Monday, October 15, 2007

No second-guessing allowed

It's easy to second-guess what we've said about Jesus to our unbelieving family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, especially if the response is negative or there's no response at all. Jesus told the disciples specifically not to do this. In Matthew 10 He said: "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up do not worry about how or what you should speak."

Paul is a good example of someone who was a good spur-of-the-moment witness. When he talked to the people of Athens, he brought up the "Unknown God" inscription he had seen when strolling through the city to segue into the subject of Jesus (Acts 17). When he talked to Felix he spoke of "sin, righteousness and judgement" (Acts 24). Before Agrippa and Bernice he told his story (Acts 26).

If he mulled over these encounters later with thoughts of "Why did I say that and not this?" and "What was I thinking of when I brought that up?" he shouldn't have. For I believe he was a fulfillment of what Jesus said would happen. God gave him ideas and words for each occasion. All he had to do was be obedient, open his mouth and let those words come out, then leave the results with God.

I want to be more tuned to that kind of witnessing -- the kind that refuses to fret and stew over what to say but trusts that God will supply the ideas and the words. Then, instead of over-thinking myself into silence, I want to actually open my mouth and express those ideas, say those words.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Live in light

I eschew any sneakiness in you. Don't adapt yourself to the climate of the age, which seeks to put one past the rules or laws of the land. Resist falsehood so there is no chink for Satan to get a foothold in you.

Be light yourself in a childlike, transparent way.

God is light; in Him is no darkness at all - 1 John 1:5

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Feeling confused

On browsing the blogs of some children’s book editors yesterday, I began feeling overwhelmed, somewhat directionless, down on myself for not being more focused, and even – confused? Yes a little. This morning I felt this check in my spirit:

Did I tell you to go there? Are you getting direction from Me or from common sense and the industry? Stay close to Me. Stick on the path right on My heels – and I will surely lead you to the next thing, and the next, and the next…

"A man's heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps."
- Proverbs 16:9

Friday, June 01, 2007


Practice My presence. Review what I am to you. Remind yourself that I am with you … as you read emails, blog, consider your day, plan your day, water your flowers, care for your home, talk with your family.

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways."
Psalm 139:2,3

Thursday, May 31, 2007

God Calling -- me?

For my birthday recently, my sis gave me a copy of the devotional God Calling, by Two Listeners, edited by A.J. Russell. Each day’s devotion consists of a short message –
from God. As Russell explains in the ‘Introduction’:

Not one woman, but two have written this book; and they seek no praise. They have elected to remain anonymous and to be called “Two Listeners.” But the claim which they make is an astonishing one, that their message has been given to them, today, here in England, by the Living Christ Himself.

Having read their book I believe them.

I do not of course believe that He whispered to them all that He intends to say to this generation. But I am confident that He opened their eyes to many things which they and this generation greatly need to know.

I do not believe in the verbal inspiration of this or any book. But I do believe that these two women have been led and that much of what is written is very clear leading indeed.

I too am amazed at how ‘right on’ this book feels with the tone of the Bible and the personality of Jesus. And these writings have challenged me to listen for myself. So in the next while, I am going to record here, what God says to me. I have decided to cast these messages in first-person, just as the Two Listeners did. Forgive me if that sounds presumptuous or like some extra-biblical stuff. It isn’t meant to be. Rather I choose to do it that way to give the sense of immediacy and the personal that addressing one in first-person gives. (In fact if anything I say here doesn’t line up with Scripture, I’d be happy to be put straight.)

God Calling me – May 31, 2007

Don’t try to organize what I’ve taught and am teaching you in these morning times. Just soak them in, one lesson at a time. Each day’s teaching is for that day. As you marinade your mind in My truths, you are slowly being changed. Your outlook is changed. Whom you seek to please is changed. Don’t feel you have to systematize it; I will do that in My own way.

"Whom will He teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little."
- Isaiah 28:9,10

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Which weather are you watching?

If you haven’t noticed all the “sky is falling” rhetoric about global warming, which has risen from a low rumble to an ear-splitting din in the past few months, you’re probably from another planet. People have observed signs – a thinning of the ozone layer, a gradual but noticeable rise in temperature, the increase of erratic weather events – and have come up with all kinds of postulations.

The fallout from this is even beginning to affect me. I’m routinely paying fees to dispose of the stuff I buy, from juice boxes to bug spray. The object that lights my world through more hours than I care to admit – the incandescent light bulb – is on the way out, apparently illegal in Canada by 2012. I’m even starting to feel guilty when we drive the car somewhere just for fun (not too, though; we still do it).

I’m certainly not a scientist or a student of these things. I watched the “Great Global Warming Swindle” and couldn’t help but think that yes, the theory of sun activity affecting climate change made more sense than the theory of greenhouse gas emissions. Even so, my opinion counts for nothing and since I’m a citizen of a society which is on board with the latter, I must comply with its demands.

I was reminded of all this, this morning when I read about Jesus commenting on weather forecasters (Luke 12:54-56). He acknowledged how good the people were at watching for signs in the sky back then too, and making accurate predictions about the weather ahead. Then he called them “Hypocrites!”

Why hypocrites, I wonder. Could it be because they thought their astuteness with weather made them wise and able to prepare to for whatever the future held? But instead, Jesus told them they were ignoring the signs in a whole realm of reality – spiritual reality – and their wisdom was fake.

We aren’t so different. We take ourselves so seriously and are ever so earnest about saving the physical planet, all the while ignoring signs in the spiritual sky. Look at Matthew 24:4-14 for example.

4Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error].

5For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.

6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.

7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;

8All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].

9Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.

10And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.

11And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.

12And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,

13But he who endures to the end will be saved.

14And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end.

- Amplified

Are you seeing some of these signs? I am. Looks like the beginning of spiritual ‘global warming’ to me!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Everybody is I

"The journey only took twelve minutes, but on this occasion that was long enough for a startling new truth to penetrate my ten-year-old consciousness so profoundly that it has affected almost everything I have done since that day.

As I sat on the front seat of the big green Maidstone and District bus, a sixpenny bit and a penny clutched in my hand ready for the conductor, a phrase I had read earlier repeated itself over and over in my mind.

“Everybody is I.”

For some reason I sensed an important inner core of meaning in the words. But I was unable to dig it out.

Everybody is I... Everybody is I ...

Suddenly I stiffened. Body erect, hands flat on the ledge of the window, I pressed my forehead against the glass and stared in amazement at the crowds on the pavement below. The true meaning of those three simple, but puzzling words had exploded into my mind, destroying the illusion that I was the center of the universe, and leaving me to cope, for the rest of my life, with a burden of knowledge. Every one of those people down there in the street, walking the pavements, driving cars, waiting for buses – every single one, whatever they were, whatever they looked like, whatever I thought of them, were as important to themselves as I was to myself!

I shook my head trying to clear it of this incredible notion. Everybody is I ... That funny, bent old lady with the mouth drooping on one side – she mattered, she was vital – central. The bus conductor who had interrupted my mental churning earlier; he wasn’t just a bit player in my world. He was the star in his own. He had a head full of thoughts and feelings; a life inside him; he was the reason that the earth went on turning. My own father and mother, my brothers, aunts, uncles, all my friends – all were “I”. Everybody was I, and at that moment I was somehow aware that I would probably never learn a more important lesson."

– Adrian Plass, from Growing Up Pains

I thought of this bit from Adrian Plass this morning when I read the words of Jesus in Luke 6:41,42. It’s where He exposes people who find fault with others for doing the same things they’re doing themselves, as hypocrites.

I wonder if part of our problem with specks and planks – things like complaining how people in church are unfriendly, but being standoffish ourselves, whining about bad drivers but bending the rules ourselves, all that hypocritical stuff – doesn’t have its roots here. Perhaps we’ve never learned the lesson that 10-year-old Adrian learned that day. We still think and act like we’re the center of the universe, and behave with great indulgence toward our egostically centered selves to boot.

I know I’ve been guilty. I need to grow up. Otherwise, how will I ever be able to obey that most unhypocritical command of Jesus just a few verses earlier: “And just as you want men to do to you, you do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31)?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over

"Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." - Jesus, Luke 6:38

Who doesn’t salivate at Jesus' word picture of abundance? Yes, bring it on!

But I wonder how often I don’t recognize the abundance I already have.

We have an abundance of food in our freezer and a well-stocked pantry

We have an abundance of books (this bookshelf x about 5).

I have an abundance of clothes.

We have an abundance of good memories in shelf-fulls of photo albums and many more photos in boxes and on computer disks.

We have an abundance of CDs (these are just the ones in my office).

I have an abundance of pens, pencils and paper.

I have an abundance of Bibles (many more than this!)

You get the picture?

I think this "good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over" has already hit me in many areas of my life. I’d better have an abundance of thanks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Saturday afternoon driving into Vancouver, we again passed the site, in front of the Chinese Consulate, where for five years Falun Gong members demonstrated against the Chinese Government. They were protesting the persecution of their brothers and sisters China.

The city tried to shut down the protest last summer. Thus people no longer sit and stand there 24/7 as they used to. But there are still posters and banners. As we sped by, I caught sight of a woman’s face on a poster, emaciated and bruised, hair a mess, eyes filled with pain. And I thought of how much she looked like pictures of persecuted Christians I have seen.

This morning when reading Jesus’ woes in Luke 6: “Woe to you who are rich....Woe to you who are full....Woe to you who laugh now....Woe to you when all men speak well of you....” I thought of my rich, full, accepted life, and what a contrast is the life of Christians in places where persecution is the norm. And I also thought of that Falun Gong protest site.

It was not my choice to be born in Canada – a land of tolerance and plenty. But I do have other choices. One of them concerns what to do about my persecuted brothers and sisters in India and Uzbekistan and Pakistan and China and Myanmar and Thailand etc. etc. Like the Falun Gong, should I consider making myself a little uncomfortable and unpopular by protesting against governments that deal oppressively with Christians and which my country supports with respect and trade? That monument of their dedication on Granville Street is a rebuke to me.

At the very least, I know I should pray regularly for my persecuted brothers and sisters. For if I don’t take some of their present woe on myself in this least (and perhaps most) thing I can do – intercession – I can consider myself warned. Jesus said someday the tables would be turned:

“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you and cast out your name as evil....For your reward is great in heaven (Luke 6:20-23).

Don’t know what’s happening to Christians around the world? Check out:

WorldServe Ministries

Voice of the Martyrs

Persecution blog

Monday, March 26, 2007

Did Jesus make lists?

That's the question that came to me this morning as I was thinking about the day ahead and the list of things I’d like to get done. List-making has always been for me an efficiency tool or self-check guide to focus me and help me make sure I’m staying on-task. As such, though, lists can easily rule me, making me resistant to serendipity and interruption.

Jesus, on the other hand, comes across as a very anti-list person, the way He drifted from incident to incident – one day in Galilee, another in Capernaum, then Bethany, then Jerusalem – with seemingly no plan or agenda but to do His Father’s will.

And then this morning, just after thinking about Jesus and lists I came to the place in Luke where He made one! Yes indeed, in Luke 6:12-15 Jesus comes to His flock of followers one morning with a list of twelve people He’s picked to be disciples. Though I’m sure he didn’t make His list because He was in a panic, feeling overwhelmed, or wouldn't otherwise remember (more reasons I make lists), I imagine He had one reason in common with mine -- His time was limited. He had lots to get done and needed to focus His efforts.

But there is also a big difference between Jesus’ list-making and mine, and that is what He did while He was making that list: He “continued all night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12. Now there’s a novel thought – praying over my lists. Presenting them to God and letting Him strike out some items and add others to my to-do list, prayer list, grocery list, list of people I’d like to have over, books I want to read, things I’d like to do before I die ...

I’m definitely a list person, though I must admit that more than once I’ve questioned the lists I’ve made because they so easily spin me off into my own little agenda. But if Jesus made lists surely it’s okay for me to make them too – as long as I don’t forget to invite Him to be part of the process. Oh, and I just thought of a way to shake off the tyranny of any list that thinks it's the boss. I'll make sure that "serendipity" and "interruption" are always on the list!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Sent One

It hit me yesterday that when Isaiah answered *"Here am I, send me" to God’s question "Whom shall I send and who will go for us?" he didn’t even know what he was volunteering for. It was only after he’d signed up that he got the job description.

In a way that’s scary and anti-common sense - giving God carte blanche to give us whatever assignment He chooses. Does this mean it’s out the window with yearly goals and five-year plans and adjusting our present course by the life we envision for ourselves life ten years from now? As I remember Oswald Chambers saying, when you’re absolutely His, your life may make no sense to you, let alone to others.

But neither do we need to live tentatively.

God engineers everything; wherever He puts us, our great aim is to pour out a wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. "Whatever thy hand findeth to do , do it with all thy might."

- Oswald Chambers.

* Isaiah 6:8

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thinking About Riches

And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:24

I was thinking about this little verse this morning and pondering, why would Jesus say that. It’s as if He’s saying that being rich and entering the Kingdom of Heaven are opposites.

If that’s true, it’s not an insurmountable problem. Jesus said later, “With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible”. But on mulling it over, I wonder if the mindset necessary to focus on getting riches and the mindset of entering, then living in the Kingdom don’t clash in a basic way. A goal to get and keep riches doesn’t exactly jive with some Kingdom must-haves like dependence on God, humility, being carefree, having a relaxed grip on material stuff, a mind set on eternal things.

Even though I’m not rich, at least not by western standards, I’m squirming and thinking, I guess you don’t have to be head-turningly rich to have a rich man’s camel bulk.

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