Sunday, July 30, 2006

On a Sunday Morning

It's Sunday morning. I woke as my husband was crawling out of bed to get ready to leave for his first service in a small town south of here. I woke with an image in my mind of one of the powerpoint slides for his sermon. Then my eyes popped open as I realized I hadn't added the animation to the slides - that's the tool that makes each line pop up on the screen, rather than the whole shooting match all at once.

I scrambled up and as Spence went to get coffee at Tim's I headed for the church. It only took me a few minutes to add the animation to the slides, then we enjoyed our coffee and bagels together. I thanked the Lord for bringing my error of omission to my mind.

So this morning I've had time to post some things to my blogs - just put one up at my blog for writers and it sparked a thought. All over the world people will meet today to worship the Lord. Some, if not all, of that worship will glorify Him and I wondered about the cumulative effect of that. It makes me wonder about the end of our days as we know them - that last day when the Lord will say, "enough" and return.

We so often think it will be the cumulative effect of evil that will herald His coming. But I wonder. Could it be that it will be the cummulation of praise that will finally be enough? Could it be that when Christ is finally glorified to the extent that He is due, He will reveal Himself to us?
I wonder. And I am struck with awe at how glorious that day will be. The whole earth will indeed know and bow the knee to Him as he returns in that blaze of glory.
Oh come, Lord Jesus.
M

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Few Words on Self-Esteem

We hear a lot about self-esteem in our modern age. Psychologists and Psychiatrists have probably made millions by advertising that they could build it up or rejuvenate it or even originate it. Self esteem is something we all know we all need in order to feel good about ourselves and function well in our society. There are a lot of ways to build it up. Some of them even work. But at the end of the day self esteem is never enough.

A man named Simon discovered that. From all accounts he was the kind of guy everyone would suspect of low self-esteem. He always tried too hard. Always was too quick to answer, too quick to act, too quick to declare his undying allegiance. And he could never follow through. He was a failure and everyone knew it. People probably smiled indulgently when he spoke, shook their heads when he made his outrageous claims, maybe even laughed out loud when he did things like jump out of boats in the middle of deep water.

Simon himself knew he was a failure. But his self-esteem got a boost, once. His teacher asked him a question and for once his quick answer was right on the money. He answered the most crucial question any of us has to deal with. Jesus asked, “But what about you? … Who do you say I am?” Simon answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16).

That’s when Jesus told him who he really was. He called him Peter, the rock, and told him he had a great future building the kingdom of God on earth. Perhaps, just for a moment, Peter believed it. But it didn’t take long before he was acting like the same old Simon. And then came that day when he proved himself not only a failure, but a coward. Though he now bore the name Peter, his self esteem could never have been lower when he denied knowing the one he called The Christ. All the self-esteem he’d been building up as one of the leaders on Jesus’ team did him no good. The darkness that fell over the earth when Jesus died probably matched the darkness in Peter’s heart and soul at that point.

If Jesus had been any other man, any other God, Peter would probably have ended up on the skids after that. He knew he was the biggest fool in the bunch. But he also knew this Jesus. There was still a spark of hope inside Peter, so when the women came and told him Jesus was alive he ran to the tomb, ran for his life. And when Jesus walked with him and asked him another vital question, three times, Peter no doubt did not miss the significance. “Do you love me?” Jesus asked. And Peter’s answer was not so quick, not so self-assured, not so based on his built-up self-esteem. His answer, “Yes Lord, yes Lord,” and finally, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.” (John 21:15-17). His answer was based on the relationship he had with the one who asked the question. His answer was based on an understanding of who Jesus was and who he was in relationship to Him.

Peter had finally understood that he was not the one who could summon up great faith and courage. He was not the one who would have all the right answers and all the power to do miracles. He was not the one who would build God’s church. He finally understood. It was not about self-esteem or prestige or power. It was not about him at all. It was all about Jesus.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friends who Bring Flowers

I hosted our readers' group tonight but it was a little different than the usual. Joanne arrived first, with a cheese ball, crackers and bottle of sparkling (non-alcoholic) grape juice. Then Karen came and I thought I heard them whispering when I was in the kitchen. Karen had brought food too. Finally Terrie arrived. I was in the kitchen again when she came up the stairs so I didn't notice the flowers at first. We chatted in the kitchen for a while until Joanne got impatient and told us to sit down so we could start. Then the flowers (24 long-stemmed roses!) came out and the hand-made card, andTerrie popped the cork and I got out the wine glasses. They toasted me and my book and wished me much success.
How blessed I am to have such friends! :)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Last Sunday

Beginnings. We like to celebrate them. We mark birthdays and break out the cake and ice cream each year. We recognize anniversaries and send cards and well wishes. And of course, we party hearty on Canada Day in this country and today, the 4th of July, in the U.S. Beginnings are important and it’s good that we take time to think back to when our countries first began. They both had founding fathers who were concerned about the spiritual needs of their new countries. We see it in the constitutions they drew up and in the songs they picked as their nation’s anthems. Our heritage is a spiritual one. Unfortunately, that emphasis has been forgotten.

A young man came to our church as a guest soloist this past Sunday. We had just celebrated Canada Day and, in our town, it’s all wrapped up in the Stampede. Fire works on the first were a little anti-climactic since they’d been booming into the skies for a few nights already. The excitement of the rodeo overshadows the Canada Day events in this town. But this young man had been the singer/preacher at Cowboy Church, held at the stampede grounds earlier that morning and had been asked to come and sing for our congregation. He has a rich, booming voice and his first song caught our attention. Then he said he was going to sing O Canada, our national anthem. I thought, well, okay, I guess that’s appropriate in a way. Then he said that he had discovered that our national anthem was actually a prayer. That got my attention.
As he started to sing the congregation rose to its feet and joined in. Then, after the well-known chorus, our voices faded away as Trevor continued alone singing words that stunned me. They are, indeed, a prayer -
Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,Hold our dominion within thy loving care;Help us to find, O God, in theeA lasting, rich reward,As waiting for the Better Day,We ever stand on guard.
When the song, originally written in French, became our national anthem, this and other references to God were left out. Over the years, the original intent of the song has been completely lost.

How sad. How tragic. Though the song had been sung since 1880 it became official as our anthem in 1980. It took only one hundred years for God to be left out. How frightening. As Trevor finished singing on Sunday morning, he gave a warning that our country is a long way from what it should be, spiritually. He encouraged us to pray.

Perhaps it would be fitting to sing the anthem every day – as it was originally written. After all, it is a prayer.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Me by Laura

This is a photo of me taken by my daughter, Laura shortly after she returned from Bangladesh last month.