Friday, October 29, 2004

A Breaking, All-over Light

OC said - "The Spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved."

This describes exactly what happened to me as I sat in my truck on a look-out point over the Stewart River on the road to Mayo, Yukon. I was confused, upset, and talking to God even though I told myself I didn't believe in Him. I had no idea what happened - how it was that I knew with such absolute certainty that I had just been forgiven, simply by asking to be. But I knew that it was so and my life changed from that moment on. (To read a few more details go to www.vinemarc.com/articles.htm

The "breaking, all-over light" dawned slowly, but as it rose in me, it began to shine out. People told me I actually seemed to physically change appearance. Two women who had known me as the miserable grouchy postal clerk argued as to whether I was in fact the same person. They were both right. I was, but I was not. Glory to God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Sign of the Times

Hello out there. Here's my Spur for this week -


NO TRESPASSING – KEEP OUT!
We’ve all seen the sign. Sometimes it’s on a fence protecting a farmer’s field or on a closed gate shutting off access to someone’s home. Sometimes it’s on the door to a teenager’s bedroom.
And sometimes it’s written in big bold letters across our hearts. We don’t want to let anyone in. We keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. We create an aura of self-confidence that leads everyone to believe we’re in control. It’s safe that way. No-one can hurt you if they don’t know you.
We do this even when we do need other people. When life falls apart due to circumstances, sickness or accident, instead of reaching out for help we tend to withdraw, to cover up the mess and try to keep the facade in place. God forbid that we show any sign of weakness.
God does not forbid it. He desires it. He wants us to be open and vulnerable with one another and with Him because it is through our weaknesses that we become aware of His strength. The apostle Paul proclaimed this openly – "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Corinthians 12: 9,10).
If we insist on closing ourselves off to others, we in effect close ourselves off to God. He wants to use those around us to help heal our hurts and clear away our confusion. He wants us to reveal our weaknesses so that we will know, and others will see, how His grace is sufficient. He has designed us to live in community in that way so that He can reveal His love and glorify Himself.
Unfortunately the very places where we should be able to drop our defenses are the places where we are the most guarded – at work and at church. We don’t dare let anyone know we aren’t perfect. We don’t dare let anyone see that we’re struggling in some way. It might mean loss of respect and reputation. It might mean rejection. So we pretend.
And we deny the power of God.
My husband used an illustration in his sermon last Sunday that depicted God’s reaction to our pretenses. He described a young boy pitching his tent in the back yard. He sets it up and then he posts that no trespassing sign. How does the father react? He laughs. He knows to whom the lawn belongs. He knows who owns the tent. He knows whose son is inside it. It all belongs to him.
Trying to deny our weaknesses is just that futile. We were created by Him. We belong to Him. He knows us. He wants to pour His love and grace through us but He can’t do it when we post that no trespassing sign. He longs to see another one written in big bold letters across our hearts – WELCOME. COME ON IN.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

OC says - "We give credit to human wisdom when we shuld give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough to trust God's wisdom and the supernatural equipment of God."

Foolish enough to trust God....
A pastor/friend emailed this morning and told how he was stopped in his tracks this past Sunday. He had his sermon all ready, laid out and diligently memorized, but then he sensed God telling him not to preach it. He announced that to his congregation at the beginning of the service. By the time the few songs and hymns had been sung, he knew what God wanted him to say instead. Kevin was foolish enough to trust God.

This is a very timely reminder for me. I'm preparing a talk for a women's group on Nov. 16th. Speaking is pure joy to me - like the famous line in Chariot's of fire, when I speak I feel God's pleasure. I'm very much aware of him standing beside me at the podium. It's a humbling experience. I spoke at a women's retreat a few years ago and had, like Kevin, prepared diligently, but no matter how I tried, I could not find good openings for the sessions. I was speaking four times and wanted to open with just the right anecdote, or joke, or whatever. But nothing seemed suitable, so the openings were all blank when I went to the retreat. They were still blank when we gathered together to worship before the session, and they were still blank as the MC introduced me. As I stood up and walked to the podium the opening for that session came to me as clear as a bell. The same thing happened at each session. I think God was just wanting to let me know who was really in control!
Foolish enough to trust God - to know his wisdom is so much higher - to know his equipment is the only kind that will supply what we need.
May we all be so blessed. :)M

Friday, October 22, 2004

Barren yet Full

OC says - "...but only simple perfect trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God's blessings, but only want Himself."
A friend who suffered from severe epilepsie came to this place of perfect trust when he was praying that God would heal him. He was stopped cold inthe middle of his prayer when God asked if he'd be willing to live with the seizures and rely on Him alone to deal with life. Dave took some time to get to the point where he could say yes, but when he did, he said he discovered what contentment really meant. He is content to live with epilepsy because Jesus is all he needs. It is a place of total barrenness yet total fullness in Christ.
The challenge may be greater for those of us who do not face such difficulties. We can live on our own steam, without pain or embarassment or fear. Yet we do not know that full barrenness.
This reminds me of a poem I wrote many years ago, just after we moved from the Yukon to Saskatchewan and I was coninually faced with a landscape that seemed empty. This is what I wrote -

MOVING TO SASKATCHEWAN
First, I chose a field among my northern hills,
a few acres of hay to stand in;
tried to imagine tall and waving wheat, a sky
not held by hill or mountain, a taking wind
tasting of dust;
tried to place myself
at the centre
of what I'd heard was there.
but on arriving, was not
prepared for absence
of comfort from
curving hill,
softness of hovering trees,
constancy of muted light and falling
sheltering shadow.
Then stood on prairie's edge, peering,
studying lines of intersection:
sky,
to land, to fence, to road, to
train track, to elevator, to
sky
. to land, to fence, to road...
and
in the seeking found
a fascination
in seeing,
in emptiness
what is completely full.

Blessings in barrenness to you all. M

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Gulp

Oswald asks - "Am I willing to let God do in me all that has been made possible by the Atonement?"

A question not to be answered lightly. And yet, as he says, we long for the answer to be yes. He also says, "stop longing and make it a matter of transaction." Longing to be made holy is like looking at the lifeboat and wanting to get in, but staying on the deck of the sinking ship.

It makes me think of Peter when he leaped out of his fishing boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. He did more than long to be with him, he leaped out of his comfort zone. Peter knew the boat wasn't as safe as standing in the middle of those waves with His Lord. That's total trust. Like Peter, we may get flashes of it, but it always seems to falter. I'm really glad Peter started to sink. Because I know that's what happens to me, but I also know that, like Peter, I can always raise my eyes again to the face of Jesus and see that he is extending his hand out to me, to draw me up again.

That's the kind of reality we need to grasp if we are to give our lives wholly to Christ. Let God do in us all that he intended from the beginning of time - wow - awesome thought. And what has he made possible? That we can live in grace and peace and contentment and love, even as He did. We can become like Him. Awesome thought #2!




Saturday, October 16, 2004

Snow Day in November

Snow Day in November? Yup. 7 cm of the white stuff on the gound this morning. I guess it's too late now to bring my geraniums in. Sigh. That's Alberta for you.

I wasn't supposed to work today - thought it was going to be a relaxing day of doing laundry and cooking a turkey for a dinner at our church tonight. Then the phone rang. I have four bosses where I work and they all live out in the country. Most of them don't like driving when the roads are icy, so they will often call me when winter blows in. But that's usually Dec.- March. November is a bit early!
But I was glad to get the extra day. Had hoped to do more work on my novel, but the disc I've been using seems to have gotten corrupted, so I've spent a rather quiet day reading instead - and waiting on the few customers who've braved the weather to come out and shop.

Anyone out there read Ghosts by Adrian Plass? He's a Brit and I love the wording in this book. Appeals to my Anglo Saxon blood I guess. It's also a good read on several other levels.

Unfortunately when I dashed from the house this morning I neglected to grab my Oswald Chambers journal, so I'll have no comment on that right now.

Hope the weather's better wherever you are! Blessings on your day. :)M

Friday, October 15, 2004

When the Spirit Comes In

Chambers says - "When the Holy Ghost comes in He does not consider my predilections, He brings me into union with the Lord Jesus."

And the scripture says - "While we were yet sinners..."

And this is the most unreasonable part of the Gospel. That the Spirit would come in even though my predilections are to reject what God wants, to disobey him, to continually fall on my face in sin and in short, to be entirely human. That God would nonetheless instill in me His own Spirit ought to make me fall on my face in adoration. He loves me that much. He wants me to know Him that badly. He's willing to go before His Father and say, "Look, this one belongs to me," even though I'm a dismal failure at being his follower.
How can we not love such a God?!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Going, going, gone

Some thoughts on Oswald -
I like his interpretation of the phrase, "Go ye" - he says "Go simply means live." Of course he qualifies that - it means to live in a state of abiding in Christ. When we do that, God "undertakes to establish the goings."
I think too often we get distracted by all the details -whether it's worth while to go on a short term mission, should I take this job or go back to school - etc. etc. All the questions and conunbrums of life can bog us down so that we forget to live in Him. We can not only live in Him, we can relax in Him. It doesn't really matter what the going looks like, as long as we are abiding in Jesus as we go, turning to Him for the strength, courage, and joy to live our lives each day. When he said that "All power is given to me," he said it knowing how hard life is, know how easily we get distracted. But we have his power and grace and love at our disposal. How can we lose? All we have to do is live! And then one day we'll be gone, gone into His presence completely. Yahoo! :)

****
Anyone interested in taking a course on writing devotionals? I'll be running a course starting in January through Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship. Contact me for more details.

And have a blessed day, "going." :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Spur

Hi everyone - here's my weekly column, The Spur for today -


Filling In The Blank
By Marcia Lee Laycock

"He/she was born to ........" (fill in the blank with the appropriate words). It might be any number of things – run, sing, play hockey, write poetry, act on a stage, administer a large company, serve in the military, police a small town, run a small business, care for a family, etc. etc. etc. Many of us spend our lifetimes trying to discover what the words in the blank space should be. We switch jobs every few years, not because there is something better to go to, but because we’re bored with what we’re doing. When we fail to discover what we’re born to do, the grass always looks greener in someone else’s back yard. Some of us never do discover those few words that describe the niche where we belong. Many are just concerned with trying to "make a living." We have to eat, afford a decent place to live, buy the clothes and other necessities that we need. Concern about what we were born to do tends to fade quickly as we face the cold realities of life.

In a world where choice is not only taken for granted, but considered a right, it is easy to be overwhelmed and even fearful of not making the right decision. Just ask any grade twelve student who is about to graduate. Many of them just decide not to choose. They don’t go to college, because they aren’t sure what they want to become. They don’t pursue a trade because they don’t want to waste the time if it’s not for them. So they float – live at home and work at one of the local burger joints. There are a lot of people out there who spend their whole lives floating. They make enough to survive. Some make more than enough. But those blank spaces remain empty.

Perhaps we are all looking in the wrong place, trying to fill the wrong blank space with the wrong words. Perhaps the importance of making a living and finding your niche in life should be a secondary consideration. The apostle Matthew tells us what Jesus said about this matter; there was a large crowd listening to him and he gave them some of the most profound and significant teachings of his entire ministry as they sat listening on a mountainside. He said – "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:25-34).

Perhaps, then we should all fill in the blank with the same words – He/she was born to glorify God. Perhaps that is the niche we were all born to fill. Perhaps once we discover that, all the other details will fall into place, just as Jesus said they would.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Putting the Axe to the Root

Oh dear. I knew Oswald was going to do it to me again. He always does. Today he's talking about putting the axe to the root of whatever is holding you back from coming to Jesus. He says, "The Holy Spirit will locate the one impregnable thing in you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him."
It reminds me of the time my husband and his associate and his wife took a counselling course. I took one look at the sylabus and said, uh, uh, not this chicken. I was conspicuous by my absence. The course was intense and in a way it was probably best that we didn't take it at the same time. It took me two years to finally take that step. It was intense and painful and humiliating in some ways, but the joy and freedom that came made it worth it all.
"For the joy set before Him..." oh, if we could only keep our eyes on that - on Him - it would be so much easier to take hold of that axe!
Blessings M

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A Bad Disposition

Oswald Chambers' assessment in his Oct. 5th devotional is sobering. It's a different way to look at the whole idea of why sin came into the world. It came in because we allowed it. Indeed, we embrace it.
Chambers' statement hits the nail on the proverbial head - "The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self-realization - I am my own god. This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself."
That was the curse of the pharisees as much as it was the curse of the theives and prostitutes Jesus associated with. And it is our curse today. The whole New Age philosopy is based on it.
It is a constant challenge to ward this off, to examine my own heart, my motives, my soul. I do so desperately want to be my own god. All of us do. That's what dying to self is all about, and it's a daily thing.
Thank God we don't have to fight it alone. Thank God He has given us His Spirit to help us do it. He has put His Spiriti in us and by that power we can defeat even this most base instinct. Praise His name!


Monday, October 04, 2004

Pot Shots at Pastors

There were fourteen of us in all, sitting on the couches and chairs around our living room, which is a bit too small for that many people. It was tight fellowship. In more ways than one. We had come together as pastors and wives from different towns and communities of Central Alberta. Wayne, the pastor who acts as our group leader, started things off by welcoming a couple who have just resigned from their church. He asked how they were doing. They described their loneliness, the discomfort of feeling that they didn't belong anywhere anymore, not even in this group, anymore. Their story broke my heart because they were our assistants for a few years. We know their hearts, their integrity, their desire to serve the Lord. Knowing they've been stomped on is hard to swallow. Knowing they're still hurting makes me hurt.
Then the next couple talked about why they were stepping back from youth ministry. Again, the story is grim. The next couple told us they are thinking of resigning from their church, more for the sake of their children than because they're tired of the battle themselves.

One of the more senior pastors mumbled - "Want to get shot at? Become a pastor."

It seems like there are few more difficult vocations. Then he began to tell us what has been happening in his church. They've gone through the gauntlet too, and are still under attack from some quarters, but then he told us about two men he led to Christ a while ago, and how they have been praying and gathering a small group around them to go door to door in the town where they've lived all their lives. The change in these two men is so obvious even the most skeptical have been taking notice. "God is doing something," the pastor said. "We've decided we want to stick around and see how it's going to turn out."

Then it was our turn and my husband admitted how many times we've come close to quitting. Sometimes it has just seemed too hard. But we've held on for fifteen years and it's been worth it. As he talked I remembered one Sunday morning, sitting in the front pew watching him preach. I didn't hear much of his sermon. I was too angry. I railed at God that morning. I asked Him why He didn't open the eyes of these people so they could see what my husband was doing right in front of them? Why are they always so self-focused? Why do they pout like five-year-olds and take out all their frustrations on a man who's just trying to serve them? Why don't they deal with their issues and do what the Bible says? On and on and on.

In the end I was silenced when I understood the Lord to say - he's not the only one who's been treated unjustly. And that's all the sermon I needed to hear that day. Jesus got through to me and I had a better understanding of what He went through as he stood before the Sanhedrin. Somehow that made our petty problems seem pretty insignificant. Somehow it made all the hurt a little more bearable.

But if you're thinking of taking a pot shot at a pastor, stop and ask yourself if you are really doing what God wants you to do. Ask Him what he thinks about the matter. You might be surprised at his answer.

Nothing in the Way

To read the devotional for Oct. 3, click on - www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost

Chambers says - "This is your line of service - to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself." This is the struggle of daily life, and I suppose always will be until we are with Him, fully redeemed. The good news is that Jesus intends it to be this way. He intends we struggle toward Him, to "win the prize" as Paul put it. It's in the struggle that we learn about Him. Our failures can sometimes knock us back, but if we keep focused on the Lord, we can't help but move toward Him again. His Spirit in us will always make it so. We are forever connected to Him, like the branch grafted into to the vine. My 'company' name came from this idea - VineMarc - a play on words with the first part of my name and the idea of being marked by the Vine. Some days I don't feel like that's true. But then there are others ... and every day I'm aware of Him, His mercy and compassion drawing me. All to His glory.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Cunning Skeptic

To follow along, click on - www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost

"Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned Who Jeus was, you were a cunning skeptic about His power."

Oh so true. I was a cunning skeptic for many years, denying the grace and power of God until the circumstances in my life demanded that I take another look. I'll never forget that summer - two friends committed suicide, a neighbour's baby drowned, a friend drowned in a canoeing accident, and another in a care accident. And in the midst of the whirlwind I got married! God got our attention soon after and began demonstrating His love for us immediately. He gave us a 'miracle' child, plopped us into a wonderful group of people who were just as excited about being new Christians, and then moved us to a Bible college in Saskatchewan to continue the journey. There has never been a dull moment since.
Whenever that cunning skeptic rears her ugly head - and she still does from time to time - all I have to do is look back. It truly helps me "face facts in the valley" and my faith grows.
God is so good!
Blessings on your day. :)Marci

Friday, October 01, 2004

Link to Utmost

Hi - for all those who might want to join me in reading Oswald Chamber's devotional, here's the link - www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost

Oswald Chambers ... again

I've been rearranging my office lately. We were given a wonderful large corner desk so we had to redisign the layout. That meant I had to deal with some boxes, cull some books (oh no, not that!) and generally get organized.
As I did so I discovered a journal my daughter bought me a few years ago - it's Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest - with big pages for writers like me to fill. I've been through this book at least twice before and decided to go through it again. Chambers is one of those writers that hits the nail on the proverbial head time after time. He's thought-provoking, challenging, and convicting.
So - I'm going to post my journal entries - hopefully each day. Hope you enjoy them.

Today's devotional is called the Sphere of Exaltation. Chambers says - "We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that' is where we have to prove our mettle."
I find that last sentence encouraging and comforting, to know that we haven't just been plunked down here in the struggle. We were made for it, made for this exact place and time. This lines up with 1 Corinthians 10:13 - we are never tempted beyond what we can bear.
Chambers goes on to talk about the building of character and again it's encouraging to know that what we go through is doing that, even when we don't realize it.
The great joy is in knowing that some day we will be rebuilt - in God's image - and will be with Him forever. Amen!
:)M