just a memory

It seems like forever since I wrote that last post, with only a small mention at the end, of the coronavirus. Now, there is absolutely nothing else that anyone ever talks about. Except what they’re doing to cope.

In my memory, it all started at the beginning of the year, hearing about China throwing up hospitals out of nowhere; and then our hearts going out to Italy’s doctors, frantically going on about the “explosion” of people to treat, trying to warn us.

Then we hoped Sam wouldn’t have to go to that much-looked-forward-to conference in Anaheim. (He didn’t, only 400 attended out of hundreds of thousands that usually go.) He had to go to Toronto first… and ended up coming home a day early because his office building was closed down. As we sat in the restaurant for a late supper that night after picking him up at the train station, we saw that team after team of major league sports were closing down. A couple of days later, that restaurant (along with many others) closed.

It really seemed like a sickness for well-off people at first, getting those who travel, those who could afford to go on a cruise, diplomats, etc.

And now it’s a sickness that has awakened our respect for the not-so-well off–the grocery workers, delivery people, etc. Today on my walk I came across a “gift bag” left out for the garbage collectors “1 treat for now, 1 treat for later, drawings from the kids, etc…. Thank you for all you do etc. ”

All kinds of people are coming up with all kinds of ways to be kind. We suddenly realize how much we love our senior citizens.

And then there are those who yell. They whine because the cashiers aren’t smiling, or scream because someone isn’t staying 6 feet away. The real test is being forgiving of those people. They’re scared. They don’t have the confidence that you do, about there being more to life than this life.

It may take a very long time… no, it will take a very long time, but someday, this will all be only a memory.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

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Fly Away

After last month’s post, I wrote this in my fearless journal:

So looking up the verse about God giving us “not a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”—apparently it’s KJV! And my favourite versions talk about “self-control” or “discipline”… I like both “sound mind” and “self-control”, but what does self-control have to do with fear? And why do I think these mysteries hold some hidden treasure that if I could uncover it, would be the answer to a long-fought problem! EDIT: Amplified clears it up: “…of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

Yes, that’s the memory verse I chose for last month, though I mostly knew it already. This month will be another easy one, but so perfect for Lent: Romans 8:6 (“If we… live by [? from memory] our desires, we will die. But if we live by the Spirit, we will have life and peace.”)

OK, may as well just copy the rest of my fearless journal here–lots of great scripture again, most of it, in fact… except for a couple of songs, and a “coincidence”:

  • 02.07: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Ps. 4:8) from prayermate
  • 02.07: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) from Galcom stories
  • 02.08: “Be not afraid, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15), from Pinterest
  • 02.09: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) from prayermate
  • 02.14: “What the wicked fears will come on him; what the righteous desire will be granted. When the storm passes through, the wicked are swept away, but the righteous are an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs 10:24-25) from prayermate proverbs
  • 02.19: Whom Shall I Fear (the God of angel armies) song (from prayermate)
  • 02.19: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV) from prayermate
  • 02.23: It’s a bit scary that on my birthday, there are TWO things that tell me not to worry: Jesus’ words that God will help me deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes (prayermate), and the Piper devotional, saying that when we are persecuted for Jesus’ name, He will supply strength, will especially fill us with His spirit etc….LATER: beautiful song in church, that I claimed for my birthday song, “All my life You have been faithful…” (Goodness of God)
  • 02.26: “Fly Away” book by Lynn A. about lady with fear of witnessing (so good!), she is like Moses saying ‘no’ to God <3 [This book also has the fear of cancer… and today (March 1st) at church we heard of Randy’s cancer.]
  • 02.28: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil…” prayed for Ev.

Beyond that, the fear of that coronavirus is growing. And Sam is supposedly traveling to the States next week.

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Held fast

Feeling very vague on what I wanted to do with my One Word this year (FEARLESS), I simply made note every day that I came across the idea (which was not every day). Now that it’s a new month and time to read over this “fearless journal”, it’s a hard decision to pick and choose over the ideas and discard some or take out the most meaningful for the month. At least for January, I want to keep it all! So, how about some sorting fun? :D

Here are the Bible verses:

  • “And he said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Also, “Let us pray that this year we will ‘always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (see 1 Corinthians 15:58)”, from Operation World. (not properly referenced, sorry)
  • “…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
  • Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?“” (Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV)
  • “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) (***This one should go on a photo… or have I done it already??)
  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
  • “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10), one of my favourite verses. How is the “name of the Lord” a strong tower? (I know, but don’t think of it): “the name…” refers to His identity, and as I begin to think of God’s identity, I dwell on His wonderful attributes… like His strong love for me, and his ability and desire to look after me; his excellent purposes, etc.

Here are the SONG LYRICS:

–“I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm, my help is on the way…”

–“When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.” From The Met; Term “he will hold me fast” is found in Ps. 139:10 NIV

–“As I walk now through the valley
Let your love rise above every fear
Like the sun shaping the shadow
In my weakness your glory appears” (Beautiful words to song, in Murray’s Musings)

QUOTE: “We have no idea what God has planned for us just beyond our fear, but it will be a life-expanding adventure full of meaning.” (Patsy Clairmont)

As for things to cause fear this past month? Well, beyond fearing for the happiness and (spiritual) well-being of loved ones, consider these (not my fears in particular):

  • fires in Australia
  • discussion about the oceans boiling because of climate change etc.
  • coronavirus! (Which finally seems to be just a little bit less in the news!)

By the way, to speak to my fears for loved ones, God has just encouraged me in my praying for them: the thing I always ask most is for people to read God’s Word, and there was a CLEAR answer to that for one particular person in our small group, last week! Thank you God!

Now, how in the world do I choose from that list of such wonderful scripture verses, for this month’s memory verse?! Maybe I’ll think about it some more… maybe you can guess better than me, which one I’ll choose!

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another missionary-poem post

I guess I’ve copied missionary friends’ poetry here a couple of times… this time it’s from a child of a missionary, I think she’s about 9 or 10 years old. Or, maybe she’s 11 or 12? When I read what she’s written, it’s hard to believe she’s not an adult, or at least a teenager! She wrote several, but I’ll just copy this one… beautiful, in my estimation!

Find Me

Find me, hidden away
Before the break of day
Is banished into night
Unbroken by a light
Find me
Find me soon.

Find me, weak and cold
Before the dark grows bold -
Enough to see my plight
To make me walk by sight
Find me
Find me soon.

Find me, lost, alone
I don't know what's my own
What thought is in the right
What black lie I've made white
Find me
Find me now

Find me, quickly please
My heart is ill at ease
I'm far away from home
Darkness is where I've roamed
Find me
I need finding

Find me, through the gate
It may not be too late
Before I fully own
The harvest I have sown
Find me
Find me please

Find me, through the lies
That make me close my eyes
To what I've always known
To stop me coming home
Find me
Find me now

Find me, come and find me
I am sore in need
Reach down through the shadows
Find me on my knees
Find me
Will you find me?

by G.H.

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Fear not!

Isn’t it exciting to start a New year, and a New decade? There is comfort in tradition and even in routine, but it’s always exciting to start something new. Like the fun I had this year, working at changing my lifestyle to be more and more “zero waste”, etc. It’s always fun to say “from now on we’re going to….” and try doing something differently than you’re used to. In fact, we even make notes to change up some of our traditions, for next Christmas.

Perhaps that’s part of what it will feel like when Jesus comes back to earth and makes “all things new”. But… all things? I confess, that seems a little difficult, from this present, earthly perspective. Though I know it’ll actually be much easier when the time comes.

For now, it’s time to think more about “fearless”, my One Word for 2020. There are SO many scripture verses for that! Even in the Christmas story, there are an awful lot of Fear not’s. Perhaps a good way to start, is to “examine” myself, and make a list of what I might actually have fear about.

  • That when the “end time” comes, my loved ones will ask me, “Why didn’t you tell us?! Why weren’t you more insistent that we listen? Why did you worry about feeling uncomfortable, with such a life-or-death question?”
  • That someday there will be things I’ll wish I’d been doing, instead of being so comfortable all the time.
  • That I’ll soon become a huge, fat, “blimp”–not only fear of the health problems, but of the ugliness.
  • That not being able to resist temptation means I’m not really allowing God to work in my life.
  • Fear of not getting enough rest: this is a new discovery (edited Jan. 4), since every time I think about doing some new regular task (e.g. volunteer work), there’s a fear that I can only explain by the fact that “it may cause me to be over-tired/over-worked”. (Also, that my family may be neglected, but that’s a *good* fear!)
  • Fear of my son’s unhappiness: being oppressed by too much work, loneliness, or health problems (though we’ve had some practice at dealing with that last one!); fear of him not being aware of how much God loves him (knowing that in your mind and being aware of it in your life are two different things).
  • Fear of making a fool of myself, when/if I try to share the Gospel.
  • Fear of death: I believe that God will supply the “ticket” (as Corrie Ten Boom describes it) when the time comes, giving strength and even enabling me to look forward to meeting Him face to face; but there’s also the death of others that one needs those tickets for!
  • Fear of an opportunity passing me by, of enjoying something… more about that below.

I think that’s it! Perhaps I’ll have to edit this later, if there are any more. One of them might have been “fear of wiggly, yucky things”, like maggots, worms, etc. But I’m not really afraid of them, I just don’t like them! Also, the fear of not getting something done that needs to be done: I act like I’m afraid of this sometimes, but actually, when I think about it, the realization usually dawns that it’s really not that important, and that God is in control anyway.

I came across an interesting quote about that last fear on the list. “When we think that this life is all there is and our time is running out, we live with the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). When we believe that we will be raised imperishable, we are freed to labour for the Lord without growing weary.” (from Prayermate advent devotional) That fits so well with my fear of enjoying too much comfort (sensual pleasures)–the second point above. I’m thinking that a lot of these things would be “solved”, if I could focus more on that truth of “being raised imperishable”. So this also connects with the verses I’ll use for memorizing this month, which is from that article I quoted in my last post.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

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Thank you Lord!

It’s so neat when that happens…

I’ve been praying about my One Word for next year. An option that came to mind, is “fearless”. So I asked God to make it clear to me if this should be the word, or to bring something else to mind. Even this morning I prayed that, and then thought, “Of course, it’s silly of me to want some kind of supernatural confirmation all the time.”

So look what was in my morning’s reading:

Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem — all that we might be fearless in our city today. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones? How can you say (really!), “Well, I’m not afraid to die but I’m afraid to lose my job”? No. No. Think!

If death (I said, death! — no pulse, cold, gone!) if death is no longer a fear, we’re free, really free. Free to take any risk under the sun for Christ and for love. No more enslavement to anxiety.

If the Son has set you free, you shall be free, indeed!

“Fearless” is not something one comes across that often, in morning readings!

Not that I’m a particularly fearful sort of person, but maybe that’s because there hasn’t been a lot I’m up against to make me so; or I just don’t take time to think about it.

So, looks like I already know what my One Word will be for 2020. But more about it later.

If you want the whole John Piper article, find it here. It would be good to study this article more, and make more notes.

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in this world

One of the hardest things for me, in my Christian living (perhaps it could be called “my weakness”), is my enjoyment of sensual pleasure: eating, sleeping, photos & other things pleasant to look at, even the ones for the mind–puzzles, books, etc. The strong desire for comfort, and enjoyment. I’m always asking myself if I’m able to really sacrifice, and trying to do it and usually failing (think diet & exercise, for one example).

Perhaps just carrying out my daily duties when I don’t feel like it is a sacrifice, I say to myself. Or, it could be a cop-out. Jesus did comment on how hard it was for the rich young ruler (who had every comfort) to enter the Kingdom of God, though “all things are possible with God”.

But, aren’t we supposed to enjoy everything as God’s gifts, as Paul says? Within reason (meaning, according to God’s will), yes. However, it’s so easy to get distracted and simply forget that they are God’s gifts. This is one of the reasons that I wish I’d remember to say grace. It would also help during times of distress, help us to remember our blessings–which usually leads to the discovery that there are many wonderful, positive things to be thankful for in spite of the negatives.

Yet I keep coming back to the word sacrifice–“bearing your cross” and all that. Christmas is a time of so much delight and enjoyment, for me, it feels like I should balance that with a reminder about living sacrificially… thinking about the many who are not in very good circumstances for the season. Soooo…. here is my memory verse for this month, right from the mouth of Jesus:

“I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain.

The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

Yeah, don’t like that one at all. Not the best one for the Christmas season. But–Jesus’ own words! I destroy my own life by loving it. That comes through when you’re so very disappointed about something not going the way it should, robbing you of some comfort or enjoyment or whatever. But then it comes to me… “if it dies, it produces much grain.” Oh the joy in that “much grain”! Oh the joy of feeling better after being sick for awhile (small example); oh the joy of experiencing God’s provision of strength, wisdom, presence through the fire! There’s nothing wrong in looking forward to joy. The ultimate example is Jesus, “who for the joy set before him, endured the cross”.

Recently I’ve come across the truth that reminding myself of God’s presence within, will help me to endure, persevere in God’s will, resist temptation, etc. (the discipline aspect vs only the comfort aspect). It should help me not to “love my life”, so much that loving others (as Jesus loved) gets neglected.

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Hope is everywhere

If I post so soon again after the last one, maybe that will “catch me up”? Just have to follow up on that last post, because that word “hope” still keeps coming up these days! Last Sunday I had cause to remind myself of that lesson “things will not always be like this” (but will get better, though it may take awhile); because Sam had to miss church again, after about a month of missing… And then the scripture for the sermon had all those “hope” reminders–“…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,” (Hebrews 6:18, 19)

Turned out, I didn’t even have to wait long… Sam’s cold is much better, and his work situation as well! (He even made it to church today.) I’ve also noticed that the verses I chose would have been better to start a verse before:

“But this I call to mind, and there fore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;” (Lamentations 3:21, 22)

So I think I’ll change my memory-work, since it seems the song just insists on being in my mind whenever I try the other reference (vs 22-24). Neat to see though, that Lamentations 3:21-24 is framed at either end with hope verses.

I’ve also come across quotations about fruit, so that’s still working. It’s way too early to think about next year’s One Word, and anyway “hope” is just too common/easy. It’s a great Christmas word though!

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Hope is always there

Time to post before another month goes by! Those were great verses about giving and God’s generosity, resulting in the fruit of praise, but I’ve certainly had trouble working on them… can’t even remember the reference. Oh well, this “habit” was only started up again because someone suggested that even if you don’t actually get the verses memorized, the “trying” to do it is a good activity.

Last month didn’t even seem that busy, but lately there’s more “excuse” for not blogging & memorizing, what with terrible colds, strep throat… starting way back with a wedding in Toronto, and trying to help Sam endure his busy work schedule (somehow, but of course, one can’t do it for him!)

I’ve sure been enjoying Lynn Austin’s historical fiction books. Even though she has a recurring theme of people/Christians being mad at God, and coming to grips with deep suffering, each story is quite different! Some centre on poor people, some on rich, from Bible times to WWII stories… from the perspectives of women in the work force, older Jewish men, even children’s perspectives sometimes, slaves, doctors… they all have a love story of course, but the last one I read focused more on the relationship between two very rich sisters.

I could go on and on about her writing… but to focus on the latest one I’m reading (While We’re Far Apart), a certain theme (one of the many in the book) has come up that was actually in my mind before/lately. That in spite of all the difficult things that happen, God always provides something to give you a spark of hope, even if it’s hard to notice sometimes. Sometimes, you have to forcefully look for those “sparks”. In the story it was the dog coming home after being lost, the children providing company for the older Jewish man, and other things like that.

I read somewhere else lately that God is always speaking to us, if we would only be open to see it, and this is something that I’ve generally been able to enjoy (unless things get very busy). Just recently, I’ve felt that God was saying that you can always look at things with the perspective of saying: “things will not always be like this” (hard). That gives hope. In fact, it’s also my experience, at my age, that things do change, no matter how long they seem to go on.

Of course, sometimes we don’t want things to change, and the key in that case, is to look for the thing that is better about the change, or how to make it better, even in some small way. (Like pretty thanksgiving plates, when you have a smaller number for dinner.) In these times, it’s so wonderful to remember that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases”–even when it seems like He is not there, not loving, whatever, we can know that He IS there, and his love never ceases! That’s why I’ve decided to make the following verse my next one to memorize, even though I’ve mostly already memorized it from the song. :D

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

It would be easy enough to “make” this fit for the theme of “fruit” (the fruit of God’s love is my hope?) But maybe I should just leave it alone… after all, I’ve even been failing at eating fruit, though I haven’t given up hope!

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Fruit: love, praise

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:16, 17)

Thinking about this verse… the “whatever you ask the Father” seems to be referring to the work of bearing fruit, that Jesus mentions just before. Just like Cheri told us to let her know what we need for our “work” of teaching the kids on Wednesday mornings.

We’re going to bear fruit that abides, because this work that He has called us into is HIS work, and (as just stated), he provides everything we need for it.

So… what does that last part have to do with the rest (“These things I command you, so that you will love one another”)? It hits me that Jesus said in another place, “they will know you are my followers by your love for one another”. Then my devil’s advocate asks: what about loving others, not just one another? (You often see the interpretation that Scripture seems to emphasize that Christians love other Christians.) And don’t other religions also have love for each other?

I think the key to the kind of love that will “bear fruit”/attract others, is to have the perspective that anyone has the potential to be in God’s Family—love them because of that. Also, love them because they are made in God’s image. Come to think of it, it is definitely the loving, all-inclusive, sacrificial response of Christians that seems to be a witness in times of crisis or disaster. Love that “produces fruit”.

Of course, loving other Christians is important in that we need to encourage each other, help each other grow, and support each other in our individual calling. That also would produce fruit, as we see the result of God working out his plan in our efforts.

Now for the next verse!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about giving—yes, time and talent, but also resources/money. That’s always the last thing people really want to give, and apparently this is a key area that shows how much we love God, and shows our faith in the fact that he has provided and will provide. It was an email from our church about giving that got me thinking, but these past few days I’ve also come across it in my regular morning reading:

“This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11) See how God giving to us results in the fruit of us giving to others (and it’s a blessing to experience being able to give), which results in the fruit of praise back to God, which is the ultimate purpose for everything! Because praising God is a blessing in itself.

And of course, a verse about seed-time and harvest is perfect for September!

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