Everlasting to Everlasting

My heart must praise the LORD! All my inmost being shouts His praises because I remember His mercy toward me.

He has forgiven my sins, healed my disease, redeemed my life, revealed Himself, and crowned me with love and compassion. He wraps me in His goodness and

in His presence is perfect peace.

He delivers the oppressed and promises justice. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love because He remembers that

I am dust.

He accepts Christ’s payment for my sins and removes the stain of my offence against Him.

His love is great for those who fear Him.

Life is short, flourishing like a flower until the wind blows it away.

But from

everlasting to everlasting

the LORD’s love is with me.

For that, I praise His name.

 

*Inspired from Psalm 103

 

When you stand for Christ, you never stand alone

The stoning of Stephen is recorded in Acts 7:54-60.  It is interesting to note that when Stephen saw Jesus, both times Jesus was standing beside God.

Other passages describe Jesus as sitting at the right hand of power (Matt 26:64, Mark 14:62) or seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 12:2) but here, when Stephen needed his Lord the most, He stands. Jesus takes a position of action.

I find this amazingly encouraging. Just think, when we need Christ the most, when we are overwhelmed, distressed, persecuted, or attacked (verbally or physically) we have this picture of Jesus on His feet and ready to act. We have this image of Jesus in a position of action.

No matter how it feels, no matter how deserted or abandoned we feel in a moment of attack – Jesus is ready and able to intervene. Jesus is ready to do whatever needs to be done to ensure the will of His father is accomplished.

Stephen died

Stephen was stoned and Stephen did die. Why? Why did Jesus stand, but not intervene?

God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours. We can’t and won’t always know why he doesn’t intervene when he can. But it is interesting to note that in Acts 8:1-2, Saul had approved the stoning of Stephen.

Why does this matter? Who is this Saul?

Saul persecuted Christians. Not like we are persecuted when someone “unfriends” or “unfollows” or “hides all posts” from us on social media. Saul pursued Christ followers for the purpose of murder. Saul’s name stirred terror in the hearts of believers.

Saul approved the execution of Stephen, yet at the end of his life Stephen prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

How will it possible for this sin not to be held against them?

“If they hear and receive the good news (24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43), then their sins will be forgiven, and they will not have to face the final punishment for a sin standing against them.

Is Stephen’s prayer answered?

Augustine said, “The Church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen” (quoted in Barclay 1976:62). In fact, Saul is the one adversary named in the incident. Luke is laying the groundwork for the great victory God will win through Saul’s conversion and subsequent missionary service.” (IVP New Testament Commentaries)

*Read more about Stephen’s martyrdom here. Read more about Saul here.

God’s Plan

God DID have a plan and perhaps Stephen’s willingness to forgive in those last moments before his death haunted Saul/Paul. Maybe Stephen’s willingness to speak boldly and die for his faith lingered and tormented Saul/Paul. Only God knows how he used Stephen in Saul/Paul’s life, but we can be certain He used it because God wastes nothing.

Christ knows all the ins and outs of your ministry trials, family difficulties, personal challenges, and relationships challenges and God has a plan for you.

I pray that this image of your Saviour standing, this picture of Jesus taking a position of action when Stephen needed him the most, will bring you immense comfort and courage to endure and accomplish what God has called you to do.

Never forget that you never stand alone when you stand for Christ.

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It’s Almost Done!

Yes, I know, Makeover Monday has failed to post according to the regular schedule. No, I haven’t stopped this popular category of Glorious Surrender. I am waiting for the BIG REVEAL.

You might recall the original kitchen in our house.

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We worked hard to turn this lemon into lemonade through the miracles of chalk paint and “tile” stickers. This transformation lasted a few years.

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We would have kept its simple update had the insides of the cabinetry been in good shape.  The interior of the lowers were mostly rotted from water damage. We never dreamed we would ever be able to replace the entire kitchen, but when offered an amazing deal on new cabinets – we called in back-up.

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So stayed tuned for a Makeover Monday Vlog post showing the reno in fast forward, taking you from demo to decorated.

 

 

 

 

Blazing Love

The black night gives way to the burning force edging over the horizon. Light floods the surface of the earth. You can’t miss it. You can’t deny it. It just is. Everyday

Love gently eases over the edge, melting, warming, inviting you to surrender to the blaze of newness. A new day brings new growth. It requests surrender. It demands I yield to Light and welcome Him into the darkest corners of my heart. I throw back the shutters and tilt my face upwards into the heated love of the Son.

He melts my hardness; He warms the cold and breathes new life into this tired body. This births prayer. Prayer dependent upon the Light.

O God, my perfect and good Father, may you continue to develop Godly character in me, a humble heart, and a tender spirit. May life’s difficulties produce growth, a deeper dependence on You, a giving over of my will and desire to Yours.

May the lost dream make way for a new dream. A dream that is more than I could ask for or imagine. I plan my steps, but yield the path to You, O Lord. You determine my way.

*from the archives

The Man Cold

We are both sick. Mom and Dad are out for the count the same week we demolished the kitchen. The kids are in charge and, in a poetic way, the house resembles how we feel: chaotic and unwell.

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You’d think being in the midst of a major renovation would make this the worst time to be sick, but it’s not. Usually, I feel tremendous guilt for staying in bed, for not cooking dinner, for not keeping up with the cleaning or laundry. Usually, I feel a bit jealous of my husband who seems to be able to take a sick day and really rest from his duties.

But this time it’s different. There is no guilt about dinner because I have no kitchen in which to cook dinner. There is no guilt about letting the kids watch a bunch of T.V. because half of the house is off limits. There is no guilt about cleaning when everything looks temporarily like this.

I found a few glorious days of guilt free rest tucked snugly into bed. It’s given me time to ponder the foolish things I’ve done in the past while sick.

I’ve spread germs further into the community by insisting on keeping every appointment while sick. I’ve taken longer to recover because I’ve failed to get the rest my body needs. I’ve fed a martyr-complex wrongly believing myself to be indispensable.

Perhaps the men have had it right all along? Perhaps men know something that us women have yet to understand: the world does not stop spinning because we take a sick day. Perhaps the man-cold (so commonly mocked by us ladies) is really wisdom in action?

Our house hasn’t been in this much chaos since we knocked down all the interior walls one Easter weekend. The kids have enjoyed more electronic entertainment than usual but it’s not going to kill them. Friends have brought meals and Sobey’s ready made dinners have filled in the gaps. The contractor has kept the renovation on schedule and I haven’t cleaned anything in seven days. Yup, seven days.

And you know what? It’s okay. I’m going back to bed.

 

Why now just might be the most wonderful time of the year

News Year Day is my day to pop in the earbuds and crank the worship tunes. I tuck the holiday glitter and noise into their pre-Christmas storage bins for approximately 345 days of slumber.  It’s a calming exhalation of clear surfaces and bare walls. And I don’t stop there. Each room gets a January clean sweep and bags and bags and bags of goods head off to the second hand store.

It’s such a contrast to that pre-Christmas feeling. You know, the feeling of vibrating energy and anticipation reflected in the non-stop action of the house. Everywhere we look something or someone is proclaiming it is almost herethe birth of our Saviour! The notes of this concerto increase in intensity as we celebrate years of prophecy proven true. He is here! He has come for us! I love EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.

Then, one day, commercialism tells us it is over. Commercialism tells us to start preparing for the next holiday. But as I look around my unstuffed house, the lilting notes of Christmas linger. This song is less intense than the holiday jingles. This score of unknown length continues to play in the days after. It plays after we celebrate the birth, after we remember the death, and after we praise God for the resurrection. This gospel-living refrain is the soundtrack behind every normal and gloriously plain post-holiday moment.

This gentle tune slowly builds toward the moment when Christ returns for his own. Could today be the day? Now would be a most wonderful time to be gathered into the clouds with the Lord. I can almost hear the angels singing…

Yes, Christmas is over. But one day, perhaps on an ordinary day much like today, we will have the most wonderful day EVER. Christ is coming back for those waiting and living for Him, saturating each ordinary moment with gospel truth.

Until then, let our song of praise rise to heaven. O come, Lord Jesus, come.