The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.” Gen 7:1 NIV
God graciously supplied everything that Noah and his family needed while God was destroying sinful mankind. The ark provided safety, salvation, security, life, protection, and provisions. The world outside the ark was harsh, treacherous, stormy, frightening, and deadly. But inside was peace through the storm, life rather than death, and protection from the elements.
This reminds me of what we have in Christ. We are safe in his arms. We are saved from our sinful natures. We are eternally secure. We have abundant life. We have protection from the evil one. And God has promised that he has given us everything we need to live our lives as Christ-followers.
In Philippians 4:19 Paul tells us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” What a wonderful truth. What a wonderful provision. Often our problem is that we expect him to meet all of our wants and when he doesn’t, we begin to think he doesn’t care. But he is faithful and fulfills all his promises. We need to align our wants to his perspective of our needs; then we will see that he has provided everything we need.
Are you safe and secure in the arms of Jesus, our ark? If not, the Bible reminds us that today is the day of salvation. Don’t delay the most important decision of your life.
I’ve subtitled this one, Fri-day = Lice-day!
Of all the schools where I taught, this one takes the prize for number of lice sightings! Perhaps it was because the children were younger than the ones where I would ultimately spend my teaching time, or perhaps it was the area, or the times. Whatever the reason, every Friday morning was lice-quest day. Are you surprised that I didn’t eat lunch on Fridays?
After the morning bell and opening exercises, it was time to have the children put their heads down on their desks, for me to get clean sticks from my desk drawer (similar to popsicle sticks), and begin the ritual. This was repeated by each teacher in each classroom throughout the school.
I would begin at the back of the row by the windows and work my way around the classroom. Holding a stick in each hand, I would carefully lift the hair, looking for the culprits. I knew where I would find them, but to spare any unnecessary embarrassment, each child would be checked. And although I knew where they would be, occasionally another student would harbour one or two due to the close proximity of the children.
There were always at least two heads that held the fugitives. How do you send these children to the office without the others knowing? Difficult, even impossible. I made it as painless as I could, distracting the others. Fortunately, almost everyone had them at least once during the year, so the embarrassment was shared. I must say, that never once did I hear a negative word said to anyone who had to be sent to the office. My little darlings were very accepting.
We, as teachers, were following policies set by the schoolboard. The child would be sent to the office where he or she would be checked again. The home would be notified and the child sent home with instructions on how to rid a head of lice. Once they returned to school, there was an office check, and then the child returned to the classroom, usually the next day.
I fully believe that our policies were correct, but all parents did not agree with our decisions or our suggestions for removal. All of our hard work was useless because of the heads that were not completely cleared. Sometimes it was an economic difficulty and in those cases we tried to supply what was needed, but some families would not accept our help. Other times it was a lack of caring or of neglect. It always amazed me that some parents really didn’t seem to care if the lice persisted. Perhaps it was an overwhelming problem in the midst of even greater overwhelming problems in the home.
I learned several things from my Friday mornings. I learned that I could check a head and not gag! This was a major breakthrough for me! I learned that my heart filled with compassion for these children who were unable to help themselves. They were at the mercy of the adults in their lives. I learned that I could bend over their desks and help them with their assignments without worrying about the possibility of sharing the lice. I learned that children have little or no control over the environment into which they’re born. I learned that the child with the dirty face and ripped clothing was just as loving and delightful as the scrupulously clean and well-dressed child.
The hearts of these little ones touched mine in a way that I could never have imagined. Even all these years later, I feel tears on my eyelashes as I remember their dear little faces. You were my first class, my little ones, and I loved you and the lessons you taught me. I will never forget you.
The same little class had other very bright children. One little guy constantly squirmed in his seat, always doing his work and not bothering anyone else, but never still. When I would catch his eye, I was usually awarded with a grin. I knew he was knowledgeable on many topics, well beyond his age level.
I discovered that at home in his spare time, he read the encyclopedia! And not just fun things, but articles of interest which steadily increased his information base.
He was an incredible, very charming little boy. I’ve checked into his career path and have found that he’s a very successful lawyer. What a privilege to have been a part of the education path of this intelligent child.
I knew you would go far! Your delightful personality, coupled with your knowledge base, and topped off with a brilliant mind, were early signs of future success. Well done little one.
I have often been asked if I will ever write a book about my experiences as a teacher. The answer is always, no. I have a multitude of memories of my incredible students, all crowding my mind. I have no interest in writing a book about them, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share some of the more memorable ones. Don’t worry, my lovelies, I won’t use your names, although should you choose to read my blogs, you may recognize yourself. I promise to be kind!
My teaching career began many years ago, and it’s to these earliest memories that I turn first. For most of my career, I taught junior high grades, but early on, I did have a younger class. I loved these little ones and their stories but knew that my teaching career would be more successful with the older students.
As my mind wanders around this little classroom, faces and names pour in. There were several very bright students who have since gone on to be successful in many ventures. One incredibly interesting child set out to defeat the standard IQ test, a difficult task as they were so designed to be immune to this. However, the makers of the test had not encountered the brilliant brain and calculating mind of this child. When the test was graded, it became evident that something had not gone as planned; the score was well below what we anticipated. The test was administered again, this time in a one to one situation, and that was when we discovered that the child was deliberately answering the questions incorrectly!
What an ingenious mind! I enjoyed this child so much and appreciated his creative thinking processes. To be able to manipulate and control a situation like this at such a young age, spoke volumes to me of the potential leadership abilities of this child. I have recently done some investigation as to where he is today, and was thrilled to find he is extremely successful in his chosen, high profile career. Well done, my little one! I knew back then that you were no ordinary student!
Jesus spent many hours teaching his disciples. He knew his time with them was short, and he had so much he wanted to tell them, so much he wanted to explain to them, so many ways he wanted to encourage them, so many ways he wanted to challenge them. There must have been times he wondered if they would ever ‘get it’.
But he believed in them; he had chosen them. I find it so interesting that he didn’t choose the intellectuals of the day, nor did he choose the religious leaders, nor the wealthy. He chose ordinary human beings who experienced the work and pleasure of their existence. They were labourers who spent their days eking out a living. They were not academics, but Jesus put their understanding to the test over his three year appointment with them.
They had learned so much; about God, about the Messiah, about life, about Heaven, and about themselves. And now he had to teach them about the future, about the end of the present age. These were men who were tied to the earth; tied to the everyday work of living. Maybe they had wondered what would happen in the distant future, but it seems more likely they had been more concerned with weather conditions, the run of fish, the direction of the wind, family matters, and a multitude of earthly details.
Now Jesus turns their thoughts far into the future. He engaged their curiosity when he drew their attention to the temple and told them it would be destroyed. They couldn’t imagine this happening. They must have discussed it among themselves because the next time they were alone with him, they asked him when this would happen and would there be signs of his coming.
Now Jesus enters a long teaching session and we are able to tune in and absorb the facts along with the disciples. Here are some of the facts:
- You will hear of wars and rumors of wars
- Many will come in my name and deceive many
- Nation will rise against nation
- Kingdom will rise against kingdom
- There will be famines
- There will be earthquakes
- Christ-followers will be persecuted
- Christ-followers will be put to death
- Christ-followers will be hated
- Many will turn away from the faith
- False prophets will come
- There will be an increase of wickedness
- The gospel will be preached in the whole world
Anything sound familiar?
I listen to the National news every evening. The constant theme is wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines, earthquakes, and evil in many forms. Through our missionaries and mission organizations we hear of persecutions, death, and hatred of Christ-followers.
Just last week we were shocked and saddened to hear of the massacre at the University of Garissa in Nairobi, Kenya where 147 Christians were targeted and killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
And the gospel is being preached around the world. With the sophistication of our global communications, radio and TV programing is beamed around the world. Mission organizations are in every country. Because of our immigration policies, the world is now coming to our neighbourhoods. Broadcasts from North America are being beamed into distant countries; neighbourhoods are being blitzed with the message of the gospel through the written word and through media. The internet has made it possible to reach millions who would otherwise never be reached.
It boggles my mind that so many of the signs Jesus mentioned almost 2,000 years ago are visible in our present day. But Jesus gives us three cautions: watch out that no one deceives you (Matt. 24:4), no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father (Matt. 24:36), and, therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. (Matt. 24:42)
I encourage you to read Matthew 24. It’s an exciting and enlightening chapter. We need to be alert to the times and be ready when the day comes.
My husband and I recently enjoyed a get-away weekend in Toronto. We try to do this once a year and love the time of relaxation and new experiences. It’s usually a four point weekend: a different hotel, a new restaurant, an attraction, and a play. This time we scored three out of four – not too bad.
We stayed at the Pantages Hotel on Victoria St. and our room overlooked Shuter Street directly across from Massey Hall. It was interesting to watch the crowds gather for events at Massey Hall and to view the pedestrian and vehicle traffic at all hours of the day and night. I looked out the window at 3:00 a.m. and watched a cyclist manoeuver the street and turn into an alleyway. Meanwhile there were people walking and taxis going about their routes. The city never sleeps.
We loved the Pantages Hotel. Although it was a little more expensive than where we usually stay, it was well worth the extra cost. The staff was friendly and very helpful. We have to admit that we loved the valet parking! The room was quite large with lots of windows. A good experience.
For our new restaurant, we tried Signs. It is quite new and is located on Yonge St. just south of Wellesley. What is truly unique is that all the waiters and waitresses are hearing impaired and sign language is encouraged. The menus not only list the food items, but also include the signs necessary for ordering. It was fun ordering and the staff members were very patient as we learned the signs. We were impressed with the happy atmosphere, the opportunity to try a new language, and the delicious food. It was truly a unique and amazing experience. We highly recommend this restaurant.
Our new attraction was a visit to the Aga Khan Museum. It is located on Wynford Dr. just off the Don Valley Parkway at Eglinton. This is a new museum and very interesting. We took the guided tour in the morning and learned a great deal of history. The artifacts are artistically displayed with plenty of room to stand and stare if you so desire. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and animated. The artifacts covered several centuries and included items from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, China and several other locations. The main level contains the permanent exhibits while the upper floor houses the displays on loan from other museums. The Dhow exhibit was amazing. The Dhow was a ship that sank in the Indian Ocean over 1200 years ago. It was only discovered in the 1990’s. It was a trading vessel on its way from China to the Middle Eastern countries and was loaded with pottery, gold and silver vessels, and dishes of all description. It took two years to bring all the artifacts to the surface and another six to restore them. They were in remarkable condition but were covered with crustaceans and silt. They were soaked in a solution to loosen the marine growths covering the surfaces, and then carefully cleaned. The results are incredible. The original painting on the dishes is clear and bright. We marvelled at the bowls, ewers, cups, large vases, and a variety of other things.
No human remains were found on the ship and they have not been able to discover what caused it to sink. It is a delight to view the treasures and to marvel at the intricate workmanship of centuries past.
The museum houses a lovely restaurant where we enjoyed a tasty lunch. The afternoon was spent retracing our steps at a more leisurely pace and taking photos of the permanent displays. Pictures are not permitted in the visiting displays.
We returned to the hotel in anticipation of the evening as we had tickets to see Once at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. We had heard a few negative comments about the play, but had been to the Ed Mirvish Theatre before, and so went with open minds. We loved the music. The play is set in Ireland, and I feel my deep Irish roots when I hear music from there. However, this initial pleasure was very quickly lessened as the play began. The story was quite shallow, but that we could have borne, but the language was coarse and very unacceptable to us. I was dismayed at the laughter from the audience when again and again the vulgar words were spoken. That, along with suggestive dialogue spoiled the experience for us. As we were sitting only four rows from the front, we waited for the intermission and then quietly left the theatre. We were saddened that this would be brought to a theatre such as the Ed Mirvish that has previously housed some amazing productions. I am also sorry to read glowing reviews of the play, sorry that this type of dialogue has become acceptable in our culture.
However, we did not allow this to ruin an already excellent weekend. We relaxed in our hotel room and enjoyed our final hours before checking out the next morning. It was a learning experience and I will do more research before purchasing tickets for next year.
I’m Sharon Dow, and this is my opinion in Guelph, Ontario.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23 NIV
Psalm 139 is my favourite Psalm. I love it so much that I have asked that it be read at my funeral. I know, I know; I won’t be there, but maybe you will be and will be moved by this Psalm as I have been.
Verse 23 grabs me every time. I have prayed this prayer many times, search me God, see if there is any offensive way in me. And, oh dear, every time he finds something! It’s a great way to reduce pride! I find my mind is like an onion with many layers. Each layer seems to hide something offensive. At least I thought it was hidden. But David says of God:
If I say, surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you. . . O Lord you have searched me and you know me. . . You perceive my thoughts from afar . . . you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely . . .
No, they’re not hidden from God. As I pray and ask for God to search me, he removes another layer and sin is exposed. Sometimes I recognize it right away and acknowledge that I knew it was there and I needed to deal with it; so I do. But other times I’m in shock as I see what he reveals . . . pride, jealousy, envy . . . how can this be? I had managed to hide these things from myself.
Then I must come before God and ask his forgiveness, which he seems delighted to give. But the harder part seems to be to forgive myself. How could I have let jealousy into my heart and mind? That’s not me; or at least that is what I want to believe. But God says, it was there, under one of those layers.
How many more layers are there in my life? I don’t even want to take a guess at that; I just know that there are more and that they, too, will be revealed as he searches me.
What about you? Are you brave enough to ask God to search you and see if there is any offensive way in you? I hope you will; and when you do, be prepared! It’s not always what you think it will be; but it’s always true and the good news is that God is waiting for you to confess your sin, so he can forgive you.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purity us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV
Jesus wept. John 11:35 NIV
This verse is often taken out of context. When I was a child and attended a Bible camp each summer, we were encouraged to have a favorite verse to share at campfires. Many of the boys chose this one because it required no effort to memorize!
In context, Jesus wept when he saw Mary weep because of the death of her brother, Lazarus. She believed that had Jesus been there, Lazarus would not have died. Her faith in Jesus’ power of healing is commendable, but it did not extend to his power to raise the dead. She would soon realize that power when Lazarus came forth, alive, at the call of Jesus.
Some believe that Jesus wept over the death of his friend, but I believe he wept because of the limited insight of Mary and the others at the graveside. Their view of Jesus was narrow. He wept again over Jerusalem, because of their unbelief.
I also want to look at this verse out of context. I think Jesus must be weeping over our world as he sees the awful things man does to man. There are a multitude of trouble spots in our world; people are suffering for their faith in Jesus, North America is facing moral decay, disease ravages parts of Africa, buildings burn in American cities while people protest in the streets. This cannot be what God had planned for this world. Injustice rules in court decisions, while babies are aborted in unbelievable numbers. God cannot be pleased; he must be weeping over his creation.
How long, oh Lord, how long? Revelation ends with, “‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
I love each season; I love the changes in the seasons. There is something to love about each month that passes into history. I’ve given some thought to what each one brings to me. I want to share my thoughts with you with the hope that I will encourage you to take a different look at the seasons and savour each day that has been given to you. Here is why I love each month:
January: A month of new beginnings. We talk about the proverbial New Year’s resolutions. Some of us make them, some don’t. Few keep them. But I believe that for all of us there is that sense of beginning; a new year has begun. What will be written on its pages? There is a sense of anticipation as we watch the old year out, and welcome the new. It is also the month of deep cold. I remember as a child watching the thermometer to see just how cold it would get. The rafters in old houses would creak in the night from the cold. Faces would feel frozen after a short walk. Smoke rose straight in the air from the wood and coal fires that warmed our homes. Outdoor rinks froze heralding the coming of the ice skating season. I love January, with its cold days, new beginnings, and incredible memories.
February: A month of heavy snow. Traditionally in our part of Canada, February is famous for its snowfalls. I love watching the snow as it gently or fiercely falls on our land to cover us in a soft white blanket. The most trivial things become sculptures of wonder and awe when draped with this miracle substance. Sleds are pulled from garages and sheds in anticipations of the joy of sliding. February is also known as the month of love with Valentine’s Day coming right in the middle.
March: How I love the winds of March! Brisk days where the sun is getting up earlier each day; the wind is blowing away the last of the rotting snow, and under the melting snow are tiny sprouts pushing their way up through the cold earth. This is truly a month where God is showing his mighty hand in creation. What’s not to love about March?
April: Refreshing showers from above are awakening the tiny sprouts we found in March. Blossoms open on early spring flowers; the sun is definitely warmer on our backs. Spring is just around the corner!
May: Early Spring gives way to full blown spring and the gardens are graced with lovely blossoms. This is when I find my favourite flower; the golden daffodil.
June: Ah, beautiful June. My birth month. I always loved having my birthday mid-June. School was still on but winding down for the summer. All my little friends were around for a big birthday party. It was almost halfway between Christmases, so a great time to receive a new set of gifts! The weather is warm and bright, but not yet hot and humid; the evenings are long as the longest day falls in late June; roses are blooming as well as many flowering bushes filling the air with scents of summer. A truly beautiful month!
July: Summer is now in full swing. School is out and we’re free to play. Vacations are planned with great anticipation. Now the heat arrives and for those who bask in the glory of the sun, this is the best month for sunshine. Thunder showers race over the land bringing a spectacular show to those of us who enjoy storms, and I am one. This is the month of carefree days and warm nights.
August: The warmth continues, but in the early mornings a hint of fall can be felt. In some parts of our land, early frost warnings are heard. By mid-month, leaves are beginning to turn getting ready for the stunning beauty to come. This month holds the dog-days of summer and we begin to anticipate the returning routines of fall. August brings our last fling with summer.
September: After the heat of the summer and the lazy days, most of us are ready for the crisp mornings, the bright sunshine of mid-day, and the return to our routines. Farmers are gathering their harvest, fresh vegetables are still available to tickle our palates, and local corn is beyond compare. The land is yielding what God has given and signs of the changing season are everywhere. September – one of my favourite months.
October: Come ye thankful people come. Yes, it is the month where we stop in our busyness and give thanks to the Lord for his wonderful blessings to us. Deciduous trees are at their full glory and we marvel at the shades of red, orange, and yellow. By month’s end, the trees will shed their leaves, leaving a stunning carpet of colour at our feet. What can be more fun than crunching through a pile of bright leaves while we enjoy the October sunshine? Some days are still warm reminding us of summer. The changing seasons are incredible, and October has a big share.
November: I hear people complain about November; about the rain and wind. In many ways it mirrors March. The days are shorter and cooler, the trees are bare, and the gardens are filled with plants that have long shed their leaves and blossoms. Where is the beauty in November? But it is there. Observe the bare trees, skeletons of their former selves, but look at the beauty of their design. Only a master designer could fill our land with these incredible formations. I love the different shapes of these skeletons, love the texture of the branches, and up close, the buds of next year are already on the ends of branches, sleeping until the warms rains and sunshine of early spring awaken them. Even in November there is the promise of Spring! But November is also the month of anticipation for Christmas which is fast approaching. Shoppers are filling the malls in search of that perfect gift. Christmas carols and songs float from invisible speakers. There is a stirring in us as we contemplate the celebration of the birth of the Christ-child. November – month of promise!
December: Ah December, how I love you! The first snowflakes float to earth covering the ground, the trees, the front steps, the driveway; and everything takes on a fresh look as the flakes pile up. The first snow is so invigorating. Lights and decorations are going up inside and outside our homes. I love the finished look with the snow softly falling. It’s fireplace weather and with the lights from the tree, the flames from the fire, an atmosphere is created that cannot be duplicated in any other month. Christmas carols, busy shopping malls, parcels purchased and wrapped, the aroma of baking, all combine to give this season a special glow. And then it’s the eve of Christmas and we pause and celebrate the birth of our Saviour. What a glorious month. And so we anticipate the coming of the New Year, and the cycle begins again.