Monday, August 30, 2010

Take This In

There is a lot bombarding us every day as Christians. I can't be the only one who sees it. We're called to go out into the world to share the gospel, to be salt and light, to not stay holed up in our own little groups, guarding the gift of salvation as if it were the last food ration to be had amongst starving people. (Ooooh, I need to give myself a kick in the butt and get out there more myself!)

But before I go off on a rabbit trail, I don't know about you but I can't shut off all the accompanying noise in the world I'm in daily but not of (John 17: 14-16). There is a lot out there – music, books, movies, television shows and the like. There is a lot that can easily be avoided. And sometimes we know all the ways to avoid things, yet still make stupid choices. Other times there is stuff that is mostly good, with bits of garbage to wade through as well. It can be crazy and distracting, to say the least. Even frustrating.

So what can we do? Is there a magic pill or an easy 5-step program to follow to help us be in this crazy world, be salt and light, and not fall prey to its, well, mess?

Oh, there is!

First off, this personally encouraged me a great deal when I read it this morning:

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all
the day;
For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.
~ Proverbs 23:17-18 (NKJ)

I was also thinking about the different times I've heard how we're to encourage one another as Christians to keep the faith, keep doing the right things, to keep on running this marathon race we're in called life. This in turn got me to thinking about the word 'encourage'.

Encourage is a verb made up of the prefix 'en' and the noun 'courage'. We're all familiar with what courage is -- according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (very cool, by the way) it is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty”.

Now what about the prefix 'en'? I wasn't really clear on what it added to the word courage, so I decided to some digging. Again, according to Merriam-Webster, when it is added to a noun and subsequently forms a verb (as is the case with 'encourage'), it means one of two things: cause to be put into or onto, cover with, go into or onto

Think about it. When you encourage someone, you are causing them to be courageous. You're putting courage into or onto them, and even covering them with courage! Wow!

It really makes me read the following passage from Hebrews in a new light:
My friends, watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called "today." If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let's hold tightly to our faith until the end.
~Hebrews 3:12-14 (CEV, emphasis added)

So while we're in this world, yet not of it, lets look for those we can put some courage into today and also take in what we ourselves need.

Monday, August 23, 2010


It is sort of amazing, in a way, how simply overhauling one's eating habits can affect one's entire routine.

Take my husband and I for example. Our mornings usually consisted of us sleeping as long as possible before he would head out the door for work, breakfast in hand, and I would go about my morning as I ate breakfast on the go before starting my job in the afternoon.

But now that we're on a new diet with an emphasis on smaller, more frequent meals with lots of fresh veggies and fruit, we now have breakfast together. And I'm up earlier to make what he can eat during the workday. Then today I had to pop out and get *more* groceries so this evening we can easey-peasey head out to the family camp our church is having over the next 4 days. So this meant not much time for writing, not much yet being added to my pedometer count (it's a work-related fitness challenge), and a really quick writing session because if I don't do it now, well . . .

It's sort of crazy, isn't it?

And in a way, when God asks us to change things it can have the same, far-reaching ripple effect. Take Matthew 22:35-40 (NLT):

One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

On the surface, they look simple enough and maybe even easy. But take a moment and think of the far-reaching effects to be had in your life, in the lives of those around you, and in your community if you really, truly lived these commandments out. It would be something great, to be sure.

So lets do it. Lets get a good ripple effect going.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Something . . . Perfect

“Age wrinkles the body.
Quitting wrinkles the soul.”
~ Douglas MacArthur

I was thinking about this, that 'n' the other (I won't bore you with the details), while wondering what to write for an overdue entry here. (About that, read the beginning of the sentence.) And I was reminded of something I had jotted down awhile ago in the Notes section of my iPhone.

Here's the story:

Back in June I was reorganizing some stuff in my office and realized I needed something to help me better organize my pens, office odds 'n' ends, and a growing collection of sticky notes. I went to Office Depot, Staples, Chapters and Wal-Mart, hoping to find the perfect thing or at the very least, something decent for a really good price. Nothing I saw was what I had in mind.

Wait . . .

I didn't even really have anything in mind. When asked by my husband what I was looking for I replied “I'll know when I see it.”

Not exactly helpful, I know, but that was the thing – I didn't know what I was looking for exactly. What I did know was what I hadn't seen it yet. I also discovered I wasn't willing to settle for something just because it was 'cheap' or because 'it would do'. So in somewhat of a last-ditch effort when I was in London Drugs looking for a few other things, I checked out their small stationary section, where I came across this (mine has one less drawer):

It didn't even take ten seconds for me to know this was it. It holds my pens and sticky notes and paper clips and odds 'n' ends. In other words, it was exactly what I was looking for -- just in a place I was not expecting it to be.

And aren't answers to prayer often the same way? (Unless I'm the only one who has preconceived ideas of how my prayers should sometimes be answered. Nah, that can't be it!) I mean, even in the Bible we see people expecting things to happen one way and go in another direction entirely (or so it seems to the people praying).

Take Jesus' arrival on the Earth. A King was born. One who would rescue ransomed Israel. Bring hope and freedom to the world. That was what the prophets were saying, right? And wasn't that what the people were praying for? Hoping for?

Yet there are those who missed Him. He was not born in a luxurious palace. There was no room in any inn in Bethlehem, so He was born in a stable. He did not come with a host of heaven's armies to do battle against Israel's oppressors. He came with commandments to “love God with all you are, with all you got” and “treat other people the way you want to be treated”. He spoke of troubles and peace, loss and life, of being free and following Him.

Not exactly the big, powerful, 'gonna kick some bad guy butt' that people may have been hoping for at that point in time.

But many people have answered His call and chosen to follow Him in all the years since then. They haven't always known what they were looking for . . . yet they knew when they saw Him that He was it, knew that knowing Him was what they needed most in their lives. And as they got to know Him, read their Bibles and received solid teaching and prayed, well, they have found His answers. If they paid attention. Because God's answers don't always come in the places or ways or manners in which we expect them to . . . or want them too.

And sometimes we don't know the answer until we see it. But when we do, well . . . we know it's perfect.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well . . .

. . . the plan has been to do a new post every Monday. Last week that didn't work out very well as I was on vacation (in lovely Fernie, British Columbia!), though I did update later in the week. However, it all seems to have left me a little dry/uninspired for today. I'm really trying to not repeat myself either, so on that note look for something 'new-new' next Monday!

Thank you for your patience!