Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Promises and Prayers

The seventh chapter of Second Samuel outlines God's covenant with David. At the time, David wanted to do something for God. Perhaps he had seen the "houses" built to honour the false gods of the people he had conquered. At any rate, he shared with Nathan the prophet that it bothered him that he was living in a house of cedar, while God's house was merely a tent.

Nathan told him to go ahead and do what was in his heart. Nathan spoke too soon.

4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

God didn't want or need a fancy house. He didn't ask any of the leaders to build one. The Creator and Owner of the entire universe needs nothing from mere man. He told Nathan to remind David that He took him from the pasture and made him a prince, and that He had been with him wherever he went, cutting off his enemies before him. He was reminding David that it was only through His power that David prospered. The Lord God went on and promised...

And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”

I will make your name great, David. I will plant my people firmly in one place. I will give you rest from your enemies. I will make YOU a house. I will establish the kingdom of your offspring, and he will build a house for my name. I will discipline him. Your throne shall be established forever.

What promises! Instead of David doing something for God (which really is impossible), God turns around and makes all these glorious promises to David.

This gives David courage. Go and read David's prayer in 2 Samuel 7:18-29. It's a beautiful prayer, giving praise to a Beautiful God. The prayer ends with these words:

27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

David has the courage to ask God for His blessing on his house, simply because he is praying God's promises back to him.

What a wonderful way to pray! It really is the only way to pray. When we ask God for something, we have courage to do so because He has already promised He would do so.

Do you need strength? I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Ask God for strength. He promised He would give it.

Do you need wisdom? If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, without finding fault. Ask God for wisdom. He promised He would give it.

Do you need clothing? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Ask God for clothing. He promised He would give it.

God always, always keeps His promises. Sometimes, however, He works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, from our perspective, it looks as if He is not keeping His promises.

Consider Jeremiah. Zedekiah the king is worried, because the armies of Babylon are arrayed against him. He sends messengers to Jeremiah.

2 “Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”

It sounds like Zedekiah is praising God and relying on Him to do battle for His people. But listen to what the Lord says:

‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls. And I will bring them together into the midst of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. 6 And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence. 7 Afterward, declares the Lord, I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people in this city who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword. He shall not pity them or spare them or have compassion.'

Does this sound like God is protecting His people? Does this sound like peace from their enemies? On the contrary, God is saying that He Himself will fight against His own people in anger and in fury and in great wrath.


Because He is punishing His people according to the fruit of their deeds - idolatry, oppression, infidelity to the covenant.

In 588 BC Nebuchadnezzar overthrew the city of Jerusalem and carried off many captives. All was lost, it seemed. God had turned His back on His people.

Or, had He?

8 “And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. 10 For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’

God gave them a way out. All they had to do was surrender. He told them to go and live in captivity, to plant gardens and settle down. He had a plan. One day, He would bring them back. Just read the book of Nehemiah for more of the story. You know that David's throne has been established forever - Jesus is on the throne, ruling in great power and great glory.

So, this is my point: God always keeps His promises. He alone is omniscient; He alone knows what He is doing.

Take courage and pray His promises back to Him. Believe that He will always do what He says He will do. Trust Him. And when things look bleak and you begin to wonder if the Lord our God is really answering your prayers, remember things aren't always as they seem.

He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Life By the Creek - a giveaway!

My daughter is offering a chance to win a cool gift from CSN Stores. Click over to her blog and enter for your chance to win!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mary, Mary and Mary.

What are the odds that the three women standing at the foot of the cross while Jesus suffered on their behalf would be named Mary?

John 19: So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Mary means "bitter".

Originally a Middle English Anglicized form of the French "Marie," derived from the Latin "Maria," and ultimately from the Hebrew name of uncertain origin "Miryam".

This is the New Testament form of Miriam, which St. Jerome derives from elements meaning 'drop of the sea' (Latin 'stilla maris', later altered by folk etymology to 'stella maris': star of the sea).

Matthew Henry writes,

We may easily suppose what an affliction it was to these poor women to see him thus abused, especially to the blessed virgin. Now was fulfilled Simeon’s word, A sword shall pierce through thy own soul, Lu. 2:35. His torments were her tortures; she was upon the rack, while he was upon the cross; and her heart bled with his wounds; and the reproaches wherewith they reproached him fell on those that attended him. (3.) We may justly admire the power of divine grace in supporting these women, especially the virgin Mary, under this heavy trial. We do not find his mother wringing her hands, or tearing her hair, or rending her clothes, or making an outcry; but, with a wonderful composure, standing by the cross,and her friends with her. Surely she and they were strengthened by a divine power to this degree of patience; and surely the virgin Mary had a fuller expectation of his resurrection than the rest had, which supported her thus. We know not what we can bear till we are tried, and then we know who has said, My grace is sufficient for thee.

God purposed that three women standing by His Son while He went through the Passion of the Cross were named Mary. What a bitter thing it would have been to witness Christ's suffering. Yet God gave the strength they needed.

And on the third day, their mourning would be turned into joy.

God makes no mistakes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lo The Storms of Life Are Breaking

I recently purchased a number of cd's from Indelible Grace Music. This is one of my favourites. You can find a snippet here. Click on "Lo The Storms of Life Are Breaking."

"1. Lo the storms of life are breaking,
Faithless fears our hearts are shaking
For our succor undertaking,
Lord and Savior, help us!

2. Lo! The world from Thee rebelling,
Round Thy Church in pride is swelling
With Thy word their madness quelling,
Lord and Savior, help us!

Bridge: By Thy birth, Thy cross, and passion
By Thy tears of deep compassion
By Thy mighty intercession
Lord and Savior, help us!

3. On Thine own command relying,
We our onward task are plying
Unto Thee for safety sighing,
Lord and Savior, help us!

Bridge: By Thy birth, Thy cross, and passion
By Thy tears of deep compassion
By Thy mighty intercession
Lord and Savior, help us!

Tag: Lord and Savior, help us. Lord and Savior, help us.

Another one that moves me:

© 2009 Kevin Twit Music (ASCAP).
Used by permission. All rights reserved

Friday, April 23, 2010

Music Festival in Walkerton - 2010

Thank you, Mrs. Lear, for all the time you invest in our lives!

Christopher, Tiana and Linda competed in the 29th Annual Walkerton Festival of Music today.

Here's Critter waiting, and waiting, and waiting...

Christopher was first in his class. He was very nervous, he told me, but he got up and played really well.

Dr. Donald Cook was the adjudicator. His remarks to the children were full of analogies to help the children learn the principles he was teaching.

Here we have five different pieces by 5 different people, he said. We all have some problems in common when we start out playing piano. Just like riding a bike, we wobble a bit when we begin. I'll bet you don't even think about riding a bike now, do you? But you still have to look out for things.

The first thing to learn about piano is the technical stuff - hands and fingers. I look for tension in the fingers. What does the hand look like on the keyboard? Is it like a bird's foot? That means trouble!

When I was a young boy there was a janitor in my school who kept the floors clean with a huge mop. If we came in with dirt on our boots, we knew what the mop felt like on our behinds! The mop wasn't like those mops of today - not a sponge or a Swiffer. It was a long stick with lots of pieces of fabric hanging down loosely.

Do your hands look like a broom, all stiff? Or like a mop, nice and loose? You need to develop nice quiet fingers like the end of a mop.

I started playing piano when I was five, and took lessons for 14 years. When did I stop making mistakes?

The kids hemmed and hawed. Finally, a little tentative voice quavered, "Never?"

Well, you're right, Mr. Cook said. I still make about two mistakes a year. I've already used up my quota for this year. My wife says I make mistakes all the time, but that's another story.

Have you ever broken a window? Did you fix it? Why not?

You can't fix it! You can't glue it back together after it's been shattered. It's gone.

That's how you should view a mistake when you're performing. You can't fix it, so keep going! Next time you're practicing, work on it until you get it right.

Third place went to a boy playing a Leila Fletcher piece. - 82
Second place went to a girl named Gail - 83,
First place went to Christopher - 84.

Tiana's group was next. Kaitlyn played "Inner City Stomp". Judith played "Minuet in F Major by Mozart. Emily played "Old McDonald Had Some Farm" by Mark Nevin. Tiana played Sonatina in G Major by Beethoven - the Second Movement. Lisa played Twilight.

Donald shared his wisdom with the girls.

Technique is important, but watch the tension. Relax those fingers. Find ways to develop flexible finger action.

He played to demonstrate. Same notes, completely different sound, because of stressing different parts.

He told Judith that the minuet is a graceful dance, so it should sound dainty and graceful. Think about what style the piece is. Understand the different styles. This should be elegant and graceful. Keep a steady beat, but make it delicate, more graceful, and lighter.

He played it with a heavy beat, then played it delicately to demonstrate. The notes were right in both cases, but playing without the proper style would be like wearing long johns to dance a minuet, instead of the long, beautiful dresses.

He said it is kind of hard to learn music, because musicians have to practice on their own while everyone else is running out to play. Some instruments take a long time to master. His own daughter played the violin, and sounded terrible for five years. (I never want to go through that again, he quipped.)

He spoke about having variation. When you read f for forte, how hard should you play? Loud, yes, but how loud?

If someone says he wants more ice cream, how much more would you give him? If he was a little baby, you'd give him a little bit, but if he was a big guy, you'd give him a bit more.

How loud you play forte depends on the piece. If it's a soft piece, maybe you only need a bit more sound. If it's a loud piece, you might have to play very loudly. It must be in proportion. It's all relative. Don't play it too loud, or it will sound like turning up the radio very loud in the car. Not at all pleasant.

He reminded Tiana that she should have not slowed down quite so much at the end of bar 16, which calls for a rit. A little slow down in the middle, followed by a more pronounced slow down at the end, would be better. Keep it light, he said.

He asked if the Twilight piece showed the mood well. Did you create the mood? Was it gentle and sensitive? Sometimes the left hand can get in the way. That becomes BORING. Don't stress the left hand... Sing out the right hand. It helps to sing the melody as you practice.

Third: Emily - 82
Second: Lisa - 83
First: Tiana - 84

We then headed over to St. Paul's United Church for Linda's class, which was to be played on a beautiful Grand Piano. Before Linda's competition began, two people played their own composition. Elizabeth played "Bittersweet", and Daniel played "Storm".

The adjudicator spoke of composers like Gershwin and Chopin. Chopin used to write the extra notes in so the person playing the piece would understand how to fill out the sound more. When you write down your score, you make it permanent. It's important to write how you hear it in your head by indicating the staccatos and legatos, etc.

The tone is loud, soft, staccato, legato. It must be blended - like colours on a piano. Communicate the feeling. Match the sound with the name of the song. Bitter (harsh notes) with sweet (soft, beautiful notes).

Daniel wrote much of Storm in a minor mode, which has dramatic appeal. Where is the storm? On any sea? The Dead Sea? Have you been there?

Poetry is the closest thing in words to music. What kind of storm do you want to show? Heavy, intense, short, long? Decide what you want to do... like a single celled amoeba. Daniel has many ideas, but he must choose and develop ONE idea.

Linda's class was next. Jim played a Minuet in G minor. He was obviously nervous and made many mistakes. I felt so bad for him.

Linda played "Winter Scene". Lovely.

Jane played Mendelsohn's Venitian Boat Song. Lyn played "The Lake".

The adjudicator was wonderful and encouraging to all. He asked the competitors, "How much do you play in public?" Linda was the only one who plays publicly (at church) on a regular basis. It makes a big difference.

He said that if you don't play in front of others, your body reacts despite what your brain says. He recommended a book called "The Brain that Changes Itself" to understand neurological responses. Music is great for self expression, and is phenomenal at bringing art right to the people. You must figure out the structure of a song. He used the word structure, as architects call their work "frozen music". If you continue playing in public, you will shape your piece and change it. Performance requires a lot of practice performing.

He demonstrated what the harpsicord would have sounded like by plucking the strings on the Grand Piano. There was much more quietness 400 years ago. No traffic noise. So the instrument would have been quieter. He played to demonstrate how extra sounds were added into the music. The extra sounds are not in the score, but the composers expected the musicians to add them in.

He told Linda that her piece was composed by a man who had just returned from WWII with no marketable skills, so he turned to composing. He won many prizes. He told Linda, "You have a knack for this kind of music. You have a good ear, and you perform often. You have great flexibility and a naturalness of phrasing. The piece was balanced well mechanically. You were guided quite well (Yeah, Mrs. Lear!!). You have patience. Quo vadis? Where are you taking me? Take people to a place the composer wants them to experience. You did that well. Lots of detail. Bravo! Very good.

The adjudicator talked about Mendelssohn who was a great composer, a painter, a writer - brilliant. He wrote a piece for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria to play together. The Wedding March is his most famous piece. He talked about interpretation. How wide is the sound? Do you need to narrow it down? How loud is loud? How soft is soft?

He spoke about Lyn's piece - In the Lake by Rowley. Edward McDowell was a composer whose music jumped around like this. He said that Lyn's co-ordination and balance were very good, but that she needed a little more confidence.

Third: Jean - 83
Second: Lyn - 84
First: Linda - 88!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scrapbooking with Isobel

My friend Isobel begged me to come with her to babysit her granddaughters while their Mom and Dad were away.

It's been a blast.

Four little girls - 10, 8, 6 and nearly 2 - make for a busy household. They're active, happy, friendly people with plenty to do and say.


Listening to Jordie play her recorder. Watching her be the big sister and main helper to her grandma, as she ran to get the vitamins or entertained the baby for a bit.

Hearing Maddie's little comments as she interacted with her grandmother or sisters. She reminds me most of Becky. She's a bit quiet but has a smile that lights up the room.

Annie's spunk. She's full of energy and likes to try to get away with whatever she can put past her grandma. Playing snakes and ladders with her and the rest of them was great fun.

Lilly was just adorable. Even though she was sick, she had plenty to say. The doctor said to give her lots of fluids, so we made some soup with chicken stock and leftover noodles. She really didn't like it much, and grimaced at every bite. However, she LOVED the bowl with a built-in straw, so she kept sipping, then grimacing, then sipping again. The look on her face was priceless. I had great fun playing on the deck with Lilly, who ordered me to come outside with her.

Of course, Isobel and I were creative scrapaholics, too. We have completed four layouts, and may get one more done tonight before we head to bed. When I look back through my albums, I realize that most of the pages I have completed have been done at Isobel's house. I'm grateful to her for her friendship, and for sharing her passion for scrapbooking.

I miss my own family. Can't wait to see them tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Tree is Gone; Pigs are Gone


I was always afraid that it would come crashing down on a windy day, as did the rest of them three years ago or so. I didn't want it to do so when kids or dogs were about.

Tree guy was efficient and had the whole thing down in less than an hour.

I am relieved.

Plus, I now have a great view of the field.

The pigs were loaded onto the horse trailer and taken to Bachert's Meats. They will soon make their way into various freezers. I am glad to see them go... I need the room for the meat birds that will be arriving soon.

We had one of those practically perfect in every way spring days. Truly a "slice of life".

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Cross of Christ

Why the cross? Why does it matter?

At this time of year many Canadians celebrate "Easter". They have egg hunts in the local parks. Mothers buy their kids new clothes, and off they go to church for their twice-yearly trek. (Christmas and Easter) They tell each other "Happy Easter", and have no idea why it matters so much.

It matters more than they can imagine. They can see it all around them if they open their eyes. Unfortunately, they are deaf, and blind, and cannot see the reality no matter how hard they look. They have offended a Holy God, and they are on the road to destruction.

When a tragedy hits like a ton of bricks what is the first thought that comes to mind? Do you think, "Why did God allow this to happen? Couldn't He have stopped it?" If you know Him, the answer is, OF COURSE HE COULD HAVE STOPPED IT! He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. He misses nothing. He sees it all.

This is the key: He is working at all times, in every way, to bring glory to His name. He deserves the glory.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power,
for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are (exist) and were created. Rev. 4:11

There are constant reminders we witness daily that tell us that this world is not as it should be. A plane crash kills many Polish leaders, sending Poland into turmoil. A work-place accident kills the father of three. A 'possum lies dead in the middle of the road, guts spread all over the place. Cancer takes another life. Banks fail; life savings are lost. Where is God in the middle of all of this?

People tend to get mad at God when they hear of yet another wrong done to an innocent victim.

They forget that God is mad at them.

God is offended with a people that would choose an apple over HIM. He provides everything - EVERYTHING they need - for life. Air? God made it. Try living without it for more than a minute. Water? God made it. Try going without it for a day. Food? Gifts from a bountiful God. Pleasure? God designed the taste buds, the nerve endings, the sheer joy experienced by man and woman in intimacy. Yet, men and woman go through life with nary a thought about God. They are not grateful. All they want is more... more apples.

God, the Giver of Life, is offended. Wouldn't you be? If you gave your very best to another, and were spurned, wouldn't it bug YOU?

That's why the cross is so important. Do you think it is? Or do you think it's "just a piece of stupidity in a distant historical context?"

If it's stupid to you, you don't get that you're sick - no, really sick. You've offended a Holy God, and there's no hope at all, apart from Christ.

Until I understand that I am a sinner, that God really hates me for it, and that I really am going to the place where the fire burns without being extinguished and the worm does not die, I can't begin understand the love he showed me when his Son died in my place for my sins, bearing the full weight of his Father's wrath against me. ~Gordon Cheng

Go here and read the rest of Gordon Cheng's post. May God open your eyes to the truth.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Infallible Saviour

We studied some words today, one of which was infallible. Good word.

INFAL'LIBLE, a. [L. fallo.]

1. Not fallible; not capable of erring; entirely exempt from liability to mistake; applied to persons. No man is infallible; to be infallible is the prerogative of God only.

2. Not liable to fail, or to deceive confidence; certain; as infallible evidence; infallible success.

To whom he showed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs--

It comes from a Latin word: fallo, fallere... an intransitive verb that means to deceive, cheat, beguile; to disappoint, fail, betray; to break (as in breaking a promise), to be mistaken. .

Notice that infallible is the opposite of fallible. So, someone that is infallible cannot deceive. He cannot cheat or beguile. He is not capable of disappointing or failing someone. He would never betray anyone, nor would he break a promise.

Satan is the Deceiver. He is a cheat. He desires to beguile, to disappoint, to betray.

But Jesus is infallible. "To be infallible is the prerogative of God alone."

Jesus showed Himself to be alive with many infallible proofs. Acts 1:3

Jesus promised His disciples that He would see them again. He made a point to go to them after His resurrection. When Thomas missed seeing Him and declared that he would never believe unless he put his hand into the side of His Saviour and touched the nailprints with his own fingers, Jesus graciously showed Himself to be alive for Thomas' sake.

There are nine specific post-resurrection appearances of the Lord Jesus recorded in the Scriptures. He ate with His disciples. He allowed them to hold onto Him. He talked with them, broke bread with them, and "presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days . He appeared to James and all the rest of the apostles.

Jesus' resurrection was real. He died, and was buried, and on the third day, He rose again. He presented Himself alive with many infallible proofs. And this same Jesus will come again in glory to reign eternally.

Are you ready?

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Firm a Foundation

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

"E'en down to old age all my people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
and when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

"The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake."

I have been reading "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God", edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. You can read it online. Most of the chapters in the book originated as talks given at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference, and they address such questions as: In what ways is God sovereign over Satan's work? How can we be free and responsible if God ordains our choices? What is the ultimate reason for suffering? How does suffering advance the mission of the church? How does God's grace enter our sufferings? What about hope when things look hopeless?

One of the chapters, written by David Powlison, addresses God's Grace and Your Sufferings. Go there. Read it. It's well worth the time it will take you to do so.

We all suffer in many ways, some more than others. We all suffer in different ways. Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was mocked by his wife and rebuked by his friends. Paul was shipwrecked and imprisoned, and had to live with the knowledge that he had been responsible for the pain and suffering and death of many of his Christian brothers and sisters. Mary suffered as she watched her Son die on that dreadful cross. Down through the ages, saints have gone through incredible pain, rejection, loss, even torture. And God has been sovereign over every moment.

This past weekend really should have been a time of great reflection and joyful thanksgiving. It's always sobering to remember that Jesus Christ had to die a terrible death on a cruel cross to pay the price for my sin. I am so very thankful that God found a way to redeem my soul. It really is my preference to spend some time on Good Friday meditating on the necessity of the cross.

It turned out that most of our family came over for a good part of the day. We had a great time visiting and going for a nature walk. We enjoyed fellowship and food, then gathered around the campfire as the sun was going down.

Sadly, things were said that ought not to have been said - at least not in the manner in which they were expressed. Feelings were hurt. There were misunderstandings, most of which have been cleared up by now. We are a Christian family, and we're all quite articulate and quick to speak. Sometimes, we aren't careful about the way we express our thoughts. Sometimes, we sin against one another.

In explaining the suffering that God allowed us to experience, I said the following to my daughter:

The way I look at all of this is that we are sharing just a tiny bit in the suffering of Christ. HIS family didn't understand him. He was criticized for doing good. He was mocked and reviled. He was praised (Palm Sunday) then betrayed.

A couple of our kids have experienced much of that. I know it's just a tiny bit compared to what our Lord suffered, but there it is. And it's a humbling, painful experience that sends us fleeing to God for comfort. It makes us question our decisions, and then come to a settled belief that this is what God would have us do at this time.

So, God is good, all the time, in every way.

Christians are not exempt from suffering. Part of the suffering we experience is having to live in this world when we long for the next. We have to live with our sinful natures when we desire to be sanctified and holy. We have to endure being criticized or misunderstood; conversely, we have to endure worrying about those we love when we think they are being foolish. When there are disagreements within a family, it's painful. It causes us to suffer loss.

The thing to do when we meet with suffering -- whether it's from sickness or loss or relationship issues or another form of pain -- the thing to do is to flee to God.

Listen to what He says:

Fear not.
I am with you.
Don't be dismayed.
I will strengthen you.
I will help you.
I will supply you with my all-sufficient grace.
I will refine you.
I will bear you up.
I will always love you.
I will never, no never, no never forsake you.

Psalm 30 is a great reminder:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you have healed me.

3 O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;

you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

c Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

We have a firm foundation. Even though our lives are shaken, we know that God is in control, and that He is at work in all of our sufferings. We know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy, blessed joy, comes in the morning.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What a day!

Heather, Linda and I (the official crazy horse-nuts of the family - although there are others in the wings) set out early this morning to go and get a couple of *free* rescued horses. Apparently there was a choice between a 13 year old gelding, a 10 year old mare, a 3 year old Friesian, a young Arab cross, and a young Thoroughbred. We thought, great! We'll have a look, and maybe bring home a horse that Elena and Tiana could ride.

As we drove through St. Agatha, we went over a big bump. All of a sudden, there was drag on the trailer. It just didn't FEEL right. Heather jumped out and checked... nothing looked wrong. So we headed to the Canadian Tire gas bar, which just happened to be right beside a Starbucks.

Heather jumped out to pump gas, and a nice-looking gentleman came up to my window. "Do you realize that your back right trailer tire isn't turning? You're dragging it."

Sigh. I knew something was wrong. Nice mechanic at Canadian Tire confirmed it. They couldn't fix it, either... it would have to go to someone who specializes in trailer brakes.

We went into Starbucks to get our "Bold Pick of the Day" and have a bathroom break. Discussed our options. Towed the trailer to R.J.'s. Nice mechanic Mike had a look. He can fix it on Monday. Not only that, but he can weld a piece on to make the door hinge safer. All good!

Decided to go and have a look at the horses anyway. After all, it was Heather's birthday, and she loves horses (have I mentioned that?) and any chance to go to a farm and hang out with horses is good for her.

We didn't have any trouble finding the place. It was four hundred acres of rolling hills with a creek running through. There was a dilapidated old barn and plenty of electric fencing. No bathroom available, and you don't want to know how bad the outhouse was that Linda righted. Apparently it had been full when someone decided to knock it over. 'nuff said.

The woman that wanted us to take a couple of horses and give them a good home was off in the back field, looking for the thoroughbred. We wandered around, looking at the horses, wondering which ones were available. Some of them were in pretty bad shape. Split hooves, ribs protruding. Sunken eyes. Swollen ears and bellies.

Some of them weren't half bad. There was a lovely chestnut (almost orange) mare that came and stood by us, allowing all of us to pet her and coo over her and pick up her feet and do whatever we wanted to do. I would have taken her home in a heartbeat.

Others were lame. One dapple grey pony had a locked stifle, so he limped badly. Many of them had scars, either from fights with other horses or from catching skin on nails or branches. The place was a dump... boards with nails sticking up... plastic or bailer twine all over the place, bones from dead animals (horses?cows??) on the field.

Finally Jacqueline got back to the top of the hill where we were waiting. She pointed out the mare, Grace. She was a pleasant little mare, short enough to be a pony, but not healthy at all. She had a swollen belly, swollen ears, and a great bump on the spine of her back. She was almost lame when she walked... she'd never make a good horse for me or the girls.

Young Buck was supposed to be Friesian, but we couldn't figure out why she thought that. He had a narrow rear and white hair in the ears. He had very small eyes, and wasn't at all ready to be haltered or worked with.

The one we were most interested in was the older gelding, but he'd already been loaded onto the trailer (if you could call it that - it was the most unsafe trailer I'd ever seen) of the other guy. Even though the lady promised us first dibs on the horses, this fellow who was obviously going to sell the horses for meat got the best two of the bunch.

When we expressed our misgivings about taking a broken-down mare and an untrained, unco-operative 3 year old, Meat Guy said, "I'll take 'em." There was no doubt in our minds why he wanted them. It was sad, sad, sad.

All was not lost. We got to visit with Heather's friend Donna, who lives just past Pickering, where the horses were.

The trailer will be fixed properly, so we can haul our horses over to Hullett Marsh and ride on the trails.

We got to spend an entire day thinking about horses, petting and talking to horses, being sorry for some sad and decrepit horses, and loving on some beautiful horses at Donna's place. Any day that includes time spent with horses is a banner day for me. And Heather. And Linda.

The best thing about today is that 32 years ago God gave me a little brown-haired, blue-eyed horse-crazy-from-the-womb baby girl.

For that, I am very thankful.

Happy Birthday, Heather! Love ya, bunches.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I forgot how great it is...

to sit atop a horse and listen to the clip-clop of her hooves, the squeak of the saddle, the sound of her breath as she snorts at the wind. I forgot how great it is to feel the rhythmic sway of the horse beneath your rear as you relax and go with her smooth beat. I forgot about the smells, the exhilaration of being far out in the country, away from laundry, dishes, dirty floors, schoolwork and bills.

I'm definitely sore this evening. Can hardly move my shoulder. My hips hurt, my knees hurt, my butt bones hurt.

But I feel GREAT, because I went riding for the first time in over three years.

Ask me how I feel tomorrow. :D