DOING IT ‘MY WAY’

Conservatory, Rose Gardens and Springbank Park August 2010 008So, you think our choice to sin won’t affect anyone else? Remember Eve! You believe we can make a decision apart from God’s counsel without some far-reaching consequences for us and others? Consider Abram, father of Ishmael!

As humans, we like to think we can control our own lives. We want to make our own choices, our own decisions. “It’s no one else’s business,” we say. We foolishly believe that what we do does not affect anyone else, so if we choose a wrong course, only we will suffer for it. Wrong! There are many examples in the Bible to prove it. There are many examples in life!

Everyone is familiar with the creation story. We all know that the serpent deceived our first ancestor, Eve. She was in full knowledge of the command of the Lord, that she and her husband could eat of the fruit of any tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Knowing this, she still made a conscious decision to follow the suggestions of the enemy of her soul. She ate the forbidden fruit. To make matters worse, she offered some of that fruit to Adam. He, too, made a deliberate choice to defy God’s order. He followed his wife’s leading. He ate the fruit.

The immediate consequence, of course, was that they had broken fellowship with the Lord. What followed was banishment from the garden of Eden into a harsh world where all would be done with toil and pain. It didn’t stop there. Their decision did not affect them only. It had a far-reaching effect. Every person born since that day has come into the world with a sinful nature, separated from our Creator and in need of a Savior. Sin always has a ripple effect. When you deliberately choose to sin, you hurt all those around you: your family, friends, those you work with, the people in your church. They will never know, you may think. No, perhaps consciously they will not. But the result will nevertheless become evident in your lifestyle. Your relationship with God will cool. You will draw away from those whose desire is to serve the Lord. Guilt will eventually separate you from those you love, emotionally if not physically. Yes, your sin will have consequences for more than just you.

“I am my own boss,” many say. “I have a right to make my own decisions. I am intelligentConservatory, Rose Gardens and Springbank Park August 2010 060 enough to choose the right course for my life. I don’t need any help from anyone. I know what I want!” Well, we must go back to the Bible and read the story of Abram. God had made him a marvelous promise: “…he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.”1 This when Abram was an old man and Sarai an old woman well past child-bearing years. Note Abram’s response. In verse 6 we read, “And he believed in the Lord.” He seemed to have no problem accepting the truth of God’s word. Yet in chapter 16 we find Sarai taking matters into her own hands. She did not believe the Lord; at least, she did not believe that the promise had anything to do with her personally. She made a decision based on human assumption. “I’m too old,” Sarai thought. “I’ll just offer my handmaid Hagar to Abram in order that she might bear him a son.” Sarai had it all figured out how God should fulfill His word. Though Abram had experienced a mighty encounter with God, he didn’t bother to consult Him in this matter. He simply accepted his wife’s proposal. The outcome? Ishmael. From him issued twelve tribes that have ever since been antagonists of the descendants of Isaac, God’s chosen offspring. The world is still affected by that one choice made outside the counsel of the Lord.

You may ask how your choices can affect people centuries down the road. Perhaps they won’t. But they may impact your generation and their children. Your children or grandchildren could pay a price for your choice to sin, or for some unwise decision you make outside the will of the Lord. Is our imagined freedom to choose worth the price it may cost us and those we love? This, too, is ours to decide.

There are countless stories about people who put off a decision to serve God. “When I get my life straightened out, I’ll serve Him,” they say. Or, “Once my career is established, I am married and have a family, there will be plenty of time for God.” Others would prefer to wait until their retirement years, or until they have had their fill of fun in life. How often these people are not given the opportunity to live that long. Their lives are cut off in their prime. Car accidents, sudden heart attacks, strokes or cancer take their lives before they have a chance to make that all-important decision. When you put off saying, “Yes,” to the Lord, by default you are actually saying, “No.” It will have eternal consequences.

P1100577Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had such a huge crop that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones. He thought he had a great deal of time left to live it up and enjoy his wealth. He did not reckon on God. That very night his life was required of him, and his possessions were then left to others.2 He enjoyed none of it. That man made his own decisions. He made his choices without contemplating the consequences, and paid dearly for it.

Let’s go back to the book of Genesis, chapters 13 and 19. Lot was faced with a choice. He made his decision on what, to his eyes, looked like the best proposition. He did not consult God. He did not investigate the details. He did not foresee the dangers that lay hidden within the evil city at the center of his choice of land. Lot coveted the best of both worlds–superb pasture land for his flocks and herds, and the convenience and lifestyle of the metropolis for himself and his family.

Though the Bible tells us that Lot was a righteous man whose soul was vexed by the sin in Sodom and Gomorrah, yet his choices brought dire consequences to him and his family. In the end, he lost everything. His future sons-in-law refused to heed Lot’s warning, and so were destroyed with the city of Sodom and all that was in it. Gone now were his daughters’ prospects for marriage. Lot’s home was gone. His wife was turned into a pillar of salt when she stopped to look back with longing. Even though he begged the angel to allow him to stay in the small town of Luz, fear conquered him and he fled to the very mountain to which the angel had first directed him. Two sons were born out of incest in this mountain retreat. Thus was the beginning of the nations of Moab and Ammon. They would one day become hindrances to the people of Israel.

“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.”3 And who so wise as the Lord our God? Seek counsel from Him before you make decisions whether big or small, and follow what He tells you. Then your plans will be established and you will succeed in what you do. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”4 Forget about doing things your way. It can only lead to failure. God’s way is infinitely higher and better. Oh, the glory that is ours when we choose God’s path! How much more wonderful the consequences of walking in His footsteps! The blessing that will come into our lives will spill over to everyone around us.

Thought for the day: Choosing your own path in life will ultimately lead to tragedy. Seek God’s P1090613will for you and live the abundant life.

Prayer: Jesus, I pray that no one reading these pages, myself included, will deliberately go against Your will in order to live according to their independent decisions. I ask You to convict us in any area where we are following our own course. Show us the dangers of such action. Help us to know Your will and to willingly choose it over any personal desires that do not line up with Your plan for our lives. Keep us on the right track, Lord. Do not let us wander astray. When we do wander, it is often so hard to find our way back to You. The farther and longer we wander, the harder to return. I pray that everyone reading these words will find their joy and fulfillment in doing Your will. Bless them, I pray. Amen.

1 Genesis 15:4

2 Luke 12:16-21

3 Proverbs 1:5

4Isaiah 55:6

Thank you so much for stopping by for a visit. I hope you have enjoyed your time spent here. Please leave a comment in the box below. If you are not already following my blog, please click on the “Follow” button at the top and you will receive an e-mail to let you know each time I add a new post. I hope I have entertained you a little, made you think in a new direction, and blessed you much. Please come again to see what’s new. God bless. Have a wonderful weekend.

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INSPIRATION

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.1

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God’s perfect creation

An artist splashes a canvas with a profusion of color from the very softest of hues to the most brilliant palette. The poet pens a verse using lyrical rhythms and word pictures that capture our sense of the aesthetic. A musician composes a symphony, weaving harmonious sounds into a glorious hymn of praise. A story-teller weaves a graphic tale that lifts us out of the mundane into an imaginary world and provides a temporary diversion from reality. A journalist compiles a scientific account of this marvel, opening up new vistas for our intellects. A photographer captures a moment of breathtaking beauty. A richness of diversity has evolved from a familiar marvel of nature, one too often taken for granted. What do you see in a beautiful sunset?

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My imperfect creation

A thought, a feeling, an idea is God-breathed into a life, but how that inspiration is expressed is a very individual matter. You will display your own distinctive imagination which will be characteristic of your distinctive personality, talents, interests and experiences in life. All of these creative outpourings bear witness to one particular scene in nature, yet each is as unique as the person who originates it. The marvelous thing is that people unable to adequately express their own feelings tangibly may be inspired by any of these methods of interpretation. Our eyes and minds feast on the fruit of the labor of others, and we reap the benefits: encouragement, satisfaction, joy and often simply an unreserved sense of wonder.

Inspiration is the infusion or arousal within the mind of some idea, feeling or impulse, especially one that leads to creative action.2 It is the creative impulse of an artist, often seen as a supernatural prompting; a person who or a thing that inspires, and to inspire is to move with divine influence; to fill with creative power.3 The Hebrew, neshâmâh, means a puff, i.e. wind, vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect, inspiration, soul, spirit.4 “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”5 In the New Testament, the Greek is theopneustos: divinely breathed in, given by inspiration from God.6 It is a presumed derivative of theos (a deity, especially the supreme Deity) and pneo, a word meaning to breathe hard, breeze, blow.7 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”8 The wind of the Spirit of God blows on us, and we are inspired to some action, great or small.

Effort and energy must be constant companions of creative action if the desired goal is to be

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Creating a symphony of sound

attained. You cannot dispense with hard work. There is a clear distinction between God’s creativity and that of man. God created by His word–He simply spoke things into being; He created everything from nothing. Man creates with action, not speech, and must accomplish it from already-existing substance.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” 9 God is His own inspiration, but mankind needs the inspiration of God in order to be creative. The Bible was written by men, but those men first had to receive from God before they could record it. Yet each man wrote according to his own style. “…God did not dictate the manuscript of the Old Testament to these writers as if they were secretaries. He revealed His truth to them and showed them how they should present it; but in so doing He led them to express His word in terms of their own outlook, interests, literary habits and peculiarities of style.” 10 This accounts for the variations in the gospels. Four men from completely different backgrounds- a tax-collector (businessman), a physician, a young man and a fisherman–all recorded the same events, yet their descriptions often appear inconsistent. Matthew and John were eye-witnesses of most of these events. Each recorded only a fragment of the whole, but when the pieces are

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Jigsaw puzzle

joined, like a jigsaw puzzle, the whole picture emerges. Personal experience plays a large part in the way inspiration is expressed. Creative writing, for example, can develop into a diversity of forms: a simple setting down of thoughts in a diary or journal, short stories, devotionals, books, articles, songs, letters, Bible studies. Each will reveal something about the writer: personality, lifestyle, morals, interests, spirituality, motivation, desires. The Book of Psalms is an excellent example of poetic writing. David turned creative impulse into words that have inspired and encouraged millions of people down through the ages.

Art galleries display a profusion of paintings that give pleasure to multitudes. The airwaves resonate with sounds of music. Library shelves are brimming with books. Inspiration must have an outlet, a creative action, or frustration will ensue. “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” 11 Jeremiah received a word from God. Because of previous opposition to his prophecies, he determined this time to keep it to himself. But that word burned within him until he had to release it. When God reveals something to us, it is our responsibility to bring it forth, at the right time, in the channel best suited to us as individuals. Inspiration must bear fruit. Like faith, it cannot stand alone.12

All true creativity originates in God, the Creator of all, regardless of the mode of expression:

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Books filled with inspired stories

music, prose, poetry, art, public speaking, preaching. When God acts, Satan counterfeits that action. Presumably, writers of pornography, heavy rock, etc., imagine they are inspired. But when Satan is the source, the result is destructive, never creative, never life-giving. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”13 Satan’s inspiration is in direct opposition to God and never exhibits life. Satan has come only to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. Jesus has come to give “life more abundantly”.14

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God’s Word where inspiration begins

Inspiration begins in the mind. It must capture the emotions, the intellect and the will before it can be shaped into some form of tangible action. An idea comes. You are emotionally stimulated to proceed by research and planning. Finally you craft and hone the idea until it shines like a polished gem for the world to see. You have birthed a poem or a painting, a story, a sermon, a song. The finished work can now be shared with others, and possesses the potential to motivate them towards their own unique output. And so the cycle continues: creative impulse flows, inspiration is expressed, the world is blessed and God’s revelation lives on.

Thought for the day: Allow the Lord to inspire you and run with it, past all interference, until you reach your goal.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit would rest on every person who reads these pages. Let their minds and spirits open like blossoms in springtime to produce a beautiful fragrance that will spread to all around. May they run with the vision You give them, and may Your word be fulfilled in them. For those who do not believe they have the ability to produce anything worthwhile, enlighten their minds to see that You have given each one of us at least one talent. Help them to see that if they refuse to put that talent to work, it will shrivel and die, but if they will use that gift for Your glory You will multiply it beyond their imagination. Remind them of the parable of the talents that Jesus taught His disciples. Remind us all that we have been made in the image of God, the Creator, and therefore must have the ability to create, small or great, because of that. I pray that all who utter the words of this prayer will have their every God-given desire fulfilled and be encouraged and uplifted in spirit to do exploits for You. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness. Amen.

1 Philippians 2:13

2 Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary

3 Larousse

4 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

5 Job 32:8

6 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

7 Ibid

8 2 Timothy 3:16

9 Genesis 1:3

0 0The Bible Almanac

1 1Jeremiah 20:9

2 2See James 2:17

3 3Isaiah 14: 12-15

44John 10:10

I hope you have been inspired by my post on inspiration. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below. I love to hear from my readers and know what you are thinking. If you are not already following me, please click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail updates when I post new stories. Have a wonderful, God-inspired day.

MY ANCESTOR, RUTH

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David…Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.1

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Ruth, a beautiful love story

Of course, I realize that Ruth holds no place in my ancestral bloodline! I have not a drop of Moabite blood in me! Nor am I a Jewess. I am of English decent, born in Canada and Caucasian through and through. But spiritually, I believe I can, without taking liberties, claim to be a descendant of this woman of destiny. If I am a child of the Lord—and I am—and Ruth, according to the genealogical record in Matthew, is part of the ancestry of Jesus, it seems to me that it is a foregone conclusion. Besides, Paul tells us in scripture that we Gentiles have been grafted into the vine, so we are definitely of the same spiritual race as the Jews.2 I am proud to be associated with this precious woman of centuries past. I aspire to be like her.

So, what was she like? I invite you to transport yourself back in time to ancient Moab. You are a young Moabite girl brought up to worship Chemosh, the sun god. Picture the rolling landscape; sheep pasturing beside barley and wheat fields. To the west is the Dead Sea, then known as the Salt Sea. The Arnon River marks the northernmost border of your homeland. There is a great wilderness to the east, and the land of Edom lies to the south. You will have been taught about your ancestor Lot and his family’s flight from Sodom, before God rained down fire and brimstone to destroy the city. Lot’s wife, either out of curiosity or desire to return, disobeyed God’s specific direction to go and not look back. Result? She was turned into a pillar of salt! A nasty way to lose your life, or for that matter, your wife. You will have learned how his daughters seduced their father in order to continue their bloodline. The son conceived by one of these girls was named Moab. It was from this son that the country of Moab inherited its name. You will have seen, or perhaps even known some of the children who were slaughtered to appease your god Chemosh. Child sacrifice was the way of the Moabite world.

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Drought and famine

With this in mind, you will understand a little of Ruth’s life before she encountered the Israelite family from Bethlehem. Elimelech, during a period of famine, transported his family–Naomi his wife, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion–to the land of Moab. These Israelites worshipped a different God, and, unlike Chemosh, their God did not require human sacrifice. In fact, He abhored it. Elimelech very possibly spoke out against it. This family intended to stay only until the famine was over, but they became comfortable in their new home, began to make friends, and settled down to stay. They were probably neighbours of Ruth’s family. Eventually, Elimelech died and left his family alone in this foreign land. What would Naomi do now? What would you do in her place?

She did the only thing she could think of. She arranged for her two sons to marry Moabite girls.

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Death comes to the family

She must have been fully aware that this was in direct opposition to the laws of her God. The chosen people of the Lord had been forbidden marriage to people of any foreign nation. Yet she pursued her course. For Chilion, she chose a girl named Orpah. Her name means ‘stubbornness’.3 Since Chilion’s name means ‘pining, destruction, failing’,4 I would venture a guess that it wasn’t a particularly good match. Can’t you imagine? The wife perhaps stubbornly stuck to her practice of worshipping what, to Naomi’s family, was an idol, a false god. She may even have insisted that she have her own way all the time. I can picture her as the one who ruled the household. On the other hand, Chilion yearned for his homeland, his beloved Bethlehem, perhaps to the exclusion of all else. He didn’t take the responsibility of overseeing his wife and home. He sat around dreaming, pining, for what could have been his had he shown enough incentive to get up and return to Bethlehem. His negative attitude gradually destroyed him, and he died.

Ruth was Naomi’s choice for Mahlon. This, too, was not the best of matches, although with Ruth’s disposition (her name means friend, companion, beauty5), she would have made the better wife. Mahlon, meaning sickness, great infirmity,6 was obviously not a strong man, and succumbed to some illness and also died. I imagine Ruth tenderly caring for her sick husband until the very end. She would have mourned him along with his mother. She must have been a very gentle, open-hearted girl. But now Naomi was left with no family to support her and her two daughters-in-law. She probably was unsure how to deal with them.

Abundance in Bethlehem

One day she heard through the grapevine that the famine was over in Israel and food was there in abundance. After over ten years of living in Moab, away from the presence of her God, Naomi decided to return home. It was the only sensible decision she could have made. When we take the wrong course in life, we must choose to return to the place where we left the path the Lord has mapped out for us. Repentance and redirection are the way back to the land of prosperity.

At first, she considered taking the two girls with her, and the three started out on the journey. But Naomi had second thoughts. She decided to send them packing back to their own families and their god. She may have felt they would be too much of a burden to her, or that they would, once away from their familiar surroundings, succumb to homesickness. She may have foreseen the same fate for them as happened to her sons. Ruth and Orpah both protested, but it was rather weak on Orpah’s part. It didn’t take much persuasion for Orpah to be convinced. She turned around and followed the road back home.

But Ruth was a different kind of girl. She wasn’t about to be put off by a few words from her mother-in-law. She had no intention of returning to her own people. She had attached herself to Naomi come what may. You have to admire such loyalty. What, above all, caused Orpah’s decision to leave her was the fact that Naomi was too old to have more children, and that, even if she should yet by some miraculous intervention, bear sons, it would be years before they would be of marriageable age. Orpah wanted a husband and children before she got too old. All Ruth wanted was to be allowed to follow Naomi wherever she went, to worship Naomi’s God, and to be buried in Israel with Naomi. Ruth passed the test. She had been fully converted, and she was determined that nothing would separate her from her mother-in-law or her new-found faith in Naomi’s God. Naomi relented, and the two of them travelled, on foot, the sixty dusty miles back to Bethlehem. They arrived at the beginning of the barley harvest.

If you follow the story in the Book of Ruth, you will glean in the fields with her. You will meet

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Love is beautiful

Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi. You will rejoice with Ruth as she, a perfect stranger in the land, a heathen in the eyes of the Israelites, found favour in the eyes of this righteous man. Ruth did the reverse of what Elimelech had done. He left his homeland to find sustenance in a foreign land and found only trouble and the curse of death. Ruth left the place of her birth to find new life and joy and redemption in her new home.

Ruth was a very industrious woman who wanted immediately to go out to work to help support Naomi. As we follow her relationship with her mother-in-law we find her to have a submissive spirit, willing to be guided by Naomi and, later, by Boaz. Ruth, in a genuine spirit of humility, accepted the help Boaz offered. She graciously received his provision both for herself and for her mother-in-law. She was fully aware that she was unlike his maid-servants and that she did not deserve such attention from this great man. Because Boaz himself was a man who gave generously yet humbly, it was easy for Ruth to welcome his praise and his gifts.

Though but a foreigner and a mere gleaner in the fields, Boaz raised Ruth up in the eyes of all his hired workers. Still, he did not elevate her position to that of reaper. He spoke highly of her because he had heard of the way she had conducted herself toward Naomi. He told the servants to draw water for her whenever she needed a drink. What comfort she must have found in his kind words and actions! She received all she needed from his hand. She ate and was satisfied. Boaz even commanded his maids to pull out some of the grain they were reaping in order that she would have an abundance to glean. She even had plenty left over to give Naomi to eat when she arrived home.

Boaz was a type of Jesus, our Provider and Protector. He was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer.

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Meeting in the night

But Naomi was not satisfied that Ruth should be a gleaner for the rest of her life. She knew the power that Boaz held, and relied on his honesty, integrity and position to help in their time of need. Naomi taught Ruth the steps of preparation in order to present herself to Boaz. She needed redemption, and willingly followed all that Naomi told her to do. She washed herself, anointed herself with perfumed oil, put on her best clothes and went down to the threshing floor. This represents a place of testing and purification. Here the chaff is removed from the wheat. Ruth’s instructions were to keep out of sight until after Boaz had finished for the night and laid down to sleep.

What I like about Ruth is that she obeyed what must have seemed to some extent rather strange directions. Most of us would have questioned Naomi. A woman alone to go secretly to a place where she would be alone with a man? Not the thing usually done in those days, I suspect. Yet Boaz responded favourably to Ruth’s actions and petition. She humbled herself to ask him to buy her back. Not an easy thing for a woman to do, especially a foreigner. Again Boaz would not allow her to return to Naomi without provision, and he filled her cloak with grain. Most amazing of all, Boaz promised to do whatever Ruth asked of him! How like our Jesus! When we ask according to His will and with faith in our hearts, He has promised to do the ‘whatever’.7

What praise Boaz had for Ruth! He told her that his people knew that she was a ‘woman of excellence’. Ruth lived her life well before others. She has been a wonderful example to women down through the ages. The outcome of this whole experience was that Boaz married Ruth and she bore him a son who would, years later, become the grandfather of King David. What an honoured position she was elevated to when she yielded her life to this kinsman-redeemer! We, too, will be exalted in due time by our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus, if we will humble ourselves before Him.1

As you read the four short chapters of the Book of Ruth, you will notice that Ruth was a woman of few words. A wise woman indeed! When she spoke, her words were full of meaning and were very fitting at all times. Ruth was a listener. She listened to Naomi; she listened to Boaz. We would do well to pattern our lives after this woman of destiny if we desire to be men and women who live out the purposes of God. It takes a decision of the will. It will take time. You will need determination; you must put forth effort. It requires courage to follow it through. This life in Christ, our destiny, will not just happen. Listen for the instructions of the Lord. Receive His revelation. Obey His word. Be humble, be kind, be grateful. Speak His words. Be filled with His Spirit. Follow in His footsteps and you will become all you are meant to be. Allow Jesus, your Boaz, to redeem your life and fulfill your destiny.

Thought for the day: Always be willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads you, even to death.

Prayer: Jesus, I ask you to bless my friends who are reading this book. I pray that You will tenderize their hearts and mine, that You will awaken our spirits and that You will increase our faith in You. May our love for You grow daily until we are consumed by Your love. Make us all true people of destiny, willing and ready to answer Your call and to follow Your every instruction. Open the windows of heaven and pour out Your blessing upon us until we are filled to overflowing. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

1 Matthew 1:1,5,6

2 See Romans 11:17

3 The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary ninth printing 1968

4 Strong’s

5 Strong’s, The Bible Almanac (Thomas Nelson), and Scripture Proper Names and their Interpretation (circa 1910 John Ritchie, Publisher, Kilmarnock)

6 Ibid

7 John 15:7; 1 John 5: 14,15

1James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6

I apologize for the length of this story, but I didn’t want to break it up. I hope you found it worth your time to read. I really appreciate your stopping by. Thank you. Please leave a comment in the box below and let me know what your thought of the story.

If you are not already following me, please click the “Follow” button at the top. I would love to be able to keep you updated with my new posts.

Have a wonderful day and week. God bless.

A DAILY DOSE OF LAUGHTER

PART THREE

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Beauty and gladness

Gladness is defined as:“be gleeful, making merry, light-hearted”.33 This is found in Psalm 16:9, where David is praising God for His guidance. In the New Testament, this word “gladness” comes from a Greek word meaning “be in a good frame of mind, make merry, rejoice”.34 This word is used in Acts 14:17, when the apostle Paul speaks of the rain and fruitful seasons as being a reason to exhibit gladness. In Esther we read that the people “made it a day of feasting and gladness”.35 The exiles had just won a great victory over their enemy and redeemed their lives. Would you not be gleeful if you were one of them? Would laughter not be spontaneous?

We hear the words of Jesus as He taught the beatitudes from the mountain side.36 He is proclaiming to the people that when they are persecuted and falsely accused for His sake, they should “jump for joy” and be “exceedingly glad”. Does He also mean us today? Of course! Can you jump for joy when, simply because you are a Christian, you are accused of doing something you didn’t do? I wonder how many of us would react that way to persecution! I doubt that I would often score very high on that test. How about you? Yet that is what Jesus requires of us. What He requires, He equips us to do. So yes, it is entirely possible to leap for joy in times of tribulation as well as in times of blessing. Try it! You may just find your heart a little lighter. (I must qualify that statement: if you are 100 years old, need a walker or wheelchair, or are otherwise physically impaired, I really wouldn’t recommend the leaping unless the Lord heals you. Please stick to the laughter. I don’t wish to be responsible for any bodily injuries!)

Can you now understand the importance of allowing humor into your life? We need to learn to

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Color me joy

laugh, not only at humorous incidents or comedy, but also at ourselves. We tend to take ourselves all too seriously. We need to lighten up a little and force ourselves to take a new perspective on life. If Jesus jumped for joy, I ought to do the same. If the writers of the psalms advocated laughter, should we not also find occasions for hilarity? If the prophets, who delivered messages from God that were often very serious warnings, could find reason to rejoice, how can we, who have the word of God at our fingertips and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, not also “rejoice with exceeding great joy”? I challenge you to give yourself a daily dose of laughter and let the “joy of the Lord be your strength”.37

Thought for the day: When you learn to laugh at yourself and your circumstances, healing is not far away.

Prayer: Father, I pray that everyone who reads these words (including myself) will learn to store all the humorous incidents in their lives into the retrieval system of memory. Please help each one to be able to access these ‘files’ on days filled only with clouds and darkness, where humor is not to be found, and when all reason for laughter has fled. Lord, may You illuminate our memories of good times, fun times, so that as we learn to recall them in troubled times our troubles may seem a little easier to bear. Thank you Lord. Amen.

3 3Strong’s

Flowers at Canadale and Waterworks Park Aug. 2010 020

Remember times of laughter

4 4Ibid

5 5Esther 9:17

6 6Matthew 5:12

77Nehemiah 8:10

 

I do hope you have enjoyed all three parts in this series. Please let me know in the comment box below what your thoughts are on this subject. What made you laugh today? Yesterday? I pray this has inspired you to look for the joy in life’s more difficult places and that you will find reason every day to take your daily dose of laughter. Find a friend to laugh with and it will be doubly freeing.

If you haven’t already begun to follow my blog, please check the “Follow” button at the top so you can receive e-mail updates as I post new stories. May God richly bless you every day of your lives.

A DAILY DOSE OF LAUGHTER

PART TWO

Donna Fawcett's writers' group day 008

Be joyful together

Joy is spoken of throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Bible tells us that God Himself joys and rejoices over us.18 The first word “joy” in this verse is translated from a Hebrew word meaning “mirth, pleasure, rejoicing”.19 Yes, God takes pleasure in you. The second, “he will joy over thee”, means “to spin around under the influence of any violent emotion”.20 Can you picture the Lord spinning around because He is overflowing with joy over you? Though it is very difficult to imagine, this is exactly what the scripture says He does. In a similar vein, Luke 10:21 tells us that Jesus “rejoiced in spirit” . This word means “jump for joy, exult, be exceedingly glad”.21 Jesus, jumping for joy? Never! This cuts right across our traditional way of thinking. Perhaps that is exactly what He intended. When we think of Jesus we frequently envision famous paintings we have seen of a very serious, sedate man. He is praying; He is blessing the little children; He is teaching the disciples; He is healing the sick; He is hanging on the cross. Seldom, if ever, has anyone portrayed Him with even a hint of a smile let alone laughter. But leaping up and down? It seems so childish. No one ever painted that kind of picture. The words of poet Edgar A. Guest seem to agree with me as he has expressed his thoughts in his poem.

THE MASTER

They seldom show Him with a smile.

Always His face is sad to see,

As if a jest could never be

Nor He be merry for a while.

The kindly humor that could pat

The brows of boys He chanced to see

And say: “Let children come to me!”

No brush has ever pictured that!

The man who loved a little child

And walked the common ways of men,

Though troubled often, now and then,

With those about Him surely smiled.

I fancy as I read His word

I hear Him chuckling, soft and sweet,

Telling to Mary, at His feet,

Some curious thing He’d seen or heard.

He must have had a twinkling eye,

Which danced at times with gentle mirth,

So greatly to be loved on earth,

So bravely on the cross to die.22

But if Jesus leaps, and if God whirls around in joyous abandon on our account, how much more should we, His children, leap and dance for joy over what He has done for us? Have you watched children jumping up and down because they are excited about something? You just can’t keep them still. Listen to their merry laughter. Learn to praise the Lord with childlike joy and experience a new freedom in the Holy Spirit.

Two other New Testament verses talk about jumping for joy. We find the Philippian jailor

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Be glad and rejoice

rejoicing, jumping for joy, after he and his family had received the gospel message.23 He was extremely happy. Could he have also been laughing? Peter says that we rejoice in the fact that we are kept by the power of God even though we may be going through a place of real heaviness and temptation.24 Jump for joy when everything is going wrong? Impossible, you say. Yet Peter says we should do this very thing. Verse 8 in the same chapter says we “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”. Now, that’s what I call rejoicing! Jumping? Yes, most certainly. Laughing? Definitely. This is the fullness of joy in Jesus.

Even Jeremiah, often called the weeping prophet, knew times of extreme joy.“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”25 This rejoicing means “mirth, pleasure, exceeding gladness, glee, blithesomeness”.26 When you are full of glee, I’m certain you will laugh. The simple knowledge that we are called by the name of the Lord should cause joy to bubble up within us. Have you ever laughed uncontrollably without knowing what you are laughing at? It is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves, body, soul and spirit. Like joy, it is contagious.

The Lord, through the prophet Zechariah, admonishes His people to rejoice because He was coming to dwell among them.27 Who would not brighten up and make merry at God’s announcement that He is coming to live with them? David declares that he rejoiced greatly in the salvation of the Lord.28 What better reason to “spin around under the influence of violent emotion”? When he said “greatly”, he used a word that means “vehemently, wholly, speedily, diligently, utterly”.29 In other words, he put himself completely into the rejoicing. He abandoned himself wholly body, soul and spirit in praise to his God. Remember when David danced before the Lord? It says he danced “with all his might”. It was accepted by the Lord as worship, but he was despised in his wife’s eyes because of his abandon in the dance. There was obviously a serious lack of joy or humor in the life of Michal.30

In Psalms 89:12, 98:4 and 71:23, we find the word rejoice mentioned again. This word is translated from the Hebrew word meaning “to shout, to creak (emit a stridulous sound) for joy, sing aloud, triumph, greatly rejoice”.31 Emit a stridulous sound–could that possibly mean laughter? I believe it could. Isaiah prophesies that the heart (of Israel) shall rejoice” when God’s peace comes like a river and He comes to comfort them.32 That is truly cause for joy.

8 8Zephaniah 3:17

9 9Strong’s

0 0Ibid

1 1Ibid

2 2(From the “Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest” copyright 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Co. Canadian edition 1945.)

3 3Acts 16:34

4 41Peter 1:6

5 5Jeremiah 15:16

6 6Strong’s

7 7Zech. 2:10

8 8Psalm 21:1

9 9Strong’s

0 02 Samuel 6:12-16

1 1Strong’s

2 2Isaiah 66:12-14

Thank you for popping by to read Part “Two of A Daily Dose of Laughter”. I hope you will get your daily dose either from this post or from something in your personal life today. I hope you will come back to read Part Three, the final post in this series. And please, leave a comment in the box at the bottom.

Have a wonderful day. May the Lord richly bless you with joy and gladness, and a daily dose of laughter.

A DAILY DOSE OF LAUGHTER

PART ONE

God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.1

Cuddles 003

A smile-maker

Do you ever see the funny side of life? Or is your life so full of trouble that you have lost the ability to laugh? Is humor appropriate for Christians? Most emphatically! The Bible speaks a great deal about being merry, glad, and full of joy. All through the scriptures we are admonished to rejoice. The Bible also speaks of laughter. While rejoicing may not always be the result of humor, I believe that humor does play an important part in making the heart merry. Laughter is a very powerful instrument in our lives. I cannot imagine being merry and full of joy without it.

Since Solomon repeatedly addresses the issue in the book of Proverbs, we may safely conclude that he experienced times of rejoicing and merriment.“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” 2 Is your heart broken? Perhaps sorrow has become the ruling power in your life. God understands our times of sorrow, but He has not destined us to live in a vale of tears and grief forever. He has made provision for our healing through the blood of Jesus and fellowship with Him. He has deposited His joy within us if we are born again3. The word translated merry in Proverbs 15 means “glad, merry, joyful, making merry”.4 Solomon tells us that “he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” 5 This word “merry” means “ pleasure, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, well-favored”.6 Do you experience pleasure in life, a sweetness, a merry heart? Are you prospering in your spirit? Do you wish to be well-favoured? Feast your heart on good things that will stimulate that merry heart. Take the apostle Paul’s advice and think only on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.7

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” 8 It is a proven

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Making people laugh

fact that people who suffer from serious illnesses have a far greater chance of recovery when they laugh a lot. Solomon knew this centuries ago. The medical profession could have saved itself a great deal of trouble when it sought to prove its theory if these people had simply read the Bible. Those who are bereft of joy and laughter are often victims of depression and various physical ailments. Sometimes their bodies succumb to serious illness. Take precautions to reduce the risk of consequences of this type; be sure to make a place for a daily dose of laughter.

We are told that after the great sacrifice had been made, Solomon “sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” 9 Rejoicing played an important role in the lives of God’s chosen people. When they were obedient and served Him, they experienced joy; when they disobeyed and rebelled against His will, there was no rejoicing. But Solomon wasn’t the only person in the Bible to talk of being merry. In his letter, James admonishes Christians: “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” 10 He knew that a song of praise was an appropriate expression of joy. It also promotes an increase of joy in your life. If you are feeling depressed in spirit, try singing a song of praise. It will do wonders for your disposition. Also spend time in the company of others who are filled with the joy of the Lord. You will find that joy is contagious.

Now, let’s look at laughter in the Bible. Solomon tells us that there is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh.” 11 Obviously there will be times in our lives when laughter is absent because of loss and sorrow, and in times when we have sinned and need to repent. But, as Solomon says, there is a time when laughter is good. This is the laughter of merriment. You cannot make merry in silence. Have you ever tried to hold back laughter when something looked so funny to you but you knew you shouldn’t laugh? Then you know what I mean.

When Jesus taught the people what we now call the Beatitudes, He told them that they who weep now are blessed, for they “shall laugh”. The word here means “to laugh as a sign of joy or satisfaction”.12 Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit whose attributes include joy.13 As Christians, we also have the Holy Spirit within, therefore we have the joy of the Lord. Sometimes it needs to be awakened; sometimes in needs to be stimulated in order to increase. This will happen as we are determined to seek the Lord with all of our hearts. Although we are not told in so many words in scripture, I have no doubt that Jesus laughed. People were attracted to Him, and people are seldom drawn to those who are constantly sombre and humorless.

Though Job’s friends were poor sources of comfort to him in all his trials, they did occasionally make a good point. One of them, Bildad, told Job, “Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing” .14 Here we find laughter directly connected to rejoicing. Bildad knew God well enough to believe a time of joy would follow a time of trouble. The psalmist says that “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.”15 The Israelites had been in captivity for seventy years, and when they were set free, they laughed. They laughed because of the goodness of their God. They laughed because they were released from bondage. We, too, have every reason to laugh. Our God is good to us. He has set us free in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Laughter is defined as “the experience of joy, merriment, amusement or the like”.16 To laugh is “to express mirth, to manifest joy”.17 Joy must be expressed. When laughter is absent from your life, everything will seem dull and drab. The presence of laughter is like sunshine as it bursts through storm clouds. Often we need to change our perspective concerning the things that happen to us on a day to day basis in order to experience the warmth of that sunshine. Let’s look at some hypothetical situations where aggravation and anger could be defused by a little light-hearted laughter.

Your three-year-old just fed the dog the steak you were defrosting for dinner. How will you react? She has also dumped a bag of flour over the dog’s head. Do you see that as funny? ( I use these examples because, many years ago, I knew a family with a young boy who did those very things, among many other antics.) I’m sure your initial instinct would be to get angry and punish the child out of frustration.

Crash! Oh, no! The cat just knocked over your favorite plant and scattered the freshly-watered soil all over the carpet you recently had cleaned. The plant is ruined. And now muddy paw prints criss-cross the cream-colored couch and carpet marking the road to its hiding place behind the chair. How are you going to react? We might have an instant urge to shoot the cat. But, minus the gun, we would at least shout at him, grab him and throw him outside. Some of us would dejectedly sit down in the middle of the floor and cry. Others would be on hands and knees, grumbling, but cleaning up, and probably only spreading the muddy mess further. A good time to pray for patience! How many of us would laugh? Perhaps you think that would be either inappropriate or simply impossible.

Let me tell you a true story, one in which I was the central character. It happened one night about twenty years ago. I attended Bible study at church on Wednesday evenings. On this particular evening, the regular pianist could not be there, so the assistant pastor asked me if I would play. I followed him onto the platform where he showed me which songs he wanted me to play. All was well with that until, without thinking about where I was, I took a step backwards. Of course, my foot met with thin air, my whole body followed and I ended up on my bottom end in a V-shaped position. How, I will never know, but I found myself instantly on my feet. Maybe the Lord sent angels to help in this embarrassing situation. Everyone came running to make sure I wasn’t hurt. But my first instinct was to laugh. I didn’t live that down very soon, especially where one couple was concerned. They, too, loved to laugh and to see the funny side of things. For at least six months, every time I remembered the incident, I burst out laughing. It didn’t matter if I was driving, in bed, alone, or wherever else. The laughter would start. And to ease your minds, no, I did not injure myself. At least, not knowingly. I have since been told by a massage therapist that my tail bone in out of alignment, so that may have been the original cause.

So next time something exasperating occurs in your life, try to see the funny side. It may take some determined effort to search for it. If it is only childish mischievousness that has irritated you, without compromising your discipline of the child, look for humor in the situation. Find a reason to laugh (of course, never in front of the child unless you want him to venture on new escapades worse than these!). How would an outsider react on surveying the scene? Probably with laughter, although she may attempt to conceal her hilarity. Laughter releases tension. Laughter lightens the load. If you can find someone else to laugh with, the release is even more profitable. Try it, and see if you don’t feel better. Remember, nothing ever looks as bad in retrospect as it does when you are in the middle of it. It’s all in the perspective

1 Genesis 21:6

2 Proverbs 15:13

3 See John chapters 15-17

4 Strong’s

5 Proverbs 15:15

6 The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible Thomas Nelson Publishers

7 Philippians 4:8

8 Proverbs 17:22

9 2 Chronicles 7:10

0 0James 5:13

1 1Ecclesiastes 3:4

2 2Strong’s Concordance

3 3Galatians 5:22

4 4Job 8:21

5 5Psalm 126:1,2

6 6The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

77Ibid

I hope you were able to find something to laugh about as you read Part One of this Three-Part article. Please come back to read the next two parts. And if you are not already following me, just click on the “Follow” button at the top and you will receive e-mail notifications for each new post. Try to find something in your own life to laugh about today and stir up the joy of the Lord.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog. I hope you will leave a comment in the box below. I really enjoy reading what my readers think about my stories. You make my day when you leave a comment.

Have a wonderful and joyful week interspersed with times of laughter, preferably with a friend or family member. God bless you.

PULLING OUR CHAINS

P1100602

Granddaughter Clock

The Granddaughter Clock

In my possession is a beautiful hand-crafted replica of an early 20th century granddaughter clock. The elderly gentleman who made it would visit flea markets or antique shops looking for old hand tools which his son would sharpen and recondition to perform as they once had.

This gentleman is a true craftsman. In his eighties when he made this clock, he worked with care and love in a little shop at the back of his yard. I met him when I had a booth at one of the markets he used to frequent. He bought a couple of my father’s old tools and would stand to chat for a few minutes about his clocks.

One day he asked me if I would like one of his granddaughter clocks–no charge! Naturally I said an enthusiastic ‘yes’. A few months went by and I forgot about that conversation. Then came the phone call. My clock was finished and ready to be picked up. He told me to bring something to wrap it in for protection on the way home.

I had never heard of a granddaughter clock and had no idea what it was. In my mind I visualized a clock similar in size to a mantel clock but with a different shape. Great my surprise when I discovered that this clock just barely fit in the back seat of my car (a Toyota Corolla)!

The wood feels like satin. This clock has a quartz movement so does not have to be wound like an original clock, but is nonetheless a wonderful piece of workmanship and has given me a great deal of pleasure.

The Grandmother Clock

Months later this gentleman again called me. He needed a square clock face for his 1700s

P1100601

Grandmother Clock

grandmother clock replica and could not find any to purchase. Could I do the artwork? Of course I agreed. When I called to tell him it was ready, he asked if I had room for one of these clocks. My answer? “I’ll make room!”

Would you believe this man actually wanted to pay me for the artwork? Two beautiful clocks he gave me! How could I accept payment for a couple hours of ‘work’ doing something I love to do? I cannot imagine how many hours he spent creating his pieces of art, cutting, carving, fitting, sanding, staining, applying the final coat of Varethane™, all without the use of power tools. I refused payment, but determined, he purchased something from me that I am certain he had no use for.

This clock is over six feet tall. I was certain I would have to ask someone with a van to go with me to pick it up, but this gentleman had made the clock in three sections which, when put together, look like one continuous piece of furniture. But this clock is different not only in size and appearance. This clock has a pendulum and a bell rings on the hour and half-hour. Evidently chimes had not come into use in clocks in the 1700s. The delicate sound is beautiful.

P1100607

Pendulum and numbered certificate

The weights are old window weights. He fashioned the pendulum from some piece of metal. The movement he purchased from a company in Germany. No detail was left out. No pains were spared as he created his masterpiece.

Pulling the Chains

In order to wind this clock, you must pull the chains on which the weights hang. This must be done every two days to keep the clock going. The problem is that I would forget to pull the chains and the clock then stopped. After a couple of days, sometimes longer, I would realize I had not heard the bell ring for a while, and I once again would pull the chains. Unfortunately, the wooden plugs with the hooks that held the weights in place loosened, and the weights would fall off. I used a product that swells wood, hoping it would be permanent. But that eventually failed, too. I then purchased a couple of mesh bags used for washing delicate clothing, pulled them over the weights, tied them and used the loops to hang on the hooks. Voila! It worked. I could pull the chains, give the pendulum a little nudge and the clock was functioning again. But for some reason I stopped doing this and for several years the clock has simply stood there as a piece of furniture. Last night as I was writing this post I took time out to photograph the clocks and inadvertently knocked the pendulum into gentle motion. I realized the clock was working, so I set the time. I thought no more about it until I sat down in the living room for a few minutes before bedtime. To my surprise, the bell started to ring in the midnight hour. Now I must get into the habit of pulling those chains regularly to keep the clock going.

Mr. Churcher called me one day to ask me what number my clock was. He asked if it was still working. I told him my problem and he said he would make me some new weights. Unfortunately I never heard from him again.

Do you ever need someone to pull your chains? Are you like me, sometimes a little sluggish, not very productive? I need someone to pull my chains, to get me working again. I believe we all need that sometimes. If you don’t have an encourager in your life to do this, I urge you to find someone who will be faithful to do this in a loving and gentle way. At times we need a push, at times we need a hand to help us up to a higher level. But sometimes all we need is a friend to pull our chains. We start steadily ticking again, the bells will ring out and we are back on track running the race for healthy living.

This man was truly an example to all of us. He kept his chains pulled and spent his ‘spare’ time

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Close-up of clock face

creating beauty for others to enjoy. I don’t know if he is still alive, but I will never forget his generosity and his love of craft. Every time I look at the clock, I see him in his workshop, trailed by his Welsh corgi.

So, let’s keep our chains pulled, our clocks ticking and our bells ringing out as we allow something of beauty to be created in our lives that will bring pleasure into the lives of others and glory to the Lord.

P1100608

The description of the clock on the inside of the door.

I hope you have enjoyed my story about the clocks and of the true craftsman who created them then gave them away for free. Although I never saw it, I know he made a grandfather clock and gave it to a nursing home, I believe in Sarnia, Ontario. His generosity and craftsmanship is an example we all should follow.

Though I knew Mr. Churcher would not accept payment for the clocks, I wanted to give him something he couldn’t refuse. So after receiving the first clock, I wrote a poem and used my calligraphy “skills” on parchment as a tribute to him. Below is a photo of a photocopy, so it isn’t really as clear as I would like, but I think you can still read it. One day I quietly put the envelope with the poem inside his front door. Later he called to tell me he had found it. He was delighted. He also told me that his daughter-in-law would receive it when he died as she, too, was a lover of clocks. I also discovered that I knew his daughter-in-law as she worked in a store where I used to purchase product to resell.

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Poem “The Granddaughter Clock”

Please feel free to add a comment with your thoughts in the box below. Your comments mean a lot to me. I appreciate you taking your time to visit. If you are not already following me, please click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications of new posts. I pray your week will be blessed in every area.

WALLS OF BRICK, WALLS OF STONE

A rich man’s wealth is…like a high wall in his own imagination.1

He sets up walls and ramparts for security.2

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Wall of Stone

Walls. They enclose or divide; protect or isolate; include or exclude. Walls create boundaries. We can choose to remain behind, climb over, dig under them, or tear them down. Physical walls in our homes shelter us from the weather, keep out intruders, and give us a sense of security and privacy. They are made of wood, brick, stone, cement and, in some places, mud and straw. Walls are sometimes built for purposes of defense. They also hold back flooding rivers, mark property limits, enclose dangerous animals or people.

Spiritual walls fall into two categories: man-made (walls of brick) or God-made (walls of stone). Brick is a block of clay, usually rectangular, hardened by drying in the sun or by burning in a kiln until hard, and used for building, paving, etc.3 On the other hand, stone is a hard concretion of earth or mineral matter, as lime, silica, or clay.4 In other words, brick is man-made, stone is God’s creation.

God creates walls for our protection. They enclose us, His people, in a safe place.5 They create an atmosphere of community where we may freely fellowship together in Jesus. Within His walls we find acceptance, peace, truth, and all of God’s blessings. We can choose to remain outside His walls, but we will also find ourselves outside of His favor and purpose for our lives. Our heavenly Father desires to gather us into His enclosure where He can shepherd us, care for us, feed us and teach us.

Picture a flock of sheep after a day out in the pasture, as the shepherd leads them into the

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Sheep protected

sheepfold for the night. They trustingly follow their leader. They are assured of peaceful sleep, safe from roving predators, faithfully guarded by their loving shepherd. The wolves may howl, but why should the sheep fear? What if the night is black, no stars are shining, no moonlight illuminates the countryside? The sheep are content to be with their shepherd. It is his responsibility to keep watch. He will risk his life for those sheep. But suppose one sheep refuses to enter the fold? What fate might await this defenseless creature who ignores the possibility of danger? Are we not often like that sheep? We want to be in control, to rely on our own powerless defenses. We raise up temporary walls of brick; God builds for eternity with stone.

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God builds with stone

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ;

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.6

Jesus is the chief cornerstone in the building of God. We, His people, are also living stones. If we are obedient to Him, He will place us into His building, His walls. We are built on a solid foundation. This wall, this building, can never crumble!

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.7

P1100597

Brick wall

But walls of brick are built by people who wish to insulate and isolate themselves and exclude others from their lives. Protecting ourselves from pain becomes a priority. Hidden in the comfort zone behind our walls, our attitude speaks loudly: “I choose my own way, in spite of what others may say!” While locked away in these false sanctuaries, we nurse our hurts, cling to wrong attitudes, persist in our sinful ways and delude ourselves into believing that we have the right to our own choices. We erect walls with bricks made of grudges, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, selfishness, the nurturing of past abuses and rejection. After building the walls, we justify our actions with an attitude of self-righteousness, and create a false sense of security. We deceive ourselves. What we trust is protecting us is actually isolating us from the place of healing in Jesus. We not only barricade ourselves in, we obstruct all attempts of aid from outside. Self-pity, struggling in our own strength, striving for acceptance and love is fruitless and will, in the end, bring despair. Our only hope is to be hidden with Christ within the walls of His fold.

How can we deal with rebellion? We must tear down those walls, dismantle them brick by brick. The power of God is essential for us to accomplish this; He alone can help us overcome every obstacle in our lives. Only Jesus can heal our wounds. When we realize that we are poor and needy, then the Lord can work in us.

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;

That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.8

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.9

Destroy your walls of brick; scatter the rubble to the four winds; flee from your self-made prisons. Be instead a prisoner of Jesus Christ.10 Experience the joyous freedom of being enclosed within God’s stone walls where you are protected by His Holy Spirit, surrounded by His chosen people. Fenced in by His love you can find healing and rest from futile self-effort. Patiently wait for the Lord and see what wonderful things He will do. Remember: we are living stones; we are God’s building. We are the triumphant church of God!

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ… 11

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.12

Thought for the day: Never build your own walls of separation when the Lord is waiting for you to allow Him to be an encompassing wall of protection around you at all times.

Prayer: Father, I pray for all those who have over the years built walls to protect themselves against rejection, hurt, and many other things. Help them to know that these walls, rather than isolating them from further hurt, are really separating them from the process of healing and wholeness in Jesus Christ. Teach them how to destroy those walls. Let them fall like the walls of Jericho, never to be rebuilt again. Help them to release all the hurts, guilt, feelings of rejection, unforgiveness, shame, desires for revenge, refusal to open themselves to the love of others and to Your love. Give them faith to believe You will release them and replace those walls with Your strong walls of love. Father, my heart grieves for those who have been so severely hurt by others that they can see no place of healing. Oh, Lord, reveal Your love to their hearts. Show them just how much You long for them to cast all their cares on You and lean on You for their support. Touch them, Jesus, and make them whole. May they learn to let go of the past and allow You to be their Comforter, their Healer, their Life. Lord fill them with joy. May they find their sole satisfaction in the Savior of their souls. Break every bondage in their lives, and set them free to worship and serve You. Help each one to pray and believe for their own release. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

1 Proverbs 18:11

2 Isaiah 26:1

3 The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language 1972 edition

4 Ibid

5 See Job 1:10

6 1 Peter 2:4-8

7 See Ephesians 2:20-22

8 Psalm 113: 7-9

9 Matthew 5:3

0 0Ephesians 3:1

1 12 Corinthians 2:14

2 2Romans 8:37

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WEEDS IN MY GARDEN

© 2006 by Diane Stephenson

Weeds.

Waterworks Park July 2010 020

Well kept garden

How silently they grow!

Millimetre by millimetre,

Inch by inch

They push their way up through the soil

Until they pierce the earth’s crust

As easily as a hot knife slices through soft butter.

And yet they expend great energies to grow.

They encroach upon sublime loveliness – roses, bluebells, lilies and Sweet William.

They diminish strength, nourishment, beauty, fragrance, life.

Weeds.

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Weeds in my garden

How like the seeds

The enemy sows in our lives.

How silently they grow!

Moment by moment,

Day by day

They push their way up through the soil of our lives

Until they pierce the surface

In angry words, bitter thoughts, jealousies, discord and contentions,

As easily as a hot knife slices through soft butter.

And yet they expend great energies to grow.

They wither our strength, peace, love, joy, goodness, vitality.

They corrupt our prayers, relationships, union with God, our very spirit-life itself.

We need to keep the garden of our life free from weeds. That means we must be diligent to repent of sin quickly so it has no chance to take root. We need to tend the relationships in our lives or they will wither and die. We need to stay in constant communion with the Lord or we will languish in our spirits, souls and possibly our bodies also. We have all the tools to look after our garden: the Word, prayer, the armor of God, weapons of warfare, guaranteed entry into the throne room, a seat in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the Father. We have no excuse for allowing weeds to grow in our garden, yet we often do just that. I want to tend my garden as Jesus tends the garden of my life so it is beautiful for Him and for those around me. How about you?

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I hope you have enjoyed my little poem. I’m glad you dropped by today. I hope you will leave a comment in the box below with your thoughts. Thank you for taking time to come here. Have a blessed day filled with the beauty of a well-tended garden.

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RAMBLINGS OF MY CHILDHOOD

RAMBLINGS ON MY CHILDHOOD

See, I have called by name…I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in…all kinds of craftsmanship.1

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Early ‘tools of the trade’

A roll of toilet paper, a box of Kleenex™, a roll of Scotch™ tape and a five inch doll. What do these items have in common? Well, to most of you, perhaps nothing. But to me, as a young child, they were a large part of my world of creativity. I could take these humble tools and make the prettiest gowns for that doll! As an only child, I spent many hours amusing myself, and they sped by as I cut, taped and dressed that small bit of molded plastic with saran hair.

I was introduced to the crochet hook and a ball of yarn, and with them, a whole new opportunity to expand my creativity. I remember one

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Crochet hook and yarn

particular baby doll. I believe she was called Rosebud. I had a cradle made out of a round salt box, covered with ruffled fabric and lace. This baby, with eyes that actually opened and shut, and arms and legs that moved, fit perfectly in that frilly bed. I crocheted a pink sweater, bonnet,

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Part of that first crocheted outfit for Rosebud

panties and booties, without aid of a pattern. After more than sixty years, I still have part of that imperfect outfit. Ridiculous, the things we save!

By the time I was eight, I had learned to do basic embroidery, or as it was often called back then, fancy work. Mine wasn’t any too fancy, I can assure you. But I was proud of it. I remember showing a small sample one day to my piano teacher. I’m sure I don’t know what she thought of it. I cannot remember, after all these years, what her response was. At any rate, I did learn to embroider very well over time. I even prided

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One of my later embroidery projects

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Back of my work

myself on the neatness of the back of the project as well. I haven’t attempted anything like that in years. I’ve lost all interest, I guess by default, because of the multiple and diverse creative interests I have pursued throughout my life. We have a wonderful Lord who has blessed us with imaginations that can lift us above the mundane into a world of spontaneity that can stretch us to a new level of creative output.

Children have a marvelous sense of creativity that usually diminishes as they grow older. They not only express it with their hands, but they excel in the inventive where games and other play are concerned. When I was a child of six or seven, we played a game called ‘Old Lady Witch’. That was just a fancy name for tag. Whoever was ‘it’ had to tag someone else before they reached the safety of the tree on our front lawn. The world of imagination carried over into ‘visions of the night’. I had nightmares about a witch living next door. Actually the people who lived in that house were very nice. But during the night, they were nowhere to be found, and I had to keep the doors locked and the curtains drawn so this wicked witch wouldn’t know I was home. Then, when I was just about three and a half months short of my eighth birthday, we moved. I never played ‘Old Lady Witch’ again. The nightmares never returned.

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The coat I was wearing when Brian bit me

While still living next to the ‘witch’, I can remember one day when some of the neighborhood children were playing in my friend’s front yard across the street. I felt left out. No one had invited me to play. I didn’t know what they were doing, but I did so want to be part of it. My friend’s older sister eventually crossed the road and asked me to join them. But she had an ulterior motive. They were playing doctor, or hospital, and wanted me to be the patient. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except the patient needed to have an injection. She actually had a large safety pin open and ready to stick into my arm. I think that caused me to suspect something, and, though I don’t remember for sure, I believe I stayed in my own driveway and so managed to escape a puncture wound in my arm.

There was another occasion when I didn’t fare quite so well. It was springtime, and the weather was cool. I was wearing a spring coat that my mother had made for me from a wine-colored woolen fabric. I was maybe about three years old at the time. I wandered over to the neighbor’s house where their grandson was playing. For some unknown reason, he took a notion to bite me. Through the heavy wool fabric, his teeth sank into my arm. How he ever managed to do it, I will never know. Those teeth must have been awfully strong and sharp! I think my mother went to speak to the boy’s mother. If I remember correctly, she denied that her boy had done it, but I had the teeth marks to prove it!

I was ‘blessed’ with twin cousins. The two girls are several years younger than me, and every time they came to visit, I had to hide my belongings if I didn’t want my bedroom turned upside down. Actually, they did do a pretty good job of trying one day. My mother was babysitting them while my aunt went on some errand. I came home from school to find semi-disaster in my room. One of the girls had taken my lipstick, painted her face and turned my beautiful white embossed wall paper into a pink abstract creation. The other was just as bad, but fortunately for me, she took the results home with her. She chopped off her hair and left bangs about a quarter of an inch long. Now I know most kids go through this stage, but they usually do it in their own home. Their mom can’t blame anyone but herself for not watching them carefully. But in a relative’s home? Oh, well, live and learn. You can see they were mischievous. So when they came I would sit and draw pictures for them. For my models I used the cartoons in the Saturday comics. That held their attention. My creativity came to my rescue time and time again, especially when the family arrived unannounced and I had no time to prepare for the onslaught.

By that time I had advanced from making toilet paper wardrobes for my dolls to one of the great loves of my life–drawing. The cartoons progressed into portraits. For subjects, I used pictures in magazines. The Christmas I was in Grade ten, I received a set of oil paints. My first attempts were, not to be too critical of my inexperience, not very good. But I didn’t give up, and eventually improved considerably. Of course, I never attained the level of a Rembrandt or Gainsborough. I was ‘commissioned’ a number of times in later years to do a few portraits, usually children and pets, and I painted some pleasant landscapes. In grade 8 our teacher, Miss Doherty, assigned us a project to write and illustrate a short book. That was probably my first effort at writing. Perhaps it was a time-release catalyst for what I am doing today. I cannot remember if I enjoyed it or not. That was a long time ago. But the joy of creating at any time was of far more value than can be calculated. I only regret that I have no time for painting today.

Front cover, title page and first chapter of my first book

 

My childhood ramblings must stop before they end up being reminiscences of my adulthood as well. The creativity that started when I was very young continued to grow and expand until it became, in the form of graphic arts, my living for many years. So if you have a child that shows curiosity, imagination, and creativity in any venue, encourage them to follow their whims and dreams. That may be just the beginning of a future career. Give them freedom to express themselves with pencils, paper, paint, fabric, or other craft materials. Read to them and encourage them to read for themselves. Help them to find new worlds in books. Allow them to experiment with writing, poetry, anything that will teach them to use and expand their minds.

Though I spent a lot of hours amusing myself, and was sometimes lonely, I didn’t sit around wishing for a different existence. I took the tools at hand and put them to good use. In my first efforts there was not much that would cause anyone to suspect my future might be wrapped up in what I was doing. But as I was allowed to continue testing different methods of creativity, I eventually taught myself many things that brought much satisfaction and joy in my adult years. I have moved on from many of these areas today, and now spend a lot of my spare hours, and many that are not so spare, in following my inspiration painting words on a page. It has been worth every effort, every failed experiment and every successful attempt. It’s called maturity. I think.

Flowers, Waterworks Park, Gibbons Park Spring 2010 045

Even a small river is important

Thought for the day: Never despise the little things in life. The smallest stream can grow into a mighty river if it is not hindered in its flow.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that You would help Your children to perceive every talent You have invested in them, even the tiniest. Help us not to overlook the gifts You have given to us. I pray that every gift will be put to its fullest use in order that it may produce the thirty, sixty or the hundredfold harvest. Father, help Your people never to say that their abilities are too small to be of use. Let us never overlook what can be done even with a roll of toilet paper. Help us to come to You with the faith of a little child and to trust You to take everything, small or large, that we do and through it bring glory to Your name. Reveal Your will and Your ways to us, Lord. Jesus, I choose to use all You have given to me and leave the outcome to You. You know the beginning from the end. I only see the beginning and perhaps part of the middle. I believe You will use my smallest efforts for the furthering of Your kingdom, Lord. Help me to be faithful. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

1 Exodus 31:2-5

I hope you have enjoyed my story for today and the accompanying photos. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope you will leave a comment in the box below and let me know your thoughts on this post. If you are not already following me, please click on the “Follow” button at the top and you will receive e-mail notifications when I publish new posts. Have a wonderful day. God bless.