Monday, January 25, 2010

Removing Blinders

Courage is more than seeing sin.

How often, because we so desperately desire to see good, are we deceived? Longing to believe that what is, isn't, we are quick to excuse and grab hold of any thread offered. A thread woven with lies. A blind eye will only hide sin, not remove it.

Francis Frangipane writes, “Sin wears a cloak of deception.” It embraces rationalization and compromises. “For sin engulfs the mind in a cloud of alibis and cover-ups as it seeks to keep itself alive. It twists and distorts the truth, and without plans for repentance it calmly reassures us, 'God understands; He'll never judge me.'”

“Should an embarrassing sin nearly be exposed through circumstances etc., we thank God that our secret problem remained hidden. As likely as not, however, it was not God who kept the sin hidden; it was the devil. The attitude of heaven towards sin is plain.”

Sin needs exposure. Some are easily deceived. Some don't count the cost of 'looking the other way'. Some are deluded into believing that which is false. In haste they believe any explanation, quick to endorse and excuse. It takes courage to see sin. It is painful. It tears us apart emotionally and physically.

“Proverbs 29:1 warns, 'A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.' Paul also warns of those whom 'God gave...over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonoured among them.' Why? Because 'they exchanged the truth of God for a lie' (Romans 1:24-25). Every sin is the exchange of the truth of God for a lie.”

Falsehood protects sin.

People are held spellbound in fantasy worlds of falsehood.

It takes courage to accept revelation to know the truth.

It takes courage to discern what is right. A covering of grace extended only perpetuates the evil when there's been no repentance.

Purify us Lord of lies and illusions.

Lord, give me courage to seek, see and speak truth.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Motivated By Love

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak” Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

I'm discovering already that courage is required and demanded for a lot more than elevator rides and catwalks. When compared to yesterdays call to be brave, these are trite and insignificant. Weighed in the balance, there is no question how the scale fell. Only six days into this trek to 'take courage' and already I want to abandon the journey. Today I have a weak and wounded heart.

For reasons I cannot explain, yesterdays step of obedience in the path of courage, required divine wisdom and strength. Truth needed to be shared.

Stumbling upon the reality of a dear, precious soul embracing a lifestyle of evil was not something I wanted to discover. Yet, the Lord led me to this knowledge. What was I to do with it?

Courage and truth walked hand-in-hand. Silence would have condoned. I had to speak or others would pay an awful price for my personal discomfort. Yes 'discomfort', as I would have suffered alone carrying the burden of this news...yet to hear the words spoken only shared and deepened the pain. It was not a day for cowardice.

Courage to speak the truth. Withholding the truth would only delay the painful revelation. A friend wisely shared with me just two days ago, “Lies and secrets are never good grounds for loving.”

Knowing the land needed the tilling for good ground in preparation for the footsteps of the holy, some uprooting and exposure needed to take place in order to plant seeds on facts. Deceit's mask was manipulating. The revealing has left me completely spent.

How do you look into the eyes of those you wish you never have to hurt and gently share news that will cut so fiercely and wound so deeply that it steals your own breath away to utter its accuracy? You don't do it on your own, that's for sure. Led by the Spirit and surrendered to His plan, I opened my mouth for His filling.

These are not just mere acquaintances. Our relationship extends this painful privilege, one I wish had not been bestowed upon me.

Beyond the misery of truth's revealing is a life concealed and bound by lies. Choices are walking a path far from God and leaving such heartache and confusion in its wake. Sin never touches just one life. The devastation is wide-spread.

My motivation for yesterdays bravery? Love.

A soul is in grave peril.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

More Than Stamps

Fighting to keep her composure, the clerk at the Post Office served the gentleman in line ahead of me.

He gave the common greeting, “Hi! How are you today?”

He received an uncommon response. The expected, yet often rote, ‘Fine’, was replaced with silence, followed by a broken reply, almost inaudible.

“We had to put our cat down today. Her liver stopped working.”

The gentleman expressed his condolences, seeming very uneasy. Handling a woman…a stranger woman in tears, was obviously not his area of expertise. Why did his wife send him to mail these parcels today!

Shortly thereafter I approached the counter. Normally I would have purchased the needed stamps and quickly moved on, but not today. Today I was choosing courage.

“I couldn’t help but overhear that you had to put your cat down today. I’m so sorry.”

A single tear escaped and trickled down her cheek.

I paid for my stamps and moved to the side. She served two other customers and then turned again to me.

“His name was ‘Andy’. We loved him so much. We had him for 17 years. I’m sad, but it’s my husband I’m worried about. He’s devastated. He couldn’t go to work today. I have just phoned to have a gal come and take over my shift here shortly so that I can go home and be a comfort to him.”

Now was not the time to tell this grieving clerk that I don’t even like cats. Now was not the time to shyly move away. Now was not the time to rush off to accomplish the next item on an already overly scheduled agenda. Now was the time to listen.

Her face brightened as she spoke of Andy’s antics. It was apparent that he was a much loved companion.

I left with her name and her husband’s name and told her I would be praying for them. Again she reiterated, “Oh, I’ll be OK, but please pray for my husband.”

Bravery came today in a sharing of sympathy, a listening ear and a promise to pray.

Adding a Post Script to the Elevator Saga:

If you read Tuesday’s post, you know “Day one” of my journey to choose courage had me riding in an elevator. Well, a funny thing happened yesterday. The very fitness center I wrote about here, was having repair work done, closing off the entrance to the stairs. Guess what? The only way up was to use the elevator! It’s a very small elevator and quite confining. Before Tuesday I would have discovered this predicament and walked away, deciding not to use the facility again until I could climb the stairs. Not yesterday. Yesterday I bravely faced my enemy again…looked him in the eye…pushed that button…and rose to greater heights! I also made a discovery. I was with my sister…and she seemed more nervous than me! ;)

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Call Me Crazy

Well, if you read my post from Tuesday, you know that I'm on a new adventure with the Lord. I shared with a friend yesterday morning how I am praying each day for the Lord to give me an opportunity to choose courage and she told me I was crazy.

You know what? I don't mind being called crazy for the Lord.

I don't mind being crazy if each day requires that I depend on Him a little more.

Crazy sounds great if I'm walking towards faith and away from fear.

I'd much rather live crazy in love with Jesus and following Him, then afraid. Let me tell you. I've lived with constant anxiety for years and it just wasn't working for me.

So, do you want to know what I did yesterday?

I have a membership at a Fitness Center where they have a walking track. I try and go daily and I walk at least two miles. There is one 'catch' with this track. It is, for lack of a better description, suspended on a second floor. The architectural design of this truly is amazing. As you walk you are entertained by the activity around and below. The problem? I'm afraid of heights!

Every day so far it has been a major challenge to go and use this facility. I didn't want to look down on skaters, swimmers, volleyball players, weight trainers, people coming and going in an open hall. I literally have to force my feet to keep moving while my palms sweat and my heart beats quicker (Which of course isn't bad considering I'm there for the cardio!)

There is one small section of the track that resembles a catwalk. It's a narrow, elevated walkway with railings on both sides. Approaching it, my knees always go weak. Yesterday this was my 'Goliath'. Knowing it was taunting me with threats of defeat, I began claiming God's promises.

“(Joy), preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble” Proverbs 3:21-23.

Sound judgment. Good, proper and right assessment.

Discernment. True understanding and perception.

Wearing a necklace of truth, my foot will not stumble walking in God's wisdom. (As an aside, I was wearing my "peace for the journey" necklace from my friend, Elaine. I don't think I'll be leaving home without it these days. A great visual reminder and word of assurance that the Lord brings peace as I walk with Him.)

I walked that track 26 times yesterday and gained glorious victory. Just once I felt that flutter of panic as I glanced over and witnessed a man on scaffolding washing the glass windows at such height, while standing on such a small platform.

Who knows? Maybe one day!

For now, just call me crazy!

(If you think of it today, would you pray for my son, Chris. At 2pm this afternoon he will be trying his A.R.C.T. Solo Performer's piano exam. Two adjudicators will be coming down from the Royal Conservatory of Music and Chris will play for an hour - all by memory! He must receive at least 70% on each piece to pass. Please pray that the Lord will enable him to do his very best and that nothing would confuse, startle, distract or detour him from giving his best performance. He has worked so hard and this is the culmination of 13 years of lessons. It would be so wonderful if he could have this completed now, as his next semester in High School will be very challenging and in the Fall he heads off to University. Thanks for much for your prayers. I think my 'fear not' challenge today will be sitting outside the examination room in peace and enjoying this final performance.)

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Rode An Elevator - TWICE!

From self preservation to brave determination.

Watching Session Four of Beth Moore’s DVD series on Esther for the third time today, that sentence began to penetrate my thoughts.

Self preservation. An instinctive tendency to protect oneself from harm.

Beth said that we can protect ourselves right out of our callings. We are our own biggest obstacle in overcoming fear.


That nasty four letter word that has plagued my life.

Beth said we might be just one brave decision away from our destiny.

For almost 48 years my life has been motivated and manipulated by fear. Every decision has passed through a grid of anxiety. Almost every time, without fail, I have chosen safe and secure.

Can’t go skiing with my family for fear of falling.
Hate being on the boat for fear of drowning.
Refuse to speak up in a group for fear of appearing foolish and not being accepted.
Won’t sit near the front for fear of a panic attack.
Never get in elevators for fear of being stuck or cables breaking.
Don’t stand when speaking for fear of fainting.
Miss out on travelling for fear of flying.
Not booking an airline flight for fear of crashing or hijacking.
Terrified of animals for fear of being bitten.
Didn’t participate in sports when young for fear of being injured.
Awake all night in thunderstorms for fear of lightning striking.
Nervous of every Dr’s appointment for fear of a life-threatening diagnosis and terminal illness.

My list just goes on and on. Each fear breeds another fear. I believe many were taught to me as a child, but that's another story.

This morning Beth encouraged us not to deny the reality of fear, but to deny it’s authority or victory over us. With every decision there is always, ALWAYS, a possibility to be brave. We will never be in a fearful situation where God doesn’t offer us the courage of His presence.

Proverbs 3:10 speaks of the wife of noble character. Beth explained that the original Hebrew word for ‘noble’ used here is an army term that means ‘brave’. A woman of valour who can find? Proverbs 31 is about a courageous woman. Oh, how I want to be a P31 woman.

Funny, I write that and it makes me laugh. Years ago God placed it on my heart to be a P31 Woman. I always thought it meant I needed to move to the States and be part of the P31 Ministry. Thinking now…maybe not.

Ambrose Redman said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that there is something more important than fear.”

In His Word, God calls us often to “take courage”. It’s like He has it there, in His hands, available, and He is encouraging us to just reach out and receive it.

Beth said that we decide how good our story is going to be. My story up until this point, although peppered with some profound moments because of a few right choices, is more a lullaby than a symphony. I might only be one good decision away from the most important step in my destiny.

With tears pooling in my eyes, I silently bowed my head.

Father, I long to know what it’s like to live without being held in the tight fist of fear. Lord, from this moment on I want to choose courage. Will You place before me an opportunity today to choose to be brave? Give me strength to live. Really live.

Today was a great day to utter those words. Dad had a repeat of the procedure that began our horrific journey last year. As both my sisters were unable to accompany my parents today, one due to illness and the other due to commitments, the responsibility of their care fell to me. The day went amazingly well. The Lord sent Dad’s favourite nurse from last time to care for him. The surgery went well. It was time to take Dad home. All patients being discharged must leave in a wheelchair. We needed a wheelchair. They were on the main floor. We weren’t on the main floor. It’s pretty much impossible to get a wheelchair up the stairs or on an escalator.


Me on an elevator.

Me and a wheelchair alone on an elevator.

Lord, You know I’m terrified of elevators. I climb multiple flights of stairs and avoid them like the plague. You are extending courage.

Joy…take courage. Take courage.

With each step those words walked before me.

There is never a situation where I cannot choose to be brave.

Me and a wheelchair alone on an elevator.

Doors close.


Pushing a button.



Up and down.


Doors opening.






I rode an elevator - twice today.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

All IS Well

Well, yesterday I received my first e-mail encouraging me to come back. So here I am. I have been most grateful for the time “away”, not physically at some distant location, but time away from the daily demands I had placed on myself here. God had called me to come away and I had to give myself permission to let go and rest. They say music is sweeter after a rest, so I trust the melodies conducted through His hand here now will sound lovelier and more harmonious.

Saying that, I’m afraid today’s tune is punctuated with minor chords. I awoke this morning excited to read God’s Word. I crept silently downstairs, turned on a tri-lamp to a low light, stopped momentarily to ask the Lord to speak His Word to me today, give me ears to listen and then opened my first devotional for the morning.

This year I am reading from two devotional books. One is the classic, “Streams In the Desert” and the other devotional came from a precious friend at Christmas, “Jesus Lives” by Sarah Young.

Here’s my quandary today. What do you do when both readings speak of trials tomorrow? I mean, I know struggles come. None are immune to their appearance in our lives. But here’s the thing. I was feeling great. I was anticipating a wonderful day. I was looking forward to spending time in God’s presence and receiving His blessing. Suddenly, my entire outlook changed. Suddenly fear has me gripped in it’s vice. Suddenly panic presented itself in a quicker pulse, a pounding heartbeat and sweaty palms. God’s Word, which should bring calm, brought confusion. Peace departed. Anxiety entered. I wasn’t aware of any concern in my tomorrow. I am awaiting results from my Doctor, but they should come today. Why did two readings that call me to trust God with the hours before me make me fearful? Do I not really know Him? If I truly embraced His presence, would these words not bring comfort instead of distress? Suddenly these daily readings became a horoscope predicting gloom.

Father, please teach me how to read these treasured writings, apply them and meet You through their pages. Lord, I don’t want to be coming to Your Word in terror each morning. Today I should be thanking You for promises found. Promises of peace. Promises of provision. Promises of protection. Promises of presence. Promises of perseverance. Promises of a prepared path. Promises of power. Promises of purpose. Yet today what I hear loud and clear are Your promises of pain.

Father, I know your children are not exempt from suffering and persecution, but the warnings today in both devotions have left me so anxious. What have I missed? Where have I allowed the evil one to control my thoughts and replace delight with doom?

Using an expression I’ve often heard my mom say, I’m talking to myself like a Dutch uncle. I must remind myself that whatever tomorrow holds, God is already there. He is already in my tomorrow. Time is not the same to God. My ‘tomorrow’ could be years away. My tomorrow may not hold a direct hit, but a coming alongside sorrow. He reminds me that He goes on ahead of me. (John 10:4)

I don’t want to lose the gift of today held captive in the possible grief of tomorrow. Lord, help me not to miss the “splendors of the present moment” as they parade before me. Help me believe in Your sufficiency in every situation. Keep me from worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Dark is the sky! And veiled the unknown morrow!
Dark is life’s way, for night is not yet o’er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know and trust, HE GOES BEFORE.

Dangers are near! And fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His - He knows the way I’m taking,
More blessed even still - HE GOES BEFORE.

Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o’er me,
Doubts that life’s best - life’s choicest things are o’er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.

HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well.

J. Danson Smith

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Loud and Heartily

One of the scenes depicted in the Christmas musical presented at our church this year, was a scene right out of Dickens. Adorable children in old fashioned nightgowns awoke Christmas morning to empty bellies and no presents. The Director of the orphanage tries to encourage the children to look beyond their circumstances. Though the situation appears bleak, maybe if they sang a song loud and heartily the Lord would hear and respond.

The children then sang a song with a chorus that said:

“With a little bit of faith we can do it
With a little bit of hope come what may
And no matter what the test we’ll make it through it
It’s not hard to see the answer’s on its way.”

My thoughts today ponder, what about when it is hard to see the answer on it’s way? What about when circumstances continue to worsen making trust difficult?

God wants us to have faith. Believing faith. The Lord desires singing loud and heartily before the answer arrives. We need to praise and thank the Lord for the answer yet to come.

Faith is taking God at His Word. We don’t learn faith from the easy chair. For faith to grow it must be challenged. Those circumstances that look past the point of no return can be reversed in an instant. Beth Moore says that God is working where we least expect Him. He is working where He is least invited. Faith precedes the turnaround.

Lord, today I specifically think of a situation that seems so far beyond anyone’s control. Thank You that it is not beyond the reach of Your hand. Father help me not to waver through unbelief or pray faith diminishing prayers. Give me faith to keep believing. I’m lifting my voice and singing loud and heartily and waiting for Your response.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Setting the Pace

Dad took part in a campaign for our local hospital years ago entitled, “Setting the Pace”. It was a fundraiser that encouraged different companies, organizations and individuals to donate money to expand and equip the existing medical facility. Each one was to ‘set the pace’ by example and excellence, being leaders in advancing technology to the ‘cutting edge’.

I read a verse today that touched my heart. A verse where setting the pace was not about striving harder or raising the bar higher.

“I (will) move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children.” Genesis 33:14

Isn't that beautiful? The pace was not set by the swift, or those with the longest stride, but by the slow.

My mind pictures a family at our church. The husband is well over six feet tall. A week ago I walked behind them entering the building from the parking lot. Daddy was carrying the youngest, while their three year old son ‘ran’ at his side. Yes, this precious cherub, with short little legs, was desperately trying to keep up with his daddy. Thankfully they didn’t have far to go, as I could see exhaustion, discontent and distraction already changing to whining and complaining.

Today the Lord knows how you and I are formed and remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14) With the entrance of a new year, He is well aware you and I have not walked this path before. He will move us along at a pace He knows we can handle. If we feel the pace pick up, it's because He already knows we’ll make it. He’ll either strengthen us for the footsteps required or suddenly halt the journey, understanding our need for rest, knowing right now, we just can’t take any more or go any further. Such compassion and consideration for each day’s journey. The Lord knows and the Lord knows how.

Father, I will walk alongside You this year. I will allow You to set the pace. Sometimes we’ll stroll. Other times we’ll run. But always…always…hand-in-hand.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Aspire Higher

My son and his friends saw the movie “Up”. Apparently, the main character, Carl, realizes that sometimes life's biggest adventures aren't the ones you set out to find. Often the adventure lies not in the destination, but in the journey.

This morning the Lord woke me early to spend time with Him. In His presence He was calling me ‘up’. Asking me to choose to live above. More than a movie marquee, this word needs to be a morning by morning mentality. Refusing to be satisfied with the meagre and mediocre, I must aspire higher.

I’ve always been afraid of heights. I’ve never climbed a tree or scaled a mountain. I don’t ride roller-coasters, sit in balcony’s, enter elevators, look over railings or wear high heels. Yet, more than the physical fear of heights, it has smothered and stifled spiritual ascent as well. I linger in lowlands, terrified of mountain peaks. As expressed in “Streams in the Desert”, I too often stay in the mist of the valley and never learn the mystery of the hills. I indulge self, never knowing the glory that accompanies the courage of the climb.

One of my favourite quotes of A. W. Tozer says, “Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise up and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long.”

Lord, is there a mountain You desire that I climb? I’ve always enjoyed pictures of mountains. It’s the terrain of Switzerland that has always captivated and lured my heart. May I not be satisfied with scenes or pacified with photographs.

I desire to live “up”. Physically that means living free of my fear of heights and learning the mystery of the mountain by finding courage to say ‘yes’ to opportunities that are bigger than me, but not bigger than God. It means abiding by His heart. Mentally “up” involves a mind renewal. Emotionally it would result in rejoicing in the Lord always.

Not just adjustment in altitude, but attitude.
A new outlook from position and dispostion.

Father, remove my longing for level ground. There’s an inspirational incline calling my name. I desire all my tomorrows find me looking down on today. May each day bring me higher.

God’s Word says that there is victory for the upright (Prov.2:7).

Remember the land God told me to take possession of yesterday? Today He is saying, “For the upright will live in the land.” (Proverbs 2:21)

“I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray, till heaven I’ve found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
(Johnson Oatman, Jr.)

And now...just for a little fun:

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Live, Love, Laugh

Live Love Laugh

I’ve seen decorative signs with those three words so often.

Words without meaning to me…until today.

Today I did all three.

Today I gave myself permission to abandon agenda.

I awoke shortly after 7am. I quietly crept downstairs to a dimly lit corner to commune with the Lord while my guys slumbered. I was struggling with letting go of 2009. Why I’d want to hold on is beyond me, yet surrendering it to yesterday and embracing today was frightening me. What would 2010 hold?

The Lord heard my questions, and opening my devotional I read, “To those who are anxious comes the gracious promise…He is the Source of our mercies, mercy will never fail us.” “The Father comes near to take our hand and lead us on our way today. It will be a good and blessed New Year.” “The land you are…to take possession of…it is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to it’s end.” (Deut.11:11-12)

Reading this, and even remembering it now, His power permeates my entire being, empowering me to trust. I decided I would live today to the full, filled with His fullness.

I did three loads of laundry. Ironed 15 dress shirts. (My two men like to look nice!)Washed a sink full of dishes by hand. Took time to prepare a special lunch for my guys. Wrote eight hand-written, snail mail notes to friends. My guys and I played a game of Scrabble. Words, imagined and real appeared to squeals of delight. Dictionaries were consulted. Dictionaries were questioned. Dictionaries were discarded. I threw my head back and laughed so hard. Laughter has been such a stranger. I honestly can’t remember the last time I knew such unbridled joy. I watched a couple of movies tonight just for the sheer pleasure of doing so. They didn't have a lesson or a moral. They were just fun. Around 9pm, I made a cup of tea, just for me. Serious and sensible were surrendered for silly.

Free from pressures, expectations, perfection and pleasing others. Releasing myself from personal mandates, deadlines and commitments. Today I lived…I loved…I laughed.

No longer an alliteration on a decorative plaque.

Words that breathe, feel and dance.

Words that held me in their embrace today.

I think this will be my theme song for 2010.

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