Fires Burning

#inspiration, encouragement, #JesusI am drawn to campfires. Sometimes I roast marshmallows and other times I am content just to sit near and appreciate the beauty a fire has to offer. I like to watch the flames lick and dance and when they have burned down, I’m enthralled with the glow of the embers.

Our eleven-year-old grandson, Logan, also has a love of campfires. Unlike me, he is not content to sit idly beside one. Instead, he wants to tend the fire, turning over and rearranging the burning logs.

He joined us for a fire recently and, poker in hand enjoyed rearranging the burning pieces of wood. When the flames died down, he used his poker to break up the glowing embers and move them away from the rest of the fire.

It didn’t take long before the glow left these embers, making them look like lumps of coal. Logan commented on this and we told him to move the dark pieces of charred wood close to the larger ones still showing the red and orange of fire within. Pieces recently removed ignited quickly; ones that had grown cold took a little longer. Some needed to be completely surrounded by the pieces with fire still alive inside them. Eventually, all of them burned brightly again.

I have had experiences where the flame of passion for life has died down. Just as an ember removed from the fire grows cold, the same happened to me when I distanced myself from other believers. I discovered the colder I became, the longer it took to reignite my spark.

This is a good reminder to surround myself with positive, encouraging people. Together we can fan the flames of potential each of us carries. As followers of Jesus, we can be the spark that points others to His love and light.

(Jesus said) “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV)

Time to Reboot?

#Jesus, #inspiration, refreshed, renewedThe worship leader was having a rough morning. First, his microphone didn’t work and a substitute needed to be found. Next, his keyboard started flashing a strange message.

This gentleman doesn’t take himself too seriously, so instead of pretending all was good, he kept up a commentary with us while the problems were being addressed.

He told us he was going to follow the advice younger people have given him regarding technology issues. When his phone or computer aren’t performing like they should, he’s been told to shut them off. It seems they get overloaded and tired and need a break.

The keyboard was turned off for a minute or two. When he turned it on again, everything was fine.

I’ve used the same tactic with electronics. The example in front of me, however, caused me to think how helpful it would be in life situations.

When I am feeling tired and overloaded, my life is not working as well as it should. Before the warning signs start flashing, I need to shut down the activity for a time. In essence, my life needs a reboot.

I have found the best way to do this is to spend quiet time with Jesus. He restores me and helps me figure out my priorities. My mind and body are refreshed and I become more efficient. That, to me, is the optimal reboot.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

Lighting the Way

#Inspiration, #Jesus, shine, comfortThe decision was not easy. Two of our nine-year-old granddaughters wanted to spend the night in our camper van. The dilemma came when they told me they could sleep there without me. I didn’t like this idea at all. Who would protect them or comfort them if they became afraid?

We were in a gated, secure family RV park and my husband and I would be mere steps away in our trailer. Somehow this didn’t make me feel any better.

I turned to the girl’s parents for guidance. Truthfully, I was willing to let them be the bad guys who said no. They had no concerns so reluctantly I agreed.

One of the first things I did was to ensure they could open the door to get out of the van on their own. No problem there. I must have forgotten they are nine and not two!

When the girls were tucked in for the night, we let them know the lights on the outside of the van and the trailer would be left on. That way they could easily find their way to us in the dark of night.

A light in the dark brings comfort. That is why Jesus told his followers to let their lights shine before others. We can do this by walking with God and letting His Spirit shine through us.

In this way we are able to shine a comforting, joyful light to people we come in contact with. And, as I learned with my granddaughter’s camping experience, a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)

The Root of the Problem

#inspiration, #Jesus, heart, soften, forgivenessA heavy rain had fallen overnight. We woke up to the promise of a brighter day and headed outside to breathe in the fresh, clean air that follows a summer rain.

While the ground was still damp, my husband started pulling weeds that had sprung up in our flower beds. I tackled the ones growing between the paving stones. It didn’t take long to appreciate the difference damp soil makes.

When I gently tugged, the entire root of the weed emerged from the ground. I was happy to know my efforts were eliminating the problem and not just a temporary solution.

Previous weeding experience hadn’t gone as well. When the ground was dry, often only the portion above ground broke off. Things would look better for a short time until the root produced new growth and the weed once again became visible. Hard, unyielding soil gives those kinds of results.

The analogy was not lost on me. When my attitude is hard and unyielding, the root of bitterness and discontent grows. I may be able to hide it for a short time, but it keeps reappearing.

Jesus is the master gardener who is able to get to the root of the problem. His tender loving care softens my heart so the once flourishing roots of my unhealthy behaviour can be eliminated.

When I submit fully to Jesus, there is no risk of one of these roots being left behind. He is the one who can probe to the depths of my heart, remove my sins, and give me a clean start.

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4: 7-8 NLT)

Proud Citizens

#inspiration, Canada, citizenship

 

This is an updated version of my Canada Day post from two years ago.

Yesterday was Canada Day. Thousands gathered in our city to watch the Canada Day parade. Red shirts and maple leaf insignia were worn and flags were waved. This is one way of showing our patriotism.

Festivities in honour of Canada’s birthday took place all across our vast nation. In our city and many others, the celebrations concluded with spectacular fireworks displays. These events enable us to come together and celebrate our citizenship in what we believe is one of the best countries in the world.

Across the world citizens of Canada have a reputation for being polite. Kindness and care for others is also an attribute of those with a heavenly citizenship.

A friend once told me that we often go through life like tourists. We gather souvenirs and mementos from places we’ve been and people we’ve met. What we are called to do as citizens of heaven is to leave little pieces of heaven wherever we go. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

No matter what country we live in, we are also citizens of heaven. One day we will all be reunited with our Lord, Jesus Christ. No citizenship can be better and that alone is a reason for celebration.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20 NIV)

A Teacher’s Impact

#Jesus, #inspiration, grace, teacherThe radio announcer posed an interesting question. He asked if there was anything we learned from a teacher that still had an impact on us today.

Although it’s been many years since I was in school, it wasn’t difficult for me to think of something.

In high school, I was fortunate to have the same English teacher two years in a row. He was widely respected as being firm but fair. At the beginning of my second year with him, I turned in an essay that received a much higher mark than I expected. At the end of the class I was called aside and told this essay didn’t deserve the grade I’d received but he knew I was capable of high-quality work so had marked this one with my potential in mind. I was given grace I didn’t deserve.

This teacher’s faith in my ability gave me the confidence to believe in myself. I worked hard to affirm his decision and reach the high standard he envisioned.

Since that time I have had many teachers or mentors in my life. Some have taught me work-related skills while others have taught me compassion and resilience. All have helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Jesus is the greatest teacher of all. He taught not only with words but with example. The lessons he taught over two thousand years ago are still impacting people today. The model given through his life inspires all of us to be better people. He gave us grace we didn’t deserve and I, for one, want to live up to the potential he entrusted me with.

I am convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 GWT)

Shining a Light

#inspiration, #Jesus, #God, light, leadingLate one evening my husband and I drove through dark mountain passes. There were no streetlights and the high beam setting on our headlights was used and appreciated. Without them, we couldn’t find our way through the darkness.

When another vehicle approached us, we would dim our lights. It was surprising how many of these vehicles did not return the favour. We would be blinded by the brightness of their lights which made it difficult to see.

I thought about this and wondered if it could be related to life. When I use my talents and abilities, I am, in effect, shining my light. The purpose is to brighten the way for others.

If I stand before you saying, “Look at me” I am using my light to draw attention to myself and not for the benefit of others. In this way, I could be blinding you from seeing what you need to see.

Jesus was the light of the world but never blinded people with his light. Instead, he used it to lead people out of the darkness.

Like the moon reflects the light of the sun, my life should be a reflection of the light and love and Jesus. Only then, can I point people to the everlasting light found in the Son of God.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT)

Dangerous Teddy Bear

#inspiration, Jesus, Satan, temptation, trapped“What an unusual cactus,” I said. “Look how soft and fuzzy it is at the top.”

Fortunately, I was given some interesting and extremely helpful information before I got too close.

This variety of cactus is known by more than one name. It’s called Teddy Bear cactus because of the appearance of fuzzy arms outstretched. The name Jumping Cholla gives me a less friendly impression.

I was informed the sharp barbs would actually jump onto me if I got too close. It seems the arms detach easily and attach to passersby. I wouldn’t even have to brush against it before I would experience a less than cuddly teddy bear.

This was all the warning needed for me to keep my distance. It was also a good reminder that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes the biggest danger is hidden behind an exterior that looks safe and welcoming.

Satan loves to tempt us with things that look innocent. When we express interest, sharp barbs get a grip on us. Before we know it we are ensnared in activities we have trouble detaching from.

When faced with temptation, my best course of action is always to talk to Jesus. He knows how to keep me from temptation and how to free me when my foolish actions place me in a dangerous situation.

Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18 GWT)

Karaoke Night

#inspiration, #Jesus, life, personaWe had no intention of singing. The visit to a Karaoke night was purely for entertainment purposes.

The range in vocal ability and style was vast. One woman was shy and faced away from the audience when she sang. Some were modest and sang from the heart. Others had fun and interacted with the audience. They all brought enjoyment to the evening.

We overheard conversations about practice and performance skills from a few. They took this very seriously.

I was fascinated to watch and listen as the singers took on a new persona when they picked up the microphone. Once the music started it seemed as if they thought they had become the original artists. Maybe the impersonation of someone they admire helped boost their self-esteem.

This is not a judgment, as I know I’ve done the same thing. When I see how popular and successful you are, it is only natural to want to duplicate this in my own life. The trouble is, I’m not you and never will be. Instead of striving to be like you, I need to be the best possible version of me.

Ironically, the way to do that is to model myself after a well-known figure. Jesus is the only one I should be striving to emulate. In fact, he wants me to mold my life after his. The more I am able to do this, the better my life will become.

I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. (Ephesians 1:17 GWT)

Not What it Seems

#inspiration, #Jesus, #prayerThe date was March 31st. The sun was shining and the sky a clear blue. Mid-Afternoon my husband and I decided to walk to a nearby coffee shop.
The temperature had been chilly lately so I put on a heavy jacket but because the sunshine was so inviting, didn’t bother with gloves or a hat. We hadn‘t gone far before I realized the crucial mistake I’d made.

The calendar may say it is spring and the sky appears to indicate warmer temperatures but that was definitely not the case. In fact, the cold air was stinging my cheeks! A quick check on my weather app showed -9°C with a real feel of -17°C.

Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. My rational mind knew there was snow on the ground but the optimistic part of me wanted to believe the air was warm.

This is not the first time I’ve believed in something that was not what it appeared On first glance, my mind tells me to believe the positive. This is not always in my best interest. More investigation is required before I make a commitment.

How do I determine what is true and what is not what it seems? I need to stop and pray about it. Then I have to wait for an answer. Jesus sees past the surface and knows what is best for me. He will direct me when I rely on his guidance.

Just as I should have checked the temperature before I headed out for a walk, I need to check in with Jesus before I make any big decisions. He is the one I can fully trust.

In him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:21NLT)