Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I am still pondering the movie, ‘Risen’ after having seeing it on Sunday afternoon. Christians might come to this movie from a different perspective than someone from a different religion. When speaking with a person yesterday who is not particularly interested in a faith discussion, I was not surprised to hear that she was very impressed with the Roman tribune - even though the main character in the old story in which the plot is historically planted is Jesus.  Was this in the writer’s mind when writing the script?  Was it a way to invite the viewer into the gentleness and loving touch of the Jesus of their life? 

Hollywood is sometimes hard to figure out. What is the risk and what is at stake in this plot if the tribune is the protagonist? And is Jesus written in as a secondary character to hold the pieces together? 

How does one who knows the old story from a particular perspective and looks for certain parts of the story to shine, swallow Hollywood’s portrayal of Mary Magdalene or Mary, mother of Jesus, or the rest of the disciples for that matter. I’m not sure I liked the movie, but I am sure that there are probably many like the tribune, who find themselves on the outside, looking into a mystery that words cannot explain. 

When I see a Hollywood-take on a Biblical story, I find myself thankful for my
Sunday school experience as a child when I first learned the story and through the years as the people of the Bible have become brothers and sisters.

For whatever reason the tribune was introduced as he was, he certainly played the part well of a heart that was softened when he saw the resurrected Christ sitting with his disciples at the table . . . while he leaned against the wall. And when he took off his ring that identified his previous loyalty, he opened his heart to that which wasn’t quite as evident – yet. I would like to follow that story of the tribune. He was a good example of most of our stories. 



Monday, March 28, 2016

Anticipating God by Glynis M. Belec

Anticipation is based on attitude.

I can anticipate the worst case scenario. But if I do that I will fret and worry and all parts of my life going forward will be hindered. I will be sick with apprehension. My heart will be filled with fear and dread and my energy level will be zapped. My focus will be negative. My spiritual walk will be stalled because I will be too busy thinking about self and, worst of all, not enough about God. I know all this is true, because I have traveled that road.

 That’s door number one.

Door number two: I can anticipate that ‘God’s got this’. When I am positive, endorphins [neurohormones] go into action. Endorphins, my ‘feel good’ hormones, modify the way in which my nerve cells respond to transmitters – maybe God’s gift to us when we look to Him instead of self? I’m sticking with that. And I’m also sticking with door number two because it is the best way (I have discovered over the years) to deal with the dirt; to conquer the seemingly insurmountable and to swallow the hurt and the torment.

Love isn’t a Band-Aid. Love is hope and hope is a sister to endurance. ‘Love conquers all’ might initially seem like a platitude but if I turn that into the ‘Love of God conquers all’, then in my life, I find it to be truth. I am a ‘fix-it’ kind of a person so I am first to stand up with my hammer and nails or my first-aid kit complete with Band-Aids, but some things I have learned I have to leave to the Love of God.

I don’t believe God inflicts disease and catastrophe upon us.   
It is God’s will for you to be healed. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 
Matthew 8:2-3

 I do believe He allows it to happen. 
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name
1 Peter 4:12-19

I also believe that once we have gone through the fire we have two choices – thanking God, because we are stronger; more trusting of God’s awesome power; more understanding that only God is in control OR cursing God for the pain and heartache; denying God’s power; and fighting harder to gain control and becoming bitter as a result.

The trials continue. The fiery darts fill the sky. But I know when I anticipate that God is there before me; beside me; behind me, I can be assured that all is well. Not all is well with the world. But all is well because He is King and then Easter was not all for naught.  

Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."
John 18:37

Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful lot of reading, writing, publishing and praying in her home office. 
Her latest children's book - Hopeful Homer offers hope and encouragement.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Anticipating the Warmth of a Cold Gathering - Tracy Krauss

This month's prompt was "Anticipation" and what better theme to go with the resurrection of our Lord? Today, many of us are gathering together to celebrate this most joyous of occasions.
One of my favourite Easter memories comes from our time living in the Yukon. Each year the ministerial organized an Easter sunrise service, with all five churches participating. Watson Lake, our home at the time, has a small park in the centre of town called 'Wye Lake'. (Not to be confused with the bigger lake for which the town is named.) Wye Lake is a favorite gathering spot for many ministerial functions since it offers a sizable gazebo surrounded by a grassy area for large gatherings. A log cabin outfitted with a kitchen, washrooms, and indoor meeting space is right next to the gazebo. 
It sounds idyllic, right? In the summertime, yes... at the end of March or beginning of April -  not so much!
Remember, this is in the Yukon. There is still a lot of snow on the ground and the temperatures are nowhere near spring-like. In fact, I don't remember a year when it wasn't freezing cold outside. Most people came bundled up in their winter gear, but there were always a few ladies who insisted on wearing their Easter finest. Imagine the flow and flap of a spring print dress next to a pair of oversized, clunky snow boots. (Fashion in the Yukon has its own flair.) They could be seen huddled close to a significant other (or not... nobody is choosy in minus degree weather...) bouncing from foot to foot to keep warm.
In any case, the service was always understandably short. A prayer, two familiar hymns, and a very short message. After that we all trundled to the cabin where hot chocolate, coffee and an array of muffins and other breakfast foods awaited. The warmth of fellowship among believers was welcome, perhaps as much as the warmth of the building itself.
These are precious memories. The ministerial was a vibrant association that did a lot of things together in that community. We anticipated those group gatherings as much as any other events. I am forever grateful for the time we spent in the north. It taught us a lot about what it means to be the family of God.
Tracy Krauss now lives and writes in Tumbler Ridge, BC, considered by some to be 'north'. For her and her husband it is a southern retreat.  http://tracykrauss.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Anticipating The Desires of Your Heart by Christine Lindsay

There comes a time in every believer’s life when we struggle with the desires of our heart.

Is my desire God’s will?  Is He going to give me what I want?

The answer is: No…and…Yes.

I can best show you this through the cover development of my non-fiction book Finding Sarah, Finding Me that is coming out this August.

I put the following samples from my publisher up on Facebook a few months ago to get reactions. 
Here are some of those reactions from Facebook friends:
  • The one of the right, the soft sweetness got me.
  • I like the one of the left because it is a happy moment.
  • The one on the right. I think reunions are very emotional and stressful. The outcomes may end in joy, but I the first few moments are breath taking.
  • I like the one on the left with the little girl running to her mom.
  • At first I thought the left and then thought the right because this a book about your daughter’s journey as well as your own. The left image then became too stereotypical.
  • Definitely the one on the left, which for me shows a joyful reunion.

The overall vote was about 40% for the left image, and 60% for the right. 

But the exercise got me thinking. People really wanted a happy adoption reunion cover. Just like I wanted a happy reunion with my birthdaughter Sarah. That’s what I’d prayed for the 20 years after I relinquished her to adoption. The desire of my heart was a good one. It certainly wasn’t sinful, but the reunion was so traumatic for my birthdaughter’s adoptive parents and thereby traumatic for her, that the heartache and trauma was then passed on to me.
Reunion Day 1999, I'm smiling (in the middle) but my heart was breaking.
Sarah is the blond standing beside me. The brunette is my daughter Lana,
 the tall guy in back is Sarah's husband, and the little blond guy in front is my youngest, Rob.
The reunion I’d prayed so hard and so long for broke my heart as much as my original relinquishment in 1979.

Was the desire of my heart God’s will? It sure seemed it wasn’t at that time.

Looking back 16 years after the reunion I can see that God was involved in my journey. There was so much He wanted me to learn. He wanted me to know how much He loved me in spite of my rejection of Him at times. He wanted me to learn some of those deep things about His nature, such as His suffering. The only way I could learn that was by not getting what I wanted when I wanted it. He showed me the depths of His love for me as I experienced my "seeming" rejection from Sarah.

God didn’t leave me in my heartbroken state. A relationship did gradually grow between my birthdaughter and I. So the answer to whether or not my desire was God’s will really is “No…and…Yes”.
All my children together, some of my grandchildren, including Sarah's first baby sitting on my mother's lap in the front row. 
My search for my birthdaughter Sarah helped me find my own face in the face of Christ. Maybe that’s what your suffering is about too.

You might even be wondering if your desire to write is God's will too. In my career as a writer I've discovered that the journey toward that goal is another of God's priorities for my life. Take joy in the journey. 

Busy writer and speaker, Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction, currently writing her eighth book. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

A HEART OF WORSHIP-by Heidi McLaughlin

How do daffodils and tulips know when it’s time to reveal their beautiful heads? How does the forsythia bush know when it's springtime? Why is there a glistening lake right between rows of rugged mountains? As I walk through the vineyards I am in awe of how springtime is emerging; splashed with colour and majesty from a long, cold sleep.  Surely there is someone in the background orchestrating this symphony of beauty. How can anyone believe there is no God?
            Last Monday after I finished my 5-kilometre walk, my spirit was refreshed and energized. My heart was full of gratefulness and reverence for our Creator and I realized I had spent the last fifty minutes worshipping God. Worship is not confined to a certain geographical location, building or a stage with a band and musical group.  I wonder if we will ever discover the full mystery of worship.

            When I was growing up it was important to polish our shoes, and have mother iron our Sunday best so that we could show up in church squeaky clean and ready to honour God.  Worship at that time was “dressing just right” and singing three stanzas out of a well used hymnal book.  In reverence to God we never talked out loud in the sanctuary and worship was quiet and solemn.

            Then came the guitars and next the drums were right on their heels. It was time to “get with the times” and make music to shout to the Lord with noisy expression. Sometimes it was so loud we forgot who God was because we were so busy putting our hands over our ears.  

            Today we have a Design Team that puts together a worship band, a carefully crafted stage and backdrop. After each song the audience (no longer called a congregation) claps. I often wonder. Who/what are we really worshipping? 

            This has caused me to look at my heart of worship.  I am in the middle of studying the Samaritan woman at the well who also had worship all wrong. She thought worship was to take place in the temple on Mount Gerizim.  A building. But Jesus gave her the good news that worship flows, not out of a building, but out of our hearts.  We are to worship the Father “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:19-24).

            God is spirit and our true worship to our Heavenly Father must flow out of our spirit. It is about engaging our whole heart with God. Acknowledging His greatness, His majesty. Worshipping in truth means acknowledging the truth about our great God. That He is our Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. That He is Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals. That He is the one who forgives our sins. He is the lover of our soul. He is our Father, our purpose, our passion, our redeemer, and our friend.  He is our everything!

            If it’s only about emotion, it is shallow and meaningless. After the band stops playing and the emotions wear off, we feel empty once again.  Then it probably hasn’t been about the heart of worship but about the thrill of the music and the song. But also, if it’s only about truth without love, it loses its power and passion. Worship needs both spirit and truth.  Oh that I may learn to worship with a pure heart. May this year be one of deeper worship, so that my heart is truly filled and God is glorified.
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



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