Clouds

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Today’s prompt is the word “clouds” and today’s reading included Proverbs 3:19-20:

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

I’ve been caught in a number of storms lately.  Actually, it has been a stormy summer (and I love it) in Edmonton this year.  Not since the first summer I visited here do I remember this many rainstorms and thunderstorms.  I consider it very much a blessing to be here writing this short devotion while rain falls loudly outside my window.

Yesterday, I got caught in the hailstorm in downtown Edmonton.  Perhaps it went on for 20 minutes, but it seemed like hours.  I tried to get off the road under some sort of canapé of trees or some other covering, but could not find a good spot.  It was somewhat frightening to be driving while hail noisily pelted the roof and windows of my car.  Of course, I prayed for protection.  But I also complained about being in the midst of such a violent storm.

Today, the storm clouds rolled in again as I parked at home at Taylor Seminary.  I got stuck over in the seminary offices when the boomers started.  In a violent thunderstorm even a short distance of a few hundred feet is too far to walk.  This was one of those times.  So, I waited it out.

I chatted with a few people while I waited for the storm to pass.  It was fun and I received some encouragement.  God knows when the clouds let drop the dew.

Ciao for now.

Clouds

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Tourist

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I remember in my early days as a Christian, when I read the Bible for the first time, and I read of how we are stewards of the earth.  I was surprised because a lot of the Christians I had been acquainted in years prior seemed to regard themselves as tourists here on earth.  “It’s all going to go away anyways,” kind of thinking.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  What we do with what we have been given has lasting, eternal implications.

Before I moved to Edmonton, I came up on an exploratory trip.  I was a tourist – a visitor. But as I checked out ways that could possibly lead to my move here, the groundwork was being laid for this to be my home.  Relationships were established and developed, familiarity with the City was bred, arrangements were made to make my new home.

Now, as I think about my real home, I think about things very similarly.  I am a visitor here on earth, establishing and developing relationships, getting familiar with the kingdom of God, working out my salvation so to speak, so as to enter the New Jerusalem when the time comes.

Tourist with a purpose; that’s what I am.

Bless ya – ciao for now.

Tourist

Water

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An essential for life – water.  On this 8-week blood sugar diet (and today is Day 15 for me), an increase in water is required.  It fills you up and hydrates the body to make it capable of walking the distances I am walking (sometimes) and functioning much better.    I try and drink 4 very large glasses of water a day at a minimum and whenever I am hungry, I try to remember to reach for the water first and then if I am still hungry, reach for the celery and carrots.

In Chapter 4 of the Book of John, there is an account of a thirsty Jesus asking a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.  She no doubt draws him a drink of water to satiate his thirst. Jesus offers her a different kind of water, though (v. 13-14):

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Once we receive Jesus’ gift, we can be sure he will evidence himself in us.  We will lose our thirst for our own significance, our own comfort, our own agendas, and thus allow him to work in us to point the way to him.  It is a transformational process and not an instantaneous event.

I am in a place of healing and reflection where once again, I can draw on the spring of water residing inside me that is eternally life-giving.  Thank you, LORD.

Ciao for now.

Water

Deprive

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So, today I went on a 6-mile walk.  I figured I did that yesterday, so I should be able to do that today.  Wrong.  The notion that I could do a 6-mile walk today sort of resulted from an inability to meet the demands of reality.

I am in a study group that is working through Henry Cloud’s book Integrity.  In that book, he defines character as “the ability to meet the demands of reality.”  That is a very interesting definition of character, isn’t it?  He illuminates further, “a person’s character determines whether he or she will succeed in [a] situation.  This comes to mind for me as I continue on this 8-week journey to attempt to get my blood sugar under control through diet and exercise.

One of the things I like about me is my ability to focus the resulting stick-to-it-iveness that comes along with that.  Generally speaking, when I decide to do something, I go at it 110% and don’t get off track easily.  But that ability also can create some problems.  One of those problems is that at 110%, I often get ahead of myself.  My self-talk tends to be, “just get a little ahead of the game and then you can relax a little bit.”  But of course, even if I get a little ahead, I then want to get even more ahead – put a little more in the bank so to speak.  In terms of my current exercise regime, I almost always try and push myself beyond my capabilities today so as to have a better tomorrow.

In other words, I try and do tomorrow’s walk today.  Today that got me in a lot of trouble as I found myself in considerable pain about 4 miles into my 6-mile walk.  I hobbled along praying earnestly that someone who knew me would see me and rescue me.  It so happens that someone (Margaret) did see me and rescue me.  Thank you, LORD, for sending Margaret just in the nick of time and reminding me that I can trust you in the small things as well as the large things of life.

I am only two weeks into this new regime!  Why in the world would I attempt such a long distance?  I think there is another part of me that tried to do yesterday’s walk today as well.  I’m needing to lose weight and after years of not exercising properly, perhaps I am trying to make up for those years.  I want yesterday’s reality to be rewritten.

But Henry Cloud talks about meeting the demands of reality.  And reality is right here right now.  Today’s walk is for today.  To try and do yesterday’s walk or tomorrow’s walk today is a recipe for robbing myself of the joy on today’s walk.  Today’s painful experience was proof of that!

Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Today has enough trouble of its own.”  Boy, that was true for me today! Worrying about tomorrow guarantees to deprive me of joy today.

God bless you . . . today.

Ciao for now.

Deprive

Fence

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Today’s reading for me is Psalm 119.  It is a beautiful psalm.  A psalm that covers the A to Z (or rather the א to ת) of the benefits of honouring God’s laws.  In fact, in the 176 verses of the psalm, I counted the following references to “the law”:

law(s) – 45
statutes – 22
precepts – 21
decrees – 22
commands – 22
your word(s) – 23

That is 155 references with those words that refer to God’s laws.  (I’m sure I missed some, but still, that’s a lot of reference to the law!)

It is easy to think of the law as something that restricts us – like a fence.  But the paradox surrounding God’s law is that it sets us free.  I believe that is because God’s laws are a description of reality.  His laws are universal truths.  Unlike civil laws which vary from state to state, province to province, and country to country, God’s laws cover all corners of the earth and beyond.

Psalm 119:45 says, I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”  

The laws are not spelled out in Psalm 119.  You have to read the rest of the book for that.  I assure you, it is well worth the read.

Have a great day.Fence

Prophecy

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“This is going to be hard.”

I thought that just before opening an email in response to an email I had sent to someone on an online dating site.  I remember it like yesterday.  And I also remember thinking, “Now, why did you think that?”  It was the beginning of a journey that has led me to be right here, right now.

I was working for a school district in southeastern Michigan at the time.  And as per usual, was also going to school.  At this time, I was going to Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.  I rushed from work to go take an exam and as I was bolting through the parking lot at LTU, my right foot stepped in a pothole.  As my left leg went to rescue me from a fall, there was a big pop and I was writhing on the ground.

A visit to the ER, a surgery shortly thereafter to repair my patella tendon which had severed, and some time off, gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life.  I decided that work and school could not be all there is to life, so I decided to try internet dating.  Maybe it was time to find someone and settle down.

One night, I happened on a profile that drew me.  This guy seemed to have everything. Not classically handsome, but his demeanor was what was attractive.  I read his profile.  He was 37, I was 41 – I thought that would never work, so I went looking at other profiles.  But I came back to his and read his profile again.  He was from Saskatchewan (which embarrassingly, I thought was on the far east coast), and I lived in the Detroit area – I thought that would never work, so I went looking at other profiles again.  But once again, I came back to his and read his profile again.  He was a born again Christian and I was an atheist – I knew that would never work, but because I kept coming back to his profile, I decided to write him and get him out of my system.  Something like…..

I know I’m too old, and I know that people who hang with JC typically don’t hang with people of other faiths, but I just had to tell you I think your profile is one of the most positive I’ve ever seen – I am sure you won’t be out here for long.  Really, I don’t normally write like this.  I am not a whacko.

I figured there would be no response and I could just get on with things.  But the next day, I got a response, and before I even opened the email, I thought, “This is going to be hard.” And I wondered why.

That began a journey.  A few months later, I met Christ and fell in love with him.  He became paramount in my life. And that has resulted in letting go of agenda after agenda after agenda that I have had for me.  Some things are easier to let go of than others.  But it certainly has been so far a hard, though often joyful journey.

The picture above is of Jerusalem.  It sits on top of a hill.  The journey to Jerusalem is an ascent, not a descent.  It involves struggles and difficulties.  My journey to Jerusalem has involved meeting and getting to know others on the same path who have helped to ensure that the ascent is a joyful one.

Blessings as you go!

Prophecy

Voyage

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Whenever I hear the word “voyage,” a picture like the one above comes to mind.  I have certainly had some interesting voyages of this nature.  I remember the one and only time I went on a sailboat – let’s just say I don’t have the stomach required to be good company while on the water!

I was on a cruise ship once from Florida to Grand Bahama Island.  My Uncle Mike, who was a former Coast Guard Captain, had invited us to his wedding.  So, my mom and I travelled with some well-seasoned sailors during a very rough crossing.  There was not much eating going on at all on that cruise ship as many became sick over the sides of the ship.  It was a brutal crossing while at the same time thrilling as our ship was tossed about on the waves.

A more obsolete definition of “voyage” is an enterprise or undertaking.  I’m old enough that I understand voyage in that way as well (which may mean that I am obsolete, too!). And it is in this context that I am dwelling today.  I am on many concurrent voyages:

A voyage toward health.

A voyage toward a career.

A voyage toward true inner peace.

A voyage toward Jerusalem.

What is thrilling to me is that we are all on various voyages and when our journeys intersect, the voyage gets just a little bit better.  This last week has been a great week of intersecting with others as we journey together.