Let’s Be Honest

Romans 12:1-2“April 30 denotes the day that was chosen as National Honesty Day. According to sources, it was chosen to be the last day of the month of April to balance out the beginning of the month, which involves  the tricks, pranks and lies on April’s Fools Day. While perhaps not readily apparent why it is necessary to create a day specifically for the purpose of celebrating honesty, it is a reminder and re-engagement of the positive side of things. The day showcases the ideology of being truthful and honest. It also may serve as a reminder to those about to make promises which they have no intention of keeping.”

So let’s be honest.

Answer the poll questions HONESTLY.  There will be a time for repentance at the end of this quiz :)

 

Don’t despair if you found that you have not been as disciplined in your daily walk with God.  Perhaps you’ve had the best of intentions but things just didn’t go as planned or “life got in the way” as they say.  The wonderful thing about living out Romans 12:1-2 is that it’s all in the trying.  It is making the effort that’s important;there’s no pass or fail here.  You get a participation award just by trying.

If you know you could be doing better, ask God for help, and then see what HE will do!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2

Heaven Is For Real and God is Not Dead…well, DUH!?!

Heaven Is For RealFor those of you who are standing in the long lines waiting to watch what some claim may be the movie “blockbusters” of the year, spoiler alert…Heaven IS for real AND God is NOT dead.

I don’t need to watch a movie for two hours to tell me the obvious.  I’m a Christian, so I know for a fact that Heaven is indeed real.  Scripture confirms its existence.  It appears from the very first verse in Genesis- “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”- to the last reference found at the end of Revelation- “He showed me the great city… descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10 NKJV). In fact,  there are Bible verses about heaven in fifty-four of the sixty-six books in the Bible.

I do not need a little boy with an amazing “near-death” experience to confirm for me that there is indeed a heaven.  I’m a believer already.  However, it is interesting how many who may have been skeptical about heaven’s existence will see this film or read the book by Todd Burpo and suddenly believe in the afterlife…and that’s okay…but make sure that the belief is founded on the biblical truth that glorifies a heavenly Father who loved us all so much that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16).  That’s the fundamental truth in believing in heaven, not the accounts of ordinary people who have had miraculous “there-and-back” experiences.  It may encourage us to hear these stories, (I personally really enjoyed the book)  but I don’t need their eye-witness accounts to know that heaven is real.  The Bible is all the proof I need of heaven!

I also believe whole-heartedly that God is not dead.  I believe in the resurrected Saviour.  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26  (The Message)

“Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it God is Not Deadwas a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.”  Romans 6:6-11.

I find it interesting that people want proof of heaven and of God’s existence but refuse to go to the source of that proof: The Bible.  They would rather get second-hand accounts and watch feel-good movies.  It’s okay if it is the conversation starter that leads to a heartfelt quest for the Truth but if it ends immediately after the last kernel of popcorn is eaten, then the quest has failed…miserably!

If you are a Christian, who may want to use these books and movies for evangelistic purposes or otherwise, by all means, go see the movies; review them, discuss them, but be wary of using them primarily to discuss theological truths …that’s what the Bible is for!
.

Heart Scars

Scars.  We all have them.  Some of my scars are visible; the scar on my knee from the time when I fell off my bike in grade seven.  A little scar on my nose when my brother and I were playing under a table and the leaf of the table collapsed on top of me.  I have “battle” scars from my journey with cancer in 2001.  Scars.  We all have them.

The thing about scars is that they are often associated with “pain“.  I can remember with great clarity how I felt when my body was marked with each one of those scars.  I remember the pain vividly.  It wasn’t pleasant, but I have learned that scars are marks of ownership to the Father.  As we experience the pain, we experience the Father as He helps us get through the pain.  I have learned by walking with the Father that sometimes pain, when processed with the Father, has the great potential to be used for His perfect purpose.

There are also scars that no one sees.  Years ago I heard my former Pastor call them “Heart Scars”, and he said they are oftentimes far more hurtful and damaging than those outward physical scars we bear and their effects last far longer, sometimes for a life time.  Heart Scars are caused by a friend’s betrayal, a careless word or comment that stings and hurts; gossip, lies, judgmental attitudes, broken relationships.  Those scars run deep and unless processed through with the Father, they never heal,… not completely.

“I know that I will enter heaven scarred,” he said, “they are marks of the battle, [here on earth] but they are also scars used for the sake of Jesus.”

I had not thought of it like that before.  Certainly when I went through breast cancer years ago, I did not know that I would come to a point in my life where I could honestly say I was thankful for my cancer.  You see, God changed me through the experience and He did so by using my scars and my pain to draw closer to Him.Heart Scars

1.  God used pain to move me.  I couldn’t ignore the fact I had cancer.  I had to take action, it would have cost me my life otherwise.  I had never thought much about my health or my mortality before.  A cancer diagnosis forced me to rethink priorities in my life.

2.  God used pain to move me towards Jesus.  I ran straight into the arms of Jesus.  I had no one else to turn to.  Although I had the support of family and friends there were times they just couldn’t comfort me, try as hard as they might.  In my pain, God revealed Himself to me more clearly and compassionately than ever before.  I would never have experienced Him the way I did without journeying with Him through cancer.

3.  God used pain to move me towards others.  We are called to bear one another’s burdens, encourage, befriend, support, and love one another.  I allowed others to minister to me during my time of need.  I relied on them as I never had before.  I let go of foolish pride to allow myself to become vulnerable not only before others but before God.

4.  God used pain to bring me together with others who have experienced similar suffering.  I have been blessed to be able to fellowship with many courageous women who, like me, have experienced breast cancer and some who are still  experiencing breast cancer.  We are part of sisterhood and we have a special bond and camaraderie together as a result.  I can empathize with them, cry with them, laugh with them, but mostly I can point them to the One Who will ultimately brush every tear away and heal them of their pain…Jesus Christ.

One of the most profound things I learned was that pain is not to be wasted!

Whoa!  Think about that.  Whatever circumstance right now that you are in, big or small…if you are experiencing pain, do not waste it!  If God has purposed you to experience cancer (or any other kind of “pain” physically, or if you are experiencing Heart Scars) do not waste the opportunity to draw nearer to God and to others through the experience.

John Piper, @JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.  John Piper wrote about his journey with prostate cancer: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-your-cancer

10 Ways to Waste Your Cancer

1.  You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.  It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it.  What God permits, he permits for a reason.  If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.

2.  You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.  “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

(I know when I journeyed with the Father through breast cancer it was easy to think of cancer as my “curse”, however it was in fact my testing ground.  Could I walk with God “through the shadow of death” and stand firm in my faith no matter the struggle?  That was my test.)

3.  You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.  The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds.  The world gets comfort from their odds.  Not Christians.  Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  (Psalm 20:7)

4.  You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.   “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90: 12)  Numbering your days means thinking about how few there are and that they will end.  How will you get a heart of wisdom if you refuse to think about this?

5.  You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.  Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same.  Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ.  God designs to deepen your love for Christ.  Cancer does not win if you die.  It wins if you fail to cherish Christ.  God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ.

6.  You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.  It is not wrong to know about cancer.  Ignorance is not a virtue.  But the lure to know more and more and the lack of zeal to know God more and more is symptomatic of unbelief.  Cancer is meant to waken us to the reality of God.  It is meant to put feeling and force behind the command, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord.”  (Hosea 6:3)… What a waste of cancer if we read day and night about cancer and not about God.

7.  You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.   When Epaphroditus brought the gifts to Paul sent by the Philippian church he became ill and almost died.  Paul tells the Philippians, “He has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill” (Philippians 2:26-27)  What an amazing response!  It does not say they were distressed that he was ill, but that he was distressed because they heard he was ill.  That is the kind of heart God is aiming to create with cancer: a deeply affectionate, caring heart for people.  Don’t waste your cancer by retreating into yourself.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.  There is a grief at death.  Even for the believer who dies, there is temporary loss—loss of body, and loss of loved ones here, and loss of earthly ministry. But the grief is different—it is permeated with hope.  “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)  Don’t waste your cancer grieving as those who don’t have this hope.

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.  Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer?  If so you are wasting your cancer.  Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin.  Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.  Don’t just think of battling against cancer.  Also think of battling with cancer.  All these things are worse enemies than cancer.  Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes.  Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are.  “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25)

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.  Christians are never anywhere by divine accident.  There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake.  This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” (Luke 21:12-13)  So it is with cancer.  This will be an opportunity to bear witness.  Christ is infinitely worthy.  Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life.  Don’t waste it.

**********

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”  (Romans 8: 18-21)

He’s Alive!

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

HE IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!

 

My Baby is Thirty Today!

Laurelle newbornI was on Vancouver Island visiting my parents when I first suspected that I might be pregnant.  My husband was still in Calgary completing last-minute work assignments before he could start his two weeks of holidaying on the island with me.

I wasn’t morning sick but I wasn’t feeling myself.  We had been trying for years to have a baby but doctors were as baffled as we were why we hadn’t conceived.  It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions every month, only to be disappointed again and again.  At breakfast one morning, a couple of days before my husband arrived, I blurted out to my mother, “I think I’m pregnant.”

My mother asked me all the “motherly” questions and it was like she was ticking off a little checklist in her head.  “Yep,” she said.  “You’re pregnant.”

“What do I do now?”  I asked naively.  She just smiled, and shrugged her shoulders.  There were not enough “How to be a Parent” books written then or now for her to adequately answer that question.

The pregnancy was a roller-coaster ride with a scare in the second trimester when I started spotting and was hospitalized for a week.  Thankfully it was just a scare, but from then on I was monitored closely by my doctor.  “Little Freddie” as we affectionately called my baby bump, was growing nicely but a couple of weeks before my due date (March 26) my blood pressure started to soar.  The doctor, fearing more complications in the pregnancy decided to induce.  That led to my having five…count them…FIVE inductions, none of which succeeded.  I was on the maternity ward with women holding their babies in the rooms next to mine and yet my arms were empty.  The longing was there but with each medical procedure my hopes were raised for a few brief hours only to be shattered each time with disappointment.  I wondered if I would ever hold my baby.

Finally after the last procedure, I checked myself out of the hospital and went home.  I cried all the way home.

My brother’s birthday was the next day, so I decided to bake him a cake and we “celebrated” the best way we could without talking about the “elephant” in the room.  I really DID feel like an elephant to say the least!  My parents, who had arrived a week before the due date from Victoria, were exhausted.  My mother had planned to be there for the birth of the baby and to give me some much-needed help during the first couple of weeks of parenthood.  Instead, they now talked of heading home.  They had never intended to be in Calgary over a month!

In the middle of the night I felt an unusual flutter and woke my husband.  I wasn’t sure but I told him I thought I had felt a contraction.  It was certainly a different feeling than the medically induced contractions I had experienced over the past two weeks.  Charles broke land-speed records getting me to the hospital and after the nurses hooked me up to all the monitors the doctor on call said I was indeed “in labour”!  The excitement was overwhelming but as the night wore on and the baby did not progress, the doctor pulled my husband aside and gave him the news.  My baby was turned (a back labour) and was not progressing down the birth canal.  Applying forceps, which had me screaming in agony, was not a viable option.  He recommended an emergency C-section.  My husband just yelled at him, “So what are you doing talking to me?  Get it done!”

I remember being wheeled into the elevator, laying on my side.  My “business side” facing the door.  The operating room was four floors down and we stopped at each floor, even the lobby!  I just waved to the surprised, and embarrassed visitors as the doors opened and closed.  At that point I cared little about modesty.  At 10:03 a.m., on April 18, nearly three weeks after her due date, my daughter Laurelle was born, pink, perfect and weighing in at 8 lbs. 4 oz.  The doctor’s comment: “Yep.  She’s a little over-cooked all right!”  I did not see my daughter’s first breath, nor hear her first cry.  I had been anesthetized and it was my husband who followed the little cart carrying our daughter up to the Intensive Care Nursery Unit where she was monitored carefully.  It had been a traumatic birth…for both of us.

When I was finally wheeled up to my room to recover, they allowed me to get a quick cuddle there at the door of the ICNU.  I was groggy but as I held my beautiful daughter for the first time, counting her tiny fingers and perfect toes, I knew despite the ups and downs of my pregnancy I would experience it all again to be able to hold this precious child in my arms.  I was in love.

That was thirty years ago today.  My sweet daughter is married to a wonderful man, and they have given us two perfect grandbabies.  My daughter is a brilliant, young woman.  She is my daughter but now that she is older, our relationship has fostered into a friendship that transcends the typical mother-daughter one.  I confide in her and she in me.  I admire her, respect her and love her beyond words at times.  Sometimes I look at her and remember her as a baby, toddler, teen, and think how far she has grown up not only in stature but maturity.  She is a Proverbs 31 woman and I am proud to be her mother.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!  Love you.

Christmas Has Its Cradle, Easter Has Its Cross

One of my most favorite hymns is “Christmas Has It’s Cradle, Easter Has It’s Cross” by Rae E. Whitney.  Although probably sung most often at Christmas than at Easter, I think it is a hymn that is equally appropriate for both celebrations.  After all, the hymn’s lyrics link Christmas with Easter.  Without Christmas there would be no Easter.    The two most important celebrations in Christian history are inseparably linked together, all part of God’s perfect plan to redeem the world.

Christmas has its cradle, where a Baby cried; did the lantern’s shadow show him crucified?

Did he foresee darkly His life’s willing loss?

Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its cross.

Christmas has its cradle; shepherds came to see, Little Son of Mary, Lamb of God to be 

Had His Father warned Him, none would grant Him room, save in the Christmas cradle and in the Easter tomb?

Christmas has its cradle, wise men came to bring, myrrh and gold and incense, offering for a King;

Myrrh alone stayed with Him, death’s balm for this Boy, from the Christmas cradle and to His Easter joy.

Christmas has its cradle, where that Baby cried; in the Easter garden, Christ lay, crucified;

When death’s power was conquered, God’s life through Him poured;

Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its Lord!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17

Shedding a few Pounds

I will confess, I am not a fan of diets.  Personally, I don’t think most of those “fad” diets work.  As my husband says time and time again, the only sure way to lose weight is to “eat less, 7293_fashion_cartoonand do more”.  He continues to be one of the wisest men I know!  That said, I’ve decided that I’ve got to try to shed a few pounds.  Now that I’m fifty-something, losing weight has more to do with health, than getting into a bikini.  I believe in miracles, sure…but me and bikinis – that ain’t never gonna happen :)  My kids are certainly breathing a sigh of relief!

The thing is, I’d just like to shed a few pounds so that I could get into SOME kind of a bathing suit…

I was digging through some old files the other day and came across a little article that describes the ordeal I face every summer…the quest for a new bathing suit.

“I have just been through the annual pilgrimage of torture and humiliation known as buying a bathing costume.  When I was a child, the bathing costume for a woman with a mature figure was designed for a woman with a mature figure – boned, trussed and reinforced, not so much sewn as engineered.  They were built to hold back and uplift, and they did a good job.

Today’s stretch fabrics are designed for the prepubescent girl with a figure chipped from marble.  The mature woman has a choice – she can either front up at the maternity department and try on a floral costume with a skirt, coming away looking like a hippopotamus who escaped from Disney’s Fantasia- or she can wander around every run-of –the mill department store trying to make a sensible choice from what amounts to a designer display of fluorescent rubber bands.

What choice did I have?  I wandered around, made my sensible choice and entered the chamber of horrors known as the fitting room.  The first thing I noticed was the extraordinary tensile strength of the stretch material.  The Lycra used in bathing costumes was developed, I believe, by NASA to launch small rockets from a slingshot, which give the added bonus that if you manage to actually lever yourself into one, you are protected from shark attacks.  The reason for this is that any shark taking a swipe at your passing midriff would immediately suffer whiplash.

I fought my way into the bathing suit, but as I twanged the shoulder strap in place, I gasped in horror – my bosom had disappeared!  Eventually I found one bosom cowering under my left armpit.  It took a while to find the other.  At last, I located it flattened beside my seventh rib.

The problem is that modern bathing suits have no bra cups.  The mature woman is meant to wear her bosom spread across her chest like a speed bump.  I realigned by speed bump and lurched toward the mirror to take a full-view assessment.  The bathing suit fit all right, but unfortunately, it only fit those bits of me willing to stay inside it.  The rest of me oozed out rebelliously from top, bottom, and sides.  I looked like a lump of play-dough wearing undersized cling wrap.

As I tried to work out where all those extra bits had come from the prepubescent sales girl popped her head through the curtains, “Oh, there you are!” she said, admiring the bathing suit.  I replied, “Yeah, that’s me all over!” and asked what else she had to show me.  I tried on a cream crinkled one that made me look like a lump of masking tape, and a floral piece which gave the appearance of an oversized napkin in a serviette ring.  I struggled into a pair of leopard skin bathers with ragged frill and came out looking like Tarzan’s Jane – pregnant with triplets and having a rough day.  I tried on a black number with a midriff and looked like a jellyfish in mourning.  I tried on a bright pink high-cut leg one and I thought I would have to wax my eyebrows to wear it.

Finally I found a costume that fit…a two-piece affair with shorts-style bottom and a halter top.  It was cheap, comfortable, and bulge-friendly.  So, I bought it.  When I got home, I read the label which said, “Material may become transparent in water.”  I’m determined to wear it anyway.  I’ll just have to learn to do the breaststroke in the sand.”

Can any of you ladies relate to this story?

So THIS  summer, I’m bound and determined to shed a few pounds so I can get into a bathing suit that doesn’t have me look like a tube of toothpaste squeezed in the middle, or requires that I sit out in public under a “whale on the beach” sign.

I’ll keep you informed friends, how well I’m doing…