Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Sermon of Worth

My husband is a good preacher. In fact, I'd say he's a great preacher. I am a little biased, but others have echoed that sentiment. So I thought I'd give you a chance to hear him. Just click the link - The Misunderstoon Gift

Saturday, December 27, 2008

To Resolve or not To Resolve by Marcia Lee Laycock

I was delivering Christmas cards last week and stopped in to the small gym where I have been noticeable only by my absence lately. I admit I felt a little guilty going in the door. The owner greeted me with a wide smile and we wished one another a Merry Christmas. Then I said, “One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to get here more often.” My friend shook her head. “Oh don’t do that, don’t make yourself feel guilty about it!” Then she stammered a bit. “But …. I don’t mean …. Do come back!”

We laughed and I assured her I would.

I’ve been thinking about what she said ever since. I’ve been thinking about guilt. It does seem to be a big part of what we do at this time of year. We feel guilty for all the things we didn’t do in the past year and most of us resolve to do better. So guilt isn’t such a bad thing, if, and that’s a big if, we make the changes necessary in our lives. If guilt is unresolved it becomes an unhealthy thing and can lead to bitterness and anger that will only make us miserable. But guilt that leads to change, that’s healthy guilt.

So I have decided to make that New Year’s resolution, and a few others, and I’ve gone a step further. I have a plan for carrying it out. Often that’s the key. If we just dwell on our guilty feelings and set no goals or plans for how to change, nothing constructive will happen. Unhealthy guilt will result.

I’ve heard many people scoff and say that all religion does is make you feel guilty. They are absolutely right. But Jesus has gone a step further. He has set out a plan that wipes away the guilt. All we have to do is move from religion to relationship. Accept Him as our brother, our friend, our saviour, and no amount of guilt can hold us down.

The word guilt appears a few times in the Bible. My favourite is in the book of Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 22 – “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

I like those words, “assurance”, “cleanse” and “washed with pure water.” Though the guilt of our sin may bear us down, there is forgiveness. No matter what we have done, or what has been done to us, God forgives, and we are set free “by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body…” (Hebrews 10:20).

The best resolution any of us can make as we move into 2009 is to get to know Him more. I pray we will all resolve to do so. It’s the only way to get rid of all that guilt.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Day God Laughed

“See what you have to look forward to now?”

The whisper in my ear came from a friend in the pew behind us and it made my smile widen. It was Dec. 10th and we were on our first outing with our new baby. She was only 10 days old, but we braved the frigid Yukon winter to attend the Christmas pageant at a small mission church.

I knew the service wouldn’t be a grand production. The church was just a hall, tiny and dilapidated. The Carols were sung a cappella, without a pianist to help keep us in tune. The pageant consisted of six or seven children dressed in bathrobes, their heads in kitchen-towel wraps. The backdrop was made of cardboard stars covered in tinfoil.

But I was seeing everything attached to Christmas in a new way. The tinfoil stars glittered more brightly than a chandelier. The carols were as harmonious as though sung by angels. And the children... ah, the children made the story live! I was bursting with thankfulness. I had just been given the desire of my heart, the precious gift of a child of my own.

We had been told it wouldn’t happen, and after five years without conceiving a child, my husband and I tried to resign ourselves to that reality. I took great pains to hide the deep sadness I found almost unbearable. No one knew how much I wanted a baby, but the clues were there. I was angry much of the time. Convinced God was punishing me, I hated Him. The bitterness poured into all aspects of my life.

Until the day God laughed.

It was on the road to Mayo, Yukon. I was going to visit a friend, determined not to think about God or religion or any of the baffling questions my husband kept bringing up. But no matter what I tried, my mind would not rest. The question of God’s existence and what he had to do with me would not go away. In desperation, I pulled my vehicle into a lookout point above the Stewart River.

The beautiful river valley stretched out below, but I barely saw it. In turmoil, I challenged God to do something to prove He was there. Then I realized how foolish I was, talking to a God I did not really believe existed. At that point something happened which I have never been able to describe adequately. I “heard” laughter, like a grandfather chuckling, and the words, “Yes, but I love you anyway.”

None of this was audible, yet it was real. I thought I was going insane. The turmoil had finally pushed me over the edge and now I was hearing voices. I stomped on the gas pedal of my truck, turned the radio up as loud as it would go, and fled.

My visit with my friend turned out to be more discussion of spiritual things, but by the time I returned home I was determined not to pursue Christianity. Besides, I had something else on my mind. I had been suffering from a strange flu. On about the seventh day of this “flu”, the realization I was in fact pregnant flooded over me like warm rain. With it came a thunderbolt of truth.

This was the “something” I had challenged God to do. The child growing in my womb was His answer, the proof of His love. He gave me the desire of my heart. She was born Nov. 30, 1982.

“See what you have to look forward to now?”

Oh yes, I saw. I saw a future filled with the knowledge there is peace without measure, grace without limit and love without conditions. I saw a future suddenly bright because I believe the Christmas story. A tiny baby, whose sole purpose was to die for me and all others, was born in Bethlehem. I saw the reality that the Christ is still intimately involved in our lives here on earth. Though the church may be just a hall, the music less than perfect, and the costumes homemade, the story is exquisite.

The story is true!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm writing this from the library in the bustling berg of Bow Island, Alberta. That's about half an hour west of Medicine Hat. Yesterday I was in another "bustling berg" called Foremost, a village of about 500 people who apparently take their snakes seriously as you see by the photo at left.

I spoke at the Christian Women's Club in Foremost, in their brand new Community Hall. About 30 ladies turned out for thier "Fall Fair" and were enthusiastically bidding on bags of carrots and potatoes, quilted items, home made preserves, canned apple pie filling and an assortment of fresh baking. Over $500.00 was raised for Village Missions. It's been a good fall for the farmers in this area. The fields that go on and on to a wide horizon are spotted with large round bales, or resting with pale yellow stubble where wheat waved just a few weeks, or even days ago. The immensity of this land and its bounty is truly one of the wonders of this world.

I feel as though I've entered a bit of a time warp here, and the isolation of vast distances is evident, yet people are people. In the cafe I overheard a young woman talking about passing out on her couch after a night at the local bar but I was served by Mennonite women wearing long cotton skirts and dresses, with their hair bound into a bun at the back of their heads. There was a small plastic holder on the counter holding tracts like - What does Salvation Really Mean and How You can Tell You are Saved. The Bible belt is a reality.

Being among these folks gives me comfort. Though the radio is full of news of doom and gloom, not only in N. America but world-wide, I find myself being calmed by the stability I feel here, the solidity of people who live and work and raise their children in this far flung place, with a dignity and perseverance that is inspiring.

Tomorrow I'll be at Dove Christian Store in Lethbridge for a book signing for One Smooth Stone and Hot Apple Cider, with Jane Harris, author of Stars Appearing: The Galts’ Vision of Canada. Jane has done some promo in the area for the event, so we're hoping for a good turn out. With book signings you never know.

But today I relax in Bow Island and tonight I'll have the privielge of speaking at the Christian Women's Club here, and enjoy another Fall Fair. Perhaps I'll even bid on something this time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Consider Carefully

“Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” Luke 8:18

It never ceases to amaze me how you can read a passage of scripture that is very familiar and suddenly see - or hear - something that you’ve never seen or heard before. Such was the case when I read Luke 8:16-18.

It’s a familiar passage, one often quoted in the context of gifts and talents. But that is not the context. The context is talking about hearing and receiving God’s word. It comes immediately after the parable of the sower – that wonderful and somewhat convicting passage about those who were hearing the word but received it in different ways, under different circumstances.

For a while I wondered how these two passages were connected. They seemed isolated – one about hearing, the other about sharing. But as I pondered it, the light began to dawn. You cannot have one without the other.You will not have a light to put on a lamp stand or anywhere else if you are not receiving that light from a pure source. If you are not hearing from God, you have nothing worth saying.

Now I’m not talking about divine revelation in the same terms as we would consider scripture divinely revealed. I am talking about the everyday, ordinary way God speaks to us. I’m talking about how we listen. That is a difficult thing to do in these days that are so full of busy-ness and stress, but it is an essential thing, especially for those who would dare to be writers.

I remember a day some time ago when I realized how important it was. The day couldn't have been more perfect. The sky was clear, the sun dancing off the water. The beach slowly filled with parents and children, out to enjoy a day at the beach. After an overnight camp‑out, my friend and I had brought a few girls from our church's Kids' Club to have a swim and a picnic. We stretched out on the sand and chatted as we watched the children play. Little ones were busy making sand castles. An older pair tossed a frisbee above their heads.

A little red-haired girl caught my attention. She had wandered in front of us a few times, as she dashed from the edge of the lake to her mother, sitting in a lawn chair not far away. I watched as she stood still, her small head bent studiously over something in her hand. She turned and started toward us, stopped and peered at her hand once more, took a few more steps and stopped again. Her progress was slow as this pattern was repeated. As she approached, I could see a moth cupped in her palm. She tilted her hand each time it moved, stopped when it crawled dangerously close to the edge and moved slowly forward when it was secure again. Eventually the little girl reached her parent, holding her hand out for her to admire the precious treasure.

My delight in watching that little girl deepened as I heard God’s voice. “That’s how I carry you, to my Father’s delight.” The depth of Jesus’ love overwhelmed me in that moment.I know I could have missed His voice that day. I could have been anxiously watching the little ones under my care. I could have had my mind on all the stresses that come with being a pastor’s wife and mother. I could have let all of “life’s worries, riches and pleasures” get in the way. But somehow He broke through. I heard and was blessed and several times I have used that story in written form to illustrate God’s care for us.

We must take time to listen, consider the circumstances in which we have placed ourselves and see to it that we find a place that is conducive to hearing God’s voice. Then we will indeed, have something worth writing about.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Faithful No

Having to promote your own books is a daunting business. It can also be quite frustrating at times.

There's a large church near where I live that often has large events. Thinking about selling books, I clicked into their website to see if there was anything coming up. I was hoping they might allow me to set up a book table. I was glad to see there was an event coming up almost immediately, one that I decided I wanted to attend, so I e-mailed the woman in charge with my idea.

She e-mailed back right away but the answer was no. She explained that her committee thought it might be too much of a distraction. That did not brighten my mood. Other doors had closed that week and as I looked at the total number of books I have managed to sell in the past year, I became discouraged. In fact, I was downright depressed. I sat at my computer that day and thought, why am I hitting my head against this brick wall? I was sorely tempted to quit.
But I went to the event. It was a simulcast - a live video feed - with Beth Moore, speaking from a church in Louisville Kentucky. As I walked into the sanctuary that Friday evening, I wasn't feeling in the mood - I was still angry and frustrated and, underneath, wondered why God wasn't helping me to get the word out about my books. The video began and I found it did nothing to help. The sound was a bit wobbly and the music seemed "canned." I thought, oh yeah, here we go with another hyped-up performance that will leave me cold.

Then Beth Moore began to speak. Slowly her passion and sincerity began to break through. Her humour broke the heaviness. And I began to listen for what God was saying to me. He said plenty. Then the worship group came back on and suddenly the music lifted me into that place of praise and worship. By the end of the evening I was in tears at God's wonderful grace and mercy and unconditional love. I felt ashamed at my lack of trust. I knew my discouragement was a slap in God's face.

The next day was more of the same. I don't think it was a coincidence that Mrs. Moore spoke from Luke 8, which lays out the parable of the sower and talks about those who hear but don't respond, those who in "the time of testing fall away," and those who "hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures and they do not mature."
I left that place with a renewed sense of how alive my God is, how good, and how faithful. Best of all, I had a renewed passion for His Word. And I was so glad for that faithful "no." Had I been concerned with selling books I would have been distracted from what God wanted to say to me. I might not have heard Him at all.

As I read the rest of Luke 8 at home later, another verse popped out - verse 18 - "Therefore consider carefully how you listen." That's a verse to which I think we can all say, "Amen!"

Monday, August 04, 2008

Choice, or Not?

This morning I was reading this blog that has caught my attention lately. Her post today is about one of Michaelangelo's sculptures, which she saw at the Louvre - and about God's creation. As I read it I was reminded of going to the Prado in Madrid, walking into one of the galleries where some of Goya's more grostesque paintings were hung. And it raised thoughts about what we choose to create and how much choice we really have after all, in the creation process.
Goya's "Black Paintings," depicting war and suffering, were done after he'd gone through an illness that left him deaf. The dark images no doubt reveal the darkness that was in him. Did he have a choice? Could he have painted a lovely pastoral scene during that time in his life? And is one image of more value than the other because it brings pleasure? We would tend to think so, but I wonder. Goya's dark images had a powerful affect on me as a sheltered young woman from North America. They opened my eyes. I began to see more in the streets of Spain than just the architecture. I saw the people. Sometimes I saw their pain.
This leads to questions about writing as a Christian. Many would prefer that we write only about what is pleasant, never allowing the darkness of the world onto the page. But what if that's what is in us? What if that's what needs to be written? What if our readers need to be shocked into opening their eyes?

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Small Pond

When my husband and I started talking about leaving the community we had lived in for almost 20 years, I started praying. We had no idea where the Lord would take us but I had a few ideas about what I wanted.

I decided to share them with Him. I told Him how much I loved the fireplace in our living room. It would be nice if there was one in our new home.

And water. Oh, Lord, how I would love to live by water again.

And now here we are. There is a fireplace in our small living room - not a wood-burning one, not a very big one, but it does bring warmth on a cold winter night. And water? Well, the Lord does have a sense of humour. I was thinking Lake, or River, or even Ocean.

What I got was pond - a tiny pond. But well used - skated on in the winter, played around in the summer. I can sit in my front window and watch the play of light and wind across it. Right now it's kind of ugly because the town has drained it again. Someone said they did that because they want the beaver to move out. They're killing the trees. (The beaver, not the town). I was amazed to learn there were beaver in what seemed to me little more than a puddle. But they were there. And of course there are birds of various kinds - a family of geese for a while, and a duck or two now. My family and I were getting out of our car one night and stopped to listen to the frogs. They were putting out a veritable chorus. It made us smile.

So it's not a Lake or a River or the Ocean. It's just a small pond. But it is full of life.

As we plant this small church, and live in a small house with a small fire place across from a small pond, I am reminded of the scripture that says - "Who despises the day of small things?" (Zech.4:10)

God's hand, His life, is in it all. And I am grateful.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Master's Hands

I was having trouble. It was a few weeks into the term in my pottery class and I still wasn't able to create a descent piece of work using the potter's wheel. I was getting tense about it. Most of my classmates had by now managed the skill of throwing on the wheel and were producing perfect cylinders. My cylinders were not working. Either I tried to bring them up too quickly and their walls grew too thin, or a jerk of my hand would put them off centre and a wild wobble would result in nothing more than a pile of goo. Every time my instructor walked by I got more nervous and tried harder. The harder I tried the more I failed.

Then one day my instructor came up behind me as I was attempting to centre the lump of clay. He was a big man with huge hands and he towered over me. I looked up, ashamed of my incompetence, but instead of a scowl, I saw him smile. "Relax," he said. "Trying too hard just causes more failure." He put his large hands on my shoulders and kneaded my tense muscles. "Now, take a deep breath and try again," he said.

I positioned my hands on the clay but the lump continued to wobble. I slumped back on the chair and looked up again. "Will you show me?" I asked. My instructor nodded and told me to try again, then leaned over me and placed his hands over mine, guiding them gently until the lump was spinning at perfect centre. When our thumbs pushed down into the centre the lump gave way and formed a perfect donut shape. Then he took his hands away. "Gently," he said, and stood back as I slowly drew the walls of the cylinder up. He laughed with delight when I clapped my hands at the finished product - a perfect cylinder. I had no trouble producing them from that time on.

I've thought about that day many times over the years, when I've become stressed about one situation or another. Too often I allow myself to get tied up in knots over something, forgetting that God is standing with me, waiting to guide me, waiting to give me the peace that seems so elusive. Then I remember my pottery instructor's large skilled hands and I remember to ask for God's help.

It comforts me to know that even Jesus' disciples sometimes failed to understand that when they are with Jesus there is no need to worry. The day they sailed across the Sea of Galilee, for instance. The wind began to rage and it looked like their boat would sink. Jesus was sleeping through it all until they woke Him. He quickly calmed the storm and said, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25). Their response was to wonder, "Who is this?" That is the perfect response.

When we see the hand of God move it is fitting to ponder who He is, to recognize His power and sovereignty and to relax in it. Perhaps the next time we will be a little slower to get stressed and a litttle quicker to ask, "Will you show me?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Watching Someone Read

I was on my way to Winnipeg to participate in the School of Writing at the Canadian Mennonite University. I was nervous about going, even though my work had been accepted and I'd been granted entrance to the advanced fiction class with Canadian literary icon, Rudy Wiebe. I had submitted three short stories that I'd worked on long and hard but I had chosen to workshop another ten pages - part of the sequel to my novel, One Smooth Stone. Would they like it? Would the writing be good enough?

As I settled into my seat on the plane, the stewardess came down the aisle and asked us all to move forward, to balance the load. i ended up sitting one seat back and across the aisle from a young woman who took out a book to read. As she did so, the colour caught my eye. Hmm ... same colour as the cover on my book.

I watched out the window as the ground dropped away and the plane lifted off, then glanced across the aisle again. The young woman had turned the book. My book. It was a surreal moment. A comforting, though in a way, disconcerting moment. What did she think of it? She seemed to be reading eagerly enough. But did she like it? Was it good enough?

The day my excerpts were to be critiqued, my palms were sweating and my heart was beating a little faster than normal. Finally the comments began. According to the rules I wasn't allowed to speak until given permission by the instructor. Staying silent was at once a relief and a hardship. Then Rudy made some comments, asking for further input from the class, dissecting the work.

Then his words, "this is good writing."

Words from "the master." I could have danced down the aisle.

But now the euphoria has worn off and I'm working on the sequel. What will people think of it? Will it be good enough?

And then I go back to why I write - because it's the way I'm "wired." Because I can't not write. Because the images and characters and scenes and emotions flood out of me through a keyboard and I can't stop them any more than I could stand in a flood and stop the raging waters.

And then I remember who made me this way, who controls what happens to the words I type on this computer, and who will some day say, "well done," if I work in obedience to Him.

And I realize how much I want to hear that Master's voice and how much I want to some day dance down that aisle. So I go on, trying to be obedient to the task of being a writer, fighting off the self doubt and the need for affirmation from men when the only thing that counts is affirmation from Him.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Barn Full
By Marcia Lee Laycock

My daughter just sent me an email - it was one of those forwarded, forwarded, forwarded things, which I ordinarily don’t like receiving. But this one was intriguing. It was the story of a man who purchased a piece of property for half its value. The property had been hard to sell because it had an ugly barn on it with a huge steel door welded shut. When the man took possession of the property he immediately got a grinder and opened the doors on the barn. What he found inside no doubt made his heart beat a little faster. It was full of old vintage cars, worth over thirty-five million dollars!

That man took a chance – he could have ended up with a barn full of worthless widgets, or something more disappointing. But the risk paid off. What intrigued me about this story is why so many people were unwilling to take the same chance. What held them back?

Perhaps it has something to do with the glass half full image – perhaps all those other people who looked at the barn envisioned all the disagreeable and inconvenient things that could be inside it. Perhaps they looked at that barn and thought about animals and what they produce. Perhaps they looked at those steel doors and just couldn’t be bothered trying to figure out a way to open them. Pity. They could have been the recipients of a storehouse of treasure.

Sometimes Christians miss out in this same way. We look at the “barn” of involvement in other people’s lives, of loving our neighbours as ourselves, of following Jesus in obedience and humility, and we think it all involves too much risk. We aren’t sure what will happen when we open those doors. It takes a little too much work and it could be pretty messy inside. So we walk away. Pity. We’re missing the treasure of being blessed. You see it’s through some of these hard and messy things that God teaches us about Himself and teaches us about the joy of serving. It is through obedience that God leads us closer to Himself. And there, indeed, we will find a storehouse of treasure – a more clear understanding of His character and His deep love for us.

Failing to trust God and take the risk of obedience means we may miss the indescribable joy of hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). So the next time you’re looking at a barn full of unknowns, go ahead. Open those doors.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Inheritance by Marcia Lee Laycock

"Wake up!"
I felt my mother's small hand gently shaking my shoulder. My eyes flickered for a moment, then closed again in the bright light. But Mom shook me again.
"Come and see," she said, her voice a whisper.
My eyes popped open then. I knew there was something wondrous in store. I slipped out of bed and padded at her side into our living room. My brother was already there, kneeling on the couch as he stared out the front window. There on our front lawn was a pair of long-billed curlews. We were used to seeing sandpipers, but this large bird was new. We knelt there for some time, watching the pair peck at the grass, then make their way to the water's edge. When they were gone, the three of us dressed quickly and hurried to the beach to look at the tracks they had made in the sand.
As a child I was blessed to inherit a kind of child-like amazement about the world from my mother. She would often wake my brother and me to show us something new and wonderful. One morning there was a whistling marmot that had taken up residence in a pile of railroad ties beside our house. Another, it was a family of muskrats. Sometimes it would be the long-legged blue heron that fished in the reeds just beyond our door.
One of my most treasured memories of my mom is the day I happened to look out the window and see her sitting in a recliner on our front lawn. There were four tiny hummingbirds hovering around her. That was breathtaking all on its own, but it was the look on my mother's face that I've never forgotten. It was pure delight and awe and joy. My mother was passionate about the world in which we lived and she was able to communicate that to others around her, especially her children.
But over the years, as I grew, and as life "happened," that passion died. The world has a way of doing that to us. Disappointments dull our sensitivity to the beauty around us, pain and suffering make us oblivious to the wonder of it, and cynicism begins to live in us to the point of joylessness.
It wasn't until I became a believer that the world suddenly became an amazing place again. I remember the first spring just after I became a Christian. We were living in the Yukon and springtime there seems to arrive almost overnight. I wrote a poem to try and express it -

Green so fills my eyes
I sway
with spring
a song
alive and swelling
out of winter grey and white
the colour
in fields and ditches
and I wonder
was there life
before this day?

Truly, there was no life before that day. Life had dried up and blown away long before, leaving me like a dry husk, alone and miserable.
But on that day, the day when I asked Jesus to forgive me and to be the centre of my life, the dry husk drank in the living water of Christ's love and I came alive again.
The book of 2 Corinthians, chapter 5 verse 17 says - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
I began to see with new eyes, or rather, eyes that had been reclaimed by Christ. And the world became a beautiful place once again, full of colour and vibrancy and even grace.
I owe that child-like sense of wonder to my mother, but I owe my life - the abundant life God promises all believers - to Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shadows and Light by Marcia Lee Laycock

We had to stoop low to enter the church through a portal in the thick stone wall. The chill of the interior was warmed by the hum of voices, some chanting prayers, some murmuring as tourists wandered about the interior. Our guide pointed out the architecture and mosaics unearthed on the floors as he led us through narrow corridors and down warn stone steps toward the focal point of the cathedral. This was, in the minds of many of the pilgrims lined up to enter, the birth place of Christ, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The "manger" had been made into an ornate shrine, a silver star inlaid into the stone floor, marking the place where the babe was laid. Coloured glass oil lamps hung from above on golden chains and heavy draperies surrounded the spot. Golden icons of Christ and various saints rimmed the grotto.

A monk knelt to pray at the entrance to the stone stable opposite, and a pilgrim all but crawled into the manger itself, bending low to kiss the star. Candles burned down to mounds of wax at every turn. The dim lighting seemed appropriate as many more pilgrims wove their way by, descending the stone stairs, then climbing back out again to emerge in the sanctuary where confessional booths were labelled with various languages - English, French, German, Dutch, Arabic.

I could not help but have a deep sense of sadness as I watched. I could not help but see the shadows in a place that should have been full of light. Many of the paintings on the walls were blackened by the smoke from oil lamps and candles. Mosaics and frescoes were crumbling. That too seemed fitting. For it seemed the devotion of many of these people was misplaced. They attributed power to relics of wood and cloth, wept at the sight of a shrine built by human hands, and prayed to saints long dead and powerless to help them.

And yet, the focus was still Christ. And yet, the power of God does break through, in spite of every misconception, every dimness of thought and theory, in spite of the inherent corruption of man and the shadows he creates. For the story of His birth is true, the example of His life undeniable and the plan of His salvation accomplished. For centuries people have worshipped Him and His church has been established forever, "and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18b).

The light of Christ will shine, even in ancient dim cathedrals. It shines in the hearts of believers and in the work they do in His name all over the world. Though our motives are sometimes suspect and our understanding limited, His grace and mercy are pure and powerful. The purposes of God, though accomplished by flawed servants, are moved forward as He establishes His kingdom on this earth. The light does dispel the darkness. The shadows do flee away.

All glory to Him, all honour to Him, all praise to His name.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Psalms of Ascent

Psalms of Ascent

Psalm 124 rang with poignancy and prophecy as I read it this morning.
My husband and I have just returned from Israel. The experience of being there is overwhelming in many ways. You are constantly reminded of the country’s history and its future, constantly reminded of God’s hand at work. Having read Epicentre, by Joel Rosenberg, just before going there, the echoes of past, present and future were everywhere.

Our tour guide, a very knowledgeable and respectful man named Moshe (Moses), often referred to a phrase that rings with determination in the Jewish mind – “Never again.” Never again will the Jews be persecuted in the way they were during WW2; never again will the Jews allow their people to be isolated and abandoned. Men like Moshe believe it is their military might and human skill that will save them. But Psalm 124 says - “If the Lord had not been on our side – let Israel say … if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive…” (vs. 1-3).

As I left Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, I could not help but fear that, as Rosenberg believes, Israel will one day be isolated and abandoned once again – perhaps very soon. Her military might and human skill will not be enough to save her.

Standing on the heights of Megiddo and looking out on the Jezreel Valley, (see photo), I was chilled not only by the cool breeze but by the echo of prophecy that says that the enemies of Israel will descend upon them. But God will protect them. The Bible tells us thousands will die that day and all of Israel will know it was the hand of God.

But in the meantime there are wars and rumours of wars – death in the villages of Gaza and the Israeli towns bordering it and death in the city of Jerusalem itself.

Psalm 122 tells us, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem … may there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” (v.6,7).

Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to take those words to heart.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I purchased Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg for my husband this past Christmas. I thought it would be a timely gift since we are leading a tour to Israel soon. He read it cover to cover in record time and then suggested I read it too. I've just finished it and found it a fascinating read.
Mr. Rosenberg is extremely well connected in the political spheres of our world - in the U.S., Israel, Russia and many Arab countries as well. He is in a good position to speak on the topic of prophecy since many call him a modern day prophet. And justly so. His novels have proven to be prophetic over and over again, to the point where he has attracted the attention of media and govenment officials alike.
No, he's not a member of the CIA or any other intelligence organization. He's just a Christian who has read his Bible and is able to interpret modern day events in light of Biblical prophecy. Astonishingly accurately in fact.
Read this book. It's important.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quoting My Husband

This is a short excerpt from the sermon my husband gave last Sunday. I found the stats. surprising, to say the least -

The focus of the Bible is not, as we might suppose, on the events of Christ’s first coming as Messiah, though this is certainly foundational. The focus of the Bible is on the Second Coming of Christ. “It’s been estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ – an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses! Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to the second. In short the Bible is not all about the historical Jesus, it’s about the pre-eminent, soon to return, majestic and glorious Son of God, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. It’s content on this subject cannot come from man, for man cannot live in the future and come back to the past. The content of Scripture has its source in the author behind the author – God Himself.