Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Good Cry

By Belinda

I'm up to my eyeballs in sugar cookie dough, so I'm sharing "The Good Cry," a post from November 24, 2006. The cool thing in going that far back is that I forget so much of what I've written. I  had completely forgotten this story. I hope you enjoy it:
Luke 7:38 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

Having family in England, I fly home frequently to visit. I always board the plane wondering who will share that cramped space with me for the next seven hours. There are no rules of etiquette to govern relationships with the people you elbow over meals or climb over to get to the washroom. It always seems that we are thrust into a sudden relationship that is somewhat like a blind date. It has the potential for a pleasant few hours spent together--or it could go badly wrong!

I've had some interesting conversations on plane journeys and made some friends who continue to stay in touch. I was reminded of one such connection this week.

It was several hours into the flight before we spoke. I think he had returned from stretching his legs and as he settled his large, long frame into the impossibly tight confines of the seat next to me, he broke our comfortable, mutual silence by opening up in conversation.

I learned that he was a Jamaican ex police officer, from Birmingham, not far from my old home in England. We were traveling in the fall of 2002, and the topic of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001 came up. He told me he had an uncle who worked in the World Trade Centre. He was one of the many people whose life was saved by the fact that he was late getting to work the morning of the attack. We marveled at the seemingly insignificant moments in time that made the difference between life and death.

As he continued to talk, I heard an old, old story, the story I love to hear more than any other; the story of a soul coming to faith in Christ. He was new to faith--no more than one year old. It had been about a year ago that he had come to Canada to visit his sister, a Christian. He had high walls around his heart and soul and had no interest in having anything to do with God, and he made that clear to her when she gently invited him to join them at church.

But at the airport, waiting to go home to England, something happened. He suddenly and inexplicably felt the Presence of God and he knew that he was calling his name. He boarded the plane and this big man said he began to cry. He couldn't stop. He said he had to cover his face with his coat so no one could see, and he cried all the way home.

I understood that cry. It's happened to me a couple of times. It's the cry that happens when the Holy Spirit is washing a person's soul clean of junk. It's a good cry; a really good cry.

It was interesting that I would find an old letter yesterday, in which I wrote to my dad about this man--this week when the Holy Spirit has been on my mind.

2 Timothy 1:4

New International Version (NIV)
4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gifts of the Season


By Belinda

I pull into the plaza in the gray early morning drizzle and see no cars outside Cora's, but the green neon sign in the window says "OPEN." It is 10 to 8 on Sunday morning and inside the restaurant, the young cooks are busy chopping up fresh fruit and vegetables. I see that I am only the second customer to arrive.

The waitress leads me to a booth and I slide into a space that feels like a private bubble of utterly luxurious peace and quiet. I am here for my second of 12 VIP card breakfasts and I order Eggs Benedict with brie and mushrooms--on my friend Dave's recommendation.

A mom, dad, and two children are seated in the next booth. The mom negotiates a peace accord with the kids: "We have a long day ahead. If I sit with you now, I sit with Nicholas later--or I sit with Nicholas now and you later."

She places an order for "French toast with cereal on the side."

Feliz Navidad plays over the sound system and one of the kids sings along softly..."I want to wish you a merry Christmas."

My breakfast arrives and oh, it is just as delicious as Dave said it would be. Slices of creamy white brie snuggle with mushrooms under a blanket of Hollandaise sauce next to crisp  home fries and fancy fresh fruit salad. A cup of steaming black coffee is replenished every few minutes. Almost heaven!

Another young family arrives, the man carrying a baby in one of those car seat baby carriers with one hand and holding a toddler's hand with the other and the all settle into the booth two down from mine.

The family on the other side of my booth discusses the Christmas party they are going to.

"It's going to be a different kind of party this time," says the mom, "There will be "stations" and Santa is one of the "stations." And instead of all the 7 year olds going up to Santa as a group, it will be families going up together."

This mom is not only a skilled negotiator but she is wisely setting up the day for success by telling the kids what to expect.

I sit, surrounded by the books I have chosen to share my precious time alone with and I quietly celebrate the gifts of the seasons.

While appreciating the gifts of seasons past, I am grateful for the freedom of "now."

9.00 a.m. and the restaurant is rapidly filling with families starting their day of pre-Christmas activity here. A lengthy line if forming at the entrance and santa hatted children are sprinkled about the tables.

I suddenly feel like an odd and solitary duck with my booth all to myself. Time to make way for the waiting hordes and go home to get ready for church!

The Church's Hope--Me?

By Belinda

Oswald Chambers writes in yesterday's My Utmost for His Highest, of the feebleness of The Church of a century ago. So then, the condition of the Bride of Christ now, is not a new thing.


Lord, is this the way it will always be--this pale imitation of your intention?


The answer lies within "you" he whispers, for as your condition is, so is that of The Church.


It is not then so very mysterious, or impossible to change...

Worldly grief produces death.

When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died.—A crushed spirit who can bear?
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?—The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,… to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.—“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Philip… told him the good news about Jesus.—He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(From yesterday's Daily Light)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The School, the Street and the Saviour


By Belinda
Another post from the archives (2008). I've been too busy to write as much as usual, but I enjoy dipping into the past posts from time to time! Happy Advent everyone and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to our friends from the U.S.!
******************
In the spring of the year I turned 9, our family moved to Alvechurch, a small village in the heart of the Worcestershire countryside.

The village school was Church of England and connected with the church of St. Laurence, which stood on a hill, keeping watch over the surrounding countryside; a silent guardian; as it had done for at least eight centuries.

One day, into the flock of rosy cheeked English children, came a rare bird of exotic species; an American girl!

She was a flamingo in a flock of starlings. We all wore school uniform.The boys wore short gray trousers, knee socks, shirts, ties and black blazers and we girls, either red and white, or blue and white striped cotton dresses, with cardigans or blazers. She looked so sophisticated when she arrived in a neat pleated green skirt and white sweater. And she spoke with an accent that we had heard on television but never in person! She was pretty, blond, with blue eyes, and she had an air of assurance and worldly wisdom about her.

She was only at the school for a short time, and her name is lost somewhere between my brain and the tip of my tongue, but I do remember the shock when she calmly announced to us one day that she did not believe in God and that the story of Adam and Eve was just a myth!

Our family did not attend church but I had always had a strong awareness of God. I never doubted his existence. The school, where every day started with prayer and hymns, and we were taught religious knowledge, reinforced my faith and spirituality. It was disturbing, and even scandalous to me, to hear another child say that God did not exist.

We lived on Bear Hill. The lower part of the hill was a mix of half timbered Tudor, Georgian and Edwardian houses that teetered at odd angles. The upper part, where we lived, was part of a council estate--rental social housing, affordable for the general population. On our street lived ten families who grew up together, some over several generations.

We children played outside together on the street in the long summer evenings, drawing Hopscotch squares on the sidewalk with chalk, skipping, bike riding, tree climbing and exploring the surrounding fields, hedgerows and streams.

Two doors up from us lived the Hawks family. They looked like their name; sharp of eye and feature, with quick bird-like movements. They were lean, thin people. The father and sons wore drainpipe jeans, and their hair was greased and slicked back in the style of Teddy boys, a British subculture of the fifties. They walked hunched over and carried cigarettes over their ears or hanging from their lips. Occasionally they provided entertainment for the rest of us by having an all out screaming fight in the street, with harsh, guttural swear words.

Valerie Hawks was my age and we played together as we grew up side by side on the street. One day when we were about 11, she said that she and her mother and some friends had been to "meetings" at a "chapel," and got "saved. "Are you saved?" she wanted to know.

I was bewildered. This sounded like a foreign language to me, what did she mean? I knew that I believed in God, wasn't that enough?

I went on with my life, with God in it always, to various degrees. Sometimes he was only a recipient of my prayers for protection from the shadows that lurked in the dark, but he was there. It never occurred to me to do anything but move toward him if an invitation to do so was given.

Then one day, at 16, I went to work in an office where the office manager was also pastor of a church that met in a little ramshackle building behind some gas pumps in a nearby town. He invited me to a Billy Graham movie being shown at a local college and I invited a friend to go with me. When an invitation was given at the end of the movie, to go forward for "salvation," even though I didn't really understand what I was doing, except saying, "Yes," to God; to the song, Just as I Am, we both walked to the front.

My journey of faith has continued and deepened with every one of the 42 years since walking towards God with my friend at the college. I have learned that you can't put a faith journey in a neat box tied with a bow of particular phraseology. God calls and woos us in ways unique to who we are. I can't explain why some people sense his presence from the very start, some have a startling epiphany and others seem so blind and deaf to him, never finding him. But I thank him every day that he made himself known to me.

I wonder now if the American girl ever changed her mind. Who knows? Perhaps she will read this and let me know!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Real

By Belinda

This morning I was searching my blog archives for a poem I wanted to share. I found this first--a post written in April 2007. I felt God's whisper, "Share this." Interestingly, yesterday I took part of a University of Waterloo leadership course that focused on recognizing our strengths and challenged us to not be content with our weaknesses but work on strengthening them.  There is balance in it all. The secret, I  think, is to give ourselves (our poor selves) to God and he will form in us Christ, to give to the world. Yes, we must try to strengthen our weaknesses, but not forget that our true gift is simply Jesus, in the unique package of ourselves.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (New Living Translation)
2 The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

To be fully myself with others has been a lifelong journey. Growing up shy and an introvert by nature is part of it--and like much of the rest of the world, I've struggled with insecurities and lack of self worth (the enemy loves us to believe that we are worthless).

I can trace the process of breaking free of hiding through poems, reflections and revelations in my journals and now I think that my closest friends know me pretty fully.

I've come to realize that the only real gift I have to offer the world is myself and that to be fully me is the best thing I can be--not measuring myself by anyone else's yardstick. What peace and freedom there is in that.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 describes our lives as letters--not written with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of God on human hearts. If that's true, then I want to be an accurate letter--showing the world who I am in Christ, as a mother, wife, friend and leader. If I hide the part of me that is Christ-focused from others (or any other part for that matter), thinking that they may be offended or turned off, or I may be percieved as pushing my faith on them, I am hiding the thing within me that is the most valuable to the rest of the world. "The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves," says Paul, writing to the Corinthians--"you yourselves."

This morning my friend Susan led our worship team at church. We aren't the most polished, we all had colds, but we are worshippers. The worship service was filled with a sense of God's Presence. This is what she wrote afterwards:
"I gave myself to God this morning and asked him to please flow through "me". Instead of trying to focus on "how" I "should" be doing it, I just focused on "Him" and making sure that "who I am" was as available as I can be for Him to flow through. And then I just loved Him and enjoyed His presence... "

Giving ourselves to God and others--our real selves--that's all God asks and it is a gift that in his hand can be put to amazing use.

Romans 12:1 (New Living Translation)
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trust Him with the Pieces


Note from Belinda: This is from the archives--by Susan in August 2010. When I think back to when it was written, I remember the fire through which she was walking. It means more because of that.

There are so many gems in the depths of this blog and they bless me when I read them again. I pray it blesses you today.


...by Susan (with a lot of help from Selah)

I had listened to this song a dozen times before the words hit me today. Funny how you can tune your ears to hear things in the valley of suffering that would go right over your head most any other time.

Believing that God is working everything together for good is an easy thing to believe and to proclaim when the road is smooth and there are no obstacles in sight. But when God allows the circumstances in our lives to heat up and boil over, it can suddenly become very difficult to accept that he knows exactly what he's doing and has it all under control. These words of Life, favourite scriptures of my Mom's too, once again brought comfort through some huge challenges this week:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASB)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

It does not matter what circumstances we go through in this life, what we have done, what we have not done, what has been done to us, by us, for us, or against us. If we lay the shattered pieces of our lives at his feet, there is not a single thing which will go unredeemed. Just like this song (by Selah) says. I pray it ministers to your heart and strengthens your faith like it has mine that putting God in control of the circumstances of our lives is the only sane thing to do. He's good all the time! There's not a single thing, not a circumstance, a disappointment, an injustice, a wrong attitude, a lack of judgment, etc, etc, etc, which cannot be redeemed by a Saviour so great as ours if we will only trust him with the outcome and let go of trying to control it ourselves...   Over to you, Lord...

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Bells of St. Laurence Church Alvechurch

By Belinda

Susan emailed me yesterday afternoon with a photograph and mysterious message:
If you know what this attached picture is, you'll know what I've spent a very happy hour or so researching and reading about this afternoon.  Not sure why I happened upon this course of study but I did...  and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

I emailed her back, Wheels falling off wagons??? :) 

It turned out to be:
The bells of Alvechurch

 Susan whiled away a few hours on Sunday afternoon doing research on bell ringing!

She wrote again later:
 I kept reading about "change ringing in the English pattern" and decided I needed to know more about what that is like. I found this video from the Washington Cathedral. I love the description: "Change Ringing is a team sport, a highly coordinated musical performance, an antique art, and a demanding exercise that involves a group of people ringing rhythmically a set of tuned bells through a series of changing sequences that are determined by mathematical principles and executed according to learned patterns."
And then, later, came this video clip, which she found on You Tube of the bells of St. Laurence. This is the sound that peals over the village of Alvechurch every Tuesday evening for several hours of bell ringing practice. And apparently they welcome visitors! :) It was fascinating to get a glimpse of what lies behind a sound that is integral to growing up in the village.Thanks to Susan's sleuthing skills and the internet, I was able to enjoy the bells of Alvechurch while at home in Bond Head.

I thought of Mum and Rob who would have heard these very peals one Tuesday evening in January of this year--and how cool to see young people carrying on this art. It looks like a great workout for the arms!
 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Less Can be More

By Belinda

Paul and I watched the documentary,  God Grew Tired of Us over the weekend. Click on the link and you can watch it online if interested. It chronicles the story of some of the "Lost Boys of Sudan."

in 1987 Sudan's Muslim government pronounced death to all males in the Christian south and a mass migration of boys began into neighbouring Ethiopia, and later, in 1991, to Kenya, by which time their numbers had dwindled through starvation and illness to 12,000.

The documentary follows several of the boys eventually accepted into the U.S. as refugees, and one of them,  John Bul Dau, has been on my mind since, I watched it.

"I feel I survived because God wants to do something with my life," Dau shares. "I don't want to waste any of the time I have left. So many people are still in Sudan needing clinics, schools, and churches. I cannot forget them."


Several things stick with me as a result of watching the documentary. One is the immense innate dignity and depth of character of John Bul Dau. He is a man tall in stature and in principle. 


Western society is built on individualism, whereas in Africa, the tribe supersedes the individual. Watching John Bul Dau transition to the west was to see the contrast in action. Far from being dazzled by opportunities for personal achievement, he never lost his focus on sharing whatever God gave him here, to help those left behind--thousands, still in a refugee camp and whom he thinks of, with a deep sense of duty, as his family. 


We would think of life in the camp in Kenya as difficult and deprived of much that we think is "good," and yes, it is, but there are things that are enviable in that poor community. That was brought home to me when John observed preparations for Christmas in his new home of Syracuse, New York. He looked in dismay and amusing confusion at Santa Claus and Christmas trees and asked repeatedly, "But what does this have to do with Christmas?" And then he described how on Christmas Eve in the camp, there is a celebration with jubilant dancing, celebrating the coming to earth of Jesus Christ. 


The dancing is shown in the documentary and I found my heart  wistful. We are about to embark on the celebration of Christmas 2011. It can become crazy with excess and stress, but it doesn't have to be that way. I learned from John that less can be more. I want his kind of more--more of Jesus who came here poor and lived homeless--and who I follow and love dearly. I want to consider carefully how I celebrate him this year, because right now a plane to a camp in Kenya for Christmas Eve is on my wish list!



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Faithful and True

By Belinda

Pick up my dog eared and Scotch taped copy of the  Daily Light and you will be able to trace my family's life in the margins.

Countless little notes bear testimony to significant events and as the years go by and our lives continue to unfold, they often grow more precious. What seemed like catastrophe "then" can be seen for the hidden blessing that lay in a turn of events as God continues to plot the course of our lives.

This week, two days in a row, there were notations and underlined scriptures.

On November 14, a note read, "Brenda, 2005. Lost job at Hollywood Montessori."

All of the scriptures for that morning were relevant and encouraging, but the one I underlined was:

Proverbs 14:26

New International Version (NIV)

 26 Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
   and for their children it will be a refuge.


Brenda's spiritual and vocational journey wasn't easy as a result of the school she taught in going bankrupt and losing a job she loved, but she grew in  grace, gratitude and spirit muscle as God provided for her needs and led her to where she is now, in a job she adores at St. Andrew’s College, with coworkers she talks about with affection all the time. 

The next day, November 15, also has a notation:
"Peter, interview, 2006 O.S.C."

The initials stand for Ontario Securities Commission. Pete's journey with Government had started a few years earlier, with an opportunity that had God's fingerprints all over it, after a job in a toxic work environment ended with the bankruptcy of the company.

The verses I underlined that morning were these:

1 Corinthians 1:9

Amplified Bible (AMP)
9God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

and 

Hebrews 10:23

Amplified Bible (AMP)
23So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [a]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

   
The interview that day back in 2006 went well and Pete got the job. Since then God has continued to unfold his plan for Pete's life in a way that makes me smile at His goodness.

How faithful God is, and how good it is to be reminded that trust placed in him is never misplaced.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Further, Fuller, Deeper In

By Belinda

In one of the excellent sessions at last week's leadership conference, we learned that it is amazing what you learn from people by asking them to finish a few simple statements:

I love...
I hate...
I dream...
I get frustrated when...
I feel joy when...
I fear when...

So this morning when our team of leaders met I handed out pages with these questions on them and asked the team to answer three of their choice. Laughter rippled around the table at some of the answers. Two younger members of my team are "dreaming of" retirement--but I am way ahead of them!

My own quickly scribbled answer to that question was:
I dream...of being part of God's agenda--more fully than to this point. I often think that we skim the surface of his possibilities.
While I didn't word it so well on the spur of the moment, I was trying to express an increasing longing to let go of reason, logic, limitations and dependence on the human perspective on things and tap more fully into God's unlimited resources, strength, power and perspective. I think that's the first step--longing to do so. I don't even think it's very far from getting to it; grasping it fully, because he says:

Acts 17:27

The Message (MSG)
 24-29"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! 
All of this made me think of one of the verse in the book of Job, which was used for the title of a book of a collection of the writings of one of my heroes, Amy CarmichaelEdges of His Ways.

Job 26:14

Amplified Bible (AMP)
14Yet these are but [a small part of His doings] the outskirts of His ways or the mere fringes of His force, the faintest whisper of His voice! Who dares contemplate or who can understand the thunders of His full, magnificent power? 
   So I'm pressing in; believing with all of my heart that "with God all things" and anything "is possible!"

I don't want to leave this earth not having lived life fully alive to the fullness of his glory; available right here; right now. I'm hoping to hold off on that funeral celebration I was planning in my last blog post--for now. I'm hoping God isn't finished with me yet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By Belinda

Tonight at worship practice we learned this beautiful song. Susan and I both said we were putting it in our funeral files on our computers! Yes--we both have one and Susan even remembered an obscure song I once loved and said I wanted sung (what a faithful friend.)

My only regret is that I won't be there to enjoy it--but who knows, maybe God will let me hover in the rafters and sing along when the time comes. But I think that by then I will be singing with a choir so amazing that nothing would draw me back to earth--not even my favourite songs! :)

 

Under the Cover of Prayer: How to Pray Part 1

Note by Belinda

Today I commend to Whatever He Says readers a refreshing and thought provoking post at my friend Jan Cox's blog:

Under The Cover of Prayer: How to Pray; Part 1

I will try not to miss a link to part 2 next month!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Canadian Blog Awards

Whatever He Says has been nominated again this year for the Canadian Blog Awards in the Religion Philosophy category! Last year this blog came second. I would love to do better this year but need your help!

Please vote if you enjoy reading here, by going to Canadian Blog Awards.

While there, our friend Dave's blog, Rolling Around in My Head is nominated for Best Personal Blog and Best Overall. And our other friend Shannon, has been nominated in the category of Best Blog Post for Half Soled Boots: Peace Be With You please consider voting for them too.

Take time to explore the blogs nominated. It is an excellent way to find some great Canadian blogs.


VotingTwo rounds of voting will take place with each round lasting 7 days. The first round of voting will include all nominees. The second round of voting will narrow down the list of nominees in each category. The second round shall consist of the top ranking blogs from round 1.Each person gets one vote for their favourite blog, in each category. In round 1, you can only vote once per blog. In the subsequent rounds you can vote once per day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I found this video clip made in 1985 of  David du Plessis telling of his call, through a prophesy given by Smith Wigglesworth, to a ministry he had not planned--that of taking the baptism in the Holy Spirit to main line churches. I looked him up on Wikipedia and  it was interesting to read how the prophesy was fulfilled in his life. The call he followed was not popular with other some believers and he struggled with it himself, but was faithful to follow God's direction. I loved the story he tells at the end of the clip, in which he talks of the text for which this blog is named--and calls it a recipe for miracles! Listening to this man I could sense his closeness to the Lord and I share it here because others, like me, may not have heard of him. Oh--I came upon the clip because the pastor son of the friend I wrote about yesterday, is being mentored by a 90 year old man who used to be Smith Wigglesworth's driver.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Holy Conversations and other News

By Belinda

I'm still working on finding a conversation partner for our cell group study Holy Conversation. Paul and I have one person in mind to ask--and if he says yes, we will ask him if we can share him! He asked me with great interest if I've found my "person" yet, and when I said no, he said "Well, don't give up." Next time I see him I'm going to ask if he wants to be the "person" and whether Paul and I can share him. It sounds rather predatory doesn't it? :)

I know there were people who prayed for my brother, Rob, after I wrote about how downhearted he felt when I spoke to him just over a week ago. This past Saturday he was feeling much brighter in spirit--thank you for praying. My nephew John came over every night last week after work to walk Bruce--a big help. I have been checking flights for January and Paul has decided to go with me this time. Rob was so happy to know that we would be there soon. His pain and fatigue are still there but he has a doctor's appointment this week.

One of the things I was looking forward to at the leadership conference last week, was seeing some old friends; people particularly dear to my heart. One friend greeted me with a warm hug at the coffee machine on the first evening. I knew she'd been going through a stressful time and we both agreed that we would make a point of having a coffee or meal together sometime during the conference--I wanted to encourage her if I could.

It was lunchtime on the last day when I realized that we hadn't found time to spend any time together. I would have been disappointed to miss the opportunity to chat, so I scanned the rapidly filling tables looking for this friend. I spotted her at a table full of people from her part of the province--but right beside her was an empty space looking as though it was just waiting for me! I navigated the tight space between the tables, balancing a coffee cup and plate of food and laid claim to the space.

She was recently returned from a trip to England where she had visited her son who is a pastor. I asked where in England he was. "Tamworth" she said.

"Tamworth?" I said, "That's close to where I'm from in the Midlands!" and she began to tell me about her trip, eyes shining with memories as she told me about the church her son belongs to: Living Rock Church.

I leaned in with interest as she told me how the church was up to recently meeting in a pub in Tamworth. When the number of people making decisions to become followers of Jesus reached 55 they moved their meeting place to the local Holiday Inn.

At the pub they would meet every week to break bread. The pub would have a loaf of bread and the wine ready for them. She asked the people at the pub what they thought about them meeting there to break bread. They said, "All we know is that since we've allowed them to do this here our business has been blessed."

She told me about a soldier who was searching spiritually but was struggling with guilt over what he'd done during his time in Iraq. He had pulled into the local gas station and spoken to someone about his struggles and they pointed him to a soldier in the Bible who became a  follower of Jesus. The person told him to come back if he had questions. He did go back to the gas station but when he asked for the person by, he was told that there was no one there by that name. The soldier ended up meeting the Christians at the pub in Tamworth and giving his heart and life to Christ.

I sat back and laughed to myself at the irony of my mission to "encourage" my friend, who had ended up encouraging me with her stories of a church living out the gospel by breaking out of the walls of the church. And the further irony that don't even yet have a "conversation partner" for our small group study. God's touch of humour.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Choice



Jeremiah 17:7-8 The Message (MSG) 7-8
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

By Belinda

We are back from a three day conference at Geneva Park, just north of Orillia. The time away involved early mornings and late nights and hours in between soaking in information that strengthened our leadership on all sorts of levels. I have so much to process and unpack in my working, spiritual, and personal life. But that's not what I meant to write about--that was just to bring you up to date on where I've been!

I led the devotions on Thursday morning and had been praying about what to share for some time. I recruited my colleague Marirose, with her guitar and beautiful voice, to join me at the end in leading a song and what I shared came out of something I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, starting with the phone call from my friend Frances, a.k.a. "Poppy." Susan asked me for a copy of my notes, so I thought I would  share them here:

The Choice


Thomas E. Reynolds, a professor at the Emmanuel College, and author of the book: Vulnerable Communion:a theology of disability and hospitality, spoke to us about the spirituality of attentiveness: focused on God and attentive to those we serve.

He asked the question, "Where do we get the resources we use?"

We who are leaders have a natural bias towards action; we are initiators. Our great temptation and natural bent is to rely on our own skills, knowledge and personal energy in our work and ministry.

The strategy of the enemy is disconnection from God through any means, especially the trap of busyness.

In the Bible we see that often God chose to use those who were not endowed with great natural gifts. In spiritual leadership there is a counter intuitiveness in which the  pattern is a laying down of strengths; choosing to rely on God through time in prayer and the suspension of a personal agenda. In our work we often come to places in which the job is too big for us, the task or situation overwhelming. It is at those times that we are reminded that giving up our reliance on self and that choosing to trust God is the only real option. We should be grateful for circumstances that drive us to him because then we connect with possibilities beyond anything we could expect from our own strength.

It was a few weeks ago that I checked my voice mail at the office just before meeting with a colleague. There was a personal message from my friend, Poppy:
Hello Dear,I don’t normally leave messages, but I will today, because I want to request of you as my spiritual mother, sister and friend (especially mother;) that the next time you hear me complain of or confess to being prayer-less; that I want you to become as stern as you can; raise yourself up and reprimand me. Tell me that I know better!

I’m so aware now of how being prayer-less is such an awful feeling; forgivable—yes; especially in light of the busyness of life in general, and my life in particular recently; however I realize the importance of praying before all else, as the Lord says and did, and not because we’ve got nothing better to do (Matthew 6:9).
Please, please, remember this for my sake, okay dear? 
Thank you, bye bye.

I listened to the message, thoughtful. She was asking me to hold her true? How unworthy I was of that request.


My colleague arrived for our meeting, and confided that he had been struggling to find time to pray, Then he asked, "How about you?"

"Not good," I confessed and I told him about my first friend's phone message 


He pulled a Bible from his pocket and began ruffling through its pages, looking for Romans 12. When he found it he read the first two verses. "That's what it's about," he said:

Romans 12:1-2

New International Version (NIV)
 1 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. 2 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.

I said to him, "In order to do it I would need to get up at 5.00, how about you?"


"Six," my team member said.


We talked about the arrogance of thinking we could live without the fuel Jesus depended on for each day and every moment.


When I got home I set my alarm for 5.00.

Oswald Chambers ran a Bible College before he died in 1917, during the First World War. His wife, to whom he gave the nickname "Biddy," wrote down his lectures and published them after his death, some in the devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest. The reading for October 19, was from a talk given to the students at the college but the wisdom is relevant to our work today:

The Unheeded Secret—Oswald Chambers

Oct 19 2011
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world —John 18:36
The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . . For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.
We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.
It is not the practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College— its entire strength lies in the fact that here you are immersed in the truths of God to soak in them before Him. You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.


Finally, I share this reading from  The Valley of Vision:
The Infinite and the Finite

Thou Great I AM,
Fill my mind with elevation and grandeur at the thought of a Being
With whom one day is as a thousand years,
And a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God, who, amidst the lapse of worlds,
And the revolutions of empires,
Feels no variableness,
But is glorious in immortality.
May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives;
That, while all creatures are broken reeds,
Empty cisterns,
Fading flowers,
Withering grass,
He is the Rock of Ages, the Fountain
Of living waters.
Turn my heart from vanity,
From dissatisfactions,
From uncertainties of the present state,
to an eternal interest in Christ.
Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen,
and is only an opportunity for usefuless;
Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time,
to awake at every call to charity and piety,
so that I may feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
instruct the ignorant,
reclaim the vicious,
forgive the offender,
diffuse the gospel,
show neighbourly love to all,
Let me live a life of self-distrust,
Dependence on thyself,
mortification,
crucifixion,
prayer.

The song Marirose chose to sing was Center, by Charlie Hall:

You’re the center of the universe
Everything was made in You Jesus
Breath of every living thing
Everyone was made for You

:Pre-Chorus:
You hold everything together
You hold everything together

:chorus:
Christ be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the center of our lives

We lift our eyes to heaven
We wrap our lives around your life
We lift our eyes to heaven, to You

Charlie Hall


Friday, November 11, 2011

We Will Remember

By Belinda

This morning at Sir William Osler Public school honour was duly shown to the men and women who fought in the First World War and those since. I was there with Brenda because Tippy was a runner up in the Bond Head Lion's Club Peace Poster competition. But sharing this solemn remembrance with children was especially poignant.

The young lieutenant who addressed the children, reminded them that no one returns from war unchanged, and spoke of her work with returning veterans, helping them transition back to life in a country at peace after being in combat zones. The children,, after settling to quiet, listened; hushed and grave. Tippy, at 13, is just three years short of the age some boys were, when having lied about their age, they went to war.

She is the great granddaughter of one who went. I hope he knows that today, especially, we remembered him, and all who answered a call to fight oppression and evil.








Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembrance

By Belinda

We are back from our leadership conference, brimming over with good stuff learned. But tired from three long days in a row,  I went looking for previous Remembrance Day posts and found this one, posted in 2007.

 I have edited and updated information but am sharing it again to keep a memory alive. In no way do I wish to detract from the true purpose of Remembrance Day. I am a soldier's daughter and understand the respect due to those who fought on the battlefields of the wars of the last 100 years, but there are those who have fought wars of their own in peacetime; in battlefields constructed of walls and locked doors--and survived against the odds. They are heroes of a different kind of war, but heroes nonetheless. This is a remembrance of one of them:

Not knowing its significance to me, she gave it almost as an aside during a meeting at my office.

"Miah asked me to give this to you," she said, placing it in my hands.

I gasped in recognition of something I considered a treasure.


It was just a leather pouch, but to me it was about whose the pouch it had been.

It was made ruggedly out of one piece of tan leather, folded and stitched together on both sides with flat, thin, strips of off-white leather. The flap was secured by a pair of domes sewn inside.

There are initials on the flap, "E.H.," painted in white. They are in the centre of an small oblong of stitches, securing a piece of leather inside onto which the domes are sewn. The initials are a puzzle, since the pouch belonged to Evelyn, whose last name started with "C." I'm not sure if she inherited it from someone else, or if someone got her initials wrong when they were put on. Two drops of white paint landed on the front of the pouch sometime in its history, and no one bothered to remove them.

It's hard to find the words to express what I felt, but it was as if the pouch had been guided to the next pair of hands that were to hold it in trust; and a heart that would keep a memory alive.

In the pouch there are the remnants of lives long gone—a letter written in 1941 on a lonely Christmas Eve, shortly after a bomb had dropped nearby the home in Belfast, shattering windows. There are old photographs, newspaper death notices and other things. They belonged to two people that came to Canada from Ireland in the early nineteen hundreds. These people married and the child they had was "our" Evelyn.

I look into the eyes on the photographs and see "Evelyn’s people;" Evelyn, gone seven years ago now to heaven: Evelyn who was known and loved for her character and feistiness--Evelyn whose 16 years with the agency I work for (after her discharge from an institution,) were the stuff of legends.

She had no people when she came to us, but God saw to it that she soon had some. He made some of us love her dearly.

Mention her name in a group of veteran staff even now, and the stories start. How she would love that. She always loved stories and I have many of them stored away in my heart. I wonder how many of us will leave behind us stories that others recount with such affection nearly a decade after our deaths.

She loved me to recount the story of the disastrous day we spent together when I left the lights on in the van in the parking lot at the Finch subway station. A smile would break across her face at the humour in it all as I asked her again if she remembered it. That was the day she took the gum I offered, and it stuck to her dentures. We crossed the parking lot to the van waiting with a dead battery, to the sound of Ev's wailing about the gum on her teeth. Earlier that day we had ridden the subway (an event in itself since it was quite scary for her) in order to catch a streetcar, just for the fun of riding one--something she had wanted to do. But all of the streetcars seemed to be on the opposite side of the road to the side we were waiting on. Ev and I both thought that was funny. We gave up, crossed the street and caught the streetcar on the other side. We were immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles with sirens wailing, on their way to an accident or fire. Evelyn wailed too--she was scared by the hullabaloo.

When she died, after eventually moving to a nursing home; Miah and I had visited the funeral home together to say our last goodbyes to the part of her left behind, but missing her indomitable spirit. Inexplicably, she lay there with her mouth open. I don't know which of us spotted it first, but when our eyes met, we broke into laughter through our tears--for we could not help but gaze into her open mouth and see her name inscribed on the inside of her upper dentures; the dentures that no doubt flew across the room so often at the nursing home that a staff wanted to make sure they were returned to the right person.

On a day of remembrance; I treasure her memory. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Student's Stance


By Belinda 


(Another archived post from June 17, 2010 this time)

I have a paradox to share today. Thank you in advance for being so patient with my endless epiphanies.:)

As I continue to work on carrying out my choice to eschew negative thoughts and words, I find that silencing my mind and being still; not raising my heart or voice against another, creates mental and spiritual space to learn.

Negativity and criticism come from a place of pride; listening and learning from a place of humility.

It is in observing and listening that learning takes place and too many words and predetermined opinions are blockages to the education others have to offer.

The paradox is this: I thought that age was a place of sharing the great wisdom accumulated with many years. Instead I realize more than ever how much there is to learn.

We joke about young people's refuting of parental wisdom and how much parents apparently learn by the time their teenagers grow into their twenties. The young person recognizes that they didn't have all the answers and their parents knew a few things of worth, after all. Well, elders can be guilty of that arrogance too--secretly thinking that we are the fount of much wisdom. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like that.

I want to shed the pride that speaks before listening; to take a student's stance in every interaction.

It won't be easy; old habits die hard and any readers who are friends and who have real, face to face conversations with me, feel free to tell me how I am doing!

James 1:19 (Amplified Bible)
19Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.
Proverbs 8:6-11 (New International Version)
6 Listen, for I have worthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.

7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.

8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.

9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are faultless to those who have knowledge.

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,

11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How to Be Happy

Another post from the archives; this one by Susan, posted on July 30, 2010. It was a blessing to me, and I hope it will be to you!

By Susan

If you were to ask what God is teaching me of late in The School of Prayer, I would have to share with you the following individualized course of study.    

School of Prayer
HOW TO BE HAPPY
Post Grad Cerficate Program

Course Outlines:
1.   FORGIVENESS 101: 
Set yourself free from the prison of unforgiveness. You are really no better than anyone else. Your sin nature is capable of every bit as much evil as anyone else's sin nature.  We have all fallen short of God's glory.  Short of his glory is short of his glory.  A little short is of just as much consequence as a great deal short.  Forgive because whatever has been done to you (just like everything you have done to others) has been fully paid for.  God, the Father exacted the price of full justice for the sin perpetrated against you (and by you) on the back of his own Son.  Isaiah 53 says, "He was pleased to crush him..."   Pleased.  To crush his own son. For what was doneto you, and for what was done by you...  Forgive.  It's not that hard when you take an honest look at yourself and acknowledge how much God and others have needed to forgive you.

2.  GRATITUDE 101:  
Be grateful.  In Christ Jesus we are lacking in nothing.  Remember this: "...The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..."  and tell your heart to get in line with that fact.  Whatever your circumstances, you can choose to focus on what you have, and leave off thinking about what you think you don't have.  No matter how bad things get, my mother used to say, there is always someone worse off than you.  Gratitude is an attitude that frees your heart to sing - even in the rain.  Especially in the rain.  "Rejoice! I will say it again, rejoice!" Phil. 4:4 

3.  TRUST AND OBEY 101: 
Trust the Lord to direct your paths - every minute of every hour; every hour of every day.   "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths..."  Prov 3:5,6.  When there's more to do than is humanly possible, if the task is God-sized, then trust that he will guide your steps to accomplish and complete whatever is most important to him.  You can't do it all, but you can do what is pleasing to the Father in this good day, this week, this year.  Trust him to show you which stepping stones to land on to get you safely through the river of pressing needs.  Trust him and just do it.  He will direct your steps and get you where he wants you to be, accomplishing what he wants you to get done. 

4.  DELIVERANCE 101
Claim your deliverance.  "Whom the son has set free is free indeed".  John 8:36  It's done.  It's accomplished.  Don't wait for deliverance to come to you as though it is something that hasn't happened yet or as though it is something you have to 'feel' first in order to be able to act upon.  You can choose the right thing, the righteous thing, right now, in this moment, in this situation, because Christ has set you free to be able to do so.  Deliverance isn't something that happens so much instantaneously, as something that needs to be walked out choice by choice, decision by decision, moment by moment.  Deliverance is something you choose to do.  I'm choosing this because I am delivered.  I'm not doing that because I am delivered.  It's not something you do because you necessarily want to, or because you feel like it right now, but because Christ has set you free to do it.

5.  DYING TO SELF 101: 
Get over yourself.  It's really not about "you".  Drop worrying about what you are or are not getting out of any given situation and/or relationship. Instead pick up on what God has placed you here to give.  Listen for the beating of his heart, and think on what He has brought you here to deliver to the person whose face you're looking into right now...  And then give it with all your heart.  Live for God's pleasure - for the affirmation and approval that comes only from him; and forget about trying to acquire it from others. 

There's no happiness like that which comes from knowing your obedience has brought some tiny little measure of joy to your Father.  Want to be happy in your heart?  Live to please him; his joy will overtake you.  And it's the very best kind - the only kind - of joy to have. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Shelter

By Belinda
This is a very busy week, with a three day work conference to attend, so I went back to the archives and found this post from November 4 last year when I was on my way home from a visit to England.  I enjoyed re-reading it. I hope you don't mind being served some reruns! :) Oh, I just noticed that last year's comments came up too, as I republished! Just in case you wondered where they came from. :)


I was going home to Canada and my brother Rob drove me to Birmingham Airport to catch a coach to Manchester, the airport my plane was leaving from. Rob dropped me off half an hour before the coach was due to leave. The clocks had gone back an hour the night before and I was glad for the extra time that morning.

I had a large knapsack on my back and from behind me I heard a voice warning me that someone was entering the bus shelter and obviously wanted to avoid me swinging around and hitting him.

I turned to see a young man, pulling a small piece of luggage on wheels. He was slightly built, tanned, with medium length blond hair, parted on the side. He had blue eyes and a strong jawline. He wore a blue blazer and a striped shirt, open at the neck. I noticed the slight tremor and jerkiness of cerebral palsy in his movements.

We compared destinations—he was headed for Leeds, while I was headed for Manchester. My coach was due to leave at 8.35 and his 9.50. Since it was just past 8.00, I commented that he was very early for his coach. He said,“The hour changed, darling.”

I found out that he had just got off a plane from Tenerife, where he had worked in the time share business; not selling time shares, but selling the lifestyle.

“Do you enjoy doing that?” I asked.

His frank answer was a quick, “No. I make lots of money, but it’s all so fake.I’m a salesman, but that wasn’t my thing.”

“So you’re not going back?” I asked, and he said that no, he was on his way to Leeds where he owned a home with his ex partner. He was going there for a couple of days to stay with him and then heading for Bermuda. There he would join the crew of a wealthy gay businessman who entertains clients on his boat.

I said that Bermuda sounded wonderful.

He mentioned being thirty one and I asked him if he meant that was old or young, and said, “Because to me that’s very young.”

“No, I meant it’s old,” he said, “How old are you?”

I laughed and said, “Sixty.” That’s when he went into paroxysm of astonishment.

His blue eyes widened a string of expletives began to pour from his lips, punctuated by, “No, you can’t be!” repeated several times. He took several steps back, to view me from a distance, and then came back for a closer look (and I could smell alcohol on his breath.)

“But you’ve had work done?” he said, peering closely at my face now.

“No,” I was laughing at the hilarity of the moment.

“Botox?”

“No!”

“No way,” he swore again, “My mum is 74 and she doesn’t look anything like you."

And so we went on for the next several minutes. Him asking what I did to my face—I felt compelled to say something so I said that I avoid the sun, don’t smoke, moisturize, and am happy on the inside.

It was getting a bit embarrassing so I told him he was very sweet, hoping he would change the subject.

“No, not sweet!” he said, “I was about to chat you up!”

“Now that would just have been wrong!” I said, “I have children of 40 and 38 and six grandchildren.”

I told him my name and asked his, which, like my brother’s was Rob.

He facial expression became serious and he said that he was bad. I started to protest that, but he said that he smoked and drank too much. I hesitate to say this in case it is misunderstood, but I felt God’s overwhelming love for this man in that moment and I hugged him. My coach was pulling up and he grabbed my case and loaded it into the luggage compartment.

“You made my day, “I told him,  “And give up the smoking and drinking—it’s not good for you.”

I touched his hand to say thank you and goodbye, and he kissed me on both cheeks. We were strangers but it felt like we exchanged a sign of peace. I sensed pain, rejection, loneliness and emptiness. With a heart full of unspoken prayers I said, “God bless you."

As my coach pulled out and we waved goodbye, my prayers continued.

Today I read Hebrews 13.2  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers..., and I thought of this young man, Rob. Can a bus shelter be a place of hospitality? The conversation we had may seem funny or ridiculous, depending on your point of view, but there was another conversation going on, unspoken. That conversation spoke acceptance, care and love that came from somewhere other than me. I'm not so sure that I expressed it wisely or well, my actions were spontaneous, but I know the love came from God.

At work today in training, we watched Rob Bell's Nooma video, Bullhorn. The message comes through. The bullhorn doesn't work; but there's a world that needs to know His love and sometimes we only have minutes to express it.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

What a Friend We Have in Jesus!

By Belinda

I was just about to check email one morning last week when the familiar Skype signal started up, with a message that Lijda was calling; Tante Lijda, my dear aunt in Holland. She is just 15 years older than I am and 9 years younger than Mum, her last living sister. She is usually brave; stoic--always exhorting us to "Hou je taai!" Translated from Dutch, that would be, "Hang tough!" or "Never say die." But last week she wasn't hanging tough; the circumstances of her life were weighing heavy on her. She was always fun, a party girl! I remember her always out camping on the beach with her family, or skiing in Austria, but this is a different season for her. I tried to encourage her, and Paul and I have been praying since that call.

Then I spoke with Rob and Mum on Saturday, as I always do. Rob too, was feeling discouraged. He lives with chronic fatigue and chronic pain, which is getting worse. Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows how much his dog Bruce means to us all, but on Saturday he said, "I may have to give him up Belinda." Walking his tough little Staffordshire Bull Terrier is just getting to be too much. He told me that he can only manage half the distance he could when I was there in August. I left the conversation wishing I was close enough to help. I felt powerless and so sad for him, both for the pain he is in and for the fact that he has to consider giving up the dog that was a gift from God.

This morning I came to prayer with these cares on my heart, and some relational knots that needed untangling. I simply came to my Father as the friend he is, above all other friends, and I poured out my heart in a conversation as easy as if he were on the couch beside me. I told him about my worries and cares and then quietly listened.

Just placing my cares in his hands made me feel better. Those I love and ache for in their difficulties are safe and secure when placed in his care; I believe that with all of my heart.

My other conundrums received an answer. My soul sighed deeply in relief.

Joseph Scriven's beautiful poem, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, set to music by Charles C. Converse, expresses so well, the privilege we have in prayer.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ( John 15:13)