Seriously?!!!!

Have you ever wondered if God is really listening to your prayers?  I do sometimes.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Holy Spirit and His role and importance in our lives and our growth and development as children of God.  And honestly as I’ve been reading I’ve been feeling not even a little like a failure.  To the point where last night I was lying in bed and my prayer was specifically about this, about what I can do to listen to, and feel more fully the Spirit in my life.

Normally I start each morning reading my bible, then I’ll read my daily page from Jesus Calling and then I’ll write my blog post.  This morning I ended up doing everything in reverse.  I wrote my post about trusting in God, then since my computer was already open to my ebooks, I decided to read my daily devotional next and then jump into my bible.  These are literally the first words I read.  You can’t make this stuff up.  “Thank Me for the glorious gift of My Spirit.”

So yes, God absolutely hears our prayers, he knows the questions of our hearts and he will absolutely answer us when we come to him with our earnest petitions.  It’s in subtle ways and, in today’s case, blatantly obvious ones that our God reminds us that we are important to Him and how much He loves us.

How is God speaking to you today?

God bless,

Meredith

Sometimes It’s Hard.

Trust in God.  I know it’s important and I do.  But where is the line between being active in your own life and trusting in God’s plan?  How do I know that I’ve done enough in today’s media driven society where everyone is competing for the consumer dollar to promote my work?

What brings on this line of questioning you ask?  I generally don’t look at monthly comic book sales figures.  I know how much my comic Rose from Image is selling and I don’t find it helpful or productive to compare myself to what everyone else is doing.  That being said, I was curious to see how well my latest project The Light Princess (an adaptation of the George MacDonald classic, published by Cave Pictures Publishing) was doing.  To say that I was crushed when I saw the numbers is not an over exaggeration.  I feel like this comic is so special and inspiring and beautiful and to see such a low number of issue one sold was heartbreaking.  And this is where I started asking the question, did I do enough?

From the very beginning I have felt that my work with Cave Pictures Publishing was divinely driven.  The email that they sent to approach me and introduce me to the company was almost word for word exactly like a prayer I had been praying over and about my work.  And as I write these words I am remembering exactly what I prayed, “that my work be used to bring glory to God and not to myself”.  Pause for a moment of self-reflection here because I think as I write this I have found my answer….

If God guided me toward this project, if God provided the perfect artist for this project, and if all of this came at the perfect time, in the perfect way, then I need to stop worrying and trust that he has a plan for The Light Princess that is beyond me and my understanding.  Furthermore, I am reminded of these words written about George MacDonald. “MacDonald was singularly unconcerned with his own ‘image’ among his fellow men, preoccupied rather with championing his vision of the reality of the world of the spirit. ‘Perhaps the highest moral height which a man can reach,’ he wrote, ‘…is the willingness to be nothing relatively, so that he attain that positive excellence which the original conditions of his being render not merely possible, but imperative. It is nothing to a man to be greater or less than another – to be esteemed or otherwise by the public or private world in which he moves.’  He (MacDonald) determined to leave his reputation and destiny in the hands of his God.”

How can I do anything less?  Thank you Father for reminding me to trust in you and your plan for my life today.

God bless,

Meredith

Mortifying Sin? What the heck does that mean?

This weekend I started reading Sin and Temptation by John Owen.  The book open with the subject of mortifying your sins.  If you don’t know what it means to mortify something don’t feel bad, I had to look it up too.  It means to put something to death.  So this book on Sin and Temptation was opening with the idea of putting your indwelling sins to death.

God is taking me on a journey through his scholars, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and now John Owen.  In each of these men I have felt in my heart the truth and honesty of their reflections on God.  Owen writes that “Sin aim always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind.  Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.”   WOW!

How many times have we justified a tiny sin in our own lives only to find that it grows, slower ever larger,  like a cancer in our hearts?  To continue with Owen, “it is modest, as it were, in its first motions and proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presses on to some farther degrees in the same kind.  This new acting and pressing forward makes the soul take little notice of what an entrance to a falling off from God is already made….”

Robert Deffinbaugh wrote that Satan approached Eve in the garden of Eden as a friend.  He spoke to her in such a way as to convince her that he was someone who cared about her and wanted what was best for her.  How often has sin come into our own lives in that way, convincing us that this is what is best for us, and we listen to that voice, instead of trusting that only God, in his infinite wisdom and love, has our best interests in mind.

I love, and at the same time, am terrified of the idea of asking God to shine his light into the deepest and darkest parts of my soul.  But at the same time, I feel as if that is what God is calling me to do, as I walk this faith journey with him.  John Owen calls upon the believer to mortify their sins daily.  When I think about what he is calling us to do, it goes beyond confession.  Confessing your sins and knowing that you are forgiven seems like the first step, and that’s where I was for a long time.  But I think what John Owen is writing about, is that there is almost an acceptance of our sinful nature when all we are willing to do is confess.  Growth in our spiritual life is about rooting out the sin, “pruning the branches that don’t bare fruit” so to speak.  And the more I think about it, the more I have to acknowledge that this is a daily task.  Opportunities for sin to gain ground happen every day.

The other thing that John Owen emphatically writes about here is that it is simply not possible for us to mortify our sins ourselves.  We can only do it with the help of the Spirit.  I’m looking forward to reading more about that.

I don’t want to be one of those people who stands on the side of the road, holding a sign.  My purpose in writing this blog isn’t to try to convince you to be or to do something that God isn’t calling you to be or do in your heart already.  This blog is about my own journey in faith and my thoughts about things the books and scriptures I read.  And I say this because when people start talking about sin, its easy to tune them out.  We want to read about God’s love, but when we really start getting down into the nuts and bolts of our sinful nature, many of us aren’t willing or ready to have an honest discussion.  There are parts of the bible and God’s word that I’m not ready for yet, and that’s okay.  We all have to take our own journey, but I’m so grateful and thankful to all of you for being a part of mine.

God bless,

Meredith

I don’t like you.

“Is it a Sin to not like someone?”  That was the question I typed into Google this morning.  We all have them, people in our lives who rub us the wrong way, or with whom we simply have a personality conflict.  And it was something I was struggling with myself.  What I read coincided with what I already knew in my heart, that these types of situations in our lives are both a blessing and a curse.  They are an opportunity for temptation, and sin to take root in our hearts.  But they are also a means for us to overcome that, and allow God’s love to work in our hearts.

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like unto it; Love your neighbor as yourself.  I think most of us understand that loving your neighbor means treating people kindly, respectfully, the way you would want to be treated. Every interaction we have in our lives is a means for us to demonstrate, and share the love of Christ with the world around us; at the grocery store, the bank, the Tim Horton’s drive thru.

I also think we can apply this same logic and reasoning to people to have a more significant role in our lives.  You aren’t required to have an intimate or close relationship with someone you don’t like, but you do need to treat them respectfully, kindly, gently.  It’s easy when you don’t like someone to speak badly of them, to want to convince others to share your feelings because, we feel justified in our feelings if we aren’t alone in them.  But part of loving you neighbor is not doing that.  It’s about working to recognize the good qualities in that person, and the positive ways that they impact people in their own lives.  And it’s about praying, asking God to help you see that person in a new way; the way He sees them.  Maybe we aren’t called by God to like everyone, but we are absolutely called by God to love everyone.

This Lenten season I can feel God calling on me to examine the ways in which I allow sin to take root in my own heart.  I can feel him calling on me to examine the ways in which my interactions and relationships with others are, and are not, reflective of how he wants me to live.  I can feel temptation tapping me on the shoulder in my relationships.  And I know that it is simply not possible for me to defeat it alone.  I can only cling to God, pray that he guides my heart and my words, shows me where I can be better, and strengthens me in the face of temptation.  Lent is a time for us to examine ourselves, our behaviors, and our hearts.  I thank God for his patience with me, that in the face of all my stumbling and groping around, he continues to love me, and that he fills me with his unfailing love, so that I can pour that out in my own interactions.

It’s easy to forget that the point of life is this journey; this process of coming to know God.  It’s about two steps forward and one step back.  And the people in our lives, our daily interactions are so often the cause of both.  That’s why a life of faith is such a difficult road to walk.  But, if we listen to Jesus, and love our Father with all of our heart, and soul, and mind, then he will help us with everything else, including loving our neighbor.

God bless,

Meredith

 

The Older Son

This morning my Lenten reading was Luke 15:11-32, The Prodigal Son.  I understand that the point of the story is that God celebrates when a child who was once lost is found.  I totally get that.  But, not even a small part of me sides with the older son every single time I read this story.  It’s probably because I empathize with him.  I’ve always been that child; the one who does what is asked, who works hard and does what is expected. Those who are in the “know” will tell you that Jesus told this story about the Pharisees (the older son), and contrasted them with his followers, the lost and broken (the younger son).  But when I read this I get something different from it.  It speaks to me, and my own life differently.

I think sometimes what gets missed here is the cry of the older son when he says “You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”  The father’s response is “you are always with me and everything I have is yours.”  How much of this exchange reflects our own lives and relationships.  We take for granted those people and things that come easily to us.  The son in this story is crying out to his father to be acknowledged, to be appreciated, to experience the outward show of love that is being demonstrated toward his younger brother upon his return.

By the same token the father is almost shocked that his son doesn’t know how much he loves and values him.  He assumed that his actions, and his daily living were all demonstrations of the deep, and abiding love he had for this elder child.  Both men failed to communicate their feelings, and as a result a disagreement, or rift occurred in their relationship.

How often in our own lives, in our own relationships, in our marriages do we play the role of the father and assume that our loved ones know how we feel about them? How often are we the elder son, harboring resentment because we are unwilling to actually communicate our feelings of neglect or abdonment to our loved ones.  I think that this is a powerful story about the love of a father for his children, but also a powerful one about the importance of open and honest communication.  If you love someone, it should be okay for you to tell them how you are feeling.  Perhaps if the elder son had spoken up earlier, he wouldn’t have felt resentful of the time ,and attention his prodigal brother was receiving. Perhaps he would have been as joyful as his father upon the return of one who “was lost and is now found”. And by the same token, we need to be aware of those who uphold, and support us, and appreciate them.

I’m often guilty of that very thing.  Our middle son Everett is quit simply the easiest child ever.  Sure we have our squabbles, and disagreements but, I have never worried for him.  He succeeds at everything he puts himself to, he’s charming and charismatic, and he is fully, and completely capable in life.  Our eldest has special needs, our youngest, God bless him is joyfully innocent and carefree.  I worry about them, I probably give them more time and attention, not simply because they demand it, but because I want to make sure they succeed.  Perhaps you have a situation like this in your house?

I feel blessed that God gives me reminders to spend special time with Everett.  To tell him how much I love him, how proud I am of him, and how amazing I think he is.  I never want my children to feel less important than one another.  I don’t want be the parent who looks at a child with surprise one day and says “of course I love you, you are always with me and everything I have is yours”.

I think the story of the prodigal son is absolutely a story about a parent’s love for their children; a story about God’s love for the lost, and the found.  But, I also think it is a reminder to cherish, and appreciate those closest to us; be it a spouse, a parent, a sibling or a child. Make it a point today to tell someone, you maybe don’t say it to enough, how much you love and appreciate them.

God bless,

Meredith

Taking a Leap!

What is faith?  The dictionary defines is as the complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  Synonyms for faith include, reliance, dependence and belief.

I think all of those words sum up fairly well what God wants, and expects from us when it comes to our faith.  He wants us to rely, or depend upon Him to provide for us, and our needs, even when we don’t fully understand what that is ourselves.  He wants us to have complete trust in Him and His love for us.   He wants us to walk through each day confident that He is by our side, walking each step of our journey with us.

But if faith is the cornerstone of our relationship with God, why is faith is so incredibly difficult to find? And, in our modern world, where we have come to rely on science and technology to give us answers, questions about faith are even harder to answer.  We want proof for our belief, proof before we will believe.

I’ve been reading the book God’s Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace recently.  And, while I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, the case for a creator of the universe, as presented by a seasoned detective who solved more than his share of cold cases, is compelling.  I can and would suggest you read it, but here’s the thing… You are only going to be convinced if you want to be convinced.

Haven’t you noticed that about people these days?  Everyone is a debater.  Everyone has an opinion that they are convinced is right, but very few people are actually willing to listen to an alternative viewpoint.  If you are struggling to believe, with your faith, then I would suggest that there is really only one thing you can do.  Make a decision.  Decide to believe.  If you’re wrong, and there is no God, then what have you lost?  You’ve lived a life of love? You’ve found strength and comfort in times of sorrow? You’ve found meaning or a purpose for your existence?  But if there is a God, and you don’t believe…you’ve lost out on the greatest gift possible.  An eternity in heaven, bathed in the overwhelming love of God.  For me, belief is an easy win, win situation.  But an eternity in heaven isn’t the reason I believe.

We are an aimless people without faith.  We were designed by our creator to have a searching soul, to have a place in our hearts that needs to be filled with something.  Some people choose to fill that searching with money, with material possessions, with fame.   And I would be a hypocrite to not acknowledge that God has blessed my family with a comfortable life.  But it’s not the house, or the cars or the big TV’s that fill my heart with joy every morning; that bring me to my knees.  It’s love of God.  It’s being loved by God.

If you are struggling in your belief I would offer you this comfort…you are struggling because there is a part of you that can’t ignore God’s call.  You can try to drown it out with the world around us, but if He is determined to have you as His child, there is no power on earth strong enough to stand in His way.  Take heart, and make a leap and choose faith.  What have you got to lose?  What could you possibly gain?

God bless,

Meredith

Flat On My Face.

Do you sometimes struggles with ways to express your contrition before God?  I didn’t grow up in the Catholic church which has an established system of confession and absolution.  I was brought up in the United Church which has a very staid, conservative, and moderate faith.  As an adult I converted to the Anglican or Episcopalian church because I found that the service gave me the sense of peace and sense of communion with God that I had been missing.  I love everything about Anglicanism; the kneelers, the weekly communion, the confessions and Glorias.  Being in my church, and participating in that service, brings me a feeling of being in the presence of God in a way that I didn’t find in other services.  The great thing about faith is that there are enough different styles of worship to suit everyone.

But as much as there are a variety of different ways to worship God, I think that there is really only one way to come before him as a sinner.  With a penitent heart.  I talked earlier this year about how forgiving myself can sometimes be harder than coming to God for forgiveness.  I also think that it’s can often be at those time that we are riding high in God’s grace that we fall hardest, that we feel most ashamed.  We understand how completely we have separated ourselves, from who, and what God calls us to be, by our actions.

I have had an amazing week with God.  I called Saturday my day of little blessings.  I could see God’s hand in my life everywhere I looked.  I guess it seems appropriate that Sunday would be a day I would fall flat on my face.  A day in which I would lash out and react with anger instead of love.  I woke up this morning knowing that I had done the wrong thing, feeling the weight of it in my heart, and needing a way to become right with God.  I thank him that the first thing he did was to take the anger, and resentment out of my heart, and replace it with an understanding that it doesn’t matter if the world at large would consider my actions justified, if I was in the right.  What matters is how I responded, and I didn’t respond with love.  I needed to atone to that other person for that.  I needed to apologize and ask God’s forgiveness for that.

The amazing thing about God is that he already knows what I’m going to need and he provides me with the solution.  I didn’t do my bible reading yesterday.  It literally didn’t even cross my mind to do it.  Because God knew that I would need yesterday’s reading today.  Psalm 51.  This morning I read that Psalm, and then I wrote it out, and then I prayed the verses I have highlighted here as a meditation.  God spoke to my heart, and because I came to him with an open and penitent heart, he not only gave me forgiveness, he also gave me the means to forgive myself.  I guess sometimes you have to fall flat on your face in order to learn to let God to pick you up.  It hurts my heart to know how kind and loving our Lord is toward us, even when we don’t deserve it.  He really is the ultimate Father.  I don’t know what my future has in store, but I know that if God already has the answer before I even ask the question, if he’s always going to be there to pick me up when I fall down, then He’s who I want to have walking beside me every step of the way.

God bless,

Meredith

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. (NIV Study Bible)

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.