Friday, March 9, 2012

Neither Poverty Nor Riches

We've had a bit of a rough go lately.  

Truck Troubles

Last fall, the truck broke down right around the time we were expecting to be able to catch up.  We normally have a higher income in late summer than any other time of the year, and we use that to pay outstanding bills and to sock away a bit of money to get through the leaner winters.  It wasn't to be.  Major repairs, truck rentals, the whole shebang.  

My husband, bless his heart, soldiered on.  He usually reacts to bad news with a bit of a slump, but it isn't long before he is cheerfully heading out the door, fighting traffic and little old ladies to bring home the bacon.

Little Old Ladies

Little old ladies really are a problem to truck drivers.  For some strange reason, they don't seem to understand that a loaded truck can't stop on a dime.  My husband often finds himself having to stand on the brakes in order to avoid flattening a car driven by a little old lady.

On December 22, I called Rick to tell him I had broken my arm and was on the way to the hospital.  He countered with the fact that he'd been stopped by the MTO, and was charged with having defective brakes.  He told the officer that he'd had to stand on the brakes that morning, in order to avoid killing a little old lady that had pulled out in front of him.  No matter - the charge stood.  He'd have to appear in court.

January brought the annual inspection, which turned out to cost more than double what we thought it would cost.  The day we brought the truck home, the lights weren't working.  More aggravation, until we figured it out.  The next run was to London, and lo and behold, the truck broke down.  Two trips home and back to London to try to repair it ourselves, then a tow charge and the news - another expensive repair.

Late Cheques

Meanwhile, the cheques we receive in the mail were coming in later and later each month.  Payments are scheduled according to the normal state of affairs, so late cheques had repercussions.  Money was tight, and getting tighter.  As my friend said about her Big Pink Farm, we were hemorrhaging money.

Thankfully, we have faith in Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider.  We know that He is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.  He is able to deliver us from all evil, and to supply all of our needs.  This, we know.


We raise our own meat birds each year and were thankful to have a freezer full of chickens.  We ate chicken and rice, rice and chicken.  The kids found some flax seeds and rhubarb, and made some delicious muffins.  Our daughter loaned me some money to get through the weekend two weeks ago, and we thought we'd have the cheque that Monday in order to pay her back.  It didn't come in.  

Our son and his family came for a visit last weekend, bearing gifts of roast beef and vegetables.  Such a welcome change from chicken!

We ran out of rice.  We ran out of oil.  We ran out of vegetables.  We ran out of fruit, except for a bit of rhubarb.  We still had some chicken.

It's amazing what you can do with chicken.  We had roast chicken, chicken with ginger, blackened chicken, and chicken soup.  We blended the twice-boiled bones and made pate.  But honestly, we got tired of chicken.  Our children commented that they now understood why the Israelites grumbled about manna.  We learned that God provides what we need, not necessarily what we want.  It has been a faith-building experience.

A Thief at the Mall

Last night, I saw on the news a story about a man who'd been caught shop-lifting at Cherry Hill Mall, in London.  He was trying to steal diapers.

It's never right to steal.  There is no excuse.  Yet, because of my present circumstances, my heart went out to the man.  

The kids and I sat together in the living room, reading the Bible and discussing all of this.  We pondered the following passage:

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:7-8; Proverbs 30:9 ESV)


  1. It would be a lie to say that God does not know our circumstances, or that He cannot provide, or that He does not care.  He is our refuge in times of trouble, He is a caring, loving, Beautiful God.
  2. We echo the prayer - give me not riches - for we don't want to be self-sufficient.  There is wonderful peace in knowing we must depend on God to provide.
  3. We echo the prayer - give me not poverty - for we don't want to ever be tempted to steal, or worse, to act as if the stealing is necessary because of our circumstances.  
  4. God squeezes us longer and harder than we think we can stand.  Not one week, not two weeks, but months or years of financial hardship, or bad health, or relationship difficulties.  Whatever the trial, our loving Heavenly Father does not remove it until He has accomplished His purposes.  It is up to us to rejoice in Him, to trust in Him, and to wait on Him.
No Cheque?

As we were reading the Bible together, encouraging each other, the mailman arrived.  No cheque.  I cried, just a little, not because of my own pain, but because I do not want to see my children falter in their faith.  My daughter assured me, "It would take a lot more than a late cheque to cause me to lose my faith, Mom."  Words that were balm to my soul.

I phoned another company that owes us some money, but doesn't pay until the tenth of the month.  Normally, if the tenth falls on a weekend, we have to wait until the Tuesday after the weekend to get the deposit.  

They're doing it today.  I'm going grocery shopping!  PTL!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cut Out Your Tongue

It's hard to tame the tongue, but it's essential for those who wish to abide in Christ and live for the glory of God.  We ought not to teach others anything if we aren't sincerely striving to tame our tongues.  

How do we do that? James tells us that no human being can tame the tongue, because it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue, we bless our Heavenly Father, but sadly we turn around and use the same tongue to curse people who are made in the image of God.

The only way to tame the tongue is to cut it out.  

The only way to tame it is to give it to Jesus, for Him to do with it as He pleases.  

  • Wise women use their tongues to build up their husbands.  

  • Wise mothers use their tongues to bless and teach their children.

  • Wise friends use their tongues to encourage their friends.

Be wise.  Give your tongue to Jesus Christ.  His words are beautiful, wonderful words of life.

You may find this review of War of Words helpful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Final Straw

It was the tooth that did it.

For weeks now, I have been reminded of our weakness and our dependency on Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider.  

I know that He loves me with a crazy,  unfathomable love that never falters, never dies, never fades away.  That love is not dependent on my performance.  God loves me because He chose me from before the foundation of the earth, and set His love on me, when there was no good thing in me.

I also know that the just shall live by faith, not by circumstances.  Whether there is fruit on the vine, or not; whether there is health in my bones, or not.  Whether bills get paid and cheques come in the mail, or not.  I am to live by faith, because I have been justified by God's amazing grace.

I've been thankful for the chicken and rice and onions that we had to eat, day after day.  I reminded myself of the testimony of young people who served in Peru.  My own son said that all they had to eat, every day, was rice and chicken, chicken and rice.  The very fact that we had onions was a measure of grace.  We had some beans one day, and we had a bit of flax seed so we could make a few focaccia muffins.  We were truly blessed, and I was truly grateful.

The week went by last week with our children watching for the mailman, and running to the mailbox to see if the cheque were finally in.  So far, it has not arrived.  Bills are overdue.  It seems we owe everybody and his uncle.

I was okay with that.  This world is not my home, I'm just passing through, don't you know?  And if God wants to keep me poor, to keep my humble, to keep me dependent while I sojourn here, I'm fine with that.  Don't you know that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith?  I serve a good God, One who would never do anything to harm me.  I know that all things work together for good to those who love Him.  I do.  I love this immeasurable, unfathomable God.  I know He is good.  I also know He's not safe.

He doesn't always spread a feast out before us.  Sometimes He leads us on paths that are rocky and painful, that seem never-ending and burdensome.  

I wonder what the women thought as they visited the tomb to anoint the Lord's body with spices.  They were filled with grief, and did not comprehend the events of the past few days.  They'd watch their Lord suffer.  They'd gasped at His crucifixion.  They may have felt some relief when He finally gave up His spirit, because it was so very hard to watch His excruciating pain.  They certainly felt a measure of responsibility to do what must be done, and they headed to the tomb to care for the Lord's body properly.

He wasn't there. 

Instead, there were two angels.  "Why seek you the living among the dead?  He is not here, He is risen as He said.  Now go and tell the disciples that He is risen, just as He said!"

The women ran to tell the disciples.  They were excited!  They likely expected the apostles to immediately rejoice with them! 

Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
(Luke 24:10-11 ESV)

Can you imagine?  The apostles thought the women were spinning an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

I put myself in their shoes today as I read that chapter in Luke.  I'm sure they were weary, exhausted from the experience of witnessing the death of their beloved Lord.  They likely didn't sleep much for days.  

They may have prayed on the way to the tomb.  Likely, they went in faith, believing they were being obedient to the traditions of men and the commandment of God.   Seeing the angels brought more confusion, more pain.  They didn't understand - we know this because Mary Magdalene went back to the garden later.  

Then the final straw:  "You women are telling an idle tale.  We don't believe it."

I don't know how they felt, but I imagine they were devastated.

Satan is a real adversary, and he knows where we're weak.  

Mary stood weeping.  Then Grace appeared.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” 
Jesus said her name, "Mary," and she KNEW.  At that moment, all of the hurt and all of the pain disappeared, for she was with the Lord.

 This week, the final straw for me came in the form of a toothache.  Not just one tooth, but the entire left side of my face, top and bottom, is aching and paining and hurting. 

We've been living by faith, plodding along, trying to remain full of grace and faith, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that our Beautiful God will send relief in His good time.  I was okay with having no cream for my coffee.  I was okay when the coffee ran out, and the freezer was empty, and the cupboards were bare - except for some chicken (Thank God we raise our own chickens every summer!).  I reminded my children of Habakkuk's words in chapter three:

 Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

I truly was rejoicing, like Habakkuk, and creatively making do with what we had.  This quote from C.T. Studd resonates in my soul:

“Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands.” ~ C. T. Studd

Satan likely wasn't too happy with my walking by faith.  I imagine Satan saying to God, "Yeah, she's faithful when it comes to financial pressures - but what if I give her more pain?  She'll deny you for sure!"

I am well acquainted with daily pain from the head-on collision I experienced five years ago. I have suffered more in the past few weeks as my broken arm heals.  I use the pain to remind myself that heaven will be gloriously pain-free.

But now, a toothache?

Seriously, Lord?

I hear Him saying, "Janet."  My heart melts within me, and I know that He plans to prosper me, and not to harm me.  He plans to give me a future and a hope.  He is aware of my pain, and He is able to remove it, or leave it there for my good.

So I say, paraphrasing C.T. Studd:

“Pain is here again, hallelujah! That means God trusts me and is willing to leave His reputation in my  hands.  It means that He knows that I am maturing in faith and growing in grace, able to bear my toothache and resolving to cast all my cares on Him.  I know He cares for me.  I know He loves me unceasingly.” 
What about you?  Are you bearing your trials by faith?  Do you allow the circumstances of life to wear you down?  Do you allow the misunderstanding of others or the damaging of your reputation to cause you to lash out in anger?

Or do you bow to His will?

Some day, you will hear His voice.  "Well done, good and faithful servant."  

I can't wait! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Three Gifts Found

Today, I found some pictures that I had forgotten I had.

One was of Matt as a baby, with buggy eyes and drooly mouth, being cuddled by big sister Rachel.  Rachel's daughter Heidi is the spittin' image of her mom.

The second was of our two horses, Chance and Shantel, with Rachel and Becky mounted on them, ready to go for a ride.  I have such wonderful memories of those horses and friends.  Hard to believe that Becky is now a doctor and "mom" to a bunch of huskies, and Rachel is a mom of five beautiful children.

The third was of Rachel with Baby Trenton in her lap, driving the old White tractor with the trailer on the back.  Tiana was in the trailer, chewing on her hands.

Pictures remind me of good times and bad, of happy and sad.  Those horses died of botulism, and that was very sad.  Yet the pictures bring back beautiful memories of raising children with joy and love.

I'm glad I found those three gifts.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Sin of Partiality

Love Your Neighbour

As you live in Christ, the Lord of glory, be like Him.

  • He ate with sinners.
  • He lived in a humble village.
  • He ministered in lowly, contemptible areas.
It's easy in our day to be slightly envious of the rich and famous.  If you have a television, it's almost impossible to escape the latest round of the Mutual Admiration Society, as actors pat each other on the back and vy for the Golden Globe, the Oscar, or the People's Choice Award.  

Yet God tells us not to idolize the rich and famous, nor to be envious of the high and mighty.

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.James 2:8-9

The royal law is to love your neighbour.  The law of God requires that we first love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we must love our neighbour as ourselves.  Showing partiality by respecting a rich or powerful person more than a barista at the local coffee shop is breaking the law. 

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it James 2:10
All sins are not equally damaging or heinous.  Obviously murder has more of an effect than cheating someone out of money.  Yet all sin shatters unity and makes men into transgressors.  Only one transgression makes fulfilling the basic command to love God and your neighbour impossible to keep.  One sin makes you a lawbreaker.

Law of Liberty

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~James 2:10-13 

As the Holy Spirit applies the principles of Scripture to believers' hearts, they are freed from sin's bondage and enabled to obey God.  They are set free from the need to sin, to retaliate, to judge and shun and hate and ostracize. 

The merciful evidence that they are FORGIVEN, REDEEMED PEOPLE.  They are ready for the day of judgment.

So, what does this look like in real life?  

It looks like love.  

It looks like kindness to sinners, to lawbreakers, to the unlovely.

It looks like compassion to the drug addict.

It looks like praying for the homosexual or the child abuser.

Forgiven, Redeemed People know that "there, but for the grace of God, go I."  They do not sit in judgment, for they know that they could have been the ones transgressing the law in that manner, committing that heinous crime, stoning that Stephen, denying that Christ.

God wants to do a work “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6). God wants to show us his grace so that we “might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:9). This is precisely the reasoning of Romans 9:22-23: “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory … ?” In his final judgment God will display the power of his wrath. But God could not demonstrate his capacity for mercy apart from ordaining a world of sin and a way for redemption. He endures with great patience the impenitent, so that he can magnify his all-glorious mercy in the eyes of those who put their hope in him! ~ John Ensor
Are you a vessel of mercy?  Or do you show partiality, preferring the ones who have it all together over the ones who are falling apart?

Be like Jesus.  Be free.

Three Gifts Green

1.  Green lettuce today for lunch.  A nice change from the usual fare lately.  Best part was the pepper, but that's not green.  (Have I ever mentioned how much I love pepper?  It's right up there with ginger in my book.)

2.  Green Nathan.  He came today, and was looking a little green around the edges.  I offered him a bucket in case he needed it and he accepted it gladly.  Although he was pale and shaky for the morning, by the time the lunch was prepared, he felt better, and decided to eat.  Granny is thankful Nate didn't stay green for long.

3.  Greenbacks.  We have none at the moment.  I'm thankful for these leaner times that teach us on Whom we should lean.  James 2 reminds us "Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him?  There are lessons of faith to be learned when we have few funds.  I am grateful for this, because I know God loves me, and I know I only love Him by His grace.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Three Gifts at Three pm.

The gift of eggs.  Critter went to the barn and found two eggs, newly laid and fresh as could be.  I used them to make mayonnaise, yummy with bacon bits on salad.   Thank You, Lord, for abundance in the middle of these lean times, for richness on lettuce, for olives and onions and wine.

The gift of children.  Linda is playing a game with little boys and girls.  I hear laughter, and Ava shouting loud, warning of danger.  Thank You, Lord, for loving relationships between Auntie and nephews and nieces, between Granny and grandkids. 

The gift of home.  I've been away for a few days, visiting with a beloved friend in a house with no dog hair, no cracked tiles, no shabby paint or leaking roof.  How wonderful it was to be there, to come away for a while and rest, and read, and create, and build a long-lasting (over a quarter-century) relationship!  Reality hit when I walked through the door of this old farmhouse, with its many deficits and decorating disasters.  The house shakes when the washer is running.  The house leaks when the rain is falling.  The house shows signs of wear and tear, of mud and grime and pet hair everywhere.

But... it's HOME.  Thank You, Lord, for home, for things familiar and people precious.