Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

World Changers!

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18: 2-5
Are you concerned about the state of our planet, the rise of human trafficking, poverty or hunger?  Well, after attending the WE Day Family event last week I actually believe this generation of young people are going to make the world an extraordinary place.


Living me to we is an inspiring movement, founded by Craig and Marc Kielburger that seeks to empower youth to change the world at home and abroad. 


That night there was a stirring performance by Gord Downie from the Tragically Hip.  Despite his own battle with illness, Gord courageously continues to shed light on a dark part of our own history that most would rather choose to forget.

He shares the story of Chanie Wenjack, a boy in the 1960's who fled his Residential school and sadly never made it home again.  Chanie's story represents the thousands of First Nations children who were taken from their homes and denied their own culture. Star article Gord Downie, Chanie Wenjack Story   It was an incredible moment to see the impact of the life of this young boy from so many years ago transform a stadium full of young people as they leaned in to hear the powerful message of reconciliation.

Then Rick Hansen, Canadian Paralympian and activist came out on stage to speak.  My youngest nephew leaned over, cupped his hand to my ear and whispered this question...



"what is my disability Aunt Nicole?"      


I smiled and attempted to explain that he was right. Sometimes our disabilities are not obvious or exposed for others to see. 

I was touched by his tender, yet perceptive question.

There it was...the power of children to change the world.

This innocent question from my young nephew demonstrated the heart and insight to presume sameness.

In his mind, if Rick Hansen has a disability then I must have one as well.

How different would the world be if we learned to approach others regardless of their disability, race, religion or gender with the assumption that we are all more alike than we think?

I believe it is no mistake that there are countless stories of Jesus demonstrating His love and time spent with children, because He fully intended to use them to lead the way and change our world!



Saturday, 8 October 2016

Double The Wonder

" I would maintain that thanks
 are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude
 is happiness doubled by wonder."
G.K. Chesterton


In my quest to live intentionally awake in Christ I have discovered a key piece to the puzzle.  As I continue to explore these ancient spiritual disciplines in my daily rule of life, I find myself returning to the habit of capturing wonder.  

Writer, G.K. Chesterton affirmed some of my own findings on this subject matter.  When he spoke to the connection between gratitude and wonder, I believe he was on to something.

I remember listening to a sermon a couple of years ago from my friend Mr. Morris - who insists that I call him Bob.  Bob's message struck a cord with me when he spoke about the sin of ingratitude.

When we refuse to acknowledge God and live with a grateful heart we grieve our Father.  To fail to notice His beauty and wonder may be one of the most subtle, overlooked sins of our generation.

Thanksgiving looks differently from that perspective, doesn't it?

Offering thanks is not just a polite sentiment to appease God  - it is an issue of obedience and reflects the true condition of the heart.  It is a moment by moment conscious choice to obey His word.

When we give thanks an incredible exchange takes place.  The thanks we offer up to God ends up being a beautiful gift that returns back to us.

Not only does it delight and honour our Father, but when we give God thanks, He in turn uses it to shape us in His image.

  Gratitude is the catalyst for true
spiritual transformation.

The discipline of thanksgiving enables us to shift the center of our lives off of ourselves (our wants, our fears, our wounds, our problems) and on to God.  Think about it...it is next to impossible to be anxious or angry and full of gratitude in the exact same moment.

It is in this place that we are truly free.  It is in this place of gratitude that we begin to live attentive to the wonder of Christ in and all around us. 

We spend so much time trying to figure out God's will for our lives when He actually makes our calling quite clear and simple.

It is our Father's will for us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Thanks should not be dependent on if we "feel" grateful or if things are going our way.  

Thanksgiving is the only response to the audacious love that comes from abiding in the sweet fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Father,

Forgive us for the times we have lived with a deserving attitude rather than with a humble appreciation for the undeserved blessings in our life.  We confess that we are too often consumed with ourselves and fail to acknowledge Your beauty all around us.  Forgive us when we have neglected to return to give you credit and thanks for answered prayers.  Lord, have mercy on us for elevating the gifts and blessings above You, our true Gift.  Help us to choose to live awake in gratitude and wonder.

In the name of Jesus,


Amen

May our gratitude for wonders great and small cover the whole earth with thanksgiving. 

Here are some excerpts from my own gratitude journal today...

Thank you Father for...


Your loving kindness, tenderness and patience





Your resurrected life in me





Forgiving the times I have failed to give you thanks




For Kenneth & our 4th wedding anniversary





For The Castle Clan ~ Love, laughter and health! 






For glorious golden fields of corn & my happy boots!





The brilliant colours and fresh scent of Fall









The gift of reading on a warm autumn day




For Your provision and harvest
 (& my very 1st red pepper - at last!)





For delicious, tart, custard-filled, homemade apple schnitz pie and for Belinda who is a pie maker extraordinaire!
  Seriously, don't you just want to grab a fork and dive in!





Let's follow Chesterton's lead and ... 


double our wonder
 by
cultivating a life of gratitude!















Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Earth's Table


"I can't imagine life without a table between us.  The table is the life raft, the center point, the home base of who we are together." 
~Shauna Niequist  - Bread & Wine: A Love Letter To Life Around The Table


I write this post from our dining-room/kitchen table.   



I have always been intrigued by tables.  I love their unique designs and of course the anticipated delectables that you get to sample while sitting at the table.  I delight in carefully selecting the right d├ęcor and menu with special guests in mind.

My favourite part though is to linger around the table after a meal sharing laughter, stories and our lives together with family and friends.

So it was no surprise how excited I was when we discovered a particular place called The Tablelands when we were planning our trip to Newfoundland a couple of summers ago.

The Sunday morning of our family trip we set out to explore the Tablelands, which is one of the popular hiking trails located in Gros Morne National Park.  This trail showcases the stunning beauty and history of the ancient rocks from our Earth’s mantle.  




As I walked along the breezy trail I felt as though I was on hallowed ground.  With each step the mystery of the ancient earth’s secrets unfolded from our Divine Creator and Host.





The Tablelands at first glance appear barren, yet if you look carefully you will discover rare species of plant life hidden along the trail.












God’s presence was all around us.   We were surrounded by the rusty-coloured panoramic views as we walked with the Earth’s terracotta soil under our feet.  One site for Parks Canada referred to the Tablelands as "the Earth's inner soul." 








I thought it was fitting that we would end up on our itinerary in a place ironically named the Tablelands on a Sunday morning. 


Although we were not in a physical church building to partake in communion, as I hiked along I could not help but ponder the significance of the Table of the Lord from a fresh vantage point.


As the guide explained how the Tablelands reveal what is below the surface of the Earth I climbed up some rocks away from the rest of the group.

I bent down and took the coloured soil in my hand.

Holding back tears I gave thanks for this Earth that I now saw for the first time as our collective communion table, where the deeper things of God are made known to us.  

In my church, we celebrate the Table of the Lord, where God's love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ.  But I was thinking too small - too local.  All of creation reveals God! The whole earth is God's Table prepared for us to see his glory.  

The Earth’s table is created and prepared by our most gracious Host, our Father.

We use the terminology Host & Hostess to describe the responsibility of a person to receive and take care of others as their guests.  Yet, the description of our Heavenly Host is one who receives us not just as guests, but as His very own. Now that is hospitality.

He is a Host who extends true belonging to you and to me! 

The Earth is a table prepared with intention by our Father as a place to gather together in community to taste and see His glory.

It is a place to catch a glimpse of his indescribable beauty.

It is a place of undeserved belonging and honour where we are invited to rest in sweet communion with Him.  

I share this story as the first weekend of October happens to be World Communion Sunday.  This is where Christian denominations gather for Eucharist together in unity.  It gives me chills thinking of all the Christians around the globe seated at the Earth's table...God's tablelands.

Let us together give thanks as we celebrate and remember the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ as we partake in this divine meal.   Hear His voice inviting you to come to the table to dine with Him.



“ Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; 
the whole earth is full of His glory”
~ Isaiah 6:3 NIV

Rocks Of Remembrance

"When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,   “Choose twelve men from among the people, one fr...