go ahead and give it a try.  You won’t know for sure unless you try.”
“What if I ruin the fabric?”
“I’ll forgive you if you do, but I think you’ll do well.  I won’t watch and make you nervous.  I’ll go work in the kitchen.”
“But I may need your help,” I almost plead.
“I don’t know that much about sewing myself, so you just go ahead.”
What was I to do?  I breathed a desperate prayer then began taking careful measurements, and measuring again.  I drew it out on paper, adding enough for seams, gathers and pleats.  Slowly, piece by piece I cut the parts of the blouse and began to sew.  The project took the whole day and still wasn’t complete.  My body was stiff from the tension I felt. 

The following day, I completed the collar, buttonholes and buttons, and heaved a big sigh.  When it was tried on, I could scarcely believe that it really fit.  I was amazed several months later when the mother told me she almost had to insist her daughter leave it with her to wash, for she loved wearing it so much.
That blouse wasn’t the last “impossible” task I faced in life.  In fact, I always thought of that day when I was presented with another new “impossible” challenge. 
That red blouse is fore-front in my mind today as I wrestle with those scriptures and pray for insight and help to do the task before me. You never do know what you can accomplish unless you try.  God can’t even work through you until you take that first step.   

My latest published work is in the anthology, "Fifty Shades of Grace"
but you may also be interested in my two adult novels and children's book
that helps little ones deal with the death of a loved one. 

find me at

Weird and Wonderful You by Rose McCormick Brandon

At an especially difficult period of my life, I learned a valuable lesson. The lesson came to me in stages. Part of my learning came from personality evaluations, especially the one by Myers-Briggs. I discovered a tweaked version of Myers-Briggs in "Creative Writing" by Kathryn Lindskoog. She took the original test questions and appropriated them to writers.

Taking that test helped me to better understand who I am and accept some of the things I don't like about myself. I don't mean that I accept my tendency to sinful habits. What I mean is that we're born with characteristics that tend not to change. For example, having a shy, sensitive nature is like being born with brown eyes or curly hair - these traits are unlikely to change.

Too often, we view our in-born traits as weaknesses.
One important thing I learned from taking a personality test was this: I am a bona-fide introvert. This means that I get my energy from quietness. The majority of personalities energize from interaction with others. While I'm not too bad at socializing and love good conversation, this introvert label helped me to better understand a few quirky things about myself.

I used to feel apologetic about my need for time alone. I didn't know that I was born with this need even though I was aware of it even as a small child.

Even now, when I read of those who write books while raising half a dozen children or run organizations while keeping up a full calendar of other activities, I sometimes feel inferior. But, only for a moment. I couldn't tolerate that life.

The same God who etched our finger tips in unique patterns; the One who gave each of us vocal chords that produce sound waves that no one else can produce, eyes, teeth, ear lobes and numerous other features that no other living being on the planet possesses, has also gifted us with differing personalities.
starsMan-made tests show only a few personality variations but God sees them as plentiful as the stars.

God helps us to understand ourselves and to accept the things about us that we can't change.

The Lord loves weird and wonderful you. Be yourself for His glory!

I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . (Psalm 139:14)

Prayer: Lord, I acknowledge that I'm part of your amazing creation - me, in all my weirdness; me, in the depths of my heart where no one can see but you.
Rose McCormick Brandon's book, One Good Word Makes all the Difference is available here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In Communications: from Military to Ministry (Peter Black)

The Berlin Wall hadn’t yet fallen and the Cold War was still in effect, and his military role wasn’t something he could talk about. However, I know he was in communications and learned to speak Russian and that he spent some time each year at the Canadian Forces Station at Alert, in the Arctic. This is the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place – although the population is mostly comprised of rotating military and scientific personnel.
My wife and I came to know Levi Samson Beardy, an Aboriginal Canadian, in the early 1980s during our time in Kingston, Ontario. He was newly posted at the Canadian Forces Base there.  He and his family fitted right in, from the first service they attended at our church.
Eager to learn and willing to participate, it soon became evident that Levi was the ‘real deal.’  His commitment to his family, to Jesus Christ and our church fellowship proved solid, and he took on significant roles, such as teaching an adult Bible class, leading segments in worship services, serving on the church board and occasionally filling in for me in preaching.
What brought Levi and his family to mind today was that May recently came across an old photo featuring him with me and two other men from the congregation. She posted it on Facebook; Levi saw it on a mutual friend’s Facebook wall and connected with May.
Perhaps you have certain internet social networking connections that you’d rather be without, while others you appreciate and enjoy. Levi’s one we are glad to have. He has updated us on what he’s doing nowadays. Since his retirement from the armed forces he studied at Bible college and seminary.
For several years he taught at an aboriginal college, and then in 2008 he became co-founder and President of North American Aboriginal Bible College (NAABC) – a role he still fulfils. He is also a co-pastor at an Aboriginal church in Toronto.
NAABC is “an interdenominational Bible College with the mission of preparing Aboriginal (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) people and non-Aboriginal people for ministry.” Levi is an equipper – training others and helping them succeed. He understands authority, for his military training taught him how authority structures operate. He knows that in order to develop strong and equitable, honest and balanced leadership, one must be given responsibilities incrementally, with accountability.
I’m grateful to God for the small role our lay leaders and I were privileged to play in allowing this fine man’s natural and spiritual gifts for Christian leadership and teaching to grow and flourish. These abilities are still being used to elevate lives and bless North American Aboriginal communities with faith and hope and love, through the grace of our Lord Jesus.
My thanks is due those leaders who, in my youth, allowed me to share talents and spiritual gifts with others, and entrusted me with levels of responsibility, even when I felt inadequate to bear them. They took risks, and I made mistakes, but they were patient and helped me grow through them.
Levi expressed that his time in our Kingston congregation was a period of growth personally and for the church. With his military career far behind him, he continues “in communications,” teaching and investing in the lives of young leaders who will help others come to know the love and peace of God.


Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing).
(Finalist -- Word Alive Press ISBN 1897373-21-X)

His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario. Peter’s current book project comprises a collection of 52 column articles.  The post above has been slightly modified from a P-Pep! column article, published Sep. 19, 2013.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Administrative Miracle - Eleanor Shepherd

When I agreed to become the pastor of our congregation, I knew there were going to be challenges to face.  The lease was expiring on the place where we had been housed since we sold our building five years ago.  I am not sure I realized what a complex process I was going to encounter. 

                For a year, our real estate agent had been searching for the right place for us.  We knew it was unlikely that we would find anything that would meet all of our criteria.  We tend to dream big.  However, we finally settled on a place that we felt would meet the greatest number of our wishes as the positives about it outweighed the negatives.  So we began the negotiations to purchase this property.

                I faced the complexities of business real estate transactions and the bureaucracy of being part of a hierarchical system where all important decisions are made at the national office that operates in a different language than the regional office and the city where I live.  As a result, I felt trapped in a morass of required forms and reports of various types often provided in the vocabulary of the construction industry.  Wow!  Talk about feeling out of your depth. 
                One redeeming feature of my situation was the team that gathered around me.  Members of the property relocation committee were led by the chief elder of the congregation.  This man had a lot of experience in working through property projects from his years in administration in our denomination.   This was a valuable asset.  In addition we had a close relationship with and support from the denominational leaders at both the regional and national level.  When I did not know the answer to a question, which happened frequently, there was someone I could ask, who if they did not know the answer could point me to the person who might know.  Nevertheless, the task seemed daunting. 

                On top of all of the stress created by wading into this administrative forest was the awareness that the lease terminated in nine months.  Before then,  we had to be able to finalize the purchase of a building, hire the architects to redesign the interior, communicate to them the programs that would operate in the building, oversee the construction project, prepare for the move deciding what we would take and what we no longer need and making the move.  There was no time to waste. 

                This was the situation when the team from the congregation and the regional directors met for a teleconference with the national office to try and assess where we were in the process and how quickly we could proceed with the necessary approvals so that we could move ahead with the purchase and renovation of the new facilities.  At this meeting, it seemed like one barrier after another was uncovered.  The estimation was that it would be impossible to have clearance on this before the beginning of October.  That meant only eight months would remain before move day.  To have a construction project completed in that time frame would take a miracle. 

                Well, we got a miracle, but it was not that one.  At the end of our meeting, I prayed what is probably the most honest and least polished prayer that I have ever offered publicly.  I told the Lord that we were feeling totally frustrated by our inability to accomplish what we needed to do in order to move forward with this.  We would have to place everything in His hands, and while we would do our best to move things forward we had to depend on Him to make things happen. 

                The meeting took place early in August and during the next couple of weeks we saw amazing things happen.  The forms and requirements were completed.  The contacts were made and everything was ready for presentation to the national board for approval on August 21st.  To us this was a miracle and a sign that what we were doing was truly being divinely guided.  It was the assurance that I needed so I have the courage to move forward in these unknown waters to accomplish all that needs to be done.

                Of course, some might credit this to coincidence or chance.  However, I choose to believe that God is involved and hears and responds to honest prayers.     
Word Guild Award


Word Guild Award


Friday, September 20, 2013

Importance of a Get-Away/MANN

Everybody should take a break from the stress and anxiety of the work-a-day world. It's important to do this at your busiest time when you argue, "But, I just can't get away." Recently I took two days away, while waiting for the next predictable deadline. Although I kept myself available for incoming emails, as I knew other people needed continued contact, I managed to balance the unknown of what was to come with what is present and known.   

A member of our writing group invited the group to her family cottage on Lake Huron. This was to be a writing-retreat and our host expected us to produce enough writing mid way through the second day to read to the rest of the group during the afternoon. Not everyone in our group was able to come, but those of us who attended worked hard and read at the end of the time.
The recent death of our 18-year-old cat (friend and companion), several personal health problems plus pressing writing commitments weighted heavily on my mind. Although still within my deadlines, I knew that peace of mind was imperative to meet my obligations. As I drove to the lake, my cell phone thumped several times with calls and texts, causing me to stop on the side of the road to respond. All of this convinced me that taking a break in the middle of a busy time is good common sense in order to return to the waiting work with a fresh mind.
I sat on a bench watching the water in Lake Huron respond to an incoming storm, I thought how like life this was. We rise to the low-pressure systems in our every-day life, tumble and stretch in surprising ways to resist or surrender. To absorb the quiet and stillness of the afternoon sun, listen to the lapping of waves against the shoreline rocks, and then within the hour experience the roar and fury of creation as massive waves stand tall, far from shore, and then rush to the shore to claim the same space only hours later.
 Does this not remind me of the clamour and silence in my spirit, and give me the message that this too shall pass? Soon the lake settles to gentle waves again, the moonlight washes the millions of ripples as far as I can see. A new day will come, maybe with another weather system that disturbs the quiet or contributes to the promise of sun rays and gentle breezes.
What is certain is a promise to pause, notice and reflect as a gift worthy of enjoying and savouring God's goodness enough to move sufficiently back into the busyness of life.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wedding Anniversary—Carolyn R. Wilker

At our eldest daughter's wedding 2012

My husband and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Our daughters and their husbands hosted a party for us and invited people from a guest list we provided. My parents, sisters and their husbands, and many of our friends— both those long-time friends from school days, and newer ones— who came to help us celebrate. 

The doorbell rang; people came and went all afternoon. Our young granddaughters were excited about the party and came for a hug now and then or retreated to watch a television show in a room away from the steady stream of people. 
The dining room table was loaded with munchies, provided by family and others. People spread out from one end of the house to the other. Introductions were made, connecting long-time friends with newer friends. Conversations ranged from school days, who brought that tasty snack and who knows who, to clowning and ministry.

Our youngest daughter had made a small scrapbook album with places for guests to write a short message. My husband and I had a hand in locating pictures. Still a few photos popped up that I hadn’t seen in awhile.

My daughters were excellent hosts and their husbands helped wherever needed. We welcomed guests as they arrived, but my daughters took over from there, mingling with the guests and asking if they’d signed the guest book or if they’d like a drink or snacks. 

Later in the afternoon, our youngest daughter settled in the room where we were sitting, set a music stand in place and arranged her notes before checking the tuning of her guitar. I had asked several months ago if she could learn a particular song for our anniversary, but I didn’t know when or how it would work out. She played a few opening bars and began to sing. I found myself singing along, but silently, to the beautiful music and lyrics that I had played and replayed on the Internet where I’d found the song. 

Guests in other parts of the house came to listen. For seven or eight glorious moments, I watched Sarah’s rapt face as she sang for us. I glanced at my husband who was listening with his eyes closed then looked back to watch as she continued.

When she had finished singing, she asked for words of wisdom from us. Like others, our family has weathered changes and challenges over the years, some being more recent.

I wondered what I’d say if ever someone asked me that question, and there it was, on our anniversary, with many ears— including our other daughters and their husbands— to hear it. 

What popped into my head at that moment was what I said. I smiled, the answer unrehearsed, and said, “We survived.” 

Whether I was to say something more profound, that’s what came out. Others laughed, the knowing response of those who have experienced their own marital and family challenges, and yet, here we are together and 40 years married and celebrating. 

More serious, I answered, “Sticking together through the tough times.” Truly, I cannot remember what I said next, but it wasn’t long. Sometimes a short answer is best. 

I wasn’t ready for Sarah’s solo to be over. It was quite possibly the most moving part of the entire celebration. Some folks in the front room were disappointed, thinking there would be more music forthcoming, and so an encore was requested. The guitar and the stand reappeared and Sarah sat and sang the song again.

Later, when the afternoon celebrations were past, my brother would fly in from the West to spend a few weeks with our family.

Yesterday as I wrote thank you cards, I sifted through my memories of the day. My husband might have been doing it as well. 

I thank God that we have been able to weather the storms we’ve faced thus far and thankful that our family is doing well,  that they are for the most part healthy, and that our girls and their guys are willing to work together and to help each other and us when the need arises. I also thank God for his love and grace that is larger than anything we can imagine.

Carolyn Wilker, editor, speaker, storyteller and author of Once Upon a Sandbox

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

35 Years of Serving the Community -HIRD

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird


Murray BowenDr. Murray Bowen once said that longevity has more potential lasting impact than frequency.  For the past thirty-five years, the North Shore Pastors have been gathering together in order to better serve our community.  Some people mistakenly think that North Shore churches and pastors are competitors.  One of the things that troubled me as a new Christian was the infighting between all the different denominations.  Why couldn’t the Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Mennonites, Presbyterians, etc learn to get along and stop competing?  One of the wonderful gifts of living on the North Shore is that denominational bickering is at an all-time low.  Clergy and pastors speak well of each other’s congregations.  There is a generosity among North Shore pastors that allows us to bless each other instead of cursing each other.  This hasn’t happened by accident.  It is the fruit of thirty-five years of prayer by the North Shore clergy, first at Hillside Church and now at Valley Church.  Because we meet together, share together and pray together, we have become each other’s best friends and advocates.  God has used the North Shore Pastors Prayer Fellowship to deepen our love for each other and our conviction that there is really only one Church on the North Shore.  While there are many diverse congregations, we believe that our unity in Christ is greater than our individual differences.

Some of the original founders of the North Shore Pastors Prayer Fellowship included Arnie Toews of North Shore Alliance Church, JimJohn HardyLucas of Canyon Heights Church, John Hardy of Hillside Baptist, and Bob Allison of St. Andrews & St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.  All these have since either retired or moved to other communities.  Those currently attending the fellowship picked up the torch from the pioneers who believed that we could better serve the North Shore in unity rather than apart.

By praying together for an hour, God has been teaching the North Shore pastors how much we need each other.  We busy North Shore Clergy have been learning that we are too busy not to pray.  By focusing on Jesus Christ, we have been rediscovering that we are on the same team.  Denominations are second.  Jesus is first.

Owen ScottPastor Owen Scott of Valley Church says that being part of the North Shore Pastors Prayer Fellowship has been one of the most helpful things for him, knowing that he is not alone.  Rev. Ken Bell of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church says that praying together gives us an opportunity to share with one another and participate with each other on the North Shore.  Pastor Scott Anderson of Cap Church says that our gracious embrace of one another is evidence of our experience of God’s gracious embrace.

Every denomination has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Instead of putting down another group for their flaws, we are learning to hold them up in prayer that they may become all that they are meant to be.  Presbyterians don’t need to become Anglicans, and Anglicans don’t need to become Baptists.  Our real calling is to love each other with the life-changing love of Jesus Christ.  Many churches have formed because someone was hurt.  We have been learning over the past thirty-five years that it is time to forgive, time to heal, time to pray.  Why fight when we can pray?  We as the North Shore Church are family, God’s forever family.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we may rediscover the deep truth that the family that prays together stays together.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)

-an article for the October 2013 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-mail . 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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recent stories I enjoyed writing - Denyse O'Leary

Tom Wolfe at Socrates lecture where ID theorist Steve Meyer spoke? Things aren’t going so well for no design origin of species theories if celebs and celeb hounds are listening to other views.

Sunday Times calls Dawkins' autobiography "fatally smug". Losing the Times is NOT good new for arch-atheist Richard Dawkins

Genome mapping shows tunafish related to fish with completely different body shape, lifestyles Another study, linked there, shows them closer to seahorses than marlins. Maybe genetics isn;t quite what we thought.

Tom Bethell: Darwinism is a mirror image of creationism View from a veteran writer and editor

Agnostic philosopher David Stove on the unfalsifiability of Darwinism Part of the problem I deal with is that no argument will falsify no-design evolution theories, because they do not depend on evidence.

Origin of life: What has materialism done for you lately? There is actually no evidence-based reason to believe in a purely natural and accidental origin of life. All current theory is a mess.

Cool animations from Stroma Studios, including how cyanide poisons cells

Shell beads found in the middle Eastdated from 42,000 years ago

That Cambrian rabbit takes a bow, and offers his audience an irrefutability package They used to say that finding a rabbit fossil from half a billion years ago would disprove Darwinian evolution. Now, Darwinians say no, they could even account for that according to their theory. Enjoy!

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