Freshly Baked Mercies

Isn’t it nice to eat something that’s freshly made?

There’s nothing quite like bread that was baked just hours ago, slathered with butter. French people know this: they go to the market each day to buy freshly baked baguettes or croissants.

Others like freshly squeezed orange juice in the mornings, or freshly brewed coffee.

A favourite treat of mine (at any time of the day) is freshly made brownies, still warm from the oven.

No one really likes leftovers (although leftover brownies are still pretty good!). But we love it when someone give us something that they baked fresh just for us.

God knows this, too.

That’s why He offers us fresh mercies every day, newly baked.

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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Did you ever play games with flowers as a child?

Perhaps you squeezed the “mouth” of a snapdragon flower to make it “talk.”

Or maybe you held a buttercup underneath the chin of a friend. If it reflected back a yellow colour, it meant that they liked butter (apparently, everyone does!).

Probably one of the most famous flower games involves the daisy: it’s considered the oracle of affairs of the heart. The daisy supposedly has the ability to tell you if your sweetheart truly loves you or not.

It goes like this: you pluck off each petal of a daisy in turn, and as you do so, alternately say, “He loves me,” or “He loves me not.”

The final petal tells you which statement is true.

You’re left in suspense the whole time, and worry about what the last petal will reveal.

I know this is just a children’s game, but even as adults we sometimes worry if we’re truly loved, don’t we?

Human love can be a fickle thing, and we can often be unsure about the commitment and loyalty of those we love.

That’s why it’s so good to know that with Jesus, we’re never left wondering whether He loves us or not. He never leaves us in suspense as to whether He cares.

He always does.

And He always will.

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The Dreams of the Blind

What do blind people dream about?

Do they dream in pictures, or in sensations and sounds?

Researchers tell us that it depends on when they lost their sight.

The brains of those who went blind after ages five to eight will have received a lot of visual inputs during the years when they could still see. These individuals are able to form visual dreams using the images stored in their memory banks for a good while after they’ve lost their sight.

People who are blind from birth are different, researchers say. The brains of these individuals have no visual images to work with, so they don’t dream in pictures like the rest of us. Instead, their dreams are based on input from the other senses: sound, taste, smell, or touch.

The upshot is that the blind can only dream using the inputs they’ve received.

Isn’t this true for all of us, in a way?

We can only dream about achieving or receiving things based on the examples that have been “inputted” into our minds. If we have never seen a real-life example that something is possible, we’ll probably never dream about it for ourselves.

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Are You On The Naughty Or Nice List?

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Are you on Santa’s “Naughty” list or his “Nice” list?

Sometimes it’s hard to know, isn’t it?

You shovelled the snow off your elderly neighbour’s walkway, so that counts as nice.

But on the other hand, you greedily ate half a pan of freshly baked brownies before sharing them with your family. Not so nice.

You made up for that by running errands for a sick friend, and volunteering to work late at the office to help finish a project. Definitely heading well into “nice” territory!

But then you lost your temper at your spouse, fibbed to get out of visiting your mother-in-law, and illegally parked your car in a disabled space while you dashed into the store to buy milk. Uh-oh! Looks like you’re squarely back on the naughty list.

With Santa, it’s hard to know where you stand on the naughty/nice spectrum.

That’s why it’s good to know that, if you’re a believer in Jesus, there’s only one list:

Forgiven.

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Need A Clean Slate?

Image of birch bark by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

If you feel like you could use a clean slate, you’re not the only one.

Birch trees feel the need to start afresh with a new page occasionally, too.

Except they do it literally, by allowing their outer bark to peel off to reveal a fresh layer underneath.

Why do birches do this?

After all, most trees don’t shed their bark. As trees grow from the inside out, their rigid outer bark, which can’t stretch, splits and cracks instead. This gives tree bark the rough texture and fissure-like patterns that we’re all familiar with.

The drawback of these crevices and grooves is that pests and parasites like to burrow into them, which can affect the health of the tree.

Birches have solved this problem by growing smooth bark. This type of bark doesn’t split, which means it’s more impervious to insects, bacteria and fungi. As the birch grows, it exfoliates some of its outer bark, like a snake shedding its skin.

Along with the shed bark the tree is able to cast off insects, moss and lichen at the same time. Birch trees are continually refreshing themselves.

Smart, isn’t it?

Could you use a fresh start, too? Would you like to get rid of some things that are dragging you down?

Jesus gives us an opportunity to do just that.

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How To Be The Best Dressed Person At Any Gathering

Image by Andrew Vargas on Flickr CC BY-2.0

If you live in a cold climate, you’ll know that getting dressed to go outside in winter can be quite an operation.

This is particularly true if you have children. Getting your little one bundled up warmly enough to brave the frigid temperatures outside can take a great deal of time.

First, you have to make sure they have warm underclothes and socks on. Then, you might dress them in layers of several tops, and select pants made of warm, thick material.

Once you’ve put their winter coat or snowsuit on them, you’re not done yet. There’s still their boots, hat, scarf, and mittens to don.

And then what inevitably happens when you’ve finally wrestled a recalcitrant child into all their winter gear, and are poised to leave the house?

Your little darling suddenly announces that they have to go to the bathroom!

Dressing in layers takes a lot more time and effort, but it’s essential to ensure that we’re kept warm and protected in winter.

Similarly, Scripture tells us to dress in spiritual “layers” as well.

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God Will Never Give Up On You

Image of antique shop by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

One of the things I love about antiques is that they usually have a story to tell.

The type of wood and the style used to make a piece of furniture can tell you where and when it was made. Marks on the bottom of pottery give you a clue to its origins, and perhaps even the name of the artist who fashioned it. The condition of a piece tells you what sort of life it’s had.

But occasionally antiques tell us something a bit deeper than that.

For instance, I recently bought an antique oak side chair dating from the mid-1800s. It’s nothing impressive, simply the type of armless chair you might have at your dining room table.

The tale it tells is rather moving, however.

I can tell from the dozens of drilled holes around the perimeter of the seat frame that it once had a cane or rush seat. The material must have broken decades ago, because a plywood seat was later installed. Even this seat has been upholstered twice since.

One of the chair’s bottom rails broke at some point and is being held together with a tiny makeshift splint. Several of the back splats fractured as well, and were replaced with ones made from a different type of wood. There’s also evidence of repairs to wobbly joints over the decades.

What does all this tell me?

That someone never gave up on this little chair.

With all its woes and breakages, they could have simply thrown it out. But they loved it so much that they thought it was worth repairing, and they did so, over and over again.

Do you know that God feels the same way about you?

He’ll never give up on you!

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The Law of the Universe

Newton’s cradle, a device which illustrates conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

If you were paying attention during physics class in high school, you’ll know that there are certain laws that the natural world abides by.

The Law of Gravity, for instance. Legend has it that this principle was discovered by a young Isaac Newton when he was hit on the head by an apple which fell from the tree he was sitting under.

Or the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest or in motion will continue in that state unless acted upon by an external force. So when I’m sitting in my easy chair and don’t want to get up to do any housework, I’m not being lazy. I’m simply obeying the law of inertia.

I recently heard a wag rephrase Newton’s Third Law of Motion (“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”). He dubbed it the Law of Emotion: for every male action there is a female overreaction!

Then there’s the Law of Conservation of Energy, which says that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but can be altered from one form to another. For instance, our bodies transform the chemical energy in food into kinetic energy to help us move around.

I think sin has a principle attached to it which is similar to the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Sin can’t just disappear. It has to be dealt with in some way.

But it can be transformed.

As author Dorothy Sayers said, “There is only one real law—the law of the universe. It may be fulfilled either by way of judgement or by the way of grace, but it must be fulfilled one way or the other.”

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Weeding, Like Forgiving, Never Ends

Weeding the garden, like forgiving, is a task that’s never-ending.

We can’t simply say, “I weeded last week, so I’m done now. I won’t need to weed for the rest of the season.”

Every gardener know that the weeds will keep cropping up. The job of weeding is one that lasts for as long as you have a garden.

So it is with forgiving those who have offended or hurt us. Forgiving is not optional for believers: we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

But sometimes we think that it’s a “one-and-done” effort. We grudgingly forgive someone once, and assume we’re done with it.

Inevitably, though, we learn that it doesn’t work that way. The next week, we might ruminate about what they did to us and get mad all over again. We find there’s still a root of bitterness in our heart, and we have to forgive them once more.

Like weeding, the duty to forgive is ongoing. It may require more “rinse and repeat” cycles than you might imagine.

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God Is A Step Ahead Of You

Image by kariwil from Pixabay

Don’t you love it when someone anticipates your needs?

You feel good when someone makes provision for something you’ll require before the need even arises. Or when they start setting in motion something for you before you even ask.

It makes you feel sort of special, doesn’t it?

As a teen, I’d occasionally stop by a small fish-and-chip joint on my way home from school. This little restaurant had an open kitchen, and the owner/cook could see the street through the front window.

Carlo, the owner, would see me get off the bus and wait at the lights. He knew what I liked to eat, so he’d start deep-frying my halibut before I even crossed the street and entered his restaurant.

He anticipated what I’d want and started cooking it before I even placed my order.

God does the same sort of thing for us, too.

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