The Ones Who Love

Well it is a beautiful day outside but I am feeling so under the weather. It’s funny how the body will really let you know when it is not comfy and mine is not. I think it is one of those training weeks where I have an opportunity to develop some character. I think of the Nyquil commercial where the man asks his wife Pam “ Can you call my mom?”
I’m trying not to be like that guy. So when I am feeling low and miserable who do I want around anyway? Well my history will show that I have been a person who will withdraw away from people when my body is feeling weak, sick or afraid. I think that I have enough to deal with right now and the last thing I need to have is more challenges. I’m sure I’m not alone in this and for a variety of reasons. One thing is that we have an image that we have created for our friends around us and when we find ourselves in this state we wonder if we can live up to that image? Not likely and most of us no longer have the will to do so either.
So what is the fallout from our friends seeing this weakened not so attractive version of ourselves anyway? Well if you are like me you probably have a variety of friends with different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the situation you would prefer to select a certain friend when you are in a particular situation. Sort of like going to the toolbox and getting the right tool for the right job. Just to clarify at this point I don’t see any of my friends as “ tools “ 
I have some really bright friends who seem to know something about any topic you can throw at them. They are so much like that that I originally didn’t like them because I thought they were just full of it as nobody could possibly have such a broad base of knowledge. Well they actually do and are just they type of person to seek out any and everything so he understands whatever it is. Wisdom also accompanies this person in many areas. You could lay the problem before me and I might never even give it a second thought let alone start the hunt. I’ll just hang out here in my nothing box thanks. The fact is that I just don’t care to pursue things that don’t wake any interest in me.  Besides I can just ask my friend. Way easier.
I also have friends who can fix or just build about anything. They just seem to have a talent that will face a challenge with a confidence that whatever the issue is that it can be overcome. If fact it appears to require little thought on their part. They are the people that can point me in the right direction and give great advice.
I have friends that are well off financially and seem to be good with money and they are never in need, financially. They have an opinion about money and success that they would be willing to discuss with you. I have tall friends, short friends, old friends and young. Like most of the rest of you they all have a place in my life. But what about today when I am the one who is presently feeling broken? Now today it happens to be a virus but there are other times that I am broke in ways that causes me to wonder whether or not I will ever overcome whatever it is. Perhaps you know someone in that shape right now? The pit of despair brought on by something that has taken who they were and diminished it into something much less. ( This may if fact not be true but to the person believing it is very real )
So who is it that you want to call when you are down and feeling vulnerable? Is it a person who just happens to know about the very struggle you are going through, why you are there and the 10 steps that you need to fix yourself? Maybe it is the person who never worries about money because of the great success they have been managing it. How about your friend who can build anything or at least give you advise on what to build to get things sorted out again. What about the person who has been given a death sentence by a doctor who no longer has hope? Which person would they look to draw from. Who is it that has just what they need? At some point we will find ourselves in a place where hope is far, far, away. Which one of your friends is able to bring any comfort?
One of my favorite scriptures is this one. Jeremiah 9
23 The Lord says, “Let not a wise man speak with pride about his wisdom. Let not the strong man speak with pride about his strength. And let not a rich man speak with pride about his riches. 24 But let him who speaks with pride speak about this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who shows loving-kindness and does what is fair and right and good on earth. For I find joy in these things,” says the Lord.
I have been involved in church circles for some time now and I have met a number of people who just happen to be experts in the area of God and now just stroke the bible the right way for God to appear and grant you your 3 wishes. Okay that remark wasn’t called for but I want to make a point. That point is when I am vulnerable, feeling over whelmed or just broken I will not be seeking out someone who has all the answers and able to explain why I have failed and find myself in a pit and nor will I be cheered up by stories of how you have succeeded where I and many others have not. Instead I am wanting the company of one who will sit with me and love me in my mess. A person who has sought out the company of God in their own life and spent the time with Him and now shows the same characteristics of our Heavenly Dad. Someone who will show me loving kindness and do and speak what is fair, right and good on the earth. These people can deliver some difficult truths to you but you will be able to receive from them. They are rare and to be greatly valued on the earth.
These are not people who were just “ born that way” but have developed their character during difficult times in life. Difficulty has a purpose that is meant to change you into His likeness. If you ever have been to a wedding or two you would have heard this scripture from Corinthians 13.
8 Love never comes to an end. The gift of speaking God’s Word will come to an end. The gift of speaking in special sounds will be stopped. The gift of understanding will come to an end. 9 For we only know a part now, and we speak only a part. 10 When everything is perfect, then we will not need these gifts that are not perfect. When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child. I understood like a child. Now I am a man. I do not act like a child anymore. 12 Now that which we see is as if we were looking in a broken mirror. But then we will see everything. Now I know only a part. But then I will know everything in a perfect way. That is how God knows me right now. 13 And now we have these three: faith and hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. 1 You should want to have this love.
I thank God for all my friends but especially the ones who will love at all times. 


Great Expectations

Well today is one of those days where you wake up and you are already behind before you even start. My belly had a churning inside that was not so much physical as it was spiritual. Something was bothering me and it was coming from within. Well it wasn’t too long after I got up and woke up a little more that I realised what it was. I had an expectation in a friend of mine that the friend failed to me. I have no idea that the person even realises there was an expectation of them. So the result of this unmet expectation is me churning on the inside and wondering what to do on the outside about it.
I guess the 1st question that arises is “ Are the expectations that we put on people fair or even right to do?” If the person isn’t even aware that there is one, then what are the odds of the person ever meeting them? As I sit here and think about this these thoughts come to mind.
What is it I am doing when I place an expectation on a person? Well I am placing my faith in that person for performing an act that will ultimately benefit me in the end. So the end result will be that I am blessed or made to look good or some positive outcome by them fulfilling whatever expectation was put on them. Now conversely when that expectation is not met at best there is no result or the result will be a negative one for me. Well I could ponder just what the right response should be on my part but I do know the result that does happen within me as a result. The churning in my belly I mentioned at the first will happen. There will be a sense of disappointment come rest over me and even perhaps a sense of betrayal. Have you ever had these thoughts come to mind? “What was the person thinking?” “This thing was so important to me so why didn’t they care about it?” “Perhaps this friendship between us isn’t real at all? “
I would suggest to you that when you are hurt or disappointed in someone you are very vulnerable to the voice of the accuser. He is there to accuse your friends to your mind as well as you. He seeks his opportunity to come into this situation and destroy the bond of unity or friendship between you. He is all about division, turmoil, strife and dissention among you and those you have relationship with up to and including God. As he speaks his poison to you while you are weak with disappointment and heartache he will seek to get you to agree with his thoughts and so release a curse. Your mouth was designed to release blessing but he wants to pervert God’s plan for you and have you release a curse and seek justice against the other person. The justice road being walked rather than the forgiveness trail will bring suffering upon the person who will not forgive. The accuser will then release his tormentors to come and bring torment and suffering to you. He will also attempt to get you to make a vow like “ I will NEVER TRUST that person again!” Or make a judgement “That person is NOT TRUSTWORTHY and I will spread the news about them too.
It’s funny how if I remove the situation from being personal I can see and think much more clearly than if I stay wallowing in my disappointment where I am not motivated to do what is right but instead entertain the accuser himself and listen to his advice on how we may show the person the “ error of their way” So where is God in all of this? Just have a look at this.

Psalm 62
1My soul waits calmly for God alone.
My salvation comes from him.
2He alone is my rock and my savior—my stronghold.
I cannot be severely shaken.
3How long will all of you attack a person?
How long will you try to murder him,
as though he were a leaning wall or a sagging fence?
4They plan to force him out of his high position.
They are happy to lie.
They bless with their mouths,
but in their hearts they curse.
5Wait calmly for God alone, my soul,
because my hope comes from him.
6He alone is my rock and my savior—my stronghold.
I cannot be shaken.
7My salvation and my glory depend on God.
God is the rock of my strength, my refuge.
8Trust him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts in his presence.
God is our refuge.
Whatever you project or plan is it seems to be wise to bring our Father into whatever it is why things are at the thought process. It is Him who has a plan for you. You need not try and find satisfaction outside of Him but all we need is in Him. He is willing to walk life with you as the ultimate tour guide and protector but you must let Him lead. So many of us see Him as the greeter at church on Sunday and then we shake his hand goodbye as we leave for another week. Life is lived every day and you have purpose which includes being a blessing to all you meet. You are not their manager, their judge, their accuser but rather you are their for THEIR benefit not yours. God is your benefit and will see you have everything you need and the recourses to do all He has called you to do.
Okay I have now pondered enough truth that I am forgiving my friend and repenting for ever putting my expectations on the person to begin with. Well another small step for mankind but a giant step for me. Man if I can make changes in the way I think then there is hope for all of you. 

Clean Up Time

Well a beautiful spring day here in the Maritimes. It is so nice to walk outside and hear the music of God’s winged creatures back again. It is so empty when you go out in the dead of winter on a fine day and hear nothing. I needed to get out in the great outdoors so I thought it would be a good chance to clean up the inside of the vehicles. I drove home last night in the card that my wife normally has and the windows were all spotted inside which is distracting driving at night. However the things that pester us can be great motivators to do something about them, or make a change.
When looking in the back seat of my truck I discovered lots of things that really had no place there. There were 3 pairs of gloves, 2 window scrapers, a second c.d. case, a rag, small towel, a small phone book and a few other miscellaneous things. Well I removed the clutter today and it didn’t take very long but just the will to do it. Most of the things ended up there because of me “ Just in case something happens” mindset.
I’m not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way I developed a need to collect stuff “ just in case”. Now I could argue that I am just being prepared, should I find myself in a situation. It can be a full time job if you are one of those people who are always thinking about how you are going to protect yourself if you find yourself in trouble. Do I have my cell phone with me?, do I have plenty of gas in the car, Is there extra food stored in the freezer, do I have enough cash on hand and the list goes on.
Perhaps it is not limited to stuff but shows up in many areas of your life. When I meet someone for the first time and they are shaking my hand and telling me there name I am trying to read them as fast as I can and I seldom really listen to their name because It is low on my priority list right then. Is this person friend or foe? Is this person stable or a wildcard that you need to stay guarded around. I saw a movie recently where a new student#1 was confronted by another student over something he had said. Student #2 wanted Student #1 to clarify what he said. Student #1 strikes #2 and sends him crashing to the ground. He then looks around at all the onlookers hoping that this has just made a clear statement to the student body. What would be going on in the mind of that student wanting to send that message out?
Fear is what is behind it. In the case on the new student, he was afraid of where he may be categorized so he was trying to ensure he would be near the top of the food chain. Fear is one of the most powerful negative forces on the face of the earth. Why would I say that you ask? FEAR IS A FORCE THAT CONTROLS THE PERSON IT OCCUPIES. I shudder to think of the percentage of people who are controlled by this very thing. People don’t fly because of fear, people don’t swim , don’t eat right, sleep right, don’t have healthy relationships, don’t allow emotion and the list goes on and on. So what do we do ? We medicate ourselves. It might be a smoke, a pill, a bottle, a needle or some type of fantasy but fear will send you to these wells to look for relief.
So what is it that we are afraid of? Pain ….. plain and simple. There are none who walk the earth today that have not experienced pain in their life at some point. We know that hurt people ….hurt people. Most of the stuff we suffer from sprang out of a seed planed a long time ago when we were very young.
I remember a seed that was planted in my life as a young boy as clear as it was only yesterday. I was at the harness racing track with my mom and sister. It was a rocky time in the house and dad wasn’t living with us then because of blow up between my parents. As the night wore on mom thought she should take us home and put us to bed but I whined and asked her if I could stay longer and my grandmother who was there offered to take me home later if she didn’t mind. Yahoo, good old grandma came through. So I enjoyed the rest of the evening until it was time to drive me home. As I sat in the back seat of the car she started a discussion with me concerning my dad. I guess she felt the need to come to his aid as the villain in my mind and went on the offensive. One of the things that she said was that dad was wrong being unfaithful BUT “your mother is nothing but a whore either”. Well that hit me like a mall to the head. She continued but I had disappeared inside of myself somewhere but there was one clear voice I did hear. “ You are alone Norman and there is no safe place for you to go. There is no person you can trust or turn to because none can be trusted so you will have to make your way though life with this truth” I remember how sick I felt inside and how I felt so lost. On top of that I was fairly new to the area where I lived so my friends were few and I would often get beat up or picked on. Where was I to turn? There really appeared to be no safe place. How I missed my friends the Peppard’s at that time. They were a family who lived across the street in one of our many dwellings. I had spent many hours there at one point. It was the one home that I always felt safe and like a member of the family. But they were gone now only to be found in my memories.
The one incident changed the course of my life. It wasn’t so much what happen but what I concluded from it all. I am sure that many of you have been greatly affected an event that would have happen during your life as well. The lies that we conclude as a child is the mortar that holds our house made of thoughts together. To us they are not lies but what “ we experienced” and therefore true. Unless these belief systems come down we will be powerless to ever change and be free to be the person we were called to be and do the things you were called to do.
Who can help me now that I dare reveal my hurts to and has the wisdom to know truth from a lie? The person would have to be very loving, wise, trustworthy, and able to know my past and present. They would have to know the truth in my every situation. They would need to be acquainted with all my ways. There is none who fit that description except the person of Jesus. If you call Him He will come. He has been waiting for you to call your whole life. He will find all the things that were lost for you. He will expose the lies and replace them with the truth. If you ask He will even make His home with you.
It is spring now so consider getting rid of all the junk that clutters your life and will not really keep you safe anyway. The stuff you surround yourself with is not the answer for you. It’s a great day to start a journey into freedom.

Just Making My Way

Issues Of The Heart

My thoughts continue on from yesterday’s blog “ Hidden Things”. I left off with the thought about our heart and how it holds on to memories that have helped to shape things into the condition that our heart now finds itself. Most of us have a wide assortment of memories stored there, that we visit from time to time.
Sometimes we may be walking and a scent or fragrance of some kind catches our attention. The scent has something familiar about it so it triggers a memory to come to mind and often with it comes the emotion attached to that memory. Myself I love to catch the smell of fresh bread being baked in the oven. There is just something warm and fuzzy about that scent. Pictures of families joyfully gathering for meals comes to mind and a sense of peace. But sometimes there are smells that strike you quite the opposite. You may suddenly feel very unsafe and have the urge to get away from wherever it is that you are. You may or may not remember what the memory is that is attached to the scent but you can rest assured that it is not a pleasant one.
Our hearts will use these senses to know how to respond. There are so many of us have created walls of protection around our hearts, that we are not free to see things as they truly are. I imagine things looking like this. There is a person who is the keeper of the heart. The person’s job is to watch out for people who may try and gain entry to this place. As the person peers from behind these walls they look through a telescope so they can see as clearly as possible. The problem is that the telescopes lenses have been colored by the past so they see things through a colored lens. Because of this, things appear to be the way they have been in the past. That makes the gates to this place remain closed as the risk appears to be too great.
I once was traveling through Newark and I found myself in a place of anger and frustration. The area had experienced some bad weather and the flights were all delayed. The people who should have been long gone were all still there, leaving it almost impossible to find a place to sit. My wife and I traveled away from our gate to find a seat and we did find two seats in the same general area. As I sat there I noticed that the lady across from me was in conversation with the man beside her about the delays etc. There was something about her that caught my attention. It wasn’t what she was saying but how she was speaking. There was something familiar about it so I searched the vaults of my mind and heart trying to figure out what it was. The emotion I was feeling was anxiety and it was running deep. Finally the man’s flight was called and they said their farewells and she was alone facing me. It wasn’t long before I asked her how long she had been stuck there, where she was traveling too etc. During her response she said she was off to retrieve her son from his no good father. Click! There it was. She had the jitters from “ the two becoming one” only to be torn back apart into two no longer whole people. I remembered having those jitters for some time and she wasn’t the first person I saw exhibiting those signs after the separation. She was really hurting! I wanted to help her because I could still remember that pain myself but I was healed up enough to “ go there” to help her. She briefly would share some about marriage breakdown before she change the topic so she wouldn’t cry. I would give her a minute and then ask something else. I told her that I too had walked that road and that as much as it hurt right now, there was the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. I called Margie over and introduced her as my wife now and that I could not have been happier and this experience was so different than before. ( partly because I had been retrained while I was single ) She totally rejected that idea for her. She dared not to dream again of the happy marriage and family. She was not about to trust any man with her heart again. She not only had jeopardized herself in this past relationship but also her father who owned a welding rod company that she was part owner with. I was guessing the ex wanted some of that pie for himself. In her eyes she had failed both herself and her dad. At last she told me that IF she ever went to marry again there would be so many prenuptial agreements written he would never get anything when he left. In other words he would never be trusted as a result of her first experience. I looked her straight in the eye and said “ You can’t do that!” She became angry at me and said “ What do you mean I can’t do that!” I responded “ If you go ahead with that then you will NEVER know love again!” I know as she looked at me that she got it and I hope she was willing to risk yet again.
The thing about love is that it can only be known by the heart. It is not a topic that your mind can learn but it must be something embraced by our hearts. If you heart has a number of booby traps set up on the path to it or is surrounded by thick walls than love of a person will never find its way in. Sadly if this is the path you have chosen you are stuck where you are and can only act out love from what your mind thinks love is. To know love now you will need Jesus. He is the one who is able to make you feel safe enough to remove all the traps and to tear down the walls. It is He and only He who can accomplish this for you.
Why would I say that? Surely I must be one of those religious freaks who think they get points for saying Jesus to people. No, the Jesus we mostly hear about is in cliché’s like the ones we saw on Facebook during Easter, or some other twisted picture. He is actually a person who is love and is to be trusted with anything. Yes even your deepest darkest secret. Won’t He think I am bad if He finds out what I’m “really” like? No He already knows what you are like and He even knows how you ended up where you are and isn’t blaming you. He wants to free you to love and be loved. His love will do that for you. He wants to be your personal friend, not acknowledge you because you have joined the right club. You need not make any vows or promises to ask Him for help. I know He helped me personally and loved me in my badness and still does for that matter. He has the ability to speak right to your heart unlike anyone else.

Hidden Things

This morning I am thinking of the things that are so close to us and yet they are hidden. We walk by these things everyday never realizing the things that we need the most are often hidden. I have often looked at the majesty of the icebergs you see floating off the shores of Newfoundland and think that I truly know what an iceberg looks like. Yet we know that at least 90% of the iceberg is hidden beneath the surface of the water. To truly know the iceberg you would have to explore below the surface. Most of us cannot be bothered with such effort and are happy to settle for what we can see.
Not always do we look and see beauty and are satisfied like with the iceberg but often we look and see a desert wasteland as you would if you were walking through Saudi Arabia. You would see no value at all and be quick to leave this place behind. Yet we know that below the surface there is a wealth of oil which is the envy of the world. With oil comes wealth and prosperity.
There is also the picture you see with the farmer and his field. He tills up the hard ground so it will provide a good place for his seed to be planted. Yet once the farmer has planted the seed in the ground we could look over the field and see nothing but mud. At that point the value of the field really is low as there is no crop but only the promise of one in the future. The farmer cannot make his seed turn into a crop but can only do his part of the process. The rest is up to God to bring the rain and the sun in balance and he simply trusts in the process.
So often we also walk by people everyday thinking we know them and yet 90% of the person will never be discovered without going below the surface. All too often we are satisfied with knowing the 10% and can’t be bothered to pursue more as there may be a cost attached to that. Too many times we are not willing to pay the price to know the people in our lives. How is it that we have become satisfied with so little? So many of us have become adrenaline junkies looking for the next quick fix which can take all kinds of shapes but they are all dead ends. Some find there fix in movies and situation comedies where they can leave their reality and escape into one made in Hollywood. There a person can hide from their pain so they don’t have to deal with it. Others find it in temporary relationships which are mostly physical and stay on the surface where that known 10% ( which often is a facade ) is. My wife and I sat in a pub one night in a hotel we were staying at and while having a drink and some wings started chatting with a couple at the next table. Now I am a person who likes to know more about what lies beneath the surface so I asked some questions as to why they were there, and what their relationship was. As it turned out they both had just broken off with their spouses and had “ found “ each other and were starting a new relationship in hopes of better things. As I continued the discussion the man became increasingly uncomfortable and she became increasingly curious about what I knew ( and I’m not an expert ) about them. It became painfully evident that she was looking to be made safe and be loved and he was not willing to budge from the surface and was looking to satisfy something else. I would be willing to bet that his evening wasn’t going to finish off as he expected.
The truth is that if you want to discover the richness and find where the valuables are hidden then you must be willing to dig, and stay with it until you find it.
If any of you have ever followed the blog of my daughter in law Megan you will see a great example of what it means for someone to dig down and find the hidden treasures in what would appear to some to be nothing more than the hidden wasteland. Chris and Megan have been transformed from the people of the 10% to people of great depth. Like the farmer they have been tilling up the hard ground of their hearts and have allowed seeds of truth to be planted within them and now they wait in faith for the harvest. Some of that journey is recorded in the journal and would be a great learning tool for those willing to go deep. They are not experts now by any means but are more like explorers and pioneers who are discovering new lands and learning how to master their new environment. Here’s the link
You may be just like them in the fact that your life is a busy one and you don’t feel you have the time to go deep or to invest the time that it takes to take the plunge to the deep. But maybe you like them have hit a wall that will not allow you to go any further this way. Maybe now going deep is no longer an option but a necessity. Before you can journey deep in someone else’s life you have to go deep in your own life and find out what stuff has come in that really has caused you stumble through life and relationships instead of thriving. Something you will discover about yourself will be found in the confines of your own heart. You may think life is managed with your mind but the truth is the condition of the heart is what will bring life or death. That is where the vaults are that hold all the memories of what has caused your heart pain and have caused the walls to be built and the new “ safety procedures “ that you have adhered to in your life. These procedures are supposed to keep you from being hurt but they mostly keep you from knowing love.
Well enough said for now but I hope I have caused you think about going deeper. Take your best friend on the journey with you. There is no better guide then the Holy Spirit. 

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