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Afflictions sanctified by the word

From the Olney Hymns
On the Spiritual Life
William Cowper 
Afflictions sanctified by the word 

O How I love thy holy word,
Thy gracious covenant, O LORD!
It guides me in the peaceful way,
I think upon it all the day.

What are the mines of shining wealth,
The strength of youth, the bloom of health!
What are all joys compared with those
Thine everlasting word bestows!

Long unafflicted, undismayed,
In pleasures path secure I strayed;
Thou mad’st me feel thy chast’ning rod,
And strait I turned unto my GOD.

What though it pierced my fainting heart,
I bless thine hand that caused the smart;
It taught my tears awhile to flow,
But saved me from eternal woe.

O! hadst thou left me unchastised,
Thy precept I had still despised;
And still the snare in secret laid,
Had my unwary feet betrayed.

I love thee therefore O my God,
And breathe towards thy dear abode;
Where in thy presence fully blest,
Thy chosen saints for ever rest. 


What do we value most?

What do we value the most? That's a pretty straightforward question. The answer is crucial. It's a question Ed Welch deals with frequently in his book Running Scared: 

Whatever is most important is the thing that rules us.

What we fear reveals what we value. It reveals our ultimate allegiance: the kingdom of God or another kingdom. If we fear the opinions of others, it may reveal that we fear those opinions more than God. If we fear illness, it may reveal that we value our bodies more than we value God. If we fear the loss of a career or a name for ourselves (or perhaps fearing that we will never have those things) it could reveal that we are seeking our own kingdom and not God's.

The things which are valuable in the kindgom of the world, things like wealth, fame, health, beauty, or money, can be lost. If we fear too much the loss of those things, it means we love them too much. Those things are temporal, and will not last. Deep down, we know we can lose those things. But that is not true of God's kingdom. If we are part of the kingdom, our Father will never take it from us.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 NASB).

This is the one thing we can be assured we will not lose.

Have you ever sat down and thought of what life in the kingdom is supposed to look like? What complete loyalty to God looks like? When our fears become a problem, it may reveal a divided loyalty, which is no loyalty at all. Our allegiance determines much about our lives. It determines how we live in private and in front of others. 

When we fear, we should do more than ask God to take those fears away. When we feel fear building up in us, we should take time to ask ourselves what our fears say about what we value. Are we living as if we are loyal to God'a kingdom?


Thankful Thursday

There are signs of fall hiding in the bushes. I am thankful for fall.

I am thankful for quick medical care on the weekend. On Sunday, I was on a photo walk along a dry creek bed, and I tripped over a log and landed on solid rock. My camera was spared, but my hand was not. I broke the 5th metacarpal bone, the knuckle under my pinkie. They call it a "boxer's fracture," which is amusing. I was out of the ER in under 5 hours, and in and out of the fracture clinic yesterday in under 3. I came away with a pink cast. 

I am thankful it is my left hand, not my right.

I am thankful for a visit from my daughter this week.

I am thankful for the safe return of my son from a road trip to Alberta.

I am thankful that my other son and his buddies found a house to move into.

I am thankful that now that my activities are curtailed with an injured hand, I can get ahead on my school reading.

I am thankful for God's mercies.


Summer is fading

Technically, summer isn't over, but it's fading. The autumn equinox isn't until September 23rd, but the evenings are getting shorter, and it's almost dark when I get up at 6:00 in the morning. My husband and I were out biking recently, and we could see how things are changing. The soybeans are turning; the oats have been harvested; and some of the trees closest to the road are actually turning at the upper branches. I love late summer.

This was a good summer for many reasons.

Good visits. We have been able to spend time with the kids fairly often this summer, gathering for meals together. They all came home to celebrate the July birthdays. It was fun to hear them in their grandparents' pool, playing and laughing. It brought a lot of joy to my mother-in-law, and that made me happy, too.

Good television viewing. Discovered two new shows: The Crimson Field, which is about nurses in World War I, Wolf Hall which is about Thomas Cromwell and his dealings with Henry VIII. What would I do without PBS?

Good recipes. I discovered two really excellent recipes. One is chick peas with rice. There are so many ways one could change this recipe up. I cooked my rice with vegetable broth and on another occasion, I used regular brown rice rather than basmati rice. It makes enough for my husband and I to have a meal, and then for me to have lunch leftovers. Another excellent recipe was a pork tenderloin crock pot recipe. The sauce the pork is cooked in has soya sauce, mustard, garlic, and maple syrup in it. It was so easy, and the meat was very tender. I served it once with a combination of roasted white potatoes and sweet potatoes. 

Good friends. We had a visit from friends who started out as "internet friends." But we've met on a few occasions, and we're real and true friends. We ate food, laughed, talked, and played games. It was a visit which was much too short. 

Good games. I had never played Apples to Apples before. What a hoot! I don't where this game has been all my life. My husband and I have also been playing backgammon a lot. It's the one game where I can trounce him. He generally trounces me in every game we play, but this one is different. We have some knock down drag out victories, and it's lots of fun.

Good books. I have read a few books over the summer, and hands down, the best of them is Ed Welch's Running Scared. This is more than a book about counseling people with fear and anxiety. It is a reminder that we are residents of the kingdom of God. That's a huge life changing thing. This good book was read with another good friend. Co-incidentally, she is also someone who began as an internet friend. We've been friend for ten years. When we realized that, it was kind of hard to believe. I have also been able to get to know her lovely daughters, and that has been a treat.

Good news. After conferring with my doctor, I was given the go ahead to try drinking regular tea and coffee. I take medication for GERD, and its under control. We're contemplating going off the meds in the fall to see how that goes, but I am loving being able to eat things I had not really had since the end of 2014.

I'm looking forward to another good visit, this time with me heading west in September. I can't wait to see the big sky in Saskatchewan. That will be added to my list of good things this summer. And as always, whatever season we're in, and whatever circumstance we're in, we are so blessed to have a good God. There are no words to say just how good He is.

What was good about your summer?


Welcome Cross

From the Olney Hymns
On the Spiritual Life
William Cowper
Welcome Cross 

’Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Savior’s pow’r to know,
Sanctifying every loss:
Trials must and will befall;
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.

God, in Israel, sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain, and toil;
These spring up, and choke the weeds
Which would else o’erspread the soil:
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.

Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way;
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a cast–away:
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight;
But the true–born child of GOD,
Must not, would not, if he might.