Speak up!

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy.

– Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

We may make a lot of plans…

Proverbs 19:20-23

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

20Pay attention to advice

and accept correction,

so you can live sensibly.

21We may make a lot of plans,

but the LORD will do

what he has decided.

22What matters most is loyalty.

It’s better to be poor

than to be a liar.

23Showing respect to the LORD

brings true life–

if you do it, you can relax

without fear of danger.

http://bit.ly/nwmOdh

I was a stranger and you took me in

Saturday, July 2, 2011 — a relatively normal day turned scary. I’m writing now, grateful for a happy ending.

It was approaching 9:00 pm on a trip home from Toronto. I was with my sister and her four kids and we were taking a series of backroads to get back into Guelph. It was just getting dusky outside when I received a call from our folks on my cell phone. Having left Toronto a little earlier than we had, they just arrived at home — but to a big change in the weather with pitch black skies and strong winds. This would be our warning call, which was used to help kick our brains into gear for what we were about to experience.

Two kids were asleep. The other two quietly occupying themselves. (I must comment here that the trip *to* Toronto was absolutely *nothing* like that description of the trip home.) The skies were not foreboding at all but we were keeping our eyes peeled for any changes, hopeful that there wouldn’t be much to see.

Then we saw something. The change in the sky was so pronounced that we would have noticed something was wrong even without the advanced warning we had been given. The clouds were unnerving but we pressed on. The rain started to fall and the thunder and lightning were very present but, again, we pressed on. The wind was freaky, growing in strength at a disturbingly rapid rate. It seemed utterly confused about the direction it should be blowing, which was also unnerving. Then the rain began to fall with such volume and force that we could hardly see at all. But we pressed on. Then all at once we could see *something*. But that *something* was a large tree down in the middle of an intersection. And power lines were down.

It was ridiculously frightening and, with little option but to turn around, my sister carefully manoeuvred the mini-van and headed back in the opposite direction. At this point we had freaked out kids, all of whom were awake, and freaked out adults who were trying to figure out what to do. We were looking for somewhere to stop and be safe. Having lost our bearings on the usually familiar road, we were wondering where exactly we were. And we were trying to decide what poor unsuspecting people’s lives we should barge into for shelter.

Then, suddenly, we knew exactly where along the road we were. We found the Eden House retirement and nursing home and pulled into the lot. I ran in (and got quite soaked in that 3 seconds I was outside) and spoke with somebody about the situation and asked about cover for the six of us. I ran back out, motioning to my sister that it was OK to come in. Then the kids were released, with the oldest three moving the fastest I’d ever seen them move and entered safely into the home. I went in for the youngest and carried her out through the rain, then sent her in with the others. I grabbed something from the van and told my sister “this sounds a lot like a train… get in here quick”. Soon we were all safely inside Eden House.

The place had lost power — likely related to the tree we found and the power lines that were snapped on the ground. They were running on the power of a generator and were busy trying to deal with the challenges that the storm was causing for them. At the same time, they could appreciate how crazy things had turned out there and were quite kind to accept the intrusion.

Not too long after being there, we were taken to a lounge/dining hall area. This is where the nurse in charge told her staff that they had a family stranded here due to the storm and they’ve got scared children and they need snacks and juice. The team was deployed and moments later they all returned with a cart filled with cookies and drinks and pudding. And they brought us blankets. (Once I realized that I was drenched and shivering, I was particularly fond of the blankets being made available.)

We just did our best to stay out of their way. They had plenty to do without us being there. There were false readings from the system due to being on generator power. They were trying to arrange to get the power back. And of course they were also doing all their regular things, like helping residents.

I was glad to be there because I knew we were safe and I knew that it was the best kind of place to be if anything got worse outside. It was a place with procedures already set and people that knew what to do, who also had connections with emergency services and such…. this was a nice place to be!

We were there for a little while – staying safely off the road in the very brunt of the storm, getting the kids settled down from the scariest part of the journey, and us taking a break and trying to plan our next leg of the journey. Being so close to home and yet stranded was a little disappointing but we knew that once we could get back out there, we didn’t have long to drive. Once things settled down enough outside, we said our goodbyes and piled back into the van. Still raining – still thunder & lightning. But hardly any wind and and only raining very lightly in contrast to the hour earlier.

We needed to take an alternate route home, as the road we were trying to take had been closed by the OPP. There was a lot of debris on the alternative path — including a second tree nearly down, which we managed to get past. The kids were still pretty shaken. My sister and I just wanted to get off the roads before anything else could happen!

Now we’re all safely home. I pause to consider, with awe, the power of nature. Also, I can’t get that part of Matthew 25 out of my head: “I was a stranger and you took me in…” from verse 35. Tonight, we were greatly blessed by complete strangers, crashing their home which already had extra and unexpected complexity, and had an immense demonstration of hospitality and kindness lavished upon us, the travelling strangers in need of safety and shelter. Greatly blessed, indeed.

Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

See the aftermath:  Returning to the scene…

WOTD: Rescue

Right now, these WOTD posts are probably a pretty cumbersome read for most.

It’s an exercise… a public exercise that is part of a private journey. But, briefly to describe the hopes I have for this, as the private journey gets more solidified in its purposes I believe the public side (these blog posts) will become more directed and less of a “Scripture dump” – as I’ve been calling them. Not that they are bad, but honestly I have to be more intentional than that. To look up a single word in an online Bible search and then produce a blog post containing passages using that word will quickly become mechanical and habitual instead of having real thought and purpose behind it. I won’t be going this route as a rule.

Today’s word (which I may end up writing more about later) is “Rescue”. A lovely cousin posted “Psalm 38:14” in response to a very sad Facebook status of mine today.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

This is/was me today.  This week.  This year, at times.  The brokenhearted.  The crushed.

My spirit feels crushed.  I just kinda feel crushed.  But that can be a good place to be.  I just have to allow it to be, I suppose.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV)

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

When we sing “I’m Trading My Sorrows” the bridge section comes (in part) from that 2 Corinthians passage.

I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy’s gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

Did I mention I feel crushed?  Rescue sure would be great.  Definitely feeling pressed on every side.  And perplexed.  A smidgen of persecution.  And definitely struck down.

Maybe I need to piggyback on the words of another blogger… http://www.gospel.com/blog/index.php/2010/07/01/todays-devotional-faithfully-waiting/

God has already planned our deliverance.  God knows how to rescue us from trials.

WOTD: “Abide”

Yesterday’s Word of the Day was “Abide”.

Taken from a favourite song (especially for Marked By Love to sing…) verse one of “Take Time To Be Holy” reads:

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

(Side note: I love how “seek” turns up here to tie in with the previous word of the day.)

This is a good start because this is where we’re at and what I’ve had to return to in a very intentional way.

To abide means to remain or to dwell… to stay, to rest.

Psalm 15:1 (KJV) asks “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”  The NIV presents it as “… who may dwell…?”

Then there is a list… we like our lists… we use 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) as a checklist, as well as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, and bunch of others, but I’ve never noticed the use of this one before.  Compiled from verses 2-5 (NIV) in Psalm 15:

Who may dwell?

  • their walk is blameless
  • they do what is righteous
  • they speak truth from their own hearts
  • there is no slander on their tongues
  • they do their neighbour no wrong
  • they cast no slur on their fellowman
  • they despise the vile but honour those who fear the Lord
  • they keep their oaths, EVEN WHEN IT HURTS  (djh: i loved that part… jumped out at me…)
  • they lend money without usury (that is, ridiculously or illegal interest rates)
  • they accept no bribes against the innocent

Who does these things shall never be shaken.

Hmm.

So, when we flip over to Psalm 61:4 (KJV) and read “I will abide in thy tabernacle forever; I will trust in the covert of thy wings” we are making our choices to abide and trust and deciding to go with that checklist above.

I found that interesting to consider and worth checking myself against much more frequently.  To stay in the tabernacle, God’s presence, we have to quite simply be holy.  Still not a popular enough concept, even in our churches.

Anyway, here is the Scripture passage dump.  Make special note of the verses from Jeremiah.  These also jumped out at me.  And I’m always happy to hear your verses and thoughts.

Psalm 15:1 (KJV)

1 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

Psalm 15:1-5 (NIV)

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Psalm 61:4 (KJV)

4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

Psalm 91:1 (KJV)

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Jeremiah 42:10 (KJV)

10 If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.

Jeremiah 42:10-12 (NIV)

10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’

John 14:15-16 (KJV)

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 15:4-10 (KJV)

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Philippians 1:24-25 (KJV)

24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

1 John 3:23-28 (KJV)

23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

WOTD – Word of the Day

Long story short – right now I am on a journey where I am getting to know God better by diving into the Bible in search of a word.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would share this journey publicly.  Then I decided it would be a good exercise in accountability to be sure I do this for a few weeks at least.  And perhaps hear from others various verses and thoughts that I might otherwise miss.

So, I’m calling it my WOTD – Word of the Day.

Yesterday’s word was “SEEK”.  (And the sub-word ended up being “heart.”)

And the result of that search for me?

1 Chronicles 16:8-11 (NIV)

8 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.

9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

11 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

1 Chronicles 22:19a (NIV)

19 Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God.

Psalm 24:4-6 (NIV)

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.

5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.

6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Psalm 27:8 (NIV)

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Psalm 69:30-32 (NIV)

30 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.

32b you who seek God, may your hearts live!

Psalm 105:4 (NIV)

4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

Isaiah 26:9a (NLT)

9a All night long I search for you;
in the morning I earnestly seek for God.

Isaiah 55:6 (NIV)

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.

Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

12 Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.

Zephaniah 2:3a (NIV)

3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility…

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

7Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Delight and Desire

A common passage.  A treasured promise, for me and many others.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  (Psalm 37:4  NIV)

Have you noticed the focus often placed on “… he will give you…”?  Because we want the desires of our heart.  I know I sure do.

But…

The other part comes first… “Delight yourself in the Lord and…”

They are not disconnected, as much as we try to do that.  It is more like ’cause and effect’.

So, if I am sitting around expecting the desires of my heart to materialise without delighting myself in the Lord then I might as well keep on dreaming.

Placing our primary focus on God is ridiculously difficult because we really just want to focus on self.  When we delight in the Lord there is no room to delight in self because God is just soooo big.

And what of the desires of our heart?  He’ll place the best and truest ones within it, while we’re busy looking at Him most likely, and then He’ll delight in giving those desires to us.

You know, it does make sense.  After all, it is the desire of His heart for us to delight in Him, to know and love Him.

Just some Thursday morning thoughts as I wake up… in more ways than one.