What are you giving?

Most days, as part of our school day, Isaac and I do a bible study or devotional.  Recently we read Genesis 4:1-7.  It’s the story of Cain and Abel.  In the scripture it reads “Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord.  Abel too, brought an offering: the first-born lamb of one of his sheep.”

Prior to reading this scripture I had been struggling, reaching out to God, but feeling as if I was being held at an arms length.  But, as I read it with Isaac, one word stood out as if it was written in neon letters…”some”.  Cain brought “some” of his harvest and gave it to the Lord.  And if you know the story, then you know that his offering was found to be lacking.  It was lacking to such an extent that the Lord refused to accept it.

How many times have I come before the Lord with “some” of me.  How many times have I read my bible, gone to church, or prayed as a part of my routine, and not from my heart.  God was giving me a message – loud and clear.  He doesn’t want my half-hearted measures – he wants ALL of me!  My feelings of distance and being kept at arms length suddenly made so much sense.

Absolutely I believe that God wants a relationship with all of us.  But I also feel as if at some point in the development of that relationship he calls us to step up.  We can’t hold anything back from God.  He wants us to acknowledge that everything we have comes from him.  That’s what Abel did.  That is the reason that his offering was acceptable and Cain’s wasn’t.  Abel said “look at this beautiful, first-born lamb.  If not for God, I would not have this blessing.  I will, I must give it to him.”  In contrast, Cain said “I worked hard for all of this food, I gave the sweat off  my brow, the ache in my back.  I’ll give something of what I have earned to God because I should.

How many times in my own life can I see Abel?  How many more times do I see Cain? God wants to fill our lives with blessings.  It is part of the reason Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”  But we also need to surrender our pride, our insistence on self-reliance and acknowledge that truly “all things come of thee, and of thine own, have we given thee.”

The world of 2020 wants you to believe that you are responsible for you.  But I want you to pause for a moment and consider the idea that a worldly view, puts you in Cain’s position.  You’ve heard the quote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift––that is why it is called the present.”  Each day is indeed a gift – from our Lord and when we come to him…when I come to him, I want to come to him like Abel…appreciating his blessings and giving him my very best.

This week Isaac and I have tried to keep the idea of giving God our best as our focus, and I think that it has brought each of us into a closer communion with him.  Are you giving God the best you have to offer?

God bless!

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

It’s Supposed To Be Personalized!

I don’t think it would be fair to say that I have had a crisis of faith lately.  I think it would be better phrased if I said that I had started questioning some of the things that I had held onto as core beliefs.  “How did that happen?” you might ask.  It seems almost counter-intuitive, but I have come to understand that it is much easier for your faith to be undermined from within.

A few months back I signed up to get daily emails from a Christian website.  Some of the emails I really enjoyed and got something out of.  Sure I still read my bible every day, but, as much as I wanted them to deepen my understanding, maybe on some level, I looked for them to be a “fast-food” means of increasing my knowledge of God.  A post about Christian mystics got me really questioning the reality of the experiences I felt that I had with God.  But the one that really sent me over the edge was the one that tried to explain why not all believers will be recognized by Jesus.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now I’m not saying that these posts didn’t have value.  What I am saying is that they didn’t have value for me.  Perhaps I wasn’t ready spiritually for their message.

But there I was, questioning God and my relationship with him, feeling uncomfortable in my heart with the things I had been reading.  So I thought back to some of the books I have read that truly made me feel as if I had gained a real understanding of God; C.S. Lewis and J.I.Packer.  Ultimately I ended up on Packer and and started reading his book KNOWING GOD. I wasn’t a chapter into it before I felt the rightness of the message within the book.  It fed me.  I hadn’t realized until that moment that I had been starving.

So what’s my point here?  I am absolutely not condemning the daily devotional that I had been getting, but I had to recognize that instead of feeding ME, it was putting distance between me and God.  And I am always brought back to the word Jesus uses to describe God, the word that we use to identify him withing the Trinity…God THE FATHER.  I am a child of God and I think he parents us much like we parent our own children – there is a different set of rules and instructions for each of us.  Ultimately it is for each of us to find our own way – and it is for no one to tell us our path is wrong if we are following it with an honest and earnest heart, bent upon knowing and loving our Lord.  If God has called us to be his children, will He not also show us the way?

I know that going forward, if it isn’t bringing me to a new understanding, and is instead pushing me farther from, instead of closer to God, then that isn’t the resource for me.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else, though.  Perhaps Jesus tells us the the road we walk will be a difficult one because it is one that we must each forge ourselves.

God bless,

Meredith

THE POWER OF FAITH

Have you ever felt God put a calling in your heart?  Did you follow through on it?

Sometimes it takes a long time for those callings to manifest themselves.  For me, it has taken years.  I have said before that, when I first started writing comics, I felt God put a calling in my heart to adapt The Book of Ruth into comic book form.  It was one of those, “some day you are going to do this” type of things.  I carried that calling in my heart for many years, before I really felt that the time was “now”.

It’s funny how when you starting answering a calling, you have this mind set, or at least I certainly did, that you are doing something for God.  You know when Paul calls us to “resist the temptation to act as if we are righteous, especially by leaning on our good works”… yep!

It’s easy to start making plans and forget who, and what you are doing something for.  But, if you can keep your focus on God, trusting in His plan for you and your calling, the strangest thing begins to happen; or at least for me.  I came to the realization that this thing God had called me to do.  This thing that I was “doing” for God…it was actually something God was doing for me.

Maybe to some of you this is nothing new, but for me this is news!!!  The more I have worked on “The Book of Ruth”, the more I have poured myself into God’s plan; trusting Him, and turning it over to Him…the more I have found myself being blessed by the very thing I was supposed to be doing for God.  We have it all wrong, or I certainly did.  When God puts a calling in our hearts it’s because He has a blessing that He wants to share with us not because there’s something we can do for him.   But the only way that He can do that is if, and when we listen to Him.

I feel grateful and blessed that our God is forgiving, and willing to overlook my arrogance. (What could I possibly do for the God who created the heavens and earth?)  God stuck with me, He showed me the truth, and He brought me to the place where I am now; joyous gratitude.  What calling has God put into your heart today?  What blessing is he trying to share with you?

This song has really been my mantra since launching The Book of Ruth on Kickstarter and so I wanted to share it with you today.

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

It’s Official

I did it!  Okay, I almost did it.  Next Friday is the day and I’ve officially started promoting The Book of Ruth in the social nextwork sphere.  Here’s a special “blog exclusive” sneak peak at some of the artwork and a link to the Kickstarter page.  While the purpose of this blog isn’t really to promote my work, since this project is specifically faith-based I was willing to make an exception.

Ruth_Postcard 02-01.jpg

You are welcome to follow at the link below if you are interested in this special project, and feel free to share with your friends.

https://www.kickstarter.com/pr…/358946764/the-book-of-ruth-1

For blog followers only, here’s the undialogued version of page 1.

RUTH_001(1).jpg

God bless and thank you for reading.

Meredith

What Kind of Person Would I Be?

We all have good days and bad day.  And then sometimes we have days that are complete and total disasters, when we feel completely out of sync with who and what we are.  Yesterday morning was one of those for me.  I could feel the tension as soon as I woke up.  So much to do and not enough time to do it in.  I raced around the house trying to knock things off of my list before settling down with Isaac to begin his school day.  But as I sat there I could still feel the tension in my temples, my clenched jaw.  I was practically vibrating.

Let’s just say that school did not go well and I was less than kind to my sweet, little boy.  Angry word are like toothpaste, you can’t ever take them back.  All you can do is ask for forgiveness.  This morning Isaac and I were talking about our experience yesterday and he reassured me “don’t worry mom, we all have bad days, I forgive you”.  I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated his understanding.  And then, from my sweet little child, came such a brilliant piece of wisdom… “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t forgive you?”  Indeed, Isaac, what kind of a person would you be.  What a special gift he gave me this morning, and with such unconditional love.

And it just reminded me again of the amazing gift we have been given as children of God.  Last night as I lay in bed I felt just awful about my behaviour toward a child that I love and adore.  And though I prayed for forgiveness, I just couldn’t give it to myself.  But Isaac reminded me this morning…to err is human, to forgive divine.  I will always make mistakes no matter how hard I may try to be perfect.  But there is always forgiveness available to me in those times that I fall.  And the biggest lie of all is when we don’t take that forgiveness, offered to us just as Isaac offered it to me this morning, freely, innocently and unconditionally.  When we refuse to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and failings, and lack of perfection we are turning our backs on the most beautiful gift it is possible to receive.

If my child can offer forgiveness so freely, how much more powerful is the forgiveness offered to us by Christ.  Give Him your cares and your burdens and let Him show you how to forgive yourself, just as He has forgiven you; to love yourself as much as He loves you.

God bless,

Meredith