Category Archives: Faith

Build Your Road Straight

I have been thinking about the name of this blog. “Building Straight Roads.” Perhaps you have been curious about it.  Perhaps not.

Hebrews 12:12 talks about building straight roads, and I love what it says in the NLT:

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall, but become strong. 

What we do with our individual life reverberates around us and down the generations. How we respond to hardship and suffering will create either chaos to wade through, or a straight path for those who follow.

I ask myself: What kind of road builder are you Katie?

Take this angle.  What if God is looking for a generation of David’s mighty men (and women) in the spirit today to build roads in the wilderness that lead the next generation to healing? (Check out 1 Chron 11 and Isaiah 62:10-12)

Listen to David’s song of victory in Psalm 18;

Who is God except the Lord?  Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.  He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. 

In Central Asia, there are snow leopards in the mountains.  The ibex who live in those same mountains know that although the easiest living is in the valley, it is the mountains that offer protection because they have been equipped to run on the precarious crags that seem impossible to tread.

We are not redeemed to simply to live in the lush valleys of life. It is in the easy paths the “roaring lion” can attack us from behind.  When we were born again, we were called into a road building program with the Holy Spirit as our instructor where we learn to build highways through the mountains so those who follow can forge father with their own roads than we do.

We are not reborn with hands that are strong, we are trained to build well through experience with the right instructor. If we enter struggle in the power of the flesh, we may make it through, but will leave no road to follow.  If we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, He instructs us how to build straight paths that allow those who are wounded and broken to follow behind us, leading them to healing.

It is no good to bemoan how the culture and next generation are degrading if we are not willing to build straight roads for them to walk on by radically living our own lives in power, showing what LIFE and BLESSING  look like!

What kind of road are you building right now in the hardest areas of your life?

Have you had a good sit down chat with the Holy Spirit and the Word lately to get roadbuilding advice?

Did You Hear That?

Its way too early, but I wake up, my heart rate elevated, ears straining for the sound that summoned me from slumber. There it is, the squeal of a sleepy but hungry 5 month old. I sit up, ascertain it is indeed my baby while waiting for the room to settle, scuff on my slippers, and go in to the precious little one who awaits my response.

There are at least four babies in our neighbourhood, and sometimes though open windows, it is difficult to tell if the crying one is mine.

Our ears are tunable. We select over time what grabs our attention, and what passes unnoticed.  The two people closest to me are David and Raphael, and my ears are particularly sensitive to their voices.  I trust David’s observations in my life because he has proven his discernment many times over. I listen intently for Raphael because he depends so entirely on me for his existence.

But there is One whose voice I value and listen for above any human voice. One who loves and desires my attention more than my husband or 5 month old.  On this Voice, I am dependant for my very life.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!  But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.  They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10)

Many voices make it into the sheep fold of our lives and try to lead us.  Not all of them are God, although some may masquerade as God.   Sometimes even a trusted friend or shepherd/leader will bear a message that does not come from The Shepherd, and it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to my spirit that must discern whether the two line up.

I have been that sheep; thinking I am hearing Jesus, I turn to go a direction He did not call from. As I grow, I know more intimately His voice, and His ways.  I am learning that to follow the voice of reason in my mind when it contradicts my Shepherd, gets me into a reasonable amount of trouble.

The Shepherd would never put His sheep in a position that would compromise their ultimate wellbeing.  Even when we find ourselves, precariously perched on perilous ledges of our own choosing, He is faithful and kind to lead us back to the fold.

What do you do to grow more attune to the voice of God in your life? Does trusting yourself over Jesus keep you from following sometimes?  What is Jesus saying to you today?

Are You Stuck in a Box?

I listened to a sermon the other day where the pastor railed against a whole segment of the church whose theology was different than his, and  it brought me back to studying differing views in theology class.  First there was the tight collared Calvinist view, next the loose robed Arminianist  standpoint, from there, complimentarian to egalitarian, cessationist or charismatic and it went on.  When invited to respond, I walked to the front and drew boxes with each view.   Then I took the marker and wrote God encircling them all.

It seems we humans can’t help but do whatever it takes to quantify and understand everything.

This isn’t all bad; we have technology and much knowledge of our world because of this propensity, but when it comes to God, I wonder if this habit often serves to divide us and restrict our view of God to something we can wrap our mind around?  I wonder if we let God be as big as He is, if our boxes would give way to greater awe, wonder and worship of the only One who is worthy of it.  I’m not saying seeking right theology isn’t important – it is. But as soon as we think we have God and all His ways figured out, we are worshipping a different god.

When Job and his friends were confronted by God, rather than answering Job’s questions (he had some good reasons to question I would say), God proved definitively that He was far bigger and wiser than Job could ever conceive of.

In Psalm 139:6, David too realizes that while God knew him intimately, understanding God was not something his mind could accomplish.

Isaiah the prophet:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

We can explain how a baby develops, but the mystery and miracle of life has never been explained by science and yet, somehow, babies keep being born.  I don’t understand how God calls and saves people, but I know He does, and I am called to participate. The Creator of life is beyond our boxes and labels.

I believe where there is ambiguity in scripture, God desires we  depend on Him for the answers we need, and trust His divine wisdom for the ones we don’t.  I also believe when secondary things divide us as the family of God, the primary things like worshipping God in unity and loving and serving people until they encounter the Person of Jesus, fall by the wayside. (You know, the first and second commandments).

That is an unimaginable tragedy.  The world doesn’t need more Calvinism nor does it need more Arminianism. (I am sorry if you hang your hat on one or the other)  The world needs us to stop condemning each other. The world desperately needs Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God to break into every corner through the love and obedience of His Body -us.

Daniel on Justin Trudeau

During his time in office, Justin Trudeau has garnered differing opinions, many of them negative.  So far I would do most things differently than he has, but reading Daniel, I am convicted by how little I pray for my country’s leader. Perhaps I can learn something from Daniel on how to respond to our government.

Regardless of beliefs, policies or new bills,  our leaders are humans who God loves and is committed to redeeming should they turn to Him.

Daniel would have read this from the prophet Jeremiah:

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

King Nebuchadnezzer would arguably have won the most vain, violent and unreasonable ruler in his day.  History records some of his conquests, and we know from the Bible that he put people to death who refused to bow and worship the image of himself (I know – talk about conceited eh?)

Yet Daniel worked and prayed diligently for the wellbeing of this king who had dragged him into captivity and God used him mightily in the story of the Hebrew people.

Daniel is relentless in prayer.  Three times a day. Every day. Under his watch, both gentile rulers Nebuchadnezzer and Darius come to recognize Daniel’s God as “God most High.”

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleases God our Saviour,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

We live in a democratic society and I am among the first to encourage people to work for and petition the government for positive change, and thankfully, when we do, we won’t have our heads removed.

But working for change doesn’t excuse me from petitioning the Ultimate Authority on behalf of the one making the policies I see as destructive.  I would argue Divine petition is more effective anyway. What if I begin praying for God’s protection over his mind, and a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  For a heart that turns to Jesus for help and salvation.  For people to come into government who unwaveringly stand for justice and righteousness.

Who knows how the faithful prayers of one person might change the course of a nation’s history or the life of its leader.  If thousands of  people would commit to pray for their government perhaps righteousness and peace would rise up and transform the landscape of a barren country and the heart of the leader.

Daniel did.  The question is; will I?

Who Gave You Permission?

As a true blood Canadian, I have a propensity to apologize and worry whether I might be offending or putting some one out.  While this is not inherently bad, the last number of years, Jesus has been relentlessly working to take away the fear of man that stops me from wanting to stand out in obedience to Him.  This flies in the face of my tendency to back down when I sense disapproval from others, making me pretty uncomfortable at times. I am sorry to say, I have not always stood my ground.

Galatians 1:1 says:

I was not appointed by any group of people of any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead. 

Then, a few paragraphs farther:

Obviously I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (1:10)

Then:

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.  Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. (1:15)

It is easy to be caught up in the world’s code of established borders and fences around what is perceived as “normal” and “acceptable.”  And while some of us like to venture close to the fence like a wannabe maverick, testing the electric wire, what we don’t know is the grass on the other side can make us truly alive.

I wonder if we realize that like Paul, we are chosen and called for specific tasks God dreamed for us long before we were born.  Inside the world’s invisible fence of permissions, this calling is impossible. Like the fearful cow, afraid of the electric fence, many  never make it to the abundant, fully alive life Jesus planned for us.

Jesus wants so desperately for us to understand that He is the ultimate permission granter; the only one who can qualify and equip us for the tasks He has given us.

If we are waiting for people’s approval, we will never have His.

There is value in hermeneutics, but it can also be our excuse not to step into what we heard Jesus calling us to in the dark solitude of the night watch.

Faith takes the calling into the daylight where others offer challenges and reasonable “outs” and remains steadfast and confident that Jesus will see us through till the end.

Grace is not just what gets us saved – it is the power to finish well day by day.  Divine calling does not make life easy, it makes it significant.

I pray you are never content to live an “ordinary” life inside the fences of society.  In the way you work, play, suffer, rejoice and live, may your life exuberantly shout “Permission granted; fully living with purpose!”

Do you feel qualified for the things God is calling you to? What causes you to hesitate at the fence lines?

 

 

Go Ahead and Brag!

I love talking about my David.  I didn’t realize he was so intelligent, proficient at almost everything, and incredibly capable before I married him.  I am so thankful for his depth of character and speak well of him every chance I get.

But there is some one I love bragging about even more than my beloved.  In fact, I talk about Him and the ways He has influenced and transformed my life whenever I have opportunity.

The other day I encountered a neighbour I hadn’t seen for some time.  She was surprised to see little Raphael, knowing I had been in a wheelchair, trying not to die.  I told her howJesus had taken the Lyme Disease away, and that Raphael was a miracle gift we never expected to receive.

There is no end to the things I can boast about Jesus for in my life:  His goodness and kindness in the midst of suffering.  His faithful provision to care for our needs.  His peace when the world is shifting in uncertainty.  His voice, speaking into our circumstances of His intentions and plans for us, when they were humanly impossible.

When I boast about myself, it is a vain attempt to establish a firmer identity.  When I boast about Jesus, it anchors my identity in the One who sustains and fulfills true identity.

I used to think sharing my faith was intimidating; that I had to know the right words to convince some one they should believe.

But as I get to know Jesus better, I realize, all I have to do is share what He is doing in my life in a genuine way as He gives me opportunity.  I am not responsible for “making some one believe.” that is the Holy Spirit’s job.  But out of my love and affection for Jesus, stories of His faithfulness in my life naturally come out, providing seeds for the God’s Spirit to breath on.  

But let the one who boastsboast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:24)

Not only is this, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:11)

Its hard to offend people with a story and if they are hungry, the conversation will go farther.  I love sharing the truth about who Jesus is for them too, but it often begins with sharing an experience of Jesus or a question about their life.

When we boast in the goodness of God, it puts a picture of Jesus in people’s minds they don’t get from secular media or society.  Few people know that God actually desires a relationship with them and that He is a good Father who delights to guide and bless His kids!  This is something worth knowing and worth boasting about.

What has God done in your life that is worth boasting about?  How are you getting to know Jesus better so His resurrection power is evident in your life?

Grace Like Breakfast

Do you remember coming into the kitchen as a child, hungry and looking for breakfast? If you had a positive growing up experience like I did, you never went away still hungry. Mom or Dad would have made sure there was ample supply for whatever hunger needs the family might have.

This morning as light began to shine through the curtains after a night of not a lot of sleep, I began thinking of the throne room of grace and how much I needed grace for the day ahead.

Through the Old and New Testament we are told we can expect suffering and difficult things in life, but we are promised that Jesus will never leave or forsake us and that the grace of God is enough to bring us through any situation victoriously.

Sometimes I’m too busy thinking of how I want the situation to change to think of coming into the throne room of grace for what I need to overcome in my circumstance.

[Jesus] understands our weakness, for He faced the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of grace where we will receive His mercy and find grace to help us when we are in need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Grace.  Mercy. Wisdom.  These are all readily available for us as children of God.  Like a child, coming for breakfast, we don’t have to wonder if we will go away empty from the throne of grace and our Heavenly Father.

I am learning grace is not something I should ever walk without. When I am frustrated, grace gives perspective.  When I am worried, it ushers in the presence of peace.  When I am weary, grace enables me to finish well.

We are saved by grace, and we can only finish well by grace.  Perhaps as children of God, we have not fully realized or received the power available to us in the grace of God.

For the sin of Adam caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

“All who receive it.”  I need to remember to come to the throne, to extend my hands, and receive grace more often and with bold expectancy when I wake up and through my day.  Those things that continually trip me up, are vanquished when grace is added.

What do you require grace for today?  This week? How often do you ask for the grace to do well what is before you?  If you are like me – not often enough.

I echo Paul in my prayer for you as you enter the throne room this week:

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

The Missing Gifts

Imagine you retrieve your car from the mechanic, and he tells you; “There were some parts; I didn’t understand how they went together, so I just threw them out.”  How would you feel about driving your car?

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part.

First are apostles,

Second prophets,

Third teachers,

Then those who do miracles,

Those who have the gift of healing,

Those who can help others,

Those who have the gift of leadership,

Those who speak in unknown languages…

Let Love be your highest goal, but also eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit; especially prophesy. (1 Cor 14:1)

I have been thinking about discipleship and spiritual gifts. What if fear and a lack of intentional, relational discipleship has contributed to the rarity of many gifts Paul seems to think should be commonplace.

If the timeless Word of God tells us to pursue all the gifts of the Spirit, why are we leery of some of them?  Every gift can be misused but it seems, to operate without certain gifts would be like driving your car around without the parts you don’t understand.

Ideally, a disciple learns from a master in a hands on environment. Following generations can take the craft farther as they build on knowledge they received from another’s effort and mistakes.

Where are the healers in the church?  People who lay hands on the sick and they are healed?  Where are the prophets who see things from heaven and relay them to earth or speak words of knowledge for the good of the Body?  Where are the miracle workers who perform signs and wonders that bring the outside world to Jesus? What about the gift of tongues, allowing people to communicate in other languages? Discernment of spirits?

Are we driving down the highway with missing engine parts, rendering our vehicle less effective? What if we discovered how the Maker designed them to work and began putting them back in the engine…?

Fear can keep a Body from moving into new territory, but perfect love casts out fear, making room for mistakes and the messiness of growth.  What would  happen in our community if, rather than being bound by tradition and denominational norms, we focused on knowing Jesus, and intentionally built a culture where the gospel is lived out in power, not missing any of the gifts given by God for the building of His church? (1 Thess 1:5)

They [the Gentiles] were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. (Romans 15:19)

We are not called to focus on the gifts, but on Jesus, pursuing radical love until our lives resemble His.  I am writing this to myself. There are too many times I have been unwilling to take risks of faith and obedience and by default, I have settled for a gospel that is incomplete.

What is your experience with spiritual gifts?  Do you know someone you can learn from? Someone you can disciple?

Disappointed?

A few days ago, we experienced the heart wrenching disappointment of when some one you care about and have walked alongside is taken out when they seemed to be gaining victory.  My mind immediately asked Jesus where He was in the situation.  I ache for their pain, and wonder what more we could have done to support them.

It appears the pieces that were coming together have shattered into a million irreconcilable splinters, and the work God was doing, undone in one fell swoop.  I began asking Jesus how to respond.

I realize I cannot save anyone; the pertinent question for me is: ‘where does my faith lie when things fall apart?’  What I do with disappointment determines how I interact with and see God and how I display His faithfulness towards others.

I must remember my vantage point offers such a limited view of of the overall picture God sees in each life and circumstance (including mine).

Looking at the history of God’s people, I realize He is no stranger to sorrow and disappointment at the choices and actions of others.  There is no one who more faithfully walks alongside than God Himself.  Duet 32 says:

The people of Israel belong to the Lord.  He found them in a desert land, He surrounded them and watched over them; He guarded them as the apple of His eye… He nourished them with honey from the rock and olive oil from the stony ground. 

Even so, Israel fell over and over and God continually reached out, offering not only forgiveness in response to repentance, but also restoration and blessing if they turned back to Him.  (Isaiah 55:6-9).

Sometimes the person who falls and causes the grief and disappointment is me.  Even having tasted so often, the faithfulness and provision of God, I have found myself overwhelmed by circumstance, and rather than standing firm on His promises, turned to another source of help or comfort instead.

I can only imagine the sorrow Jesus must have felt knowing Judas, after walking intimately together for three years, would betray Him.  Yet Judas was the only disciple Jesus called “friend” and Jesus did not waver in His mission or His trust in the Father.

I realize I must develop the viewpoint of Jesus when it comes to the disappointments of life.  In the moment when all His disciples deserted Him, leaving Him alone to face the condemnation of Israel and the crucifixion of Rome, Jesus knew God was not finished with this rugged bunch of men.  His faith that God would yet turn them into the builders of the foundation of the Church was immovable and His grace and redeeming power encompassed and empowered them to rise again.

To dwell in disappointment takes the focus off the Redeemer.  There is no fall Jesus can’t raise a person from, and His thoughts and ways are so much higher than mine.

So I will pray for and love my friend, and I will place my trust and hope for their story back where it always belonged.  In Jesus!

In Light Of The Resurrection

Lent is full of wonder for me.  Anticipation of the miraculous shrouds the season.  I have always loved Easter Sunday.  Rising early, I would stand at the crest of the eastern hill behind the barn.  Had Jesus walked out to meet me from the sunrise, I would not have been surprised. After the anguish of the cross, I could almost feel Mary’s exultation when she realized it was the risen Jesus who spoke to her!

As we count down the weeks to Easter, the life in my womb moves and grows and the weight of a baby due Easter Sunday  is not lost on my heart.  On an Easter Sunday Jesus filled me with His resurrection power and removed the pathogenic diseases that were taking my life and shutting my body down.  Three years later, a body that was as good as dead is bringing forth life in the same miraculous resurrection power.

I live in the reality of the resurrection.

Martha too was asked to see life in light of The Resurrection.  Her brother had died, and Jesus, arriving late, said;

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die.  Everyone who LIVES in me and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this Martha? (John 11:25)

Death, sorrow and the stark reality of suffering stared Martha and me in the face.  To both of us, Jesus posed the question: Will you believe in me even in the face of death?

In light of the resurrection, the impossible becomes reality. The miraculous power of God, at work in our life, awaits us beyond the surrender and crucifixion of the old nature.

In light of the resurrection, hope rises where the burial clothes of relinquished dreams and disappointed hopes shroud the vision God gave in the spring of life. Purpose fills up the grave, dug one day at a time with the trowel of “delay” and “not yet.”

In light of the resurrection, broken families, shattered hearts, and wounded souls are brought into the light where all things can be made new, and power to restore and heal is released.

In light of the resurrection, strength and passion of youth and the thrill of God’s hand at work are tempered into awe filled humility that reflects back to Jesus all glory and honour.

Where do you find yourself this Lent?  I pray you look to the cross where blood stains the ground and covers every sin.  Linger until the old and unregenerate are dead. But don’t stay there – look beyond to the garden where the power to bring new life comes after the severing of the old.  Let it be the light of resurrection power that illuminates the steps ahead.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (1 Peter 1:3)