Monthly Archives: February 2014

On Peace

Greetings!

Peace!  I know I am a bit late, but as I watched the men’s gold medal game Sunday morning, I wasn’t feeling all that peaceful.  The Swedes came out flying, and I thought, ‘What do you mean the Swedes don’t stand a chance announcer-guys?’

As the camera moved to the “suits” upstairs, also known as the guys that put the team together, I realized that like them, I was anxious because I was not in control of the game.  The guys on the ice were, and how could I possibly trust them to play well enough to win.  (‘Cos apparently, I could do better if I were on the ice… the most ridiculous statement ever uttered by woman …)

I began to feel at ‘peace’ when we were up 2-0, and even more peaceful at 3-0.  A nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.

I am almost certain that God barely hears from Canada until there is a gold medal or world championship game on the line.  And, then prayers go up from basements everywhere – from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland – I am partly joking!

Prayer is a part of my daily life.  But, I all too often take my eyes off of Jesus, and onto the circumstance, and start to panic.  Like in the gold medal game, I focused on those darn Swedes!

Paul offers the Philippians and us some practical advice to this problem.

The chapter title is:  Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9 ESV).

Paul tells us that the “[t]he Lord is at hand”.  This reminder in itself is enough to help me get through those moments of uncertainty, doubt and anxiety.

“The Lord is at hand.”  He is not far away, but close.  He is not sitting on His throne unconcerned about our problems, or busied with the cares of the world to not notice our difficult situations.

Let’s allow ourselves to be in awe of God.  Let’s remember to think about the things He has done in our lives in the past.  We can know with certainty that He will continue to provide for our needs, whether they be material, emotional, spiritual, etc.

In fact, Paul follows up this passage by acknowledging how the Philippians had provided for his needs.  “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (Philippians 4:15-16).  Amen!

So, to recap – the key then is to keep your eyes off of the Swedes, (no matter how good he or she looks) and focus on Jesus.  🙂

Blessings!

Ellie

On Joy – Part 2

Hi!

I was thinking about the last post, and feeling not entirely comfortable with it.  I didn’t feel joyful.  Even in writing that joy is not dependent on our circumstances didn’t sit right.  It felt somehow forced out of me, like it was the “right thing to say”.  How can there be joy when someone you know has been brutally murdered?

Then a good friend sent me an email.  She told me she had “no words”, but then wrote the most beautiful and encouraging words.  She essentially said that we learn from and take on the best from the other person, and we then pass on the gifts and blessings.  (I am paraphrasing quite badly because I deleted the email – sigh…)

My friend reminded me of the good things – I can picture Nina sitting on the front porch, looking out over this garden, perhaps a cup of tea sitting on a side table, and she is reading a good mystery novel.

A co-worker said she had heard that Nina was a “writer”.  I know we are not defined by what we do, but it was comforting somehow to know that people will think of Nina as a writer!  How wonderful!

In church on Sunday, we sang the hymn, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.  The third verse is:

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

This song really spoke to me – In my pain, God, who is Joy, is “seeking me”.  He is drawing me close to him, and “I cannot close my heart to [Him]”.

And, how could I when Revelation 21:3-4 says?  “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4 is one of my favorite scripture verses in the Bible.  I can’t wait for Jesus’ return!  I get this picture in my head – I am not sure what the “new heaven and new earth”  look like – but I picture God walking down the street, and I run up to Him, and give Him a Big Bear Hug, and snuggle in!!!  This picture makes me feel safe and brings me joy (Revelation 21:1a).

It also reminds me that God is a God of hope –

I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

I don’t fully understand why God sometimes intervenes, and at other times allows bad things, or rather terrible things, to happen.

I do know that I am not without hope.  His promises are sure. He is “trustworthy and true” (Revelation 22:6).

“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5; ESV).

One day we will wake up and this present darkness will be gone.  The morning will come, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes!  I am looking forward to this Day –
“Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

I just wonder if God is ready for my “Big Bear Hug!”  🙂

I have included the song if you would like to listen to it.

God Bless!

Ellie

O Love That Will Not Let Me Gohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS3o_160OhE

 

On Joy

Hi there,

It’s kind of odd that the next thing on my list to write about was “Joy”.  When I wrote my first “On”, I wasn’t thinking of carrying the theme forward.  But then I thought of the Fruit of the Spirit, and that it would be interesting to see where they lead me.

“On Joy” is odd is for this reason:  Tuesday morning I woke up, and as I was making breakfast, I checked my email.  The “Subject Line” said, “Nina Discombe’s death”.  I had no idea what I was about to read, and when I saw the word, “murdered”, I cried out, “Oh, God!”

I knew Nina through a screenwriting camp – in fact, it was our teacher, who told us the sad news.  Then, five of us, through the bullying-like-prompting (kidding) of Bud, we took an acting class together.  It was a fun way to extend our screenwriting camp, and hang out each Sunday for the month of September.  (I even skipped church…shh…)

At Faith Gateway, the writer says, “Joy is not dependent upon our circumstance”:

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.

Psalm 27:5-7 (NIV).” (from http://www.faithgateway.com/25-bible-verses-about-joy/#.Uv5JAmeYbcc)

This Psalm was written by David.  He knew suffering.  He fled from King Saul, who was intent on murdering him.  It feels like Saul’s obsession with killing David was, partly, from jealousy.  “As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7 NIV).

It might have been “greed” that made those men in Mexico break into Nina and Eduardo’s home.   There are no easy answers to the question, “Why”.  I can hardly even think of words to type, but wonder if calling it “greed” gives us some little bit of understanding.

There is a sadness I feel that no words can explain.  As my English teacher once said, it is the “ineffable”.  (I think Nina would like that word!)

Joy is not dependent on our circumstances.  In this world, we feel like we deserve to be happy, but happiness is dependent on our circumstances.  It is temporary.  But, real joy, Biblical joy, is found only in the Lord.  The good news is that His Kingdom is everlasting.  (Psalm 145:13; Daniel 4:3).   It cannot be moved or shaken!

I did not know Nina well, but I can easily recall her smiling face and kind eyes.   Our acting teacher told her she should be selling products on television, as she has this quality of ‘trust’ about her.  You would buy anything she was selling!

That was it – You could trust Nina.  You felt safe with her.  The first day of screenwriting class, Nina and I were having lunch outside.  We were sitting at a picnic table, and then suddenly realized it was very quiet.  Too quiet.  I may have said, “I think we might be late for class.”  Indeed, we were late.  We snuck into the darkened classroom, sat at the back, and watched the movie that was being played.  Oops!  I think Nina even apologized to our teacher, Tom.  🙂

When I asked for prayer, many friends responded to me by saying they were “shocked by the news”.   Those of us who knew her for a short time are grieving her loss.  I cannot imagine the grief and pain her family and friends are feeling at this time.  My heart goes out to both Nina’s and Eduardo’s family, who will be grieving for the rest of their lives.
You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Joy is not dependent on our circumstances.  “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does” (Psalm 145:13 NIV).

This is all I know:  God is good.  God is good.

Ellie

 

 

On Forgiveness

Hi,

I said something important in my last blog post that I wanted to explore further.  (I know!  I said something important – go figure!)

I said, “The thing about Jesus is that he knew everyone would desert him at his greatest time of need.  Yet, he still loved.”  He also forgave those who had turned against him and sentenced him to death.

When he was on the cross Jesus said, “Forgive them father for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

I was having a conversation with someone, and it seemed to me that he was confusing forgiveness with reconciliation.  We can forgive someone without letting them back into our lives.  Sometimes, it is best if that person is not in our lives. Sometimes, the person is poison, dangerous, unsafe.  Some people revel in bringing us down into their muck!

Forgiveness frees us – it keeps the ugly festering of bitterness and resentment from growing in our hearts.  (I am learning!)  It also frees us from believing that the person who has hurt us owes us something.  We many never get the, “I’m sorry I hurt you,” and in some cases, the person may not even know they have committed an offence.  (An unpardonable sin…)

A good friend told me something I didn’t really want to hear.  I had decided that I had cried my last tear for my father.  I was done.  I felt peace.  Then, she dropped the bombshell.  She told me she heard a sermon preached on forgiveness, and that the pastor had said forgiveness is a choice, and it is also a daily choice.

Sometimes, we will feel the wound being re-opened – we will feel the pain again!  It is then up to us to choose to forgive in each moment when the scar is freshly revealed.  I looked at her and said, “So, what you’re trying to tell me is that I have not cried my last tear over my father.”  She looked away in affirmation.  Sigh…

Well, I am thankful for one thing – today I feel peace about my father.  I am okay if he has turned his back on me – if he no longer considers me his daughter.  I am okay that he has found a new relationship with a possible daughter (yep, I may have a half-sister four years older than me), and that he feels like he can relate better to her than to me.  (Oh, that makes my little heart a bit angry – I am absolutely his daughter – she may or may not be his daughter…)

Truth be told, I do have very little in common with my father, so it is not surprising that he would prefer her to me.

One of my favorite quotes from the Bible is from Psalm 27:10:  “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”

When I first returned to church, it was this Psalm that spoke to my heart, and the deep longing I had for a loving father-daughter relationship.  My earthly father failed me, but I could rest in assurance that my heavenly father would not!

Proof of this truth is that I have always felt like I had a stamp on my forehead that said, “Father me.”  God sent me a step-father, and he also sent other men into my life to help me and encourage me along.  Looking back I have been pretty amazed by this!  Apparently, I did have a stamp on my forehead.  🙂

But, if you are having trouble forgiving someone who has hurt you, a parent, a sibling, a marriage partner, or a child, maybe you would benefit from this Oscar Wilde quote:

Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.

(taken from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_forgiveness.html#uQPc85mC6RFJbgWI.99)

Not sure how Jesus would feel about the sentiment behind the quote, but I like it!  🙂

Have a great day!

Ellie

 

 

On Love

Hi

Well, no one responded to my question – The answer:  On Love

This means I get to save myself a quarter.

The Apostle John said, “God is love”.  Apparently, this was a shocking thing to say at the time.  It might still be pretty shocking in our time.

In his gospel, he kept saying, “the one whom Jesus loved”.  I always thought he was being pretty cocky about being Jesus’ favorite Apostle, but later learned John was the Apostle who knew Jesus loved him.   John wrote:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannotlove God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother”
(1 John 4:7-21).

I feel like I don’t do a great job at loving others.  I am leery of people on one hand, and yet want to be close to people on the other hand.  It is complicated.  And, my lack of trust or fear that everyone will leave me in the end does not help matters.

The thing about Jesus is that he knew everyone would desert him at his greatest time of need.  Yet, he still loved.

“Perfect love casts out fear.”  I know this statement was said in relation to judgment, but it also reminds me of how we are to love others, unconditionally, without fear.  (Of course, we must use sound judgment – there are some people who are unsafe, who cannot be trusted, and those people we leave to themselves.  Let them drag their own butts down, not ours!)

And on that note, I will end.

Ellie

 

On Faith

Greetings!

Since I am on such a blogging role lately (hardly!), I thought I’d continue on the theme of “On”

Today’s installment of Random Acts of Love is aptly titled, “On Faith.”

I began to wonder this morning about what God thinks of this whole mess we have created on Earth.  I don’t have to tell you about wars, hunger, starvation, poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, terrible fathers.

Yes, I said, “terrible fathers” partly because we tend to diminish the painful experiences of our lives because of all the “bigger” problems in the world.  We say, “Well, it wasn’t really that bad for me.”  Hurt is hurt is hurt.  I learned, through counseling, to allow myself to feel the pain, to cry, to scream…  It was freeing!  I am also thinking of my own father (obviously) because my Uncle re-opened a sore yesterday.  (God is helping me process – I am okay – just feeling a great sadness for my father. This is good – no anger, bitterness or resentment, just sadness.)

Now back to what I was speaking on – Sometimes it is hard to have hope and faith in the world.  The Bible verse that comes to mind is Jesus saying, “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Some wise person, who I cannot name because I cannot remember, said that these “biblical one-liners’ need to be put into the context of the whole passage, so this is what Jesus has to say:

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

It was the Parable of the Persistent Widow.  Persistence is a hard thing – Merriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionary defines “Persistence” as:  the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people;  the state of occurring or existing beyond the usual, expected, or normal time

What I say is that when I don’t see results, I give up.  Merriam tells me persistence is a “quality that allows me to do something or tries to do something even though it is difficult”.  Where do I get this “quality”?

My initial thought is the Holy Spirit.  For me as a Christian, the Holy Spirit is central to my prayer life.  I can do nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit working within and through me.

Today, my prayer to the Holy Spirit is to help me to “not lose heart”.

Question:  Do you have any thoughts on faith?  Any experiences you would like to share or feel comfortable sharing?  I would LOVE to hear from you!

PS-  A quarter to the person who can figure out what “On” the next blog will be about…

PPS- That would be in Canadian currency in case you Americans think you’re going to get an extra two cents out of me … you will not …