The Right Route

“Where exactly did you send your information?” asked the voice at the other end of the line. “You have to follow the instructions exactly and route the upload through the URL given you on your sheet.”

“But I followed the instructions,” I whimpered. “I downloaded pages of instructions and followed them carefully. I sent the data right to my site. I didn’t see any other URL or how to route the data through it.”

“But you have to send the data through a certain channel or it won’t upload to your website,” the woman at MyHosting Customer support explained. She paused, likely to consult her computer screen. “And it isn’t here.”

“But I did upload it. My computer spent almost TWO HOURS uploading it to my site; it has to be there somewhere!”

I sighed. Most of my morning gone, pages from three different sources explaining in detail “How to Install WordPress” lying here and there. When the upload was complete I’d patted myself on the back. I did it! I figured it out and installed this program on my new website – by myself. Now I couldn’t access it.

“How be I get one of our technicians to install WordPress on your website tomorrow? He’ll e-mail you more instructions when it’s in place.”

Easy-peasy. So why didn’t I do that right off? Why did I get so frustrated trying so hard to do what I simply don’t have the ability to do? ☹ Well, I guess it took this for me to learn that there’s a certain way and no other will work.

I can sympathize with the scribes & pharisees of Jesus’ day. They’d uploaded pages – whole books – of instructions on how to satisfy a Divine Being. In fact they’d not only uploaded the initial instructions, but added to them various explicit interpretations, memorized them and followed them to the letter.

Along comes Jesus, talking of another Way – the Only Way.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

He claimed there was route they must follow, a door they must enter.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:1-2:

Whether they tried scrambling over the wall, used a fancy ladder, or squeezed through some crack, the fact remained: if they hadn’t been installed via the right route, they had to be reinstalled.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like that. After all, they were THE LEADERS here. Furthermore, they had already uploaded tons of good deeds to their celestial sites. It must all be there somewhere! And it was the right data, too, the Law of Moses, written by the hand of God. Who was this person to come along and claim they hadn’t used the right routing code? That their valuable data wasn’t sitting up there in heavenly files winning them A+ scores in Heaven?

But Jesus told them the truth: there’s nothing there. You haven’t sent it through the channels of grace and mercy. And He is the channel of grace and mercy.

He is the Way. However much good a person may do in this world, if it isn’t routed through Him we’ll get to the other side someday and find our data’s not been installed: our name is not written in the Book of Life. All the credits we have “legally earned” will have evaporated and we will face the awful truth: we’ve not entered the right Door.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

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Seek And Ye Shall Find

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
— The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8

One night a young man from Albania sat in a motel room in Spain, frustrated and discouraged. He was trying to make his way to a new life Canada but he was now hopelessly snared in a thorny ticket of red tape. He’d done everything he could, but the immigration officials were still shaking their heads.

He’d been brought up under communist teaching, had heard over and over, “God doesn’t exist.” This idea, they were told in school, is a lie meant to keep the common people in bondage. This myth is still being perpetrated by deceived fanatics, but we will wipe it out in time.”

As he grew up he began to question, “Why do the communists have to keep saying this? Surely by now a myth would be no trouble to them.” Or maybe God isn’t a myth? Maybe the communists weren’t able to stamp out this God and Bible business because there was something to it? He began to feel a longing to know the truth; later, working in Germany, he was able to obtain an Albanian Bible and started reading it.

In time he’d made his way to Spain hoping for a way to emigrate to Canada. Now here he sat all alone, far from home, his dreams for the future shattered. In despair he cried out to this God the Bible talked about. “Are You real? Do You see me? Will You help me?”

He looked up and saw a vivid picture on the wall. A painting of Jesus with His arms held out, to Cheti it felt like Jesus was inviting him to come. Did it appear at that instant or had it been hanging there all along and he’d just not noticed it before? In any case, he saw it now and felt the Lord speaking to him at that moment. The whole puzzle of religion became clear to him. God is real and had heard his prayer. Jesus is real. The Bible he’d been reading was telling him the truth.

That night he turned his life over to God and asked for His guidance in the future. The next day he went back to the Canadian immigration office and he received the emigration permit he needed.

LET HIM PROVE IT!

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” — Matthew 27:42

In the Bible we read that the religious rulers of Jesus’ time followed him around constantly. They heard his teachings, saw his miracles — and most of them would not believe He was from God. If God really sent him, they said, Jesus would follow the traditions. For lack of a better explanation they said, “it’s the devil himself that’s giving this man power to work wonders.”

When Jesus hung on the cross there was a great earthquake, the sky was darkened, the heavy curtain of the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. Two days after Jesus’ death the soldiers guarding the tomb came running and said, “An angel came down and rolled the stone away.” Solid proof, right? The Jewish leaders bribed the guards to keep quiet about this. (And that silence wouldn’t have come cheap, I don’t think.)

Their minds were made up about Jesus. They asked for signs but refused to see. They weren’t seeking so they never found. They didn’t knock, so the truth was never opened to them like it was to our friend Cheti in his hotel room in Spain.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”— The Apostle Paul, writing in to the Hebrews: ch 11:6.

Mary’s Faith

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, “They have no wine.”
Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”
His mother saith unto the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”
—Read the whole account of this miracle in John 2:1-8

When I read these verses I couldn’t help but be impressed with the faith Mary demonstrated. “Whatever He asks, do it.”

Somebody had a problem. It wasn’t Mary’s problem, but she knew about it – even though the fellow in charge of the wedding feast didn’t seem to be clued in. I imagine the folks giving the feast were relatives, maybe a cousin or even a niece or nephew of Mary, which is why she and her children and even Jesus’ disciples all attended.

So Mary was somehow privy to the problem. She didn’t get in a mad flap (like I might.) She didn’t wash her hands of the situation and leave others to deal with it (like I might.) No, even though it wasn’t her problem, she brought it to Jesus’ attention, believing that He could do something though He apparently hasn’t worked any miracles before.

His response was almost rude. It sounds to me a lot like, “So? What am I supposed to do about it? This isn’t ‘Amazing time’ for me yet.”

Mary didn’t get confrontational. “Listen, Son. These are our relatives and You have to help them out.”

She didn’t nag or scold. “Look, this is a disaster! Don’t just sit there. Get up and do something!”

She didn’t whine, “Something has to change here. Can’t you please, please, do something?”

She didn’t have a solution to suggest. “If you’d kindly make six buckets of wine appear right there in the pantry, everyone would be so grateful.”

So I glean from these verses that Mary was aware of the problem; there was no visible solution; she brought the problem to the only One who could solve it; she kept her cool, sat on her pride, and didn’t argue with Him about it.

I doubt she had any idea what Jesus could do to solve the problem, or even if He would do anything. She simply informed Him about the situation and left it in His hands. Yet she had faith. She prepared for a solution. She told the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, be sure to follow through with it.”

I’m guessing she quietly took her place among the guests and waited to see if and how Jesus would provide.

These verses make me look at my own prayers, the petitions and the attitudes I come to God with. Do I wash my hands of other people’s problems? Do I bring these needs to the One Who can help, or mull them over for days and weeks first, trying to come up with a great solution to suggest to Him? Do I believe He actually can and will do something? Do I whine? He just has to do something — like NOW!

Suppose Mary had said, “This isn’t my problem.” Suppose she hadn’t wanted to bother Jesus with it. What if she’d been doubtful that He could do something and hadn’t said anything to the servants to prepare them for a solution? Would there have been any ‘water-turned-to-wine’ miracle in the Bible. I doubt it.

Lord, teach us to ask in faith trusting Your wisdom to provide the best answer.

 

The Devil Laughs

A pastor friend of ours tells the story of how he and his wife heard the devil’s fiendish laugh one night and it terrified them. During the day he and his wife had gotten into some dispute and at bedtime they were still upset with each other. Silently they got ready for bed. He lie down on his side; she on hers, backs to each other, not a word exchanged. Caught up in their angry thoughts, sleep didn’t come for either of them.

Suddenly in the silence they heard the most menacing, diabolical laughter. Horrified, they both jumped out of bed; a moment later they were on their knees praying to be delivered from this evil. Whatever the issue was that caused their dispute, it seemed so foolish when they understood what a victory it gave to the forces of Satan.

He and his wife felt that God allowed them to hear for themselves how the devil gloats when he can divide couples. I believe this is what God hears when the devil succeeds in stirring up strife in homes, in churches, between friends. Don’t you think all hell shouts the victory when a Christian loses his temper, or gives in to jealousy or discouragement? When confidence is destroyed, vows are broken, and souls that could have been helped are left to go astray?

One day over the kitchen sink I was thinking about a brother who, having been a faithful pastor for some years, became too wise in his own eyes and finally lost the way. It was shocking to hear him renounce the truths he once believed and taught. Thinking back on his years of service I shook my head and thought, This is so cruelly unfair!

I was shocked when it seemed right away the devil answered my thought — no, not audibly, but I heard his reply clearly in my mind: “I love cruelly unfair!”

This is our enemy. We can’t let him win.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith…” I Peter 5:8-9

“Can You Trust Me?”

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the kind and longsuffering Rochelle-Wisoff Fields. And today J Hardy Carroll has offered the photo prompt. If you’d like to participate in the Fictioneers prompt, check with Rochelle at Addicted to Purple.

When I first saw this picture, my mind went back to when we lived in Montreal and saw the result of what locals called “un reglement de comptes.” Someone wouldn’t pay their dues — or pay due respect — and there’s be this untraceable explosion.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Can You Trust Me?”

“So whatta ya think?” The realtor tried for upbeat. “Can you see this for your meetings? Needs a little work, of course.”

Pastor Ivan surveyed the disaster. “Rumor has it this was a result of not paying the mob’s “protection” fees.

The realtor’s smile disappeared. “Maybe. I’m sure they won’t bother you guys, being’s you’re a church and all.”

Ivan sighed. Lord, this IS affordable. But it looks hopeless.

“Son of man, can these bones live?”

The Bible quote startled Ivan. “What?”

The realtor turned to him, puzzled. “Eh?”

Ivan grinned. “You know, maybe this will work — with God’s help.”

Back story:

I could fit this tale into 100 words because Pastor Ivan knew his Bible and exactly what this question implied. The story is found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. Here the Lord takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones, representing the scattered, defeated House of Israel, “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.”

As Ezekiel watches, the bones come together, muscles and sinews start to connect them, then flesh appears. The spirit of God breathes life into them. “…and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.”

“And (I) shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” (Verse 14)

So the quote Ivan heard in his mind implied, “Can you trust me to bring something vibrant out of this hopeless mess? And can you trust me to defend it?”

 

Of Flowers and Weeds

I was working in the garden one day when I started to feel blue. I didn’t know why life suddenly felt so overwhelmingly sad, but I prayed that the Lord would help me deal with this feeling. I know it’s not His will that we spend time wandering in a blue fog, thinking how sad life is.

Awhile later when I was walking to the corner store my neighbour came out to intercept me and asked how my garden was doing. He was a retired widower who enjoyed visiting with anyone, and though I doubt he was much for going to church, he did have a reverence for God and his creation.

After we’d chatted a bit he made this comment: “I was weeding in my flowerbeds and wondering why there have to be weeds. I came to the conclusion that the Lord made weeds so we would appreciate the flowers more.”

His thought was like a little light that pierced through my dark mood. I am too much inclined to see all the weeds in life and miss seeing the flowers. In fact, too many times I don’t even believe there are any flowers!

Through my neighbour’s words the Lord was able to nudge me and remind me that there is hope, there are flowers, there are many things to be thankful for. Life isn’t all bad and days aren’t all blue. And maybe these blue feelings help me appreciate the joys more when they come.

I whispered a little prayer of thanks as I continued on my way to the store. He had given me what I needed and through this I could feel again His love for me. So many precious little jewels the Lord scatters on our pathway every day because he truly cares for us and wants us to enjoy the beauties He has created.

“Blessed be the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.”
Psalm 28:6-7

“What’s A Miracle?”

Years back a young minister would make the rounds of his parish at random. Being a bachelor himself, he never gave much thought to the time of routines in other homes. He seemed quite unaware of what time most people ate their dinner and that sort of thing. Consequently he was very apt to knock on a parishioner’s door not long before the family was ready to sit down to a meal.

One day he arrived at one family’s home not long before dinner and was invited to sit in the parlor until the man of the house finished up a few chores. Then he was welcome to  join them for the meal if he wished. While he sat there, the couple’s small son came in. After shaking hands and saying a polite the lad looked up at the minister and asked, “Sir, can you tell me what’s a miracle?”

The Minister tried to come up with a simple enough explanation that the lad could understand. Then he asked, “Why are you wondering about miracles?”

“Because when Mom saw you coming up the walk she told Dad, ‘Here comes the minister and it will be a miracle if he doesn’t stay for supper.’ ”

As Grandma used to say: “Little pitchers have big ears.”