Thursday, December 18, 2014

In Ex-Selfish Deo

In Excelsis Deo: Latin for Glory to God in the Highest

As Christmas races upon us next week, I am reminded of another Christmas five years ago. My five-year-old granddaughter was singing “Gloria” in the cherub choir. She practiced and practiced, but every time she would sing “Gloria, In Excelsis Deo,” it would come out “Gloria, In Ex-Selfish Deo.” 
I thought how perfect! God was reminding us in a very simple way that this is exactly where He wants us to be – in Him, ex-selfishly. Only then can we as individuals truly fulfill God’s purposes.

From my own personal experiences, I found that my innate desire to glorify God is not easily expressed when I am living within my selfishness. However, it becomes unique to us as “children of God” when we are transformed and made new through the Holy Spirit. It grows within us because of the grace of God and His gift given us through the birth, death and resurrection of His son. Our desire to glorify God grows exponentially when we give up our right to ourselves; when we surrender our independent, “selfish” will completely to God…”In Ex-Selfish Deo.”

Looking at the special, inspirational photo above we are reminded of how we come into this world with absolutely nothing, naked and needy. When we give our all to God there is nothing between us, and Him. He is completely aware of our nakedness and our needs.

Then through His grace, mercy, and love, we become alert, aware, attentive and attuned to His mighty hand carrying us, supporting us, protecting us.  

“Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).
During this Christmas holiday and into the New Year, let’s all choose to live for God, “In Ex-Selfish Deo”.

“Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” Luke 9:23-24 (NIV).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Beaten, Broken, Bruised

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When I view this picture I am consumed with thoughts of beaten, broken, bruised and bleeding by the storms that batter this coastline. I also see erosion and a tearing away of substance. This physical manifestation reminds me how we, as humans are often beaten and broken by our own storms of life. It could be the death of a loved one, illness, divorce, loss of job, financial ruin, domestic and/or sexual abuse or even enslavement to sex trafficking.

Our culture is changing at such a rapid pace and our moral values are declining to such an extent that these issues and others affect many of us. When our storms and trials occur, we often lose faith in a greater good. We often wonder how long we must endure, how long will the erosion of our happiness continue and we cry out for God to please remove this cup, saying, “It is too difficult to drink.”

But do look more closely. View the picture one more time. Can you see strength? Can you see the determined rock formation at the edge of the water? This is how God works to capture our attention. He allows the storms of life to come so that we will be strengthened in our character, our faith, our persistence and our determination. Like a highly skilled archer, God cuts a path through our tough exterior right into the center of our stony, stubborn heart. Once we yield to His forming hands, we will experience not only happiness we will experience lasting joy, peace and contentment.

Look again. See the finished product of the Father’s hand at work in our lives.

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."
James 1:12 (NIV)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hard Work Builds Character

Fall is harvest time in Prince Edward Island, Canada, a place, it seems, where potatoes grow every inch.

When I grew up in PEI, it was common for children to have a couple weeks off from school during the month of September in order to work in the fields. The younger children carried water to the workers. The older children carried a woven basket to pick up potatoes left behind by the digger.  Once the basket was full, it would be emptied into a potato sack lying on the side of each row; then you would continue down the row until you reached the end. Each field hand was assigned so many rows to “pick” within a day.

When you are younger, a field with several acres of potatoes can be an overwhelming task. It was backbreaking work to say the least.  And it was dirty work. We would be covered in red clay ~ in our eyes, our nostrils, our ears, under our fingernails ~ everywhere you can think of.

Even though the work was tedious and dirty, we delved into it because we were being rewarded ~ just a few dollars and a couple of homemade meals ~ but it was enough to encourage us to work with care.

As children, the ten of us learned from our parents that “hard work builds character” and “hard work never hurt anyone.” Their words taught us well and we all became diligent, adopting a strong work ethic, even if we didn’t like the work assigned to us.

As I matured, I learned another reason to work hard. Hard work is actually blessed by God. He assigns each and every one of us certain gifts and talents, which He hopes we will use for His glory and for the building of His kingdom. Even if we feel we are not well rewarded for the work we do each and every day, let’s remember that any work done for the Lord, regardless of what it is, will yield great rewards in His time.

“Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), 
as (something done) for the Lord and not for men.” 
Colossians 3:23 (AMP)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beauty Is As Beauty Does

Photo by Chelsey Pollon, Kensington, PEI, Canada

Beauty is such a subjective emotion. What might be beautiful to one may not be beautiful to another. Yet, there is no doubt that everyone finds sunrises and sunsets beautiful beyond anything we can imagine or create on our own. I think of them as God’s fingerprints, his own DNA artwork on a mega canvas. I also think about the fun He must be having when He is in His creative mode forming and re-forming shapes and colors in order to give His earthly children such visual joy.

The above sunset photo taken by my niece Chelsey has extraordinary meaning to our family. You see, our mother loved sunsets and she also loved daisies…both of which were spoken about during her eulogy. Captured one week after our 90 year-old Mother’s death, we saw it as a message from God telling us that He had welcomed her into his heavenly realm because of her belief in Jesus as her Savior. This special sunset shaped like a daisy was her “new address card” posted by God himself.

But while there is much natural beauty found in God’s creation, there is also characteristic beauty found in human nature. Some people have it and others do not. Our mother had a beautiful character and she was always attempting to teach her special characteristics to her ten children in subtle ways.

"When we were fussing and fuming about our ill-fitting, unfashionable hand-me-downs, Mother would often say, with a raised eyebrow, “beauty is as beauty does” and leave us alone to contemplate what she meant. This had a way of pricking the conscience, that “thing” God had placed inside of each person to help distinguish between right and wrong." Excerpt from Island Girl: A Triumph Of The Spirit

In a world that is filled with strife, selfishness, social and cultural changes, it is not always easy to follow our mother’s motto and to act accordingly. “Beauty is as beauty does” is an internal voice that comes from and through God telling us to love one another as He loves us, to be kind to one another and to treat one another as better than ourselves. It stands as an extremely powerful force. Try it sometime when you are facing difficult situations.

“Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us” 
Psalm 90:17 (NIV)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Country Roads and Alluring Paths

As a young girl, I loved walking along country roads. Often I would discover these paths that led down through muddy, murky ditches, up over hills, through dark, shadowy wooded areas or along sand dunes lined with marram grasses leading to the beach. The paths always called my name. A sense of adventure is what I had. I was intrigued by everything new and different. I felt I would not be satisfied unless I knew what was on the other side. Often I would run to the top of a hill just to have a look and see ~ amazed by the world beyond.

I was curious as to who made these paths. Was it a local traveler taking a short cut into the ditch and through the fields? Was it a deer, some cattle, perhaps a horseback rider, or perhaps it was a wild animal like a wolf or a fox? Maybe it was a hunter. Every possible thought stirred my youthful imagination as I explored these alluring paths wondering all the while if I should travel on someone else’s path.

As I matured, other paths called my name: the path to enlightenment and education, the path to a career, the path to marriage, homemaking, family and motherhood.  And, like the young girl who could not be satisfied unless she explored each and every one, I did the same thing in adulthood challenging myself to full discovery.

Eventually I learned that we, as women, don’t have to have it all.  We don’t have to travel on someone else’s path to find complete satisfaction or to have full discovery. I learned it is ok not to know what is on the other side and to contain our sense of wonder. I learned that every path was not meant for us to explore and discover; that some paths are not within God’s plan and purpose for our lives; that some paths can lead us into difficult circumstances, heartache and failure.  The paths that are meant for us to travel are filled with God’s amazing love, mercy, grace, joy, wonder and guidance.

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” 
Psalm 119:9 NIV.