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

Knowing & Believing.

This past weekend we Canadians celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday and this year my family had so much to be thankful for. My sister got engaged, we celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday, my parents had a big announcement, and God continues to bless my family with love, and good health.  It was indeed a weekend of giving thanks to God, for everything we have.  I even gave thanks that my injury happened after Easter, and was early enough in the year for me to fully recover so that I could host Thanksgiving.  God is good.

Today I was reading the 8th chapter of Matthew and, in light of my questions from last week about the kingdom of God, there was a phrase in particular that really caught my attention  “but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  I wanted to understand who these “subjects” were and of what “kingdom”.  Who was Jesus referring to?

In my research I learned that the Jewish people referred to themselves as children, or subjects, or members of the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven.  So then I got to thinking, when Jesus announced, after his baptism, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, was this his call to his people?  Was this another way of him announcing to the Jewish people that their messiah had arrived?  Sure a kingdom is a place, but a kingdom is also it’s people.  Maybe the kingdom of heaven isn’t just the gospel, maybe it’s all of us.  Maybe this was an announcement that there would be a new belief, that some who thought they knew God would fall away because they had to give up too much (power, money, authority) as the kingdom, through Jesus, transformed from one in which only a priest could access God, to one in which we could all access our heavenly Father.

I’m not a biblical scholar, but thinking about it in this way helps me to maybe have a clearer understanding of how Jesus’ calling people to the kingdom of heaven fits into the idea that, like Abraham, we are justified by faith.  And then when I think back to the faith expressed by the centurion in Chapter 8, his recognition of Jesus as the absolute authority over life and death, so much so that He (Jesus) need only speak the word for his servant to be healed…maybe Jesus is also announcing that HE is the kingdom of God.  He is calling us to be a part of Him.  And if Jesus is the Kingdom of God, we are all a part of it simply by knowing and believing in him.

Still praying for God to help me grow in my faith in knowledge of him, everyday.

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