Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Programmed For Purpose by SUSAN HARRIS

The Most High God wrote your program and He coded you with His DNA. He not only coded you for Earth and solar systems and night and day, He programmed you for Eternity. 

He chose us in Him before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 5:2.) When He laid out the plan for your life, He coded everything you would need for what you will encounter in this life – the sicknesses, the temptations, the despair, the burdens,  all the tribulations. God took into account every injustice, every loss, every mistake, every longing, and He coded you strong enough, made your resistance deep enough. He programmed in you persistence, courage, faith and the ability, the endurance, that no matter what comes against you it will not be too much to bear. 

Borrowing some terms from the television show Survivor, you've been coded to outwit the enemy, to outplay the confusion, and to outlast the hardships until the answer comes to pass.

In 2017 it was announced that Canada’s national building codes will be changing to adapt to the effects of climate change. The National Research Council (NRC), which sets “model codes” for building, energy, plumbing and fire began updating the codes to reflect the fact that Canada is seeing heavier rain, floods, high winds, snow, ice, temperature swings, and all-around extreme weather.
Tornadoes and winds—we are so familiar with them. And carrying that analogy into our lives - God wouldn't be just if He knew we were going to face tornado winds of 100km/h but only coded us for 50km/h.  No, that wouldn’t pass.  

Isaiah 55:9 tells us of God’s standards, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Now the key is friend – DO NOT TO LOSE THE BATTLE IN YOUR  MIND. 

Your mind will tell you that you’re coded for 75 km/h tornado winds when in fact the National Research Council has upgraded it. Your mind will say: it’s never going to happen. You’ll never get well; there’ll never be justice; you’ll fail anyway so why bother to try?  

And I might believe it if my programmer was reliant on coffee. I might be convinced that my programmer could make a mistake if he was educated at university. But I want to remind you that your programmer is Almighty God. He spoke the heaven and the earth into existence. His code is error-proof. He cannot make mistakes. And He has provided a guard for your mind to keep it in line with His code – He has the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). It will deflect the thoughts of the enemy from entering your mind…

Earlier this year I was at the U of S campus in Saskatoon. It was my first time visiting the campus and I was thrilled to see the buildings in which our people are educated. Then a friend mentioned that there are underground pedestrian tunnels that connect the  buildings so students could get by easily when there is snow packed on the top. 

Things we cannot see. Things we cannot know unless someone points it out to us. 

Similarly God has put things in you that you cannot see. You have been equipped with tunnels to get you through the blizzards of life. I am here to tell you that I have experiences which I did not always understand. But now I know and I can tell you that deep in your souls there is something more than gold that is being processed and refined through that crushing you are going through. Diamonds are produced by heat and pressure deep within the earth. The process is not in vain. It always, always brings out something priceless. 

Maybe you have been walking on the surface of the U of S campus so to speak, and it was good for that time. But you have structures to take you deeper like the tunnels, to bring you out warm and dry. You have foundations to sustain you in this test. You have codes and programs to get you where you need to go. 

But as you take the new land there will new hindrances. The greater the outcome, the greater the warfare. Whatever is confronting you, I encourage you to remember that you are programed to conquer. Not particularly because you're super, but because your programmer, Almighty God is. And He has coded you with everything that you need. 

You will never encounter a hardship that you cannot combat. Because if you could see your own tunnels, if you could see your potential, if you could only see your coding, if you only knew how powerful that DNA that God put in you is, you would realize that you have been programmed for a purpose, and that is to win. 

Now, I believe that the mind of Christ is in you, and strength and hope is rising up as you hear God’s word. You will circumvent every storm, outwit every onslaught of the enemy, and overcome every battle in the conquering name of Jesus name because you have been Programmed for Purpose.

Susan Harris is the host of ETERNITY on Access7 cable television in eastern SK. This blog is an excerpt from her message on Sep 15, 2019, "Programmed For Purpose". Find snippets, excepts and  episodes on her YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB30i05nvacFIJ1ciaQ0ClA

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Battered by Wind

It’s the anniversary of 9/11 and the world-shattering consequences that so many of us remember, whether it was the images that played over and over on television, or the talk of what our world was coming to.
I’d been at Bible Study that morning and heard the news on the way home. Sarah, who was home from school with a bad headache, had seen the news as it played over and over. Not an enjoyable way to celebrate her 16th birthday.
We watched the startling pictures on the screen once together as she rested tearfully on the couch. I turned off the television and announced we were going out for ice cream and we could celebrate with friends on another day. She needed a distraction, not that she or anyone could forget. We would learn later that one of our other daughter’s friends had been scheduled to be at the Tower for a meeting that morning, but he’d slept through his alarm. Thankfully.
Recently I had reason to watch a video that was circulating on Facebook, an anniversary of the tornado in 1979.
At the time, my husband and I were living in Waterloo region with our two young children, who were 3 years and 6 months. We learned that the tornado had taken out homes, barns, power lines and trees in Oxford County. Where I grew up, and where my parents and two youngest siblings still lived.
When we learned of it, we tried calling but couldn’t get through, likely because the power was out. My husband said we needed to go and check on them, and so we drove out to see trees fallen across roads and people already at work clearing the road.
My parents and younger siblings were shaken but otherwise unharmed. The barn had lost its entire upper story and trees in the yard looked like battered toothpicks.
I can't recall exactly what my parents said, but they knew something was eerie when the storm was still as they sat eating their evening dinner. My parents each grabbed a teen and headed for the basement of our farm home and made it just as the house got a good shaking.
Talk about the force of winds that picked up a barn door that had taken eight men to hang, as it was flung about like something light. The tornado had hit the barn first.
Neighbours lost home and barn but fortunately none were killed, though there were some injuries. The video spoke of emergency services and a community supporting each other. The effects of the tornado changed some lives significantly. Homes and barns can be rebuilt while the human spirit needs to work through the losses such a storm inflicts. And they came through it, emerging on the other side changed and perhaps stronger.
I pondered this phenomenon and wrote about it some time ago, how the human spirit emerges in such a situation, as it also must have following the 9/11 attack. Different forces at work and how people make it through, sometimes leaving us with more questions.

We Don’t Know the Storm

We don’t reckon the damage done until it passes
and all the storm took with it
boards and rafters, roofs and feathers
but more than that   lives changed
by that one moment
or what seemed like one moment

when things broke loose in the wind and rain
when it scattered boards and roofs like children’s toys
we hurried to the cellar for safety,
prayed while it shook the house
asking God to keep us safe

and now we live with ever after and what if’s
what if we’d known better what God and the storm could do
what God, after the storm, can do


Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor and storyteller from southwestern Ontario.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

General William Booth: the Fire and the Blood -HIRD

By Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird
 Image result for william booth

Everyone nowadays loves the Sally Ann, the Salvation Army. But such admiration was not always universal.  Violence and bloodshed was the order of the day when William Booth first reached out to the down-and-out in East London.  Few people today realize that one of the main purposes of the famous Sally Ann Bonnet was to protect the heads of wearers from brickbats and other missiles.  So many people used to buy rotten eggs to throw at the Sally Ann Bonnets that these rancid eggs became renamed in the market place as ‘Salvation Army eggs!’ In fact Janice’s great grandfather George Morgan was a longshoreman who volunteered as a body guard for William Booth, and Ed’s step-great grandmother Ensign Kate Lee Gathercole preached on the volatile streets alongside her good friend Catherine Booth.

In 1880, heavy sticks crashed upon the Salvation Army soldiers’ heads, laying them open, and saturating them in blood.  Mrs. Bryan (wife of the Captain) was knocked down and kicked into insensibility not ten yards from the police station, and another sister so injured that she died within a week.  During 1882, it was reported that 669 soldiers and officers had been knocked down, kicked or otherwise brutally assaulted, 251 of them being women and 23 children under 15.  In Hamilton, Ontario, the Salvation Army officers were initially ‘squeezed and mangled, scratched, their clothes torn and almost choked with the dust…’  In Quebec City, 21 of the Salvation Army soldiers were seriously injured, an officer was stabbed in the head with a knife, and the drummer had his eye gouged out. In Newfoundland, the Salvation Army was attacked with hatchets, knives, scissors and darning needles.  One night, a woman-Salvationist in Newfoundland was attacked by a gang of three hundred ruffians, thrown into a ditch and trampled on.  She managed to crawl out only to be thrown in again, as other women were shouting ‘Kill her! Kill her!

Ironically many police initially blamed the Salvation Army for being persecuted.  In numerous parts of England, playing in a Salvation Army Marching Band was punishable with a jail sentence!  During 1884, no fewer than 600 Salvationists had gone to prison in defense of their right to proclaim good news to the people in music and word.  In Canada alone, nearly 350 SA officers and soldiers served terms of imprisonment for spreading the gospel.  Despite the jail sentences and persecution, within three years the Army’s strength more than quadrupled!  The early Salvation Army ‘jailbirds’ described their handcuffs as heavenly bracelets.  It is little wonder that the Salvation Army eventually developed such a powerful prison ministry. 

One of William Booth’s mottoes was ‘go for souls and go for the worst!’  A local English newspaper The Echo commented that the Salvation Army largely recruited the ranks of the drunkards and wife-beaters and woman home-destroyers.  Many of us remember as children the song: ‘Up and down the City Road, In and Out the Eagle; That’s the way the money goes, Pop goes the weasel’!   Few of us realized that we were singing about the famous Eagle Tavern, just off City Road in London.   ‘Pop goes the weasel’ was cockney slang for the alcoholic who was so desperate for a drink that he would even pawn (pop) his watch (weasel).  Ironically, the Salvation Army bought the Eagle Tavern and turned it into a rehabilitation centre.  The Lion and Key public house in East London became known as ‘The Army Recruiting Shop’.  The landlord said, ‘My trade’s suffering, but you’re making the town a different place, so we can’t grumble.  Go on and prosper!’

William Booth shocked the world by conducting worship with tambourines and fiddles, instead of the traditional church organ.  To make up for the Salvation Army’s lack of church buildings, General Booth bought circus buildings, skating rinks, and theatres.
In response to such bold innovation, one newspaper columnist claimed in 1883 that ‘The Salvation Army is on its last legs, and in three weeks it may be calculated it will come to an end.’  In the beginnings, the Salvation Army was essentially a youth movement, with seventeen-year-olds commanding hundreds of officers and thousands of seekers.  Archbishop Tait of Canterbury was so impressed by this youth movement reaching the poor, that he set up a commission which unsuccessfully tried to adopt the Salvation Army as an Anglican society.

By persevering, the Salvation Army began to earn respect from both the churched and the unchurched, and from all segments of society.  Even Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle sent the following message: ‘Her majesty learns with much satisfaction that you have with other members of your society been successful in your efforts to win many thousands to the ways of temperance, virtue, and religion.’  By their persevering in reaching out to the poor, William Booth and the Salvation Army became known as the champions of the oppressed.    Like no other individual in nineteenth-century England, General Booth dramatized the war against want, poverty and destitution. 

It was not by accident that William Booth’s message became linked with ‘soup, soap, and salvation’!  Every Salvation Army soldier was taught from the beginning to see themselves as servants of all, practicing the ‘sacrament’ of the Good Samaritan.  The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, ‘If the Salvation Army were wiped out of London, five thousand extra policemen could not fill the place in the repression of crime and disorder.’ In recognition of his incalculable impact on the poor, William Booth received on June 26th 1907 the degree of Doctor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford.

William Booth throughout his life showed remarkable creativity and courage.  He was one of the world’s greatest travelers in his day, visiting nearly every country in the world.  Even at age 78, General Booth was described as ‘…a bundle of energy, a keg of dynamite, an example of perpetual motion.’  A keen observer of the international scene, Booth in 1907 prophesied Japan’s technological rise, saying: ‘It is only a question of time when her industries will be tutored with the most expert direction, and packed with the finest machinery taken from all nations of the world, and I do not see what can prevent her producing the finest articles at the cheapest possible price.’

His fellow soldiers saw Booth as a man to follow to their death, if need be.  William Booth was truly a spiritual father to the fatherless.  His son Bramwell held that his Dad’s greatest power lies in his sympathy, for his heart is a bottomless well of compassion.  A Maori woman described William Booth as ‘the great grandfather of us all – the man with a thousand hearts in one!’  Mark Twain said, ‘I know of no better way of reaching the poor than through the Salvation Army.  They are of the poor, and know how to get to the poor.’

We give thanks for the remarkable General William Booth and the Salvation Army who have shown the true Father’s Heart to so many hurting, fatherless people.
Image result for william booth

The Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Fading Flower to Fruit-Picking Time by Peter A. Black

Apple Blossom
Courtesy: FREE Stock Photo
This morning I fell into musing about the marvels of nature, of the flowers and blossoms of spring, and the summer-through-fall season of harvesting fruit. 
How beautiful the cheerful, creamy-white apple blossom on several neighbourhood trees was this spring. Driving down a city street, elsewhere, I marvelled at several trees clad in rich burgundy cherry blossom.                                                 
I mused on how great it would be if the fruit trees could keep their blossoms all year, instead of appearing for only a short time then fading so quickly away? Fact is, flowers bloom, then their petals must fade and fall in order for fruit to develop and bear seed – a process necessary for ensuring the survival of their kind, as new trees get a start. With that kind of tree, no matter how much we love seeing and smelling the blossoms, they must fade and die before the fruit can fully develop and we get to enjoy eating it!
Cherry Blossom
Courtesy: FREE Stock pexels

A seed dies in the process of giving birth to new life. It illustrates the spiritual principle of life coming out of death. That’s the opposite of what we tend to think, in relation to the natural world. Commonly we figure that people are born, they live, and then they die. True enough.

In the realm of spiritual life, however, we are called to die to our self-life in order to live in the fulness of the life of Jesus and in the love of God. Jesus had to die on the Cross before He could rise from the dead to make new life available to those who trust in Him.
People might Ooh and Aah at the glorious sight of blossoms on trees, but do the trees puff with pride because of the praise? Of course not.When their flowers fade and fall they lose their glorious adornment.  

Sometimes segments of the Christian community experience periods during which they garner admiration in the general community, only to be cast aside when hypocrisy and failure become apparent with it; the glorious flower and verdant leaves of popularity fade and fall. Bitter fruit!
Credit: Google duty-free images

But wait, the Scriptures teach: “... the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. . .” (Galatians 5:22-24).

Courtesy: FreeImages.com
There it is – the principle of spiritual life following spiritual death. The fruit of a life lived in the grace of Jesus under the  sunshine of God’s love produces good and pleasant fruit, regardless of our age and physical appearance. But, surely God is grieved when bitter fruit causes people to turn away from faith in Jesus.
Even sour lemons have beneficial uses and are, in fact, good fruit. A touch of honey can make quite a difference. As an old Gospel song says: There’s honey in the Rock, my brother [my sister, too]!  Jesus is our Rock.

Pensive Prayer: Dear God, even though the flower of our youth eventually fades, grant that good fruit will continue to form in our lives, as the divine harvest-gathering time draws ever near! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Peter is a retired pastor  well, sort of retired – as he is currently engaged as an associate volunteer pastor. He lives in Southwestern Ontario with his wife, May, and writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column and occasional magazine articles. Peter is author of two books: "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press) and "Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart" (Angel Hope Publishing). He and May are also engaged in leading nursing home / residential chapel services, pulpit supply and music. ~+~

Saturday, September 07, 2019

A few things writers should know about the internet - Denyse O’Leary

At my current job as editor of Mind Matters News, the Christian geeks speak, and answer some questions:

1. Is my phone spying on me? Probably, if you haven’t taken steps to prevent that. Your phone knows a lot about you and it maybe selling your secrets, especially if you have never considered the possibility.

2. Should I pay for a virtual private network (VPN)? Russ White: Maybe. In some cases, specifically when you are using public wireless services, using a VPN can add measurably to your privacy and security. But VPNs are not a “silver bullet” in solving the many security and privacy issues users face today. They are no use once you are on Facebook, for example. It’s their show, not yours.

Coloured robot design Free Vector3. Are search engines biased? Of course they are! People write the algorithms; the algorithms do not write themselves. Robert J. Marks of Baylor University in Texas offers a look at Google’s search engine bias. If Google’s CEO honestly believes that there is no bias, that is, in itself, a big part of the problem. He is arguing against the nature of writing algorithms itself—not a good position for a computer guy to be in. If you cannot find what you are looking for, don’t assume it does not exist. Try a different search engine or start asking around.

4. Should I agree to those offers to sign me up for more information that pop up on my screen when I visit a web site? Russ White: Say no to pop-ups and close the tabs when you are done. Making the internet work for YOU means, among other things, getting control of who can follow you around. If allowing these notifications sounds like a perfect avenue for an attacker, that’s because it is. This attack surface is a very large hole in the security of your computer. For one thing, several tabs open at the same time enable an attacker to jump between them. You can go back again to a site or search if you really want to know more.

5. Is a lot of what I hear about artificial intelligence hype? Yes. The intent is to either sell you something or make you see life a certain way. Baylor University computer science prof Robert J. Marks offers a popular series on AI hype. about Google, DeepMind, Watson, Sophia, and other AI faves that you might want to have a look at.

There’s a lot of hype and flimflam out there about new media and artificial intelligence. But you can protect yourself by seeking out the facts. We try to provide them at Mind Matters News

Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Interrupted Life VIII – A War Widow by Eleanor Shepherd

This month I want to share the story of my friend, Luce in her own words. 

Eleanor: What event interrupted your life? 
Luce:  It was the war in Yugoslavia in 1991 that triggered the huge losses that interrupted my life.

Eleanor:  What was your life like before this event?  
Luce:  In June 1991, I celebrated eight years of being happily married to a loving Yugoslav husband.

I was 25 and living a life filled with culture, music, arts, knitting with my older female friends, and singing duets with my husband at special events. 
 Although trained as a translator, my husband requested I not work. So I was a happy housewife, living in my beautiful house, driving Yugoslav girlfriends around in my new Cadillac. I volunteered weekly in hospitals and senior homes using my language skills. 

Eleanor:  What was the most important thing about your life at that time? 
Luce:  Pleasing my hard-working husband: he was “my everything”, and his income ensured that we had no financial worries.I wanted to be “as Yugoslav as I can be” to make him proud. 

Eleanor:  What were your dreams? 
Luce:  I had no great ambitions but to be a good wife, a good person. I wanted to start a family of my own. 

Eleanor:  What had you accomplished? 
Luce:  Coming from a very poor and mainly uneducated family and neighbourhood, I was very proud to be the only one in my family who had gone to the great, inaccessible University. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in translation. That was my greatest accomplishment.

I was proud of my courage to leave my country out of devotion to my husband, to live in
uncomfortable and unhygienic conditions in the mountains of Yugoslavia. I adapted to rural life, learning to care for cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens. I adjusted to living without running water, washrooms, or electricity, and found I could still be happy!
Dark clouds came when things started to deteriorate in Kosovo. In the winter of 1989, everyone seemed convinced that war was coming. My husband decided we would be safer back in Canada.

Eleanor:  What were your fears? 
Luce: My husband was the youngest of a family of 13 children. Many were not fertile and I was afraid I would not be able to have a baby. Also a few family members were “not well in their heads.” Though they exhibited jealousy or suspicion or were depressed, they were always kind to me.

When Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, in June 1991, my husband foresaw civil war coming.

Eleanor:  Who were the most important people in your life? 
Luce: My husband, my family, and a few dear friends.

Eleanor:   Describe your two most important relationships at the time. 
Luce:  My relationship with my husband was the most important: we were kind of in a symbiosis. 
Also I had a very close  friend, Slobodanka (45 years old at the time), who was like my “Yugoslav mother”. She taught me so much, we spent so much time together, she was my “role model” of the perfect housewife.

Eleanor:  Were you a person of faith at the time? 
Luce: Yes, as a Catholic, I did believe in God as the Creator. I knew Jesus as a “character” in the Bible, but had no real concept of the Holy Spirit. 

Eleanor:  What did your faith look like?  
Luce: I knew by memory all my Catholic “poems/prayer” but I did not know how to really talk with Jesus and God.I did not rely on God but on my husband.

Eleanor:  Describe the event that interrupted your life?  
Luce:  On November 29th1991, my husband was suddenly struck by a terrible schizophrenic psychosis and ended up in the Douglas Hospital.
I had seen him in the morning, he seemed okay. I kissed him goodbye and never saw him again.

Eleanor:   Did the trauma happen all at once of was it gradual? 
Luce:  Shortly after Croatia’s declaration of independence, in June 1991, my husband’s joy and energy began slowly fading away. He became suspicious of our Yugoslav friends, particularly Muslims and Croatians, as he was Serbian.
He started demanding we cut our relationships with people. He brought a bodyguard into our house. He slept with a knife under his pillow.
In disbelief, I hoped this was just some type of temporary depression.

On November 29th, when I spoke on the phone with the Douglas Hospital psychiatrist, I was informed that this type of schizophrenic psychosis was irreversible. I had lost my husband forever.
The doctor told me to consider myself a widow,You should pack up your things, and go on with your life.  

Eleanor:  How did you feel? 
Luce:  I was devastated! I was in denial. I was lost! The man I married was someone I did not know! 

Eleanor:  How did you react? 
Luce: I lost myself in action. I could not stay in the home I shared with my husband. I grabbed garbage bags, threw in my clothes and personal belongings and left. 

Subsequently, I faced death threats and suffered a physical attack from a brother-in-law. Shortly after, in despair and sadness, I fell into the arms of a “new friend;” and found out I was pregnant two months later. Not knowing who was the father, I made the tough decision to end my pregnancy, and suffered the physical and emotional consequences of that abortion.             

Eleanor’s Conclusion: 
            Were you to meet Luce today you would encounter a beautiful woman of grace who exudes love. The interruption of becoming a war widow eventually led her into a deep experience of faith. That is a story for later.
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award
Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 100 articles published in Canada, France, the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening as well as her Award winning stories in Hot Apple Cider and Christmas with Hot Apple Cider. She co-authored with her husband Glen the Bible Study book Why? Families. As well as writing, she conducts workshops on listening skills and prayer. Eleanor recently retired from being the pastor of an English speaking congregation in Montreal with The Salvaton Army. She is currently pursuing studies to become a Prayer Companion.

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