SOMETHING BIGGER.

I had a conversation a few days ago with a colleague about what was happening to comics right now, and where the industry might be when things eventually return to normal.  This individual had a very deep fear that their career was over, a feeling that I’m sure is being felt across much of the comic book industry.  Ours isn’t the only industry worried about what will be left after this crisis.  I tried to reassure this person that they had nothing to worry about, but the simple truth is none of us know when this will end, or how it will ultimately affect us.  I can tell you that this conversation opened a door to us having a very long conversation about God.  And as we talked, I kept praying for God to give me the right words, for God to use me to open the heart of this individual to His truth.

Now, more than ever we need to trust in our Heavenly Father.  It’s so easy to be ruled by our fear right now; fear of losing your job, your status within an industry, your way of life.  But, and this is something many people find difficult to accept, ALL of that is a gift from God.  “No.” you say “I work my butt off, not God, me.”  But the truth is, none of us get to write our genetic code, or pick and choose what gifts or talents we are going to be born with.  And yes, you may be an amazing artist, musician, writer, teacher, lawyer…and I don’t discount that you have worked hard to get where you are in your industry, but what you may not have seen are the many, many doors God opened for you along the way.  And, it is in times like these, that we see just how little control we really have over our own lives. Don’t let your pride (because that’s what your need to be independent from God is) prevent you from seeing and accepting all the gifts that God is offering you.  Don’t let your pride prevent you from accepting the ultimate gift…God’s love, and His hand and care over your life.

I believe that God expects us to work hard.  I also believe that he wants, and gives us every opportunity to use His gifts to their fullest.  But ultimately, I have found that only when these things go hand in hand with thanking God, and trusting in God, am I able to accept the blessings of peace, and joy, and the ability to use my gifts to their fullest potential.  I have been reading the prophet Ezekiel this week and there is one phrase that keeps getting repeated over and over again.  “They will know that I am the Lord…the Sovereign Lord.”  I think I copied it down four times in one chapter alone.  God is SOVEREIGN.  God is THE LORD.  And He’s got this.

Today I continue to give thanks for my blessings, and as this virus continues to spread through the world, I pray for each of you, that God watches over you and keeps you and your families in health and safety.  I pray for our doctors and nurses, and those who are working in groceries stores, and other essential services so that, even while we are social distancing,  we can live our lives.

Give thanks for your blessings today, and trust that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Trust that even if a door closes as a result of this virus, you just never know what bigger, and better thing your Heavenly Father has in store.

God bless,

Meredith

BE JOYFUL IN HOPE.

In these rapidly changing, and challenging times I’m sure we’ve all had them; days when we give into our fear, and despondency.  Yesterday, we learned that our industry is coming to a standstill, like so many others.  It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when this global emergency comes to an end.  Yesterday was not my finest day.  I felt anxious and tense; and I ran into one disaster after another – including dinner.  Sigh.  So, last night as I lay in bed I reached out to God, just as I quoted from Lamentations yesterday; I cried out to him from the pit, and I fell asleep confident that he heard my cry.

This morning I was reading Roman 12 & 13.  And I’m going to share a few verses with you that helped me.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:13.  These were words I needed to hear.  This was the verse I meditated on this morning.

And as provinces and states are shutting down and declaring states of emergency, I felt this verse to be helpful.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  Romans 13:1

I know I personally have railed against the increasingly stringent measure that are being put into place to keep us all safe.  But reading this verse reminds me that I should instead be praying for “the authorities…God’s servants who gave their time to governing.” Romans 13:6

With everything that is happening it is so easy to lose sight of where I need to keep my focus.  I want to go through today, and these next few weeks, and perhaps months, holding fast to this mantra;  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

God is good, and I KNOW that he will use this situation to his glory.

If you have a prayer request, please feel free to reach out and I would be happy to pray for you.

God bless, stay safe and don’t forget to check out today’s reading from John.

Meredith

THE ROAD BACK – PART TWO

Yesterday I talked a bit about my crisis of faith, and feeling as if I had let down God.  I wish that I was one of those people who just walked a path of faith that was straight and narrow with bright lights, and I never wavered.  Apparently that’s not how I was made.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe your relationship with God ebbs and flows.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with his love, and the certainty that you are loved by him.  Sometimes all you can feel is darkness, and the weight of oppression pushing you down.

I promised yesterday that I would talk about the new insight God shared with me about my own feelings of guilt, and unworthiness.  Would it surprise you if I told you it came from the introduction to the book of Job in my bible?  If you are not familiar with the book of Job it goes something like this:  God and Satan are having a discussion, and God invites Satan to “consider my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8  Satan suggests that Job is only faithful because God has blessed him so greatly.  God then allows Satan to take everything from Job, first his family and wealth, and then eventually his health.  Throughout much of the book Job believes God is punishing him unjustly for a sin(s) he has not committed and he angrily demands that God allow him to defend himself, but NEVER does he curse God as Satan suggests he will.  At the end of the book Job faithfulness is rewarded, he is restored to health and everything he lost is given back to him, twice as much.

That was a long way of getting to my point. At the beginning of this book the following  explanation is given  “The relationship between God and man is not exclusive and closed.  A third party intrudes, the great adversary.  This adversary or tempter seeks to alienate man from God; as accuser (one of the names by which he is called, śatan means “accuser”) he seeks to alienate God from man.  His all-consuming purpose is to drive an irremovable wedge between God and man, to effect an alienation that cannot be reconciled.  Can you see why this explanation was EXACTLY the wisdom I needed to hear?  When I “accuse” myself before God, when I tell myself I am not good enough or I’m not doing enough, I am doing the work of God’s adversary.  I am allowing an “accusation” that I level at myself to drive a wedge between me and my Heavenly Father – to alienate me from God.

Now, pair that with Romans Chapter 7 which I also happened to be reading that day.  In this chapter, Paul – the guy who wrote 14 of the 27 “chapters” or “books” of the New Testament – that same Paul who encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus; Paul wrote this: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”  Romans 7:18-19

THAT IS ME!!!  I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that exact way, and if God’s hand-picked messenger Paul can feel this way, then I have hope.  It was this that helped me to understand more fully, more clearly, more deeply the meaning of the gift that Jesus offers each and everyone of us.  The gift that I needed to open my hand to accept…Freedom from condemnation.  And in fact Paul states this very fact in the first verse of Chapter 8.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

So there it is.  I allow the great adversary, Satan, the devil, whatever you want to call him, into my life when I accuse myself before God.  It is not God who is pulling away from me, but rather the very opposite, I am separating myself from Him.  One of my favorite bible verses is 1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

When we accuse ourselves we are acting in fear; fear of not being good enough, of not being loved.  Whatever it is; that fear, that accusation you are directing at yourself – recognize that it is a wedge being used to separate you from God’s perfect love.  A love that has no condemnation.

On Monday let’s talk about how this truth brought me back to blogging, and where I go from here.  Today, I pray that God blesses you so that you may walk through your day free from fear, basking in the certainty and warmth of his perfect love.

Meredith

IT’S JUST SOOOO HARD!

Why is it that almost the second you decide to try to do better, temptation comes to show you just how weak you really are?  I think that probably applies to most things that tempt us, chocolate cake when you are on a diet, a new pair of shoes when you are watching your spending.  How are we supposed to win?!

Today for my bible study I was reading Ecclesiastes and James.  Both chapters specifically addressed my biggest failing as a Christian…my tongue.  James 3 is even appropriately titled Taming the Tongue. 

“…but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  James 3:8.

“With  our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.”  James 3:9

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” James 3:10

Guilty, guilty, guilty.  I have often wondered why, when we were created by God to praise and love him, it is so darn hard to live up to his standards?  I think it must be a big reason why so many people have fallen away from “religion”.  Once you get past the whole feel good “Jesus comes to save the world and forgive our sins part” there’s an expectation, a call to live a better life, to set a higher standard for your behaviour.  And just like you felt guilt when you did something wrong as a child, you feel badly, guilty about not living up to being the person you know God is calling you to be.  It’s easier to just walk away, especially in those early days.

Last night as I was driving Isaac back from his riding lesson I heard a song on the radio (see below), and it really drove home something that I think we all need to remember.  It’s good to be alive.  God gave us life to enjoy it.  A relationship with God is about feeling better, not worse.  Feeling not good enough, living with guilt… that is a lie told by the enemy, and one I’ve fallen victim too far too often.  When we feel as if we aren’t living up to God’s standards we should be turning toward him, not away.

I’ve been pretty honest here about how my own faith has ebbed and flowed over the years.  It’s even possible that I might stray away again, like a lost sheep.  But I feel grateful that, for right now, I am so tied to my Lord.  The more I have thrown myself at him whole-heartedly, the more I have felt his presence in my life on a daily basis.  And that’s why it is so darn frustrating to recognize at times that I am just as awful a sinner as I ever was, and that ole tongue is the major source of my failing.  But I also take comfort from the words of Ecclesiastes 7, verse 20 that I read this morning…”There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”  and verse 18 “the man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” 

I am a sinner.  I will always be a sinner.  Just like my own children, as a child of God I will continue to make mistakes, to fall down.  And just as I would pick up my own children, wipe their tears and forgive them for any of their failings or mistakes, so too does God forgive me.  All I have to do is ask.  And truth be told, we are probably never fair to ourselves.  I believe that the Spirit lives in me, and is changing me into the person God calls me to be.  Some days he just chips off smaller pieces of this piece of clay than others.  God knows all things.  He knows when I’m having a bad day, when I’m stressed out, when I’m feeling out of control.  He also knows the days when I’ve got it all together.  I think he expects more from us in those times that we are more capable (just as we would with our own children).  Maybe some days, instead of chipping of pieces of this piece of clay, he just holds me in his hands and pours his love out onto me.

I pray for all those people who are struggling with their faith and with those feelings of not being good enough. God sent his only son into the world so that, while we might feel those things, we wouldn’t have to live with the burden of guilt for our failures.  I pray that instead of turning away from God in those times, we instead turn ourselves more fully toward him.

God bless,

Meredith

Careless Words

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:34

Several times this month I have found a passage in my readings that speaks to me and then brings me to a new understanding of some of the readings we repeat each Sunday as a part of our service and where they come from.  This one today hit home particularly for me because this month I found myself lashing out at my family.  Fall is always a difficult time for me as the days grow shorter.  But for some reason, this year I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed.  Even the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning have, at times, felt like mountains to climb.   And those feelings I have nurtured in my heart, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration, have of course flowed out of my heart via my mouth to hurt the ones I love.

This morning as I prayed on this verse and asked for God’s help, I found myself repeating familiar words…“cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy spirit that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name, through Christ our Lord”.

This verse comes from the Collect for Purity and is a part of our Anglican service every Sunday.    The entire collect goes like this; Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I can only think that this collect was directly inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew in recognition of the struggles we all face; to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, so that it is the good stored inside us that comes out of our mouths, and not the evil.

I will continue to pray that my heart be cleansed so that when I am called to give an account for the words I have spoken, the good far outweighs the evil, in Jesus’ name.  Amen

God bless,

Meredith

Shhhh! It’s A Secret!

How many times in your life has someone leaned over to you and whispered a secret in your ear?  How many times have you turned around and told someone else, even though you promised you wouldn’t?  For some of us keeping secrets is easy.  It’s what we do; for others…it’s like climbing Mount Everest. I would definitely put myself in the later category.  My mother used to complain because every time I did something wrong I would feel compelled to tell her.  I’m what you call a “sharer”.  But there are other people who hold their secrets close, they guard them as if they are a precious treasure.  If you live with someone like that, it can be a challenge.  As someone who probably over-shares, it sometimes feels as if a person keeping a secret from me is using it as a form of power.  “I know something you don’t know.”  But I can hardly fault them for not telling me if they know I’m for sure going to tell someone else.

The thing about secrets is that there is a time, and a place…my kids know that if they tell either parent something, even in secret, that parent will eventually share it with the other parent.  Why?  Because David and I don’t have secrets from each other.  And even for a known sharer like myself, there are some secrets that you just know, once told in confidence, are never yours to share.

God tells us to keep secrets too.  I’ve been reading The Sermon on the Mount this week. In in we are called to love our enemies, and give to the needy, and to pray, and fast.  But he calls us to do many of these things “in secret”.  Soooooo hard!!!  If I do something nice, I want to run home and tell Dave, to show him, to show someone what a good person I am.  Kind of sums up the world we live in right now doesn’t it?  We want other people to know that we are good, and kind, and righteous.  We want everyone to know that we will vote for the right party, give to the right charity, believe in the “right” things.  We seek acceptance from our friends, our neighbours, our co-workers.  We look for it from social media in the form of re-tweets and Facebook “likes”.  We are all guilty of it to some degree.  Yes, even those who don’t have social media.  But the problem with our drive to get those likes, is that we will never get enough.

Every single one of us has a hole inside of us yearning to be loved and liked that can only be filled in way.  Social media will tell you that to be happy you need to love yourself, to put yourself first.  But I would argue that even you can’t love yourself enough to fill that void.  The only thing big enough to fill up the void within us is God.  And the reason is, because that void was created to be filled by Him.  Some people try to fill up that space with things, others with food, or money, or people.  But if you have a place in your heart that you are struggling to fill, the only “like” you need is from a friend named Jesus.

I think that’s part of the reason why Jesus tells us to pray in secret, to give to the needy in secret, to fast in secret… because only then does it become something we are doing to live like him, to deepen our relationship with him, and with our heavenly Father, and not something we are doing to be validated by other people.  When we are truly doing something for the right reason, we don’t need to broadcast it, because our Father in heaven already knows. You feel it in your heart, that He is the only one you need to look to for validation.

This is something I’m going to continue to struggle with, but it’s also something I work on.  I try to set myself a goal to not overshare.  Maybe it’s okay that I share with Dave.  Knowing I did, or didn’t do something good won’t really change his opinion of me.  Much like my Father in heaven, he loves me unconditionally.

God bless,

Meredith

What’s The Point?

For a little while now I’ve been struggling a bit with the idea of heaven.  Specifically, what is the point of Jesus coming again if we all go to heaven and live with God when we die?  I mean isn’t heaven…well…heaven?  I’ve kind of put that thought at the back of my mind and figured I’d get around to it eventually.  I was reading Paul’s second letter to Timothy this morning and verse 9 said “this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  And I got to wondering about Jesus, what really did he teach?

So I decided to go back to Matthew, chapter 4, and then I started wondering what the “gospel” or “good news” Jesus came down to earth to share with us really was?  I wanted to really understand it.  So far I’ve gotten the idea that he preached the gospel/good news that the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God was at hand.  He called his listeners to repent and believe.  At this point he wasn’t saying anything about grace.  So then what does it mean when he says the kingdom of God is at hand.  Looking at the world we live in, it doesn’t really feel as if God’s kingdom has been established on earth to me.

I believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again.  I believe that he said he is the way, the truth and the life.  I read one site that said you can only get to the kingdom of heaven through grace.  But I feel as if I need to really understand this to take the next step in my spiritual growth.  Maybe when I really understand this I’ll also have an answer to my question about heaven, and Jesus coming again. I’ll keep you updated as I go.

God bless,

Meredith