Friday, 29 December 2017

Affirmation #184 by Susan L.

  I am a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." NKJV
  "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" JCB

  There's something wonderful about new. A baby sleeping in her mother's arms following the rigors of birth. A never-before-opened book that smells of ink. Christmas pajamas. A freshly laundered soft and cozy sweater. The glint of a golden sun first thing in the morning. And yes, a fresh blanket of snow that reveals traces of a hidden world: the bunny that lives somewhere around here.
  But cynicism has worked its way into my heart. The constant commercial bombardment of "new and improved" is rarely proven true. New this. New that. The miracle cleaner. The miracle age eradicator lotion. The latest in exercise technology. The toothpaste with the new claim that it repairs tooth enamel when a few months ago, the same company's ads for the same product proclaimed that tooth enamel couldn't be repaired. (I think the marketing department should have thought that one through a bit better.)
  "New" has lost its lustre. "New" is regarded with scepticism and downright suspicion.
  Hmmm, this blasé attitude about "new" isn't something specific to our modern culture. It's been around a long time.
  Look at how Jesus was regarded by many when He rocked the status quo with His New Covenant of promise, grace, acceptance and love for all who would believe.
  With Jesus, "new" is eternal and constant. It's the real deal.
  It's those breathless moments when an often read Bible verse leaps from the pages rich with fresh understanding. It's the realization that what has happened in the past doesn't matter. It's the joy found in a worship song that touches the heart in ways it's never been touched before. It's the anticipation of what lies ahead.
  It's being remade, restored.
  It's knowing that each day dawns as a new beginning, a new chance to be better than I am. Thanks to the grace and loving kindness of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

I am New Born. 1 Peter 2:2-3 by Susan L.

  "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." NKJV
  "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness." JCB

  A child broke a basement window when a baseball went awry. Expecting to be punished for being careless, instead, dad gives a chuckle and shares he had done the same thing when he was a boy.
  "Let's clean this up together," he says. "Then we'll measure the frame and head out to get a new piece of glass. You can help me put it in."
  The child's heart spirals up to the heavens at the reprieve. When dad hands his beloved child a large pair of time worn work gloves to protect young fingers from the jagged glass, the light of grace and kindness blasts dread and fear back into the shadows.

  God's Word is a window into His heart.

  There isn't much more to say except to give thanks for this amazing gift.


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

I am New. Ephesians 4:24 by Susan L.

  "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." NKJV
  "Put on your new nature, created to be like God--truly righteous and holy." JCB

  I have always loved this passage because of the idea of putting on a new man. Or woman in this case. It speaks of God's grace in action. It speaks of His gentle way. It speaks about our own place in a relationship with Jesus.
  Yet...I wonder...Is the new man actually the one God predestined us to be? New to us but familiar to God?

  I find the story of Lazarus partners this scripture nicely. When Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, when He called him back to life, Jesus asked those gathered to remove his grave cloths.
  To find the new man, we must remove the grave cloths (or have others help us) that keep us from living true to the life God has blessed us with.
  What are grave cloths made of? The spiritual ones that cloak our true selves?

  Generations of half truths or misconceptions disguised as truth silently, or not so silently, handed down from father to son, mother to daughter. (Lord forgive me for doing the same.)
  There's cultural influences in there, too. Hmm, there's a lot of those. Simply living in a patriarchal society has had an impact on my own understanding of womanly worth. (Forgive me for perpetrating those ideas, too.)

  Grave cloths are layered. Some cover our hearts. Or hands. Or minds.
  I imagine Lazarus had to squint a bit in the brilliant sun once his eyes were unwrapped. Was Jesus the first person he saw clearly? Can you imagine his joy?
  I often wonder how this experience changed Lazarus. Did he become kinder? More loving? More forgiving? More hopeful? More dedicated to Jesus? To God? Did he put on a new man following his rebirth from the grave?
  Questions, questions and more questions!

  I give thanks, Lord, that putting on the new man is an ongoing process. Teach me to wear her well so I may glorify You. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

I am Never Forsaken. Hebrews 13:5 by Susan L.

  "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" NKJV
  "Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.'" JCB

  The new translation feels a bit pale against the language in the older version of this Scripture. Covetousness, envy, covers more than money alone. The Old Testament commandment is specific: 'Thou shalt not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife or his male servant, or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbour." Exodus 20:17
  Jesus came to put the law aside. In its place is the New Covenant. In Christ, the ten commandments become the ten promises. How?
  Because of love.
  It means we can celebrate and give thanks for how the Lord has blessed our neighbours. In doing that, it helps build appreciation for how the Lord has blessed each of us in unique and special ways.
  It may not be the big house on the hill or the Humvee but our blessing may be the gift of teaching or organizing or working with children.
  However, it is much easier said than done.

   I've been checking out snow blower prices in the weekly flyers, watching for one to become affordable. The Farmer's Almanac has promised a snowy winter. While shovelling snow for the second time already.. I wished...I did some financial wrangling in my head...I bargained and schemed...
  My neighbour fired up a new, monster snow blower. It roared and rumbled. It mercilessly fired snow twenty-five-thirty-five-feet-in-the-air.
  It was far bigger than anything I'd ever want to use! In fact, I looked down my nose at how big it was. Still, I was jealous and resentful as I evil-eyed the remaining sixty-five feet of my own driveway yet to be cleared while his driveway was done in no time!
  It's not very pretty is it?
  Envy never is.
  Once he finished, he came, unasked, and finished mine in about four passes after sharing the blower had come from his parents who no longer needed it. His generosity and thoughtfulness brought tears to my eyes. They weren't only tears of gratitude but shame for my mean thoughts.

  Yesterday dawned an extra white Christmas which meant breaking out the shovel again before heading down for a celebratory feast at my parent's place. It must have snowed more up north during the afternoon because when I came home, once again, he'd blown out the driveway.
  The Lord has chosen to bless my neighbour. Despite my uncharitable thoughts and feelings, my neighbour has blessed me. How can I remain envious when his boyish delight and joy in the man-sized-monster-machine makes me happy for him?
  How can I be resentful when the Lord has provided above and beyond what was my heart's desire? Not only is there a snow blower to help out once and a while but it comes with a driver!
  I don't presume to expect he will be able to help me every time it snows. I wouldn't ask it of him but I sure appreciate the help when it comes.
  Thank You, Lord, for Your forgiving heart, Your grace, and Your provision in all things.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

I Am Near to God. Ephesians 2:13 by Susan L.

  "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." NKJV
  "But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ." JCB

  I think of traditional wedding vows, how they proclaim love's promise, "To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

  And I am stuck. My brain is flying off in a gazillion directions this morning. It's been a morning of type then delete so I may as well surrender.

  All I can say is that the love of Jesus surpasses all things of this world and beyond.

  I won't be posting tomorrow so I want to wish my readers around the world a Very Merry Christmas.



Saturday, 23 December 2017

I am Named. Isaiah 43:1 by Susan L.

  "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.'" NKJV
  "But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, 'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine." JCB

  The massive upsurge in genealogy research, in DNA testing, in discovering roots reveals something about human nature. We need to know our place in the grand scheme of time. We need to know how our lives fit in. We need to know how we are connected to the rest of the people on the planet.
  It's a social comment about the human need to belong.
  The devil will make sure we sell our souls to be included, to feel that we are part of something. We will deny our selves. We will lie to ourselves. We will cry to ourselves in the wee hours of the morning because of the emptiness in life.
  We try and fill the void with things of this world.

  I had DNA testing done. As an adopted child, I was curious about my roots. The company still sends me emails when a new relative is found. A someone who is linked through the foundation of our being: our DNA. It's been a while since I've checked the site, but it has given me a list of around 2000 cousins. Just knowing they are there is enough to satisfy the reasons I had the testing done in the first place...
  Belonging longing.

  And God says, "You are Mine."
  That's not just our heart or mind or physical presence. That's not just our thoughts or actions or choices. That's not just our faith or our unique abilities. It's not any one single thing that belongs to Him. It's everything. It's the whole package. Right down to the DNA finger print He placed in our cells when He created our being at the dawn of time.

  Christmas can be one of the loneliest seasons of the year when the belonging longing is felt most strongly. As families gather, isolation can be keenly felt. Even by those surrounded by others.
  I invite my readers to think about the birth of Jesus, the Great Outsider, who rocked the world with His message of love and connection. I invite my readers to explore the idea that He was born so that every single person in the planet could come home to His Father.
  And maybe, just maybe, you can take a chance on being part of His family by inviting His Son into your life. And maybe, just maybe, you will realize that you have never been alone.


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Mark 11:22-23 by Susan L.

  I am a mountain mover.
  "So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." NKJV
  "Then Jesus said to the disciples, 'Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, "May you be lifted up and thrown in to the sea," and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart." JCB

  So why aren't prayers answered or mountains moved?
  What are the stumbling blocks?
  Jesus makes it clear that doubt is the biggest reason.
  Yet, when I think of Moses, he did miracles. He moved the sea.
  Hold on. His miracles happened because he was obedient to God's commands and set his ego aside for God to perform His wonders through him in front of thousands of witnesses.
  Years ago, as a brand new, rather obnoxious, Christian, I stood beneath a shower head that dripped constantly. I was eager to try the power of prayer on everyone, everything and anything. (The dead mouse, attempted resurrection happened around this time as well.) I prayed hard over that drip, commanding it to cease dripping. I fully expected it to stop because I'd prayed in the name of Jesus over it with all the enthusiasm of a televangelist.
  It didn't stop dripping.
  I had a good laugh at myself. Moses I wasn't!
  I should have called a plumber.

  Is faith in God's plan for our lives the foundation for answered prayers? As Jesus said in Gethsemane, "Your will, Father, not mine."
  Or maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Sometimes prayers are based on what we think we want, what we think is best. Maybe pride is another one of those stumbling blocks.
  Maybe our Santa Claus culture confuses the understanding of answered prayers.

  I can proclaim to the world God has answered my own prayers time and again. A few days ago, He showed me why I was afraid to be happy. He revealed how the world had twisted His truth.
  Lord, my heart swells with gratitude when I think of all the things you have blessed me with in this earthly realm and in the spiritual realm as well. I also give thanks that You help me laugh at my own foolishness.

  Sometimes I think we are blind to answered prayers. We, me included, don't even realize they've been answered. It's only in hindsight we fully understand that mountains have moved after all.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Affirmation #177 by Susan L.

  I am a minister of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
  "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling us to the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to the word of reconciliation." NKJV
  "And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation." JCB

  And we are told the same thing over and over again through various stories in the Bible. I think of Paul and how he persecuted the Christians until the Lord brought him into Himself. And Peter, who denied the Lord three times yet became one of His most devoted followers and teachers before being put to death for his faith.
  I often think of Judas when I am reminded of the great grace of God. I ponder the events that may have happened. What would have taken place had Judas not taken his own life once he realized what the Pharisees had in store for the Lord? Would the resurrected Jesus have talked with him about what happened? About his choices? Would He have forgiven him? Was Jesus sad that Judas never gave Him the opportunity to pour out His love on a lost and confused man? Yet...Jesus had given permission for Judas to do what he was going to do knowing full well what that meant.
  When Judas tried to give back the silver to the Pharisees and they refused, did Judas take full responsibility for the events that unfolded? Events which led to the resurrection of Jesus in all His glory! Did this let the Pharisees absolve themselves of any responsibility for the death of Christ? Just like Pontius Pilate did?
  When Christians malign Judas or the Pharisees or Pontius Pilate, does this go against the heart of God? The Greatest Story Ever Told wouldn't have happened without them.
  Paul's conversion from persecutor to humble servant is point and proof that the Lord has a place in His heart for everyone.
  All we have to do is let Him in.

  I think the biggest part of reconciliation is knowing when to say you are sorry. I think being a minister of reconciliation is teaching others the value of saying, "I am sorry." It's putting down another common expression, "Love is never having to say you are sorry." Love is admitting when you've been wrong.
  It's important to own our choices. Although, I want to add, choices are often shaped by our experiences. We can only do what we are able to with the tools we have at the time.
  But that's only half of it. The other half is knowing we are forgiven which is the limitless grace of God in action. This is from a God, the wondrous Creator of heaven and earth, the Babe, the Father, the Counsellor, Emmanuel, the Bridegroom, and our Saviour, who will go to the ends of the earth to reconcile His children to life.

  This has ended up being more of an Easter blog but I always find myself thinking about the resurrection of Christ as His birthday celebration approaches.
  And I am in awe of all the Lord has done.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

I am a Minister. 2 Corinthians 3:6 by Susan L.

  "Who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." NKJV
  "He (Jesus) has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life." JCB

  Following yesterday's post, I continued to Triple T (Think Things Through) the concept of needing to give myself permission to be happy. The Lord revealed a fear of being happy and contented that is, was, also part of this.
  During moments of good cheer and laughter that was not his own, invariably, my ex would announce an Irish expression.
  "After laughter comes the tears." Or he'd put a twist on it, "With joy comes sorrow." It means the same thing. It used to make me cringe with fear about how bad it was going to get "this time".
  It's also got me thinking about the power of "innocent" words, those culturally accepted colloquialisms, because this declaration proved true over and over again.
  I bear him no malice for this, at least since I walked a path of forgiving him at around three-thirty this morning. I also repented of believing this lie and asked the Lord to forgive me for it as He revealed the layers where fear had wormed its way into my own behaviours, ideas and choices.
  The expression has twisted the Word of the Lord because He says, "Crying may last for a night but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
  But isn't that what the devil loves to do? Twist truth? Turn things like my ex's oft spoken expression into a curse? Ever the legalist, he is delighted when ungodly beliefs are cemented into the subconscious.
  It's why the letter kills.
  I was blessed with an eager desire to set up my little Christmas tree yesterday. Up until then, it only seemed to be a fruitless bother requiring energy I didn't have. The excuses had poured one will be's just me...I'll only have to put it all away. (Thank You, Lord, for helping me rise above the depression that was clouding my heart and soul.)
   Once the Nativity Scene was carefully placed beneath it's plastic boughs and the shining cross was attached at the top, I mused on these emblems of faith and came to the grateful conclusion that, in Christ, I am free indeed!

Monday, 18 December 2017

1 Corinthians 2:16 by Susan L.

  I have the mind of Christ.
  "For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ." NKJV
  "For, 'Who can know the Lord's thoughts? Who knows enough to teach Him?' But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ." JCB

  I am going to include 1 Corinthians 2:9 because it has grabbed my attention in light of what has been happening.
  "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." JCB
  I need a re-set. I need to regroup and refocus.
  I need to turn my eyes to the Lord to help me get out of this bad place. Or better yet, I need to connect with Him while I am in the thick of it and hear His take about what's going on and why.

  Depression is the oppression of light and laughter and simple joy. It drives me away from being connected with other people. It drives me away from being able to celebrate the wonders of the Christmas season. It squashes the desire to be part of any celebrations and makes being there an unbearably heavy chore. It impacts my ability to fall asleep even with meds. When I am awake, it's like wading through neck deep, thick and sticky mud to accomplish anything.
  It makes me vulnerable to triggers. Those things that set off an unwanted avalanche of bad memories and bad experiences which in turn adds to the depression. Which makes me vulnerable to being triggered. It's an ugly cycle.
  The amount of energy needed to do anything creates anxiety which adds a few extra inches to the thick and sticky mud...

  Okay. I lift this to You, my Lord, because in writing an honest assessment about what's happening, it's being held up to the Light.
  Perhaps part of the future Jesus has in store for me is that I'll finally get it and not wait so long next time to have a heart to heart with Him!

  Imagine what the Lord might have in store for tomorrow to open the floodgates of hope. Then believe that whatever it is will be a gazillion times more wonderful than anything little ole me could ever imagine.
  Give thanks for the experiences which enable me to find compassion and connection with others who struggle.
  Ask the Lord where there is un-forgiveness in my heart, where the past still has a hold over me.
  Let go of what needs letting go. Let in His grace, patience and kindness.
  Worship Him and love Him regardless of what the future might have in store.
  But most of all, rest in the assurance that He's brought me out of darker places before. Each time I've been blessed with a deeper understanding of who He is.
  And a thought just came through loud and clear, "Give myself permission to be happy." Hmmm, there's some prayer work to be done around that. Why do I need to give myself permission in the first place? (Thank You, Holy Spirit for the insight.)

  Lord, let me emulate You in all things.


Saturday, 16 December 2017

I Am Mighty In God. Luke 10:19 by Susan L.

  "Behold, I (Jesus) give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." NKJV
  "Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you." JCB

  At my last psychiatrist appointment, the good doctor asked me to think about resiliency. The thinking hasn't happened yet but today's scripture seems to lead into that concept.
  Resiliency is overcoming. It is bending before the wind without breaking. Resiliency is rising above and beyond the things that are determined to undermine our faith, our hopes for the future, and the utter delight being a follower of Jesus gives to life.
  If only it were that easy.
  It's been a rough week for me. The disappearance of Pumpkin has left me very depressed and nowhere near feeling mighty in God. Packing up his stuff like the cat bed and food server was hard. I'll keep the food for a bit, just in case he turns up. (Maybe there is some hope after all.)
  Is part of resiliency being able to overcome feelings of guilt?
  Is part of resiliency learning to accept the fact that I may never know what happened to him? All I can ask is that he isn't suffering; that he didn't suffer in the unseasonably, bitterly cold temperatures that rolled in this week.
  The logical part of my brain knows accidents happen. It knows that he was getting harder to contain in the house after his brief foray outside a couple of months ago. It knows that it is unfortunate that the weather turned so nasty.
  My heart is a whole other ball game.
  Lord, help me make peace with this. Protect me against the fiery darts of the enemy that are stealing the joy of the Christmas season.
  Let me, as Luke 10:20 says, "Rejoice because your names are registered in heaven." All because You came to earth and made it possible.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Ephesians 5:30 by Susan L.

  I am a member of His body.
  "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones." NKJV
  "And we are members of his body." JCB

  Why the translators of the newer Bible omitted the second part of this Scripture is unknown. Greek or Hebrew isn't in my vocabulary so it isn't something I can investigate personally. Or maybe I can.
  Google is an amazing tool! I found a site where various translations can be compared verse by verse. Roughly half of the thirty-eight listed include the part about being Jesus' flesh and bones. The other half doesn't.
  I guess it's another one of those questions that will have to wait to be answered.
  But I am grateful for the dedicated people who have taken the time to translate Scriptures into English and countless other languages. I am grateful for the men and women who create web sites like the one I just visited.
  There are so many facets to being a Christian.
  There's teachers and nursery workers to mold the minds of young Christians. Young has nothing to do with the number of years under our belts.
  There's scholars and students and school secretaries who come together to bring forth the next generation of church leaders.
  There's those whose strength lay in creating music to honour God and the musicians to bring it to the world. The technical support people make it possible to hear and download the latest in awesome worship music.
  Missionaries and the Salvation Army dedicate their lives to bringing the love of God to the four corners of the earth.
  Pastors and Priests dedicate their lives to serving God by tending His flocks.
  Church planters place Holy houses where they are needed the most.
  Then there's the folks who serve coffee on a Sunday or do up the dishes or set up tables for a Saturday fund raising rummage sale.
  And the pie makers who donate their wares for the sale!
  If  I was to list every single career in the universe, it would be found in the people serving God.
  As Sister Sledge sang back in the disco era, "We are fam-i-ly!"
  No. We are far more than that. We are a body unified by Christ.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

I Am Marked. Ephesians 1:13 by Susan L.

  "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." NKJV
  "And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago." JCB

  My cat is still missing. Several friends have suggested putting something with Pumpkin's scent outside for him to find his way home. I did but the fact that there's a fresh layer of snow on top of it hampers the ability for scent to travel. It's been cold, too. He's a cat who curls up under a mound of blankets when the house temperature is 18 Celsius.
  I guess I am mad at myself more than anything because I have no idea how or when he slipped past my guard.
  It's sad all the same.
  It's worthwhile giving him a couple more days before I start packing up the pet paraphernalia. That's going to be hard. It's hard looking at it though because I feel somewhat guilty about it all.
  I know it's just a cat and in some countries cats are almost considered vermin but animals have a way of working their way into your heart. He was my own and looked to me for food, shelter and affection. He loved being groomed and would gratify me with a purr of contentment.
  If I can be devastated by the loss of a pet, how much more does the Lord feel when one of His own lambs goes astray or missing?
  If I can care for an animal, how much more care does the Lord have for us?
  And that's all the writing I feel like doing today although I am comforted by the knowledge that the Lord is with me in this.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Wonder Psalms by Susan L.

  I am a magnifier of God. Psalm 69:30
  "I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving." NKJV
  "Then I will praise God's name with singing, and I will honour him with thanksgiving." JCB

  The verse before this one is more appropriate for the day:
  "I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power."

  The last glimpse I had of my cat, Pumpkin, was him scurrying away when I pulled into the driveway late Saturday night. The car scared him away.
  He must have gotten outside at some point before I left unbeknownst to me. I haven't seen him since. There are no paw prints in the fresh snow around the side door. It's minus 10 this morning. He's never been outside except for one brief escape a couple of weeks ago.
  I've searched the neighbourhood, calling for him. I've questioned the neighbours, wondering if they'd seen him. There's 1000 acres of bush across the road. There's a gazillion hiding spots in the closed-for-the-season trailer park behind me. Even if he answered my calls, he has a tiny, squeaky voice that would be next to impossible to hear unless I was right on top of it.
  I'll head out again this morning to have another look.
  If he doesn't turn up, this will be the last pet I'll ever own. If he does turn up, this will be the last pet I'll ever own because it's so hard when something like this happens.
  Lord, if he is trapped somewhere, guide me to him. If he is lost, let him find his way home. If he is far away, let some kind soul take him in. If he is in the area, let him hear my voice. Let me hear his voice. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

I Am Made By Him. Psalm 100:3 by Susan L.

  "Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." NKJV
  "Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture." JCB

  This little lamb had a rough night last night. The wee hours of the morning greeted me as I tossed back and forth, trying to find a comfortable position. I thought I'd taken my meds but wasn't sure if I'd forgotten. Double dosing isn't a good idea either. It's safer to miss altogether. Or maybe it was just one of those nights. It happens.
  The mental hamsters kept running circles. It was a busy week. It's going to be a busy weekend followed by a busy week.
  Some of it's my own doing.
  It's the season for making chocolate truffles for Christmas gifts although I did cut back on the quantity.
  Inspired by watching "The Great Christmas Cookie Challenge" I decided to do a bit of baking. It's something I haven't done in years. My gingerbread men and women look nothing like what's on TV! These and sugar cookie snow men look like something Salvador Dali might make.
  And jam. It came first actually because the black currants harvested from my bushes in the back yard were using up valuable freezer space.
  And marmalade. Because I wanted to try and make some. It has enough pucker to make your back teeth hurt but boy, is it yummy!
  And grape jelly. Since all the canning stuff was already out, why not? I used Welches Grape juice so it was easy as anything. No fruit preparation involved.
  I've two Christmas parties coming up where we are to bring a home-made gift. I thought I'd whip up a couple pair of mittens in the midst of all of this. I managed one pair (thankful to sit down for a bit)but they are too small. I'd forgotten what size needle was used last year and hadn't made note of it in my pattern book. Oh well. The flurry of kitchen activity has provided enough.
  Toss in a couple busy days at work and whew! It's no wonder my anxiety was through the roof last night!

  In light of today's Scripture, I am left thinking about the cookies and how every single one turned out differently. A cookie cutter doesn't mean uniformity. The tricky heat in my oven. An inexperienced hand trying to run a tiny bead of icing around the tiny figures. Some cookies are thick, some thinner, and some too thin and overbrowned. (It has been a long time since I baked!) 
  Those were tasted as part of extremely important quality control.
  My intent was to make perfect cookies but it would seem the world got in the way.

Friday, 8 December 2017

I am Loyal. Psalm 86:2 by Susan L.

  "Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You!" NKJV
  "Protect me, for I am devoted to You. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God." JCB

  My mind has drawn a blank about how King David, an author of the Psalms, lived out the rest of his life. Chosen by God to be King, he eventually succumbed to the temptation of using his power for personal gain: namely the wife of one of his most faithful soldiers. He succumbed to human desires, that sinful, seductive voice, to the point of arranging the death of her husband so she would be free to be with him.
  Wikipedia (yay!) has the outline of David's full story. As a result of his choices, David was denied the privilege of  rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Then his son, Absalom tried to overthrow him so David fled until Absalom died. The fallen king returned to Jerusalem, to the throne, to finish out his reign in peace. He named Solomon as heir.
  I have to wonder what happened when David went into exile.
  I have to wonder what words God whispered in his ear after David's position of earthly power was stripped away.
  I have to wonder if David spoke to God with a contrite and repentant heart.
  Actually, he does. Regularly. It's in the Psalms.
  He writes of the depression and sorrow being apart from God birthed in his breast. He writes of regret and shame and fear. He offers his heart to God over and over again, singing praises to the One he knows will fix everything.
  How does this tie into loyalty?

  Because God is.


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

More Love by Susan L.

  I am loved constantly, unconditionally. Isaiah 43:4
  "Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honoured, and I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you." NKJV
  "Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honoured, and I love you." JCB

  I am thankful for the person who compiled the list. It's been an amazing, challenging and fruitful journey so far in exploring these affirmations.
  This is a chapter I've read many times when things were difficult. God's words to Jacob, to Israel, in Isaiah 43:2 spoke directly to my heart.
  "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown." This Scripture was the birthplace of my blog title.

  Constant love is like that. Fair weather or foul, unshakeable, unfaltering love remains.
  Well, that's a surprising statement! And perhaps the beginning of an answer to yesterday's prayer.

  The love of God is sustaining and an inpouring fountain of strength.
  It isn't just the touchy-feely, mushy stuff although Mary was encouraged to rest at her Lord's feet as He taught His message of peace and salvation. This is part of the story about Martha and Mary. One of my favorites.
  So love is a place of rest and renewal.
  But it also means love teaches and encourages. It guides and molds our hearts and behaviours. Love does it so kindly, with such grace, that I want to grow into a better person.
  Love means it's okay to be who I am right in this moment in time.

  The love of God, His glory, personified is Jesus.
  Isaiah 43:13 goes on to say, "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done."
   The love of God is forever.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

I am Loved. John 3:16 by Susan L.

  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but would have everlasting life." NKJV
  "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." JCB

  The chapter/verse numbers for today's affirmation are a common sight.
  It's quoted on private billboards at the side of the highway.
   Baseball game attendees write it on poster board, hoping the camera will pick them out of the crowd. That way, the boldly written, "JOHN 3:16!" will be televised throughout the world. It usually is at least once in the broadcast. If the camera doesn't find it in the crowd, a home run ball often lands near the sign holder just to make sure it is seen!
  I wonder if anyone who reads these declarations is encouraged to find out more? I wonder if a gateway to understanding God's love is opened by these bold ads. I wonder because it's a cultural assumption that everyone who sees these things would know the 3:16 refers to a location in the Bible.
  It's purely curiosity yet I can accept that I'll never know the answers.
  I have a lot of questions that may never be answered in this life.
  Still, I'll keep on asking, seeking, knocking.
  Especially when it comes to discovering what love, real love is about.

  Why? Because thinking about love makes me uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable.
  My experiences of love have been tainted by the world. While I want to let go and move on, those four little letters, L...O...V...E, trigger alarm bells that send me running scared.
  That's sad, isn't it?
  How do I understand the pure, unadulterated love of God? How do I fully embrace what it is to be loved without strings attached?
  Lord, You blessed me with an imagination. Maybe by imagining a big garbage bin, You could help me toss what isn't applicable to the pure and Holy love You unlocked through the sacrifice of Your only Son.
  This is my heart's desire and my prayer for today: to know Your heart deeply and intimately. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Monday, 4 December 2017

I am the Lord's. Isaiah 44:5 by Susan L.

  "One will say, 'I am the Lord's'; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, 'The Lord's,' and name himself by the name of Israel." NKJV
  "Some will proudly claim, 'I belong to the Lord.' Others will say, 'I am a descendant of Jacob.' Some will write the Lord's name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own." JCB

  Following yesterday's post there was a cascade of response to my prayer about the stones that were weighing me down. I was led to delete some games from my phone that have eaten up far too many hours in the day. There are other places of separation, too. Like too much TV.
  Modern idolatry can be towards things like techno gadgets, or beating the next level, or watching an entire series in a TV marathon.
  Or food.
  Or the cross-stitch that has to be completed NOW!
  I've gone a little over the top in my passion to get it finished and have let other things slide. Or maybe that's just me being me and how I pursue the various interests that captivate creativity. It usually is in spurts that last until the next thing comes along that takes me down a different road...

  Except this: my morning grounding in scriptures.
  There was a long pause of reflection as I weighed the difference between delving into God's Word vs. being entertained by the ways of the world. How come I turn to the world when the world and the answers to life's great questions are at my fingertips?

  Because it's easier. It's easier to plug into my phone and mindlessly swap coloured tiles. It's easier because every win gives a burst of pleasure. It's easier because I don't have to think.
  It's easier because I am not challenged and encouraged to make changes in how I live or think.

  Lord, forgive me.
  Even though yesterday and today have been days of repentance and surrendering, I am also encouraged as the Lord revealed how spiritual sacrifices are a natural extension of faith. Gratitude may have started out being totally sacrificial (at times it still is) but has evolved into being part of my daily prayer language.

  I am the Lord's.
  He is mine.
  In the end, that's all that matters.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Affirmation #164 by Susan L.

  I am a living stone in a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2:5
  "You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." NKJV
  "And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God." JCB

  What exactly are spiritual sacrifices?
  This needs Google-ing.

  Denton Bible Associations has blessed my search with a clear list.
  It starts by making note that, under the law, there were seven types of sacrifices. Pigeons, cows, and other animals were used in blood offerings for the redemption of sins. What animal depended on the sin or how much money you had. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross did away with this necessity. For believers, in place of the Law, are seven spiritual sacrifices that neither blood nor money can buy.
  I am copying this list from the site as affirmed by the appropriate scriptures. The comments in brackets are my own.

  1. The sacrifice of faith. (Turning away from the ways of the world and serving God.)
  2. The sacrifice of righteousness. (Placing our trust in the Lord. This might include making choices that are God honouring according to our faith in Jesus.)
  3. The sacrifice of a broken spirit. (The act of repentance then embracing life lived in and through God's grace. I think this may also mean the act of letting go of the old man and embracing the new as preordained by God.)
  4. The sacrifice of thanksgiving. (Giving thanks when we don't feel thankful does wonders for the soul.)
  5. The sacrifice of praise. (It's a wonderful way to overcome trials when we focus on the One who has all things in His sight.)
  6. The sacrifice of doing good. (Our actions speak louder than words sometimes.)
  7. The sacrifice of communicating good to others. (While not 100% clear, I think this has to do with helping each other bear our burdens through the love of Jesus. It also includes what Thursday's post was about: speaking life into a situation. Is sharing the Gospel considered a sacrifice?)

   This is an awesome list. But what is a sacrifice anyways?
  Webster's says it is giving up something you want to keep.

  (Long pause.)

  Lord, what stones are weighing me down and preventing me from finding the joy in a life lived fully in You? I don't want to keep anything that comes between us but I need You to show me what these things are. Guide me into the freedom of letting go, of sweet sacrifice. Let me grow into a spiritual anchor stone for others. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!


Friday, 1 December 2017

Isaiah 58:11 by Susan L.

  I am like a watered garden.
  "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." NKJV
  "The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring." JCB

  I can't help but think of the places Christ and the Disciples travelled and lived. Only where there was ample access to water did green things grow. The rest was rocky desert and seemingly lifeless.
  Dusty feet, clad only in sandals, would be caked with dirt and other effluent from the donkeys, camels and oxen sharing the road. Passing through villages would add to the grime. Sanitation was nothing like it is today.
  It explains the horrified reaction the Disciples had when Jesus humbled himself to wash their feet. The Son of God thought nothing of getting His hands dirty.
  I think, too, of the Lord sitting beside the well begging a drink of water from the Samaritan woman. He would have been so thirsty...
  It makes Him special, this thirst, this want, because it means our Lord Jesus has an intimate knowledge of human need in all its forms.
  From craving water to the emptiness of our souls when we live apart from God, Jesus experienced it all yet remained sinless.
  Then there was Gethsemane. The garden, the oasis, where the Lord made peace with His Father about His approaching death and sacrifice on the Cross.
  Lord, let me be a garden in the desert. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

John 7:38 by Susan L.

  I have life flowing though me.
  "He who believes in Me (Jesus), as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." NKJV
  "Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'"

   John 7:39 goes on to clarify that the living water is the Holy Spirit.
  South of me on a rural highway there is a building in the middle of nowhere. It was initially designed as a conference hall with Italian style, arched windows. The conference hall didn't survive so the building went on to host a car dealership, a flea market, and a restaurant. A number of other business tried to make of go of it but none remained for very long. I remember driving past it and regularly commenting that nothing ever seemed to last, it wasn't a good location, it was an ugly building, etc.
  Then I became a Christian.
  Driving south, I passed the building and felt a check in my heart. This time, instead of passing judgement on all the negatives of the place, I prayed for a business to thrive. I retracted all my negative comments and asked God to bless the location. There's a now a business that has been there a long time. It succeeded where others failed.
  It was one of my early lessons on speaking life, on giving life as opposed to taking it.
  With early Christian enthusiasm, I tried to bring a dead field mouse back to life, too. No luck with that, at least that I saw. Maybe when I walked away and surrendered this tiny creature to God's will, a miracle happened. Maybe it scurried away to continue doing mousy business into a ripe old age.
  I hope so but I'll never know.
  That's part of speaking life. We never know the end result. We never know how much of an impact we can have on others.
  What I know with absolute certainty is our tongues are an incredible weapon. They can cut someone down to nothing or raise the dead.
  It's our choice on how we wield this power. It's our choice, as believers, to listen to the Holy Spirit.

  Lord, forgive me for the times my tongue got away on me. Let me be quick to listen to the Holy Spirit, the essence of life that flows through my veins. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

I am a Light in a Dark Place by Susan L.

  Acts 13:47
  "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" NKJV
  "For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'" JCB

  There is much to be thankful for this morning. Tattered, broken clouds tear across the icy blue sky letting the sun shine down for the first time in days. It feels like it's been weeks. Even though the trees are bare of leaves and November gray is the colour of the season, when the sun hits the upper branches as they sway in the breeze, they glow. The poplars, ash, birch and maples create a pallet of shades and hues I never thought gray could be. It's punctuated by the earthy green of cedars and pines heavily laden with milk chocolate pine cones. (I've heard this is a sign of a hard winter. I hope not!)
  This is my corner of the world. Every day the view from the kitchen window changes. It's still the same trees but each season, each day, each hour adds its own subtle nuances to the landscape.
  I have often thought about going on a missions trip to some exotic location in obedience to this commandment. It's been thought about but cast aside because I believe that's where Christians go astray in thinking we need to leave home to spread the love of God. There are a lot of earth corners where we live, work, shop, exercise and play.
  There is need and want in my own community. There is poverty. Hunger. Homelessness.
  There is incredible wealth as well. High end stores dot the main street beside second hand shops and pawn shops. High end restaurants snuggle in beside places where a slice of pizza and a soda can be bought for a couple of bucks.
  Tucked in behind the main street is the food bank.
  If all who believe that Jesus is Lord and the Author of salvation spread the gospel to those in need in our own back yards, it wouldn't be long before salvation is found in the earth's farthest corners.  
  Physical wealth has nothing to do with spiritual need.
  I am thankful the Lord called me to be a writer (amongst other things). I am not so great at face to face conversations about faith. I am not so great at conversations period.
  Hmmm. Neither was Moses. Look what he accomplished through faith and obedience!
  Another "Hmmmm."
  And a smile.
  Moses I am not! But I am Susan or Sue for short. Lord, how will You use me to glorify You?
  I need to think about (and be thankful for) how He already is!
  Lord, bless me with opportunities to share of You. Bless me with the words to say in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Teach me to set aside my own reluctance and fears. In Jesus' name I pray.
  I want to thank You for giving me the blog and the opportunity it provides in helping me understand what being a Christian means. Thank You for every individual around the world who, by joining me at the kitchen table, encourages and strengthens this resolve. Praise God that You have given this socially awkward, middle aged woman, a voice.
  Now, let me be a light that is unquenchable. AMEN!


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

I Have Light. John 8:12 by Susan L.

  "Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."" NKJV
  "Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life."" JCB

  In comparing these translations, I think I prefer the first one. In the JCB version, it implies that Jesus will give us the "light that leads to life" at some point. It comes across, to me, like something that has yet to happen. That life isn't with us yet.
  In the NKJV, we "have the light of life." It's here. It's indwelling. It's intricately wrapped around every particle of our DNA. Or should I say, He is here. Jesus is indwelling. His Spirit is intricately wrapped around every particle of our DNA.
  Oh...right. This conversation happened prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room. Jesus is hinting at a promise yet to be fulfilled for all His followers.
  The Bible is a history book as well as a guide. It's good to keep that in mind.
  Maybe that's part of the promise as well. Jesus would have known at some point in the future, His words would be written down for all believers. He knew His Father would inspire the authors to write letters. He knew His Father would inspire someone to put it all together. He knew someone would invent a printing press. He knew His words would be translated into countless languages. He knew His story would be written down so those who don't believe would be able to read about Him and the love of God.
  If Jesus is a lighthouse, the Holy Bible is His beacon.
  And we are blessed by the illuminating wisdom of the Holy Spirit to help us understand His words.


Monday, 27 November 2017

Romans 8:6 by Susan L.

  I have life and peace in the Spirit.
  "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." NKJV
  "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." JCB

  It was a good weekend. Having worship rehearsal on Saturday morning then playing in church yesterday was wonderful. We were a small but mighty group.
  I was blessed with being able to share my knowledge about trauma and PTSD with one of our congregation members. She works closely with several refugee families in town and has first hand knowledge of the horrific events that led them to flee their homeland. She is concerned for many of them who are struggling mentally and emotionally.
  But that's the nature of a trauma response. In the moment, there might not be any obvious signs of the damage being done to the body, mind and spirit. Trauma responses can take years to show up. It might explode because something totally unrelated  triggers an avalanche of nightmares and anxiety. And grief. That's a huge part.
  Being able to share with her about the personal nature of trauma helped her understand how experiences can affect one person yet might not even raise an eyebrow in someone else. There is no "trauma scale".
  I recommended the "PTSD for Dummies" book because it is a good way to learn the fundamentals of this mental health challenge.
  Moments like this make everything I have gone through worth while. It even makes me thankful.
  Still, I always feel a bit chastised when faced with scripture's like today's. Sigh.
  Is having PTSD a mark of sin or due to having a lack of faith and trust in the Lord?
  Ouch. That's an ugly question!

  For sure it's a result of sin. Both my own and others'.
  Hmmmm, maybe it's what I do with it that matters. Roman's 8:8 says that those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
  When things are bad, I don't turn away. I run into the open arms of God and He leads me to the shores of the Black River. Again and again and again. He opens my eyes to forgiveness, repentance and plain old gratitude as we unravel the layers of hurt and pain. Together.
  He has brought me a long way. Because I live with PTSD.

  Lord, only You can see the end of this journey or fully understand its purpose. Thank You, that one day, You will wipe away every tear.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Affirmation #159 by Susan L.

  I have life abundant. 1 John 4:9, John 10:10
  "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." NKJV
  "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him." JCB

  "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." NKJV
  "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." JCB

  This begs the question and it's a biggie...What is life?
  My heart thump-thumping sends the blood rushing through my veins. There's air going in and out of my lungs. Ergo, I am alive. (Yay!)
  This same heart leaps for joy and aches in sorrow. Ergo, I am alive.
  I am watching squirrels chase each across the front lawn. The deliciously rich aroma of a morning coffee fills my nostrils. The smooth laptop keys wait beneath my fingers for the next word. I sense these things without really thinking about them. Ergo, I am alive.
  I forget what applying human characteristics to inanimate objects is called. The laptop keys aren't really waiting because they have no sense of time or self. They are not alive even though they keep putting in typos whenever I write anything.
  That's part of being alive as well: an awareness of self...Hmmm, many of God's creations are alive yet lack this awareness. Like a tree.
  Being alive means I will know death at some unforeseen point in the future.
  Yet, because of Jesus, that death is transformative. My soul will go on to a better place.
  There have been many days when I wished for my life on this planet to be over. When the anxiety gets really bad and I am exhausted, it's hard to face another day knowing the anxiety will be waiting.
  I know I am not alone in this struggle.
  I think an abundant life is one rich in experiences. Some of them I'd like to have not experienced but I cannot know grace without first knowing condemnation. I cannot know love without first knowing hate. I cannot forgive another without having my own sins forgiven.
  Thank You, Jesus, for having redeemed everything I've gone through. Thank You for teaching me what joy there is in life.

  I feel led to reach out to my readers. This can be a hard time for many as the days grow shorter and we head into the Christmas holidays. If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. Life can be hard sometimes. We were never meant to struggle on alone.
  I can hold onto hope for you because Jesus brought me to the shores of the Black River time and again. He will do the same for you. If you let Him in.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

I am Liberated. Romans 6:23 by Susan L.

  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." NKJV
  "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." JCB

  The lesson this week at church was about major religions to test the idea that all religions lead to God. They were broken down into three categories or combinations of these.
  1. Religions based on thinking. You master the right truths.
  2. Religions based on experience. Having the right mystical encounter.
  3. Religions based on doing. Keeping the right commandments.
  Drawing near the deity is rooted in performance and any sort of position in the after life is earned or not if a person falls short of doing everything they need to do.

  While the sermon focused on helping us understand the basics of faiths compared to Christianity, I am not going to go much further into detail because I feel inadequate to the task. The man who preached the sermon has spent years studying religions. (The Meeting house has his sermon on line as part of the series in Bad Ideas. This is #5. All of them are well worth checking out.)

  What I know for absolute certainty is the God I worship is a God of love and relationship. He is not distant or absent. I know for absolute certainty that one day, I will be with Him in Heaven.
  How do I know this?
  Because Jesus made it possible the moment I chose to make Him my Lord.
  There is nothing on this earth I could do or need to do to earn that place.

  Yes, I am called to live according to a higher calling.
  The highest calling of all is to live in and through the love of God.
  I've read this passage many times and baulked at the first part because it came across as a threat. With fresh understanding, I realize it's simply affirming that to live apart from the love of God (that's what sin is) means I am not living, I am dying.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

2 Corinthians 2:14 by Susan L.

  I am led in Christ's triumph.
  "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." NKJV
  "But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume." JCB

  The intangible is a large part of life. It tends to slip to the sidelines in discussions about faith yet faith itself is an intangible. It's there, we feel it, yet it cannot be picked up and touched.
  Burning incense is the same. Once lit, the smoke rises and curls only to vanish. The aroma released remains long after the stick has burnt away. Even though we can't touch it or feel the sweet fragrance, it's there. It's an intangible.
  I love the poetic quality in the NKJV translation. "The fragrance of His knowledge." If we are the incense, Christ is our fragrance. Our knowledge of Him flows from us even if we don't know it's happening.

  Knowledge is knowing. (Bear with me as I think this through.)
  There's knowing then there's Knowing
  So, what do I Know?
  I know Christ is with me in all things, at all times.
  How? Because I feel His presence.
  I know He leads me to victory every time I challenge my beliefs, my misconceptions of truth, and seek to grow through an intimate knowledge of Him.
  How? It is the story that began long before I accepted Him as Lord.
  I know He will do the same for anyone.
  How? Because He saved me. Because His love is big enough for the entire world.
  It's why He was born and why He died.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Riches by Susan L.

  I am lavished with riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7-8
  "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence." NKJV
  "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding." JCB

  I was away spending much needed time with family. Now time is needed to recoup from the (to me) chaotic couple of days.
  Sometimes I feel inadequate to the task of being a gramma. Noise is hard to cope with. Busy is hard to cope with.  At one point during a drive between events, I had to pull my hat down over my eyes to eliminate the added visual stimulation of flashing car and street lights that were fueling an anxiety attack.
  It makes me sad that this sort of thing happens because it overwhelms the joy and pleasure of being with them.
  Or is it wisdom to realize I only do what I can do?
  And what I can do is sufficient.
  This time I was able to share what was going on with my son.
  Sunday afternoon was less hectic. My granddaughter and I got into the Lego for several hours while my grandson was away at a birthday party. We built a purple, yellow and green Unicorn Land castle with a moving drawbridge, ramparts, and watch towers. We added rather square looking, fire breathing, dragons to the scene and even built unicorns from different blocks.
  While she played with our creation and built her own additions, I got completely lost for a while building a spaceship. Lego is awesome!
  I have no idea how all this ties into today's affirmation.
  I do have a prayer, though. It's for a dad who was at the rink.  He was screaming commands from the side at his barely teenaged son on the ice. At one point, the dad was so disgusted with his son's performance, he cursed his inadequacy using profanity not fit for children's ears.
  I want to lift the pair up to You, Lord. I pray that Your kindness touches their hearts. I pray they come to know You and the value You hold for both of them on and off the ice. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

I Lack No Wisdom. James 1:5 by Susan L.

  "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." NKJV
  "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." JCB

   I burst out laughing when I read today's affirmation. "I lack no wisdom." Maybe not but I can be awfully dumb at times. Hence the Band-Aid on a finger that had a disagreement with a kitchen knife. Oops!

  Wisdom is totally separate from age, intelligence or education.
  The honest forthrightness of a child's insight can be a precious thing indeed (and potentially embarrassing).
  Knowledge is good. But, without wisdom to guide the application of that knowledge, it is a dead thing with no purpose. Or worse, knowledge is turned to serve the dark forces in this world.
  Three men used their learning to follow a star. Did their wisdom show itself when these rich and powerful men humbly knelt before Jesus' cradle? Is that why they are called the "wise men"?

  Long ago, I fell in love with the many verses in Proverbs that speak of wisdom and her qualities. It's a wonderful exploration of what wisdom is. Whenever I read them, my heart leaps with desire for everything she represents.
  Its as though Solomon's writings were an introduction to the Holy Spirit...

  There was a long pause here. It felt like my head was going to explode with ideas that have poured out far faster than my fingers could ever type. Why is wisdom a woman? Is it the Spirit that makes us wise or is it by learning to listen and obey? How can a knowledge of scriptures be a dangerous thing? And a whole bunch of other stuff.

  Then this popped into my head and the brain train screeched to a halt:
  Knowledge, without the heart of God behind it, shaping its outpouring, tempering it with love, becomes a cudgel we use to beat each other to death.
   Forgive me Father, for feeling I have to prove how "smart" I am.
  Teach me to be wise.
  Wow. What started off rather nonsensically and light hearted has ended with a bang. Yet, my heart is lightened with this deeper understanding of wisdom.

  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
  Courage to change those things I can.
  And the wisdom to know the difference.
                    Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)



Tuesday, 14 November 2017

I Am Known. 2 Timothy 2:19

  "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'" NKJV
  "But God's truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription, 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and 'All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.'" JCB

  Belonging longing. There's no better way to describe the fundamental human need for connection.
  The devil knows this so he will do anything in his power to make sure we remain apart from God and each other.
  It was only by reaching out to my pastor and sharing what was going on with the anxiety did it lose its grip. And things were worse than I let on, not wanting to upset anyone.
  Because I shared my burden and held it up to the light, I've had almost a week with minimal tension. Praise God.
  It's like learning a foreign language, this asking for help.
  It's really hard to be vulnerable especially when vulnerability has been turned against me into a hurtful weapon.

  My old neighbours had a nick-name for me. "Saint Sue."
  Gee. I haven't thought about that for a long time. It still hurts. Lord, let me forgive them because they had no idea of the terrible world I was caught up in. They had no way of knowing why I was led to be a superwoman who tackled any and all responsibilities because it was, I believed and was encouraged to believe, my role as loving wife. Although, I have no idea how maintaining farm equipment ended up being part of that role.
  My youngest son and I went away for a week. Our first holiday in eight years. It took hiring three people to tend to what I looked after in a day even though my spouse was at home. For weeks after I paid the price for "abandoning" my responsibilities.
  The silent treatment is one of the cruelest things we do to another person.
  And, as Forest Gump says, "That's all I am going to say about that."

  Because, in the end, the Lord had marked me as His and was waiting for me to reach the end of my own self-sufficiency.
  I did an about-face that rocked my world.

  Lord, it doesn't take much to put me into isolation mode. Looking back I realize it's because of fear seasoned with a dose of shame that stops me from reaching out. Isolating is a learned behaviour that needs unlearning!
  I know, with practice, it will become easier.
  Lord, guide me to those who are trustworthy.  Encourage me to stop putting off reaching out in the first place! :)


Monday, 13 November 2017

I know Whom I believe. 2 Timothy 1:12 by Susan L.

  "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." NKJV
  "That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return." JCB

  This is my third start this morning. Following rabbit trails and typing shallow platitudes seems to be the only thing my brain is capable of today. Thank You, Lord, for delete buttons.

  Maybe it's because nothing I say can add one iota of anything to Paul's story. His declarations of absolute faith and trust in the Lord makes me want a deeper connection with Christ.

  In everything.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Romans 8:28 by Susan L.

  I know all things work together for good.
  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." NKJV
  "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." JCB

  Sometimes, when I read a Bible passage, one particular word or thought will leap out. Not so with this one. This one has several worthy of exploring further.
  "All things." That's everything. Good, bad or indifferent. It's trials, joys and suffering. It's the entire range of human experiences.
  Thank You, Lord, for the books in the Bible called Ecclesiastes and Job.

  "Work together for good." No matter what the devil throws our way, "God can redeem it for the good of those who love God." This doesn't mean we will be necessarily healed of our wounds but perhaps our experiences can help us learn patience and humility. Perhaps, when we are in a place that seems far removed from God, we are being given the opportunity to learn trust and have faith that He is there. Always. Maybe all we've been through gives us the gift of understanding and compassion and makes us able to minister to others better.
  Lord, thank You for my life.

  I get a sense that this passage is often quoted to those who are in the midst of trials. Maybe someone said it to me. Instead of this passage giving comfort, it felt punishing. (I forgive them because it was their way of showing love.) There is a time to quote scriptures and a time when the only requirement is to give a hug or hold a hand. That's love with skin on it.
  Teach me discernment, Lord, so I can better comfort the suffering, encourage the failing, and strengthen the weak according to Your will for their lives. Let me bring life through all I do and say.

  "Love God." I know this is hard for some. The heart of God the Father is often tainted by our experiences with our earthly fathers. How we perceive Him is shaped by a parent who was broken. And it's not just a parent, any authority figure can have a detrimental impact on our understanding of who God is.
  Lord, I ask to know You even more.

  "Are called according to his purpose." We live in a success oriented culture. Big job, big bucks, big house are the parameters of success constantly bombarding us. This idea overflows into our faith. We end up looking for OUR GRAND PURPOSE IN LIFE SERVING GOD. While in pursuit, we miss the wonderful and humbling understanding that every day, every moment, every event has a purpose pre-ordained by God.
  Even when we think we screwed it up.
  And that is a wonderful thing.

  Lord, I want to unravel the misunderstandings I have about who You are and what serving You looks like. Again, I ask that You show me how to love better. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Friday, 10 November 2017

I am a King's Kid. Psalm 44:4 by Susan L.

  "You are my King, O God." NKJV
  "You are my King and my God." JCB

  Being called a "kid" doesn't really fly in face of my age. ;)
  Yet, I owned goats. Baby goats, kids, can't walk. Oh, they might take a few solemn steps here and there but their sheer delight in being alive makes them skip and bounce along beside their mothers. A sudden, explosive leap punctuated the happy dances. It was a treat to watch them and always made me smile.
  They lived in utter abandon and joy. Totally caught up in the moment.
  It's something that's hard for me to do, to be in the moment. Even as I write, I look at my clock, think about what I need to do to get ready for work. I eyeball the covering of snow on the ground, assessing the impact...
  But I have to share what happened earlier.
  My snow tires are still in the shed so I lifted a prayer to the Lord to get me safely to work. Barely had the words crossed my lips when the inspiration to use the car's four wheel drive option popped into my head. It will give me better traction.
  Then the plow went by, clearing the road.
  I did my own happy dance in the kitchen.

  Our King isn't a distant ruler. He isn't on His throne looking contemptuously down on the masses. He doesn't regard anything for our well being as beneath His concern.
  I know sometimes it feels like He might be, when prayers aren't answered right away. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they aren't. Sometimes we don't even know they've been answered because our God is a generous King who will often give us what we need, not what we want.
  I hadn't asked for the snow plow to pass.
  It's my own foolishness that has me so late to get the snow tires on. But, I love this part, God has used my procrastination to remind me He is with me in all things. I am His child after all.
  I think it's time for another happy dance!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

#150, A Milestone by Susan L.

  I am in a Kingdom of priests. Revelation 1:5-6

  "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings ad priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." NKJV
  "All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen." JCB

  Today's post is the halfway point in this journey of exploring God's word and finding the personal connection. There's marching bands playing in my head, ticker-tape floating through the air while fireworks explode across the sky...screeeech!!!
  Thank You, Lord! For inspiring me, challenging me, teaching me and growing me along the way to this point.
  I've been thinking about honour a lot; thinking about how to incorporate and live with an attitude of honouring God no matter where I am or what I am doing. Even if my eyes are watering and my nose is running from a cold that decided to move in a couple days ago.
  How can I share God's love in a work environment that is politically correct? It is no secret I am a Christian but there are restraints on what I can talk about. Although, the Lord has provided many opportunities for me to share more that I thought possible. Thank You, Lord, that I've been able to be open according to Your plans and that people have witnessed the wonderful work You have done and are doing in my life.
  Make no mistake about it. If people know you are a follower of Jesus, they are watching.
  How do I emulate Jesus in the huge, Saturday lineup at the grocery store check out? The post office? The pharmacy? A restaurant?
  It's a tall order to set aside my own agenda, the dreaded "to-do" list, but kindness takes no time at all. Compassion doesn't eat away at the clock. might take a moment longer. It's a good thing those precious seconds can be filled with grace.
  The woman who waited for me in downtown Hamilton has had a profound effect. She set aside her own agenda to guide me to the highway. When she pulled over to wait for me when I got stuck at a red was special and amazing. What did it take in the grand scheme of things? Maybe she was late for an appointment or dinner. Maybe she was late picking up her children from the babysitter. It didn't matter. What mattered was helping a complete stranger who was lost in unfamiliar streets.
  Lord, to be Your priest is a high calling. Let me rise to the occasion. Let the image, attitudes and behaviours in my life be as You would be. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
  As for today's milestone? My heart is doing a little happy dance!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

I am Kept. Isaiah 38:17

  "Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back." NKJV
  "Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins." JCB

  I am running a bit short on time this morning but still wanted to take a few moments to explore today's affirmation. Part of it is because a major milestone in the affirmation list is approaching and I want to get to it ASAP! How human of me!

  Hezekiah's poem has another verse that struck a cord with me.
 "But what could I say? For he himself (God) sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt." Isaiah 38:15

  I have to ponder on the idea of God sending anything that would harm His children because, as a follower of Jesus, the New Testament is full of teachings about the love of a God who is definitely not the author of the evil in this world. Somehow the two don't seem to go together... I think that could be an entire post on its own.
  Or maybe it's a contrast in attitude. Much of the Old Testament makes reference to the wrath of God, His judgement and so forth. But if I read these passages as a foreshadowing of Christ's coming it provides a different perspective...isn't hindsight wonderful?
  Hezekiah is humbled because God freed him from his anguish, the death bed he prayed to be delivered from.
  I am humbled because God did the same for me only my death bed was a life without Jesus.

  Is there such thing as a life bed? (Smile.)

  Silly question. Or is it? If I choose to rest securely in the arms of my Lord, trusting Him, honouring Him, wanting to do things that are pleasing to Him, aren't I living in a life bed? Or maybe it's more of a life boat. Either way, it's a sanctuary. It's a place of peace and rest.
  For that I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

I am Justified. Acts 13:39

  "And by Him everyone who believed is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." NKJV
  "Everyone who believes in him (Jesus) is made right in God's sight--something the law of Moses could never do." JCB

  Justified: "just-as-if-I'd never sinned" is how our teaching pastor, Bruxy Cavey from the Meeting House, explains it.
  Jesus made it easy for us.
  He did all the work.
  As a follower of Jesus, I don't have to go to church. I don't have to pray. I don't have to give up anything.
  But, here's the key. Anything that becomes a "have to" comes from a legalistic approach to faith.
  Having the love of Christ embedded in my heart means I am a willing partner who wants to live according to His will. I want to live according to the love He so freely gave.

  I want to change.

  Hmmm. This begs the question, "Why do I think I need to change in the first place?"

  It would appear there is a judge and jury residing in my head constantly pointing out my shortcomings. (Forgive me, Lord, for being quick to judge others.)
  Lord, forgive me for listening to them, the legalists, the enemies of my soul, because You have deemed me worthy. In You, I have been reborn and justified before God.
  Everything we have gone through hasn't been because You needed it to "make me holy", it's been for me to find the freedom life with Jesus holds. For all who believe.

Monday, 6 November 2017

I am Joyful. Philippieans 4:4 by Susan L.

  "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" NKJV
  "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!" JCB

  Freedom comes one small step at a time. A word, an idea, a whisper comes along that releases something good, something God predestined to be part of a life on this earth.
  I went to the symphony yesterday. It was the first concert of the season and was absolutely amazing. The guest violinist was above and beyond masterful. The music soothed my soul despite the hectic, race-against-the-clock drive down hampered by rain, accidents and construction.
  I am still filled with peace this morning. A wonderful break from the anxiety!
  Between performances, the conductor usually shares a bit about the composer and the music. It adds a rich dimension to each piece. One short piece was introduced as being a "note poem". The words leapt into my heart.
  It's like that moment when I read about painting landscapes, that it isn't about duplicating the exact image but rather capturing the essence of the scenery, the place, the feelings evoked by being there.
  I was given an understanding about what my own small forays into music composition actually are. I compose note poems to capture the essence of a feeling, a place, an event. Just like in a painting. No words required.
  They are nothing like what the masters create. They are for piano, not an orchestra. My skills and abilities fall far short of creating symphonies.
  It doesn't matter because in everything I create, be it bedside tables, a sweater, a painting or a song, the joy is in the creation and the satisfaction of a finished product even if it isn't perfect. All of it is a celebration of the gifts and skills God has seen fit to provide me with.
  And I have to smile. Why is it I expect perfection in the other aspects of my life? Where is the joy I find in making sawdust?


  Creating honours my Creator. I approach making the things I create with a joyful heart.

 This is a paradigm shift moment in my thinking.
  Service honours the Servant. Kindness, grace and compassion honours the sacrifice my Lord made for me, for us.
  I have, want, to make this part of my life in the everyday so that work honours God, relationships honour God, emotions, thoughts, ideas, actions...the whole kit and caboodle becomes God honouring.
  Yes, I won't get it right every time. Yes, my imperfections will show up. Yes, there will be set-backs and trials and worries and sorrow. That's okay, too, because I am never, ever alone.
  Christ is my Joy.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

An Instrument by Susan L.

  I am an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13
  "And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." NKJV
  "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." JCB

  For anyone who is visiting this site for the first time, I have been working my way through a list of three hundred affirmations given to me in the spring following a retreat. Originally, five affirmations were to be read each day to my reflection in the mirror. The purpose was to speak life into my own life. However, I decided to blog about each one. Taking a year to do so. And I am glad to have made that decision because it has given me a chance to explore and better understand the meaning of the assigned scriptures.
  I am also thankful to have the two Bibles that further provide insight and knowledge because sometimes the older version, the New King James Version, is as clear as mud! The New Living Translation, or Jesus Centred Bible, has helped tremendously in understanding the teachings of Jesus.
  The human body consists of 206 bones, as many as 806 muscles, water, and 12 organs. Five of those organs are crucial to our survival. Then there is the non-quantifiable such as our soul, spirit, mind, thoughts, ideas, personality, emotions, experiences and memories.
  So, how can I take this incredible feat of creation and use it for righteousness?
  I think it's important to keep in mind as followers of Jesus, we are life bearers freed from death. If any of our actions, thoughts or words go against that, it means sin still has a grip.

  Hmmm. There's many places in my own life where this is true. There's one particular muscle that seems to trip me up on a regular basis: my tongue.
  Why is that?

  Because the non-quantifiable keeps getting in the way. Particularly the emotions, experiences and memories that came before this moment in time.
  How do I rise above these things?
  I can't. At least, on my own I can't.
  I can make better choices.

  In writing this, I realized how much bad feeling there is towards my own body. It's hard for me to find compassion when, through no fault of my own, the anxiety gets revved up. Even though I understand that the emotional trauma associated with PTSD causes real and measurable brain damage, it is frustrating.
  Lord, I know You will empower me to rise above all this. I know You already have in many ways. I give thanks for this vessel of my soul. Let me use it to glorify You in everything I do. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!



Saturday, 4 November 2017

Romans 8:35 by Susan L.

  I am inseparable from His love.
  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation , or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" NKJV
  "Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or threatened with death?" JCB

  No matter where we walk, no matter what happens to us, Christ was there first. All our trials and troubles, He experienced in His short time on earth. The only difference is He remained sinless.
  Humans? Not so much.
  I have to smile at my own responses to trials because they are, more often than not, un-Christ-like.
  Frustration isn't patience. Getting angry isn't grace. Resentment isn't forgiveness. Swearing at a telemarketer? Waaaay off base.
  Yet, despite my failings, my weaknesses, the Lord is quietly encouraging me. Next time I can do better. If I don't, that's okay because there is always a next time. And a next time after that.
  The best part is I want to be a better person than I am right now.
  It takes practice, that's all. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable before God.
  It took me a long time to realize that I can take my troubles to Him. I can talk to Him about why I am frustrated or angry or full of resentment. In letting go, I let love in.

  I don't pray enough.
  That idea came through loud and clear.

  Prayer is the golden thread of connection with a Love that surpasses all things, overcomes all things, and heals all things.
  It isn't Christ who turns away. It's me. Trying to hold it together all on my own. It's me. Trying to find answers to unanswerable questions. It's me. Believing I need to fix whatever is broken. It's me. Not asking for help because of what? Shame? Fear? It's me. Hiding the truth of what's really going on inside and putting up a wall, the illusion I've got it all together, rather than being vulnerable.
  Whew! Those were tough words and have given me much to think about.
  What is held up to the light...the light of the love Jesus has for us all.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Beautiful by Susan L.

  I am inscribed on His palms. Isaiah 49:16
  God says, "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands." NKJV
  "See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." JCB

  I learned, not that long ago, to keep an eye open for signposts pointing to Jesus that are placed throughout the Old Testament. It has opened my eyes to a whole different understanding of the events and stories held within the ancient texts.
  While Isaiah shares God's words of hope for the children of Jerusalem, this is an affirmation pertinent to every single person who lived or lives or will live!
  I can't help but think of the hands which were pierced and nailed to the Cross. The ultimate act of sacrifice and victory because Jesus, the Innocent, took the sins of the world with Him.
  My name was written on those hands. So was yours. So was everyone's.
  Jesus took my sin with Him.

  (A long pause.)
  Many times have I written a phone number or address on my hand. It had to be something important that couldn't get lost like it might have had I written it on a piece of paper and tossed it carelessly into my purse. Or worse, filed it away in safe place never to be seen again!
  If I can place such importance on a phone number, the significance of having my name inscribed on the hand of God is mind blowing!
  It's an act of care. It's an act of honour. It's an act of love.
  It's forever.