Precious Book

The Bloganuary question today: Has a book changed your life?

An interesting question for sure, maybe more for the responses it’s going to generate. Seems every kind of expert or guru going — at least those who have written a book — might be mentioned by someone.

I’ve read a number of books that have enlightened me and changed my attitude on certain things. But for the one book that’s really changed ME, I have to point back to the Bible.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

Image: Joyfruit — Pixxabay

The Gift of Peace

Today’s Bloganuary question: What is the most memorable gift you’ve received?

Back when I was twenty-one, married and a mom, I was living the life of a good Christian, relatively speaking. We attended church faithfully, I taught pre-school Sunday school, we attended Bible study classes, I was part of a prayer cell, even handed out Bibles in our town.

Then one day someone gave me a pamphlet to read that made me stop and think. I got the impression that something I was allowing myself was wrong. Initially, I wasn’t so much troubled, brushed it aside as someone’s take on the scripture. I studied the verses several times looking for loopholes. Some kind of exemption for the day I was living in. Couldn’t really find one, but still… Surely God didn’t expect, in this day and age…or would He?

One day, several months later, it seems the Lord laid His hand on me –much like a parent would — and said, “This is enough.” It came clear to me that I was doing something that displeased him. I dithered over this all day and discussed it with several people, not finding peace. That evening I decided I just couldn’t give this up. I actually told God, “If this is what You’re asking of me, I won’t be your child anymore.”

For about five minutes I had a feeling of drifting in darkness, without a lifeline. Feeling the depth of my separation from God, thinking of a dismal life apart from His love and guidance. Finally I decided nothing in this world is worth that. I asked the Lord to forgive my stubbornness and told him I’d do whatever He asked, no matter what. I’d give this thing up if that’s what He wanted, if only He’d make me his child again. And He did just that. I knew I was accepted again. I received the most wonderful gift in my life: I was flooded with an indescribable peace and joy.

It was truly the gift that keeps on giving. That same peace has carried me through many things since. In Psalm 23 David says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me….” I’ve walked through that valley several times in my life, faced breast cancer in 1980 and leukemia in 2012. He’s gone with me through the valley, comforting me, assuring me that He’ll be there no matter what the future holds. There’s no greater gift than the peace of God.

Image by Pexels — Pixabay

A Rosy Dawn

I wrote a few days ago about how my leukemia has been flaring up — my main symptom right now being fatigue. Which means I haven’t gotten into Christmas shopping mood, plus three of our grandchildren are upper teens. Gift certs work best. 🙂

Last Sunday we were wondering how this week would turn out, anyway, when we heard one of our elderly members — living in a nursing home half an hour away — was quite low. The family had been called together and we was a church were expecting a funeral announcement anytime. But the dear old gent rallied and the week went on as previously planned. The school children brought their Christmas programme Thursday night and our church youth group brought theirs last night. We enjoyed the two lovely evenings, listening to the Christmas story brought through songs and old familiar carols.

Took me awhile to fall asleep last night, so I didn’t get up until almost 9 am. Woke up feeling rather blue, partly because Christmas is coming and I’d just like to skip it. Grinch! Also, this morning again I’ve a tender lump in front of my right ear; I’m guessing it’s a CLL-affected lymph node. If I start getting lumpy lymph nodes I’ll have to get with the treatment. Which will likely be small stuff this time around; just one pill for the rest of my life.

Got up and read a text from the elderly gent’s family letting us know that their father died at 2am this morning. This will change Christmas week for a lot of people. He came from a large family, so a lot of nieces and nephews, plus he & his wife had seven children, so a lot of descendants. Plus he was a well known pastor. Condolences are pinging in steadily on WhatsApp.

Mr Hiebert was 91 in Sept, so led a good long life. A pastor for many of those years, he helped us a lot when we were sifting through many religious doctrines, searching for truth and a church home. As I said in my title, we had a lovely rosy dawn this morning. We trust our dear old friend enjoyed a rosy dawn in that land of eternal day.

Image: Peggychoucain — Pixabay

And Pilate said, “What Is Truth?”

Image: Gerd Altmann — Pixabay

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is LICHEN and I’ll warn you that my response is rather rant-ish. All because I saw a headline this morning…

Another notable noble
bites the dust, exposed,
a dark villain delightfully
defrocked. Righteous media
revealing all the secret sins.
Alleged accusations hurled
cling like lichen to a rock;
scandalmongers savor
all the delicious details.
Opponents of order grin.
You’re next!
What’s not hidden
deep in your closet
can easily be fabricated.

Re: this headline: I’ve no clue as to guilt or innocence. Furthermore, I’m all in favor of truth; I believe those who misuse their powers should be exposed and called to account. But I’ve read of so many good people being “exposed.” Perhaps a mysterious photo, letter, or recording anonymously delivered to the media torpedoes someone’s career. Even the most righteous causes can become a bandwagon everyone wants to jump on. If the word “Christian” is tossed into the mix, the media’s all over it. I’m aware of several news stories and/or documentaries where facts were seriously twisted and/or ignored.

One Sad Example

A Saskatoon teacher came upon a young teen couple making out in the school hallway and threatened to tell their parents. A few days later he was arrested. The girl and her BFF had gone to the principal and reported that this teacher had touched them sexually and the police were called in.

The girls couldn’t be identified, being minors, but his name was blazed across the front page. He was branded a pervert, a pedophile. End of teaching career. Friends avoided him. Although the girls later admitted in court that they’d lied, his life was ruined.

A month or so later that same newspaper printed, way back on one of the last pages, a one-paragraph report that he’d been found not guilty. How many people even read it? He talked to a reporter later, hoping to clear his name in a bigger way, but there’s no way he’d ever get another teaching job. School Boards will usually go with, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

I believe those who love Truth and want to know it will be guided by its light. Others are usually at the mercy of hidden agendas. Or, as Sir Winston says…

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

Winston Churchill

Recent Comings & Goings

Hello everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a journal post so I decided I’d do one this morning. We have another bright and sunny morning coming down, one of very many. Yes, we sometimes have clouds, but I can’t remember the last time it rained right here. This is indeed a dry and thirsty land: lawns are brown; roads throw up dust clouds.

Thankfully there was rain in the summer; I’ve heard that the crops have been okay here – and better some other spots in the province that got more rain. We seem to be in a pocket right here; due to the general flow of air currents above us, the rain clouds pass us by. Grasshoppers are growing long and brown this fall.

I suppose this is a common complaint of mankind, but the days seem to fly by and I get so little accomplished! Though my white cell count hasn’t gone up that much in the last few months, my energy level has dropped. I was rather wiped out in July, so I’m thankful the doctors discovered that I’m diabetic. I’m now on pills to treat that, and they definitely help. My oncologist is holding off on treatment my CLL and I’m okay with that.

I finished my casual cooking job at the Villa at the end of August; You could say I’m footloose and fancy free now. Wanting to do more painting. Wanting to do more writing – though you can’t tell from this poor neglected blog! Sadly, wanting isn’t doing. I get pretty depressed about that sometimes; seems my attention deficit syndrome gets worse every day. 😦

I’ve been visiting Critique Circle again and offering my two-cents’-worth to writers who post their stories on that website, hoping for feedback. It often takes a few hours to read a story and leave comments. I’m intrigued at the differences in North American writers and writers from India. Writing “by the book” maybe? Seem much more formal. No, “Hey, you. Whatcha doin’?” And different words: “He was relishing his meal of curried chicken.”

Bob’s taking a writing course and we’re told readers these days “have the attention span of a gnat.” In other words, no patience for a lot of loopy or formal wording. We’re learning to cut out EVERY unnecessary word. No double adjectives, like “an interesting little story.” No unnecessary adverbs like “he jogged slowly down the trail.” “A very good time was had by all” becomes “They all enjoyed themselves.”

Most of my flower pots are still nice, but the temp is supposed to drop to -3 C tomorrow night. According to the weatherman, we’ve come to the end of our mild fall and our nights will be frosty now. I’m still up every morning letting the cats out and filling water basins for the birds. Deer started coming in August and often drink them dry in the night. A lot of our birds have gone, but we still see mourning doves and oodles of sparrows. A flock of grouse have been foraging nearby; I saw them across the field Sunday and yesterday they were in our side yard, a dozen or more of them.

When I cooked at the Villa, I often worked on Sunday and could invite company to join us for dinner. That opportunity is gone so I’ve decided to get with it at home. This past Sunday we invited Ron & Laurie, friends who’ve just moved/retired here from Quebec, as well as Ray & Sandra, whom we’ve known for almost fifty years.

Two Sundays ago we had our children come for dinner. This was right after the terrible hurricane in the Maritimes so we discussed the clean-up work that would be needed after that. Our oldest grandson had to leave for Roblin, MB, soon after dinner; he’s working for a farmer there during harvest. Our oldest granddaughter was missing, too; she’s gone to teach school in Carrot River. You like to see them grow up but they tend to fly away on other adventures and their chairs at the table are empty. 😦 Last weekend the youth group from here, including our youngest granddaughter, went to Cartwright, MB for a youth rally. Since the Roblin youth went, too, she got to see her brother there – if that matters at all to teens. 😉

I’ve just started reading Drawing Near* by John Bevere and am finding the first chapter thought-provoking.

.
Maybe this is enough musing. I’ll end by wishing you all a great day.

*Copyright 2004 by John Bevere
Thomas Nelson Publishers

It’s All God’s Fault!

Warning: Seriously long musing on the question,
Is God really the cruel, heartless being Christians sometimes unwittingly describe?

Job’s Comforters

Imagine: A psychotic teen filled with anger, bent on revenge, waiting outside a small school. He’s carrying an AK-47; when the children pour out of the school at noon, he opens fire.

That evening two dozen sets of parents are overwhelmed with grief. John and Jane have lost two children in this tragedy, so acquaintances come to sit and grieve with them. Some offer what they hope are comforting words:

“It must have been their time to go,” said one.
“No it wasn’t,” John protested. “They were murdered!”
But it’s all according to God’s will,” said another. “The Bible says ‘All things work together for good,’ so He must have some plan for making this good.”
“This loss will haunt our family all our lives,” Jane whispered.
“God could have prevented this tragedy, but He allowed it to happen and His ways are always perfect.”
“What’s perfect about MURDER” John retorted.
Jane was thankful when their wanna-be encouragers left. She sighed and told John, “At least they weren’t quite like Job’s comforters. They didn’t tell us it was because of some sin in our life.”

Imagine: Some drunk gets into his car, thinking he’s okay to drive home. On the way he veers into the other lane and smashes into an oncoming car. Pearl’s son, daughter-in-law, and two of their children are killed instantly.”
Later a friend offered the much-repeated words of comfort: “They say God never gives us more than we can handle.”
“Then they lie,” Pearl sobbed, “because this is a lot more than I can handle!”

Beware Quick Pat Answers

In his devotional booklet, Every Day With Jesus, Mar/April 2018, Pastor Selwyn Hughes writes: “Time and again I have sat before a weeping man or woman in whose life something tragic has happened and heard them say, “If God loves me, why did He let this happen?”

He goes on to say how Christian often struggle with the fact that God allows bad things to happen to good people, and they prefer to rationalize the issue rather than face it.
“I must have done something wrong and God is punishing me.” Or like Job’s comforters, “You must have done something wrong and God is punishing you.”
And if nothing else makes sense, then, “It was their time to go,” Or “It’s all in God’s will.”

The above examples of comfort offered to the grieving demonstrate ways we tend to rationalize the inexcusable, but what sort of a God are we then portraying? He could have prevented your twelve-year old daughter from being kidnapped, raped and murdered – but He didn’t.

How cruel is that? If I stood by and did nothing while some crazy killed a child, wouldn’t I be guilty of complicity? Yet we have no idea how much and how often has God spoken to this person, urging him to turn away from evil thoughts and deeds. God has never adopted the policy of striking sinners dead — or Earth would be an empty planet!

In cases of a sudden heart attack or other non-violent death, it’s easier to find comfort in the thought that “His/her time was up.” Or “Their work on earth is done.” These thoughts do work sometimes. The world’s been saddened these past few weeks by the death of the beloved Queen Elizabeth. At age 96 and in relatively good health up until her death, I think we all feel that it was her time to go.

But can you imagine the guards at Auschwitz herding their prisoners into the gas chambers, saying, “It’s just your time to go.” Or worse, “God’s allowing this, so it must be His will.”

He Gives Us the Right to Choose

We read in the Bible that God id love, that He wants to be our Father, to guide and protect us. However, He wants to be a chosen parent, not one who forces His will on us.

Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Eve reached out to pick that fruit and opened the door for sin, God could have slapped her hand. “I told you, ‘Don’t touch!’” But He didn’t.

God made his will clear then and it still stands: Mankind shall have the choice to obey Me or not.” Otherwise, in his Court of Justice, He must bring every one of us into account because we have all made wrong choices – and did it knowingly. I believe the verse that says, “God calls all men everywhere to repent,” but His kingdom is not a physical kingdom that citizens are born into, but a spiritual kingdom where all are subjects by choice.

Rather, just as He allowed Eve the choice to reach out and take something she knew was forbidden, so He allows us, all through our lives Christians and non-Christians, to reach out and take the thing we know is wrong, or harmful. To say the words we know we shouldn’t say: the lies, the scathing criticism, the accusations.

Looking back, I think of many times I wish God would have reached down and given me a slap before I said, or did, something. Yes, there was that tiny voice saying, “Don’t” but it’s so easily ignored. He allowed me to make my own choice – and suffer the consequence, the loss, the tears.

At times He does actually intervene and counter man’s will, upsetting the plans of evil people. Usually they happen when He steps in to protect His children from some harm, or lets His child know that the loving Father does care. We often call these miracles and they are happening all the time; I believe every Christian can tell you of an instance where “something told me” or they’ve been prevented from some action or heard a voice giving a clear instruction or answer.

Just one example: A Christian woman in the southern US was standing in her back yard during a wild storm, the tailings of a hurricane, when an inner voice told her, “Get out of this yard.” She obeyed, and a few minutes later a huge limb of a tree came crashing down right where she’d been standing.

Not to say God’s children will never come to harm, but sometimes we are supernaturally protected. Likewise instances like this happen to non-Christians: some little voice says, “Don’t go there.” or “Don’t do that.” The choice is left to them, to listen or to ignore.

Sadly, Christians who feel their Father forces His will on mankind, are inclined to carry this even farther. His way is right/best, so His will should be enforced on everyone, Christian or not. They may carry out personal acts of punishment – my next post will touch on this – or they get into politics and start making laws, Prohibition being the most notable fiasco.

This is our human way of keeping our fellow man in line – the legal hand-slap or lash – and it’s the only way the governments of this world have of preventing evil because they can’t speak to or change hearts. However, through the ages God has worked through the still small voice of conscience, a voice every person in this world hears.